The author Vanessa Ramos posing outside while holding a camera over the water at one of the best parks in Puerto Rico

9 Best Parks in Puerto Rico (By a Local)

If you’re the outdoorsy type, then you won’t run out of things to do with the variety of parks in Puerto Rico.

This unincorporated territory in the Caribbean is home to national forests, nature reserves, and a single national park in Old San Juan that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I’m a Puerto Rico local and I can guarantee you’ll find Puerto Rico parks to be some of the best sites to see in Puerto Rico.

In this article, I’ll dive into the best parks in Puerto Rico you can’t miss!

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9 Best Puerto Rico Parks

San Juan National Historic Site

A former Spanish colony with fortresses and historical buildings.

The author Vanessa Ramos posing inside San Juan National Historic Site

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 National Park Service

You’d expect it to be a local nature reserve, but the only national park in Puerto Rico is actually a historical site filled with forts, cobblestone streets, and colonial houses. 

The San Juan National Historic Site in Old San Juan includes the city walls, El Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, and El Cañuelo. They are all structures left behind by Spain.  

The San Juan National Historic Site is one of the best areas to stay in Puerto Rico and it boasts most of the fun things to do in San Juan.

The only Puerto Rico national park is managed by the National Park Service. To visit main landmarks like Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal you need to pay a $10 fee.

🌳 Local Trivia: Before the Spanish American War, Puerto Rico was under the rule of the Spanish empire. Nowadays, along with the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa, it’s an unincorporated territory and commonwealth of the US.

Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

A nature reserve with top-notch beaches, mangroves, and a bio bay.

The author Vanessa Ramos posing at the shore of Seven Seas Beach
Seven Seas Beach on Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Para La Naturaleza  

Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is one of the most popular natural parks to visit in Puerto Rico. Beach lovers can choose between the best Fajardo beaches to spend the day on, including Seven Seas Beach, Playa Colorá, and Playa Escondida. 

Of course, the highlight of the nature reserve for adults and kids is the Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Lagoon. Laguna Grande is one of the three Puerto Rico bioluminescent bays and one of the top attractions in Fajardo.

There are bathrooms, rentals, showers, and even camping sites in some areas of the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve.

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

A nature reserve that houses the brightest bio bay in the world.

A branch of a tree on the seashore of Pata Prieta Beach
Pata Prieta Beach on Vieques Wildlife Refuge

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 US Fish and Wildlife Service 

Getting to Vieques might be a hassle, but visiting its nature reserve is worth it if you’re a nature lover. 

The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge covers half of the offshore island, and it’s home to some of the top beaches in Vieques for swimming and snorkeling around coral reefs. 

But, what attracts most visitors to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is Mosquito bioluminescent bay, the brightest bio bay in the world. 

Vieques isn’t part of Puerto Rico national parks, but it’s a great place to explore, with lots of things to do, and far less crowded than the other Virgin Islands.

👉 Pro Tip: On-site facilities are scarce, and you’ll need a 4×4 to explore remote areas on the refuge. Prepare everything for a beach day and keep in mind phone signal is non-existent.

Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

One of the best places for birdwatching, swimming and hiking in Puerto Rico.

The author Vanessa Ramos in the middle of the walkway of The Salt Flats
The Salt Flats inside the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge 

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 US Fish and Wildlife Service 

Located on the west coast, the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge is a paradise for birdwatchers and hiking lovers. 

Although it lacks facilities, and you will need to pack everything for a day trip, this wildlife refuge is a must-visit. It’s home to some of Puerto Rico’s top beaches, including Playuela. 

During your visit, you can’t miss some of the best sites to visit in Cabo Rojo, including the Pink Salt Lakes and Los Morrillos Lighthouse. Make sure to pack lots of water and snacks for the trip. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re planning on visiting by car, it’s best to rent an SUV or a 4×4, as the road to the lighthouse and Playuela is full of plotholes. Use Discover Cars to find a good deal on a car.

El Yunque National Forest

A popular Puerto Rico landmark and the only tropical rainforest in the US.

A sunny morning view of the rainforest in Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 USDA Forest Service | Camping Near El Yunque

El Yunque National Forest is one of Puerto Rico’s landmarks for many reasons. It’s the only tropical rainforest in the National Forest System, which allows visitors to see unique flora and fauna you can’t see in the United States. 

Even if you’re not visiting for the birds and trees, El Yunque is home to famous Puerto Rico waterfalls, natural pools, and observation towers you can enjoy with your family. 

While not an official national park (more like a national forest), El Yunque promises to be one of your best adventures in Puerto Rico.

