El Yunque National Park in Puerto Rico

Tourist authorities are fond of promoting this reserve as the only tropical forest in the US national park system. The Taínos believed the god of happiness hung out on El Yunque, and you’ll understand why when you hike through this magnificent rainforest. On a clear day you can even bag an eyeful of the Virgin Islands.

Covering 11,200 ha (28,000 acres) in the Luquillo mountains, this bountiful lush rainforest is home to more than 400 tree and fern species, most of which thrive in the hothouse conditions. There are 13 well-maintained hiking trails in the reserve, ranging from leisurely 15-minute wanders along sealed paths to a heart-pounding trek to the peak of El Yunque. If you stretch your legs in the rainforest, you’ll hear the sing-song of the coquí frog (Puerto Rico’s national emblem), see miniature orchids, get to play in waterfalls and maybe even glimpse the rare Puerto Rican parrot. El Yunque is less than an hour drive from San Juan, and there’s road access to the reserve.


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