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Discovering Puerto Rico: Ecotourism Destination

Updated on March 14, 2017
IslandBites profile image

Island Bites is a Puerto Rican writer who has a MA degree in Caribbean History. She also loves nature, culture and travel.

Principles of Ecotourism (TIES)

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". (The International Ecotourism Society, 1990)

In other words, Ecotourism is a low-impact alternative to commercial tourism that involves visiting natural areas. It is intended to promote environmental awareness through the appreciation for nature and cultural heritage of the planet.

Waterfall at El Yunque
Waterfall at El Yunque | Source

Pack your bags!

Get ready to enjoy Puerto Rican wonderful nature. These are some activities to do:

  • hiking
  • snorkeling
  • diving
  • camping
  • rappelling
  • trekking
  • kayaking
  • canoeing
  • and more...

The Enchanted Island

Puerto Rico is part of the Caribbean Antilles. It is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the United States Virgin Islands. It is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America.

The Puerto Rican archipelago consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and several smaller islands and islets. Other than the main island, only Vieques and Culebra are inhabited.

If you love adventure and enjoy nature, Puerto Rico is the perfect destination. There are mountains, beautiful beaches, rain forest, dry forests, waterfalls, canyons, caves and a lot more to discover...

A markerPuerto Rico -
Puerto Rico
get directions

El Yunque

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest system and has been a Federal Forest Reserve for over a century. It is part of the Sierra de Luquillo.

El Yunque has four different forest vegetation areas: Palo Colorado Forest, Tabonuco Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, and Dwarf Forest. The forest hosts hundreds of animal and plant species. In 1976 it was declared an international biosphere reserve by UNESCO. El Yunque was a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign.

El Yunque
El Yunque | Source
View of El Yunque
View of El Yunque | Source

Bosque Seco de Guánica

Guánica State Forest is a dry forest reserve, the largest remaining tract of tropical dry coastal forest in the world. It was designated an international Biosphere Reserve in 1981. The forest reserve hosts many bird species, like the Puerto Rican Lizard‑Cuckoo, the Puerto Rican Woodpecker, the Puerto Rican Nightjar, and the Puerto Rican Emerald hummingbird. It is also home to more than 550 plant species.

Guanica State Forest
Guanica State Forest | Source

Toro Negro

Toro Negro State Forest is Puerto Rico's highest cloud forest. This natural reserve is located in the central region of the Island and it covers almost 7000 acres of land. It includes four types of forests in two climatic biome zones: subtropical moist forest life zone (31% of the forest) and the lower mountain wet forest (the remaining 69% of the forest). Some of the "points of interest" are hiking trails, waterfalls, an observation tower, camping facilities, rivers and natural swimming pools. The forest also includes Puerto Rico's highest peak (4,390 ft), Cerro Punta.

Toro Negro
Toro Negro | Source
Natural Pool at Toro Negro
Natural Pool at Toro Negro | Source

Did you know...?

Bioluminescence in the bays is caused by dinoflagellates, which are single-cell micro-organisms. This organisms release energy in the form of neon blueish light when agitated.

Las Cabezas de San Juan, Fajardo

Las Cabezas de San Juan, in Fajardo, is a natural reserve that includes rare flora and fauna, a bioluminescence bay, trails and boardwalks, and a scientific research center. The small reserve shelters seven different ecological systems, including beaches, lagoons, a dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves.

Bioluminescent Bays

Puerto Rico has three of the few bioluminescent bays, or biobays, of the world. Kayaking and swimming is permitted, but it must be as part of guided tours. The best time to visit any bioluminescent bay, is at the dark of the moon.

  • La Parguera, in Lajas, is the most popular of the three, even though it is the least bright.
  • Laguna Grande, in Fajardo, is the second brightest biobay of the Island.
  • Mosquito Bay, in Vieques is the most brilliant biobay in the world. This bay contains up to 720,000 bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water.

Cueva Ventana, Arecibo

Cueva Ventana or "window cave", is a large cave situated atop a cliff in Arecibo. This cave has different rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites, and a number of smaller caves and tunnels. It has a big opening with spectacular views of the Río Grande de Arecibo valley.