If you’re visiting La Mina Recreative Area in PR 191, you’ll need to make a reservation. You will find on-site parking, food kiosks, and bathrooms in this area of El Yunque.

🌳 Looking for a Tour? Without local insight, you’ll hardly find some of the best-hidden gems inside the forest. Book an El Yunque tour with a local to explore the best of El Yunque.

Guanica State Forest

One of the largest dry coastal forests in the world.

A sunny day at the beach of Guanica State Forest

📍 Google Maps 

The Guanica State Forest is one of the world’s largest dry coastal forests and you’ll find it on Puerto Rico’s south coast. 

Aside from being the largest dry forest on the island, The Guanica State Forest is famous for siding with the Caribbean Sea, and being home to some of the top beaches on the island. 

It also hosts popular hiking trails that run through the coast, with the most popular leading to the small fort of Fuerte Capron, one of Guanica’s main attractions.

It sports on-site parking, but you won’t come across any facilities once inside the dry forest. 

Guajataca State Forest

This state forest hides one of the best caves on the island, and it’s free.

The author Vanessa Ramos inside the cave of Guajataca State Forest
Wind cave in the Guajataca State Forest

📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Ven a Isabela

The Guajataca State Forest is one of the hidden gems of Isabela, in the northwest region, and it’s one of my favorite Puerto Rico sites to visit. 

The Guajataca State Forest boasts the largest trail network in the country. Hiking lovers could spend an entire day exploring it. 

But, the highlight of the forest is Cueva del Viento (Wind Cave), reachable through Trail #1. Besides the ranger’s office, the gazebos, and the viewing towers, there aren’t any facilities on site. 

If you don’t want to limit your adventure to daylight, you can choose to stay camping for a few days by soliciting a permit from the DRNA. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re planning on visiting Cueva del Viento, include in your Puerto Rico packing list the Curtsod Headlamp to explore the cave and a good pair of hiking boots, as the interior of the cave is dark and slippery. 

Toro Negro State Forest

A state forest with beautiful waterfalls and 18 km of hiking trails.

A damp path through the foggy Toro Negro State Forest

📍 Google Maps 

Toro Negro is one of the most popular stops in the central mountain range in Puerto Rico. Hiking fans will love exploring 18 km of land with some of the best Puerto Rico hiking trails

In Toro Negro, you’ll also find multiple tidal pools and rivers like Charco de Los Suspiros to bathe and enjoy nature. Nearby the forest’s entrance you’ll find food kiosks, haciendas, and great Puerto Rico waterfalls

If you’re into camping, you can camp in Toro Negro’s campground which has gazebos and places for BBQ and bonfires.

Camuy River Cave Park

The largest underground cave system in Puerto Rico and one of the largest in the world.

View of the entrance from the underground cave of Camuy River Cave Park

📍 Google Maps 

The Camuy River Cave Park is the only park on this list whose beauty is underground. 

This park is home to the most renowned Puerto Rico caves and one of my favorite day trips from San Juan. The Clara Cave sport a unique ecosystem formed by bats, an underground river, stalactites, and stalagmites.

The park includes facilities like souvenir shops, on-site parking, and bathrooms. The Camuy River Park has an entrance fee of $18 for adults, $13 for kids, and $9 for seniors.

👉 Pro Tip: The trolley hasn’t been running recently, so visitors must walk from the entrance down to the caves. If you have mobility limitations, you might want to skip this park for now.

FAQs About Parks in Puerto Rico

How many national parks are in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico has only one national park and it’s the San Juan National Historic Site. This national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it includes landmarks like El Morro, La Fortaleza, Castillo San Cristóbal, and the city walls in Old San Juan. 

What is the name of the most famous National Park in Puerto Rico?

The most famous and only national park in Puerto Rico is the San Juan National Historic Site. This park includes historical structures built under the Spanish colonial government. Although locals refer to nature reserves as Puerto Rico national parks, the only official national park is the San Juan National Historic Site.

Does Puerto Rico have state parks?

Puerto Rico has nineteen state parks and forests which include the Guanica, Monte del Estado, Guilarte, Boqueron, Guajataca, and Toro Negro State Forests. El Yunque is classified as a national forest, as it’s under the protection of the federal government.

What is the most visited area in Puerto Rico?

The most visited areas in Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, El Yunque National Forest, Vieques, Culebra, and Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. The sandy beaches and local nature reserves are also some of the most visited areas on the island.


Those are the 9 best parks in Puerto Rico you should check out during your visit if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. If you’re looking for more interesting things to do, don’t miss our guide to Puerto Rico’s top things to do with your family and friends.

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