When thinking of the Caribbean it’s typical to imagine picturesque coastlines, and completely forget about the jungle interior that many Caribbean islands have. However it’s often inland where some of the most picturesque natural landmarks can be found – and the waterfalls in Puerto Rico are the perfect example!
The lush forests here, that are criss-crossed by hundreds of miles of spectacular hiking trails, are home to so many stunning waterfalls. And they’re all waiting for you to discover them.
Just imagine walking through ancient rainforest, and hearing the sound of rushing water getting closer and closer. Then finally stepping out into a clearing to find a sight that looks like something from Jumanji or Indiana Jones. That’s the exact feeling we have when exploring the waterfalls in Puerto Rico.
And now we’re going to share some of the best waterfalls in Puerto Rico with you, so you can have that special experience too.
The best waterfalls in Puerto Rico
Whenever we’re in Puerto Rico we go hunting for waterfalls! But you must come prepared with the right footwear and clothing.
That’s because most of the best waterfalls in Puerto Rico are at the end of hiking trails that can be tough in places and also muddy – especially after flash floods. However because they’re not so easy to get to, you often have these natural wonders all to yourself.
La Coca Falls
This pristine waterfall is situated within the El Yunque National Forest near Road PR-191, just off La Coca Trail. The majestic 85-foot drop is pretty special to witness, and one of the great things about this waterfall is how easy it is to visit.
La Coca Falls is only about 5 miles from the National Forest park entrance, making it one of the most easily accessible waterfalls in Puerto Rico. That said, the trek to get to the falls is a difficult one, and you must stay on the trail to avoid getting lost in the dense jungle. In fact this trail has become notorious in recent years for people getting lost, so look out for the markers along the way!
The reward for traversing the forest and several streams to get here will be a true feeling of being in the Puerto Rican wilderness. However, because of the smooth slippery rocks at this waterfall there’s the chance of being injured, so we advise not swimming in the small natural pool below the falls.
Juan Diego Falls
Further along the La Coca Trail is a set of beautiful cascades called the Juan Diego Falls. The biggest waterfall here has a large natural swimming pool that’s perfect for a dip – so take your bathing suit and swimming shorts!
The journey along the trail to these falls will take you through dense forest, so look out for endemic birdlife on the way.
Initially you will come across some small waterfalls and natural pools before arriving at the highest waterfall which is around 20 feet in height. And if you love picnics, there is an area right next to this 20-foot waterfall that’s perfect for settling down and enjoying a well-deserved lunch.
For those reluctant to hike to Juan Diego Falls, you can avoid most of the La Coca Trail by parking your car at a small parking area just after kilometer 10 on the PR 191. A trail from there will join the La Coca Trail and it should take you to the falls in around five minutes!
La Mina Falls
Located at the end of the La Mina Trail alongside a river of the same name is La Mina Falls – a famous destination because of the stunning lush foliage, mini waterfalls en-route, and then the gorgeous show-stealing 35-foot drop at La Mina.
The waterfall here has a large pristine natural pool that is a favourite with locals for swimming. However because this is one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful waterfalls it can get busy.
Our tip is to come here early in the day to avoid the crowds and get that perfect photo opportunity. You can see more about the trail to the waterfalls at this link.
Salto Curet Falls
You can access this exceptional waterfall by driving on a curving road through the rugged Maricao region, and then taking a short but challenging 20-minute hike to the falls. Not only is the landscape here raw and unspoiled, but this waterfall isn’t usually busy so you may have the huge natural swimming pool all to yourself.
The water is fantastic for swimming in – unless there’s been heavy rain! If it rained the day before expect this waterfall to be gushing with orange muddy water. It looks wild, but it’s not great for photos or swimming. You can see a great description of this hike and directions here.
These falls located on the western side of Puerto Rico in San Sebastian are easily accessible and make for a perfect family day trip. However because of how easy they are to visit, they can get very busy with locals and tourists alike, so getting here early is the key to avoiding the crowds.
The trail itself is easy as it’s paved and there’s also a large parking area close by. There are some steep steps, but nothing too challenging. The result of your efforts is a waterfall over 60 feet tall, as well as few smaller ones, and lots of natural bathing pools to try out. There’s also a submerged cave here which is used for swimming.
Along with a rope swing, if you’re feeling brave there is a 30 ft cliff where locals jump off into a deep pool at the base of the falls. You may see a few people on an adrenaline rush doing exactly that when visiting. Maybe watch and learn before attempting the daring jump yourself.
For a less busy waterfall, make your way to Las Tinajas, a small falls nestled in the pretty Fajardo Mountains. The waterfalls here are several meters tall, and there’s two big natural swimming pools to enjoy. The largest pool, called Chico Frio, is one of our favorite swimming spots in Puerto Rico.
There’s some large boulders that locals like to jump off and a few rope swings too. Further upstream are other jumping spots and a natural rock slide which locals use to slide down into one of the swimming pools!
It’s a 25-minute scenic but challenging hike through lush forest to get here, but one that’s well worth it. This is a popular place for BBQs and picnics, and with no phone reception it’s a great place to disconnect from the world too. See the trail here.
La Canoa Falls
This wonderfall 70-foot waterfall will take you along the El Hippie River in Naguabo and have you pass stunning caves that have ancient rock carvings. Around you will be some of Puerto Rico’s most unspoiled forest.
This area can be pretty challenging to navigate on your own, and we suggest getting a local guide to help take you to the falls. It will be worth it as the huge natural swimming pool here is perfect for lounging around in the sun, and there’s plenty of places to sit for a picnic and enjoy Puerto Rico’s pristine natural landscape.
Definitely one of our favorite waterfalls in Puerto Rico, and one that feels very wild and rural. There’s a few natural water slides here too.
Doña Juana Waterfall
The stunning natural wonder is in Orocovis, along Road 149 at the 41.5-kilometer marker, in Puerto Rico’s Central Mountain Range. Composed of three waterfalls totaling 100 feet, Doña Juana is a tranquil destination like no other on the island. Plus, one of the perks of visiting the falls is there’s no hiking required to get here.
The waterfall is an excellent spot for swimming but it also makes for a great photo op too. We advise stopping by the nearby Toro Negro State Forest on the way for some extraordinary outdoor adventures like hiking and camping.
Although it’s located by a road, this road isn’t usually busy so the waterfall doesn’t tend to have many visitors. The natural swimming pool at the base of the waterfall is great for bathing, but it’s also one of the coldest waterfall pools in Puerto Rico!
La Niebla Waterfall
This 300ft cascade is the largest of all waterfalls in Puerto Rico, and it’s a spectacular sight.
To get here, we recommend hiking from one end of San Cristobal Canyon to the other, a hike that’s regarded by many on the island as Puerto Rico’s best trail. You will need good shoes and there’s a lot of fire ants near the trail so we recommend wearing long pants.
The trail (four miles end-to-end) is well marked but not well maintained, and the going is steep and challenging in places. However you’ll be hiking through Puerto Rico’s most wild landscape, you’ll get the chance to swim in bathing pools very few swim in, and get the chance to witness the highest waterfall here. For us, it’s worth it, but we do recommend taking a local guide to get the best experience.