Camping and eco-tourism are easy to find in Puerto Rico, which is home to the Caribbean National Rainforest, "El Yunque," as well as many other National Wildlife Refuges.
Eco-tourists have their pick of incredible sights situated in pristine natural beauty. Many campsites offer cabins instead of tents for camping that is a step off the ground. If you're looking for something even more "civilized," check around for the many rental properties, small locally-owned hotels, and government sponsored paradores that are close to nature. In particular, paradores, are located near some of Puerto Rico's finest natural and historical sights.
Treat the adventurer in you to Puerto Rico's finest natural wonders, from the heights of the Cordillera mountains to the underwater caves, and through the Caribbean National Rainforest.
Public campgrounds are regulated by several groups: the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA) or Department of National Resources of the Government of Puerto Rico; the Negociado del Servicio Forestal; and the Devision de Reservas Naturales y Refugios de Vida Sylvestre. These groups also issue camping permits, which must be obtained in San Juan. To reach these offices, call 787-724-3647 or 787-724-3724; or fax them at 787-721-5984. If you prefer to write, send your letters to:
P.O. Box 9066600, Pta. De Tierra, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00906-6600, USA
The fee for a permit is usually $4(USD) per person, per night, though prices for cabins may vary. You must request an open reservation to travel without a schedule. Permits for trips to Mona Island are also available at these offices, as well.
|Toro Negro Reserve||You'll find clean rivers and good fishing among the Cordillera Central, the central mountain range on Puerto Rico. The Toro Negro Reserve has a campsite near man-made lakes that are also good for fishing. Visitors can spend the day traveling 750 feet down into San Cristobal Canyon, a volcanic rift. Hire a guide for the canyon hike from the town of Aibonito.|
|Rio Abajo Reserve||The campgrounds at Rio Abajo are well-known. Traveling through underground caves is one fun and interesting activity in this area. Adventure tours guide people through underground rivers. Visit the Camuy Caves and Lake Dos Bocas from here, as well.|
|Culebra Island||Culebra Island is a popular wintering spot, just a short jump by ferry or plane from Fajardo. The campground is located on Flamenco Beach, and tents are $10 each at the office. Clean water and toilets are available, but the water is not drinkable. Food must be bought in town, and there is a cheap bus route that travels from the campsite into town. Guards protect campers at night. However, be aware that during the summer it can often be crowded and hectic, much less relaxing than in the winter months. The island is best known for hiking and snorkeling as well as its beach.|
|El Yunque||The El Yunque rainforest is certainly a unique place to camp. Since it is a rainforest, be prepared to be very wet. Free permits are available at El Portal on Road #191 before 4:00 p.m.|
|Mona Island||Mona Island can only be reached by boat, which is somewhat expensive. The island is known as a "mini" Galapagos, being 50 miles from any other shore and located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It has its own ecology system with giant iguanas and bird life. There is no water source on the island. You must bring your own food and water and take your trash with you when you leave. If you're looking for a secluded getaway, this may be the place for you.|
|Susua Reserve||Near the southwest tip of Puerto Rico and its lighthouse, travelers can camp at the Susua Reserve. Good hiking and beaches are available here.|
|Reserva Natural Bahia Puerto Mosquito, Vieques Island||Camping is allowed here, and you can also visit one of the world's most brilliant Biobays. It is a turtle nesting site for three different species, and has many beaches, lagoons, and mangroves. Kayaking is also popular. Watch for petty theft while you're camping, as it is common in the area.|
|Cambalanche Forest Reserve||Camping is allowed in two areas here. There are water and showers, as well as eight trails and a beach nearby. Mountain biking is said to be good in the reserve.|
|Guajataca Reserve||Located on Lake Guajataca, the Guajataca Reserve is near Del Viento Cave. It has over 40 walking trails and 25 miles of maintained footpaths. Travelers also can fly fish and kayak on lakes and rivers.|
|Carite Forest||There are two campgrounds within this forest. Lake Carite, located nearby, has family style villas and fishing facilities, as well.|
|Guilarte Forest Reserve||Though no camping is allowed in the Guilarte Forest Reserve, cabins are set among a small eucalyptus forest. There is no electricity, but bare-bones cots and barbecue facilities are available. You must reserve a cabin in advance to spend the cool nights here. Explore the 105 species of trees and 26 species of birds on various trails.|
Nature enthusiasts should think about the opportunities for eco-tourism available. Alongside the usual hotel choices, there will be multiple eco-lodges. Click on each link to read additional details.
If you are trying to organize for a special occasion, or are coming with a large group of people, you can find a group-friendly accommodation like El Pedregal. El Pedregal has 29 remodeled guestrooms and three large villas with two, three, or four rooms that are available for rent. Each bedroom has one to two beds and every guestroom includes air conditioning, satellite television, and free Wi-Fi. Reach them at (787) 891-6068.
View the chart below for more information about eco-tourism accommodations that you'll find.
|Name||Phone Number||Star Rating||Location|
|Casa Grande Mountain Retreat||(787) 894-3939||
|Central Puerto Rico|
|6.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central downtown Humacao|
|El Pedregal||(787) 891-6068||
|1.1 mi. North of Central Aguadilla|
Of course, you'll find many other property types to consider available. To learn more about other kinds of accommodations for Puerto Rico, check out this page.
Campers and eco-travelers should be aware of the dangers they are likely to encounter when exploring the islands. While there are no poisonous snakes, and what few scorpions there are aren't very toxic, there are a few things to watch out for. Africanized "killer bees" have taken over the native bee population, making beehives something to avoid wherever possible. Campers should also avoid beaches at night, unless the beach is part of a facility and is well-protected. In El Yunque National Forest, thieves may target cars and travelers camping near roads or trails. However, with the proper precautions, it is easy to stay safe no matter where you camp on Puerto Rico.
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