Cueva Ventana
Cueva Ventana | Source
Cueva Ventana
Cueva Ventana | Source

Cavernas del Río Camuy

Las Cavernas del Río Camuy is a caves system located in northwestern Puerto Rico. The caverns are part of one of the largest and most dramatic caves system of the western hemisphere. The third-largest underground river in the world, the Río Camuy, runs through the 45 million years old network of caves, canyons and sinkholes.

Inside Cueva Clara, the main cave, you'll enjoy a nature spectacle of impressive rock formations, crystal stalactites and stalagmites. It is one of the main natural attractions of the Island.

Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy
Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy | Source
Stalactites at Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy
Stalactites at Parque de las Cavernas de Camuy | Source

Adventure at Toro Verde

Toro Verde Adventure Park is an ecotouristic park in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. The park is perfect for extreme sports and adrenaline rush lovers. The park offers four different tours:

  • The Monster: Equivalent to 28 football fields, this 1.57 mile long cable is the longest zip-line in the World. It reaches a speed of up 95mph at more than 1245 feet high.
  • The Beast: Almost a mile long (4.745 feet), the Beast is one of the World’s longest single run zip-line. With a height of 843 feet, the zip-line reaches speeds up to 60 MPH.
  • The Canopy Tour: Eight two-line wires, each with arrival and departure platforms and small walks across multiple platforms.
  • The Wild Bull: This adventure includes five suspension bridges, zip-lines and rappelling to a waterfall.
  • Bull Maze: This rope course combines rope nets, suspension bridges, monkey bar, and other obstacles of varied difficulty distributed among three levels of a 42 feet tall structure.

The park also has a world-class mountain bike circuit, the Single Track Jungle, designed by the world champion mountain biker Marla Streb.

El Cañón de San Cristóbal

San Cristobal Canyon is the deepest canyon in all the Antilles islands. This 9km long and 500km deep canyon is located between Aibonito and Barranquitas. It was carved by the Usabón river that runs through the bottom of the canyon. It has pools, cliffs, rock formations and waterfalls, including the highest waterfall of the Island.

Isla de Mona & Caja de Muertos

Isla de Mona is the third-largest island of the Puerto Rican archipielago. It is a natural reserve located in the Mona Passage, a strait between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The island is uninhabited.

Isla de Mona has 200-foot cliffs riddled with caves, mangrove forests, coral reefs and the world's largest marine-originated cave system. It is home to hundreds of rare animal species, including more than 100 endangered species. That is why it is known as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean.”

Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island or Dead Man's Chest) is an uninhabited island located 8 miles off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. This small natural reserve is just about 1½ miles long and about ½ mile wide at its widest point. It has beautiful beaches, coral reefs, dry forests, a lighthouse, hiking trails and a cave. The island is home to animal and plant species not found anywhere else in the world.

Isla de Mona
Isla de Mona | Source

Would you like to visit Puerto Rico?

See results

It's a Paradise...

Those are some of the awesome Puerto Rico's natural attractions. There are more than 30 natural reserves. If you love nature, Puerto Rico should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

Puerto Rico's gorgeous beaches, including Flamenco Beach in Culebra (considered one the most beautiful beaches of the world) will be reviewed later in their own hub.


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    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 8 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      I hope your okay and great article. I really want to visit Cuba and Puerto Rico too. Love the food! Mmm

    • profile image

      Marcos 3 years ago

      I know what you mean, I just want to pick a cheap weekend trip to Florida or soerwhmee close for my partner and I. I just want to feel the sun on my face. Why do we live here again? lol

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Glad you liked it. Thank you for the comment!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Everything that I have heard about Puerto Rico being a beautiful place to visit has been confirmed in this fabulous hub of yours. Thanks for this in depth look at it. Going to pin this to my Puerto Rico board and dream about visiting there someday.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Hope you can visit soon. :)

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you for the advice. Since I tend to stick to off the beaten track, I will go with a tour company.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks for the comment!

      There are some places that are easy to access, so a map will do. To visit other places like Cueva Ventana or el Cañon de San Cristobal, you'll need someone that knows the area.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      A very informative and interesting hub about a great ecotourism destination, along with beautiful pictures and videos. I will definitely be here one day.

      I need an advice though. Will you suggest going there on our own or go with a tour guide / company?

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks for your comment, rebecca!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Voted Interesting! I think I have heard of this concept from people taking trips to Cuba, but I was not familiar with the term Ecotourism. It's nice to be able to put that label on it. Thanks for sharing this!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I appreciate your comment, GoForTheJuggler! Thanks. Hope you can visit someday!

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 4 years ago from Texas

      My best childhood friend was from Puerto Rico, and when I was 13 he and his family moved back there. I definitely want to visit someday. Great hub full of beautiful pictures and great info - voted up and shared!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      It is a great destination. The average temperatures range from 70 to 90. Fortunately, no major hurricane has hit us over the last 15 years. Hope you can make someday! Thanks for the comment!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      You live in a lovely place :-) I can imagine the weather is usually fantastic.... except when there are hurricanes! I hope that one day I can go and discover your island! There are a lot of things to do and fantastic vegetation to see! Thank you for the pictures :-)

      Voted up, interesting and beautiful!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Yes, it is a great place. Thank you, Shinkicker!

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 4 years ago from Scotland

      Awesome looking place. Beautiful photographs, some are truly spectacular. And so important to preserve these wonders of nature.

      Voted up.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks, Eddy!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub; loved it and voted up.


    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thank you! I hope you can visit in the future.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 4 years ago from Florida

      Wow! I love those photos. They make me want to visit. I passed through Puerto Rico a few times en route from Trinidad to the US, but I never set foot on land. Now I want to make it a holiday destination. Great job!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks, guys! Hope you can visit someday!

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      You made me want to go there; great hub.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Love this hub with all the photos - makes me want to visit ASAP, voting you up.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks! I tried because there is a lot to enjoy. I'll do a hub about the best beaches and another about regular tourist attractions soon.

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 4 years ago from Oregon

      Wow, super job covering so much of what Puerto Rico has to offer! You covered so much detail and I learned a lot. It looks so gorgeous and I would love to visit it some day! Thanks so much for visiting my hub and following...doing the same here! :)

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Glad to read that. Hope you can visit in the future. Thanks!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I had no idea how beautiful Puerto Rico is until I read your hub and looked at these gorgeous photos. I would love to visit. Got it on my list now. Thanks for this beautiful, informative hub. Voted up and more.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I appreciate it, Mike! Thanks for the comment!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Blossom, PR is a colony of the USA since 1898. Although not everything is perfect, PR is indeed beautiful and I do love it. Thanks for stopping by!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thank you, epbooks! I hope you can visit us again. You'll always find something new to do.

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      Wonderful travel article, IslandBites! Your presentation of Puerto Rico and the photos are stunning! Voted and pinned!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a great visit you took us on with all those lovely photos and great descriptions, too. I had no idea that it was part of the US. It looks so lovely and unspoiled, you must love it very much. Thank you for sharing about it.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Wow- such beautiful pictures. I have been to Puerto Rico twice and fell in love with it. I'm not sure if I'll get the opportunity to go back, as I now live in Vegas, but it is amazing. Thanks for sharing this!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Yes, Kathryn. Puerto Rico is a US territory, and all Puerto Ricans are US citizens.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Nice, I didn't realize that U.S. citizens don't need a passport to go there, so that is good to know.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      They sure do. I imagine it must be quite a thrill to be cruising from up there!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thief, the views from the Beast are gorgeous, right? Thanks for the comment!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks, Kathryn! I forgot to mention that US citizen do not need passport. I hope you can visit soon. You're going to love it.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Great hub and beautiful place! Lots of places I haven't visited in awhile. And that Beast zip-line looks awesome! :-D

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is beautiful! You did a great job covering different destinations, and including photos. It seems there's a lot to do there!

      I have been to the Caribbean, but not that far. The Cayman islands are the closest I have been. Someday I may visit that area.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a wonderful day!

      ~ Kathryn

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Welcome! Yes, el Yunque is awesome. I'm glad you're enjoying your trip. I hope you can visit PR again. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Nick Jones 4 years ago

      Thank you very much for sharing this. I'm in PR from a few days ago, I visited El Yunque and is beautiful. Now i Iknow other places to visit. I hope I have enough time. I would definitely visit all of them in my next trip.


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