Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ecotourism In Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is quickly becoming a big destination for ecotourism.  With lush vegetation and wildlife, great beaches, and many outdoor activities, ecotourism has become one of the main attractions in Puerto Rico. There is so much to see and do for the ecotourist visiting Puerto Rico.

The following are some of the major ecotourist attractions in Puerto Rico:

El Yunque

El Yunque National Forest, is the only tropical rain forest in the United States, and is well-known for its incredible biodiversity.  The 28,000 acres includes four forest types and has 240 species of trees, more than 50 kinds of orchids, 150 different ferns, and hundreds of small animal and bird species call it home.   El Yunque is home to the endangered Puerto Rican parrot.  El Yunque has many hiking trails, and picnic facilities.  El Yunque National Forest is located 45 minutes east of San Juan.

Guánica State Forest

The Guánica State Forest is a subtropical dry forest located in southwest Puerto Rico, between Mayaguez and Ponce, and one of the best examples of a tropical dry coastal forest in the world.  An official UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, the Guánica State Forest spreads over a large coastal area and has a number of mangrove cays.  The forest contains 1000 insect species,700 plant species and 40 bird species.  The Guánica forest is the best location for bird-watching in Puerto Rico, and has twelve major trails that range from easy to rugged.

Rio Camuy Cave Park

The Camuy River Cave Park is one of the most popular natural attractions in Puerto Rico.  The Camuy Caves is one of the largest cave systems in the world.  The caverns are part of a group of limestone caves and underground waterways shaped by The Camuy River, the third-largest underground river in the world.  The 268-acre park built around the cave system features tours of some of the caves and sinkholes.  The Camuy Caves, are located between the towns of Camuy, Hatillo and Lares, in northwestern Puerto Rico. 

Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park

Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park was built by Taino Indians 800 years ago for recreation, worship, and astronomical observations, and is one of the most important archeological sites in the West Indies.  The Caguana park is located in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico.  There are 30 ball courts (Bateyes) that have been restored, and Monoliths and rock engravings carved by the Taínos can be seen among the rocks and stones.  The park also includes a small museum containing Taíno artifacts, archaeological exhibits and a botanical garden.

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is located on the northeast corner of Puerto Rico, and the reserve shelters seven different ecological systems, including beaches, lagoons, dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves.  Endangered species of birds and turtles live in this 316 acres reserve.  You can also find Las Cabezas de San Juan Light House, one of the oldest lighthouses in Puerto Rico. 

Bioluminescent Bay

Fajardo, Puerto Rico, is home to one of the few Bioluminescent Bays in the world.  A one of a kind attraction, a bio bay is a body of water, that contains millions of micro-organisms, called "dinoflagellates", that glow in the dark when agitated.  It is a rare, natural wonder, that you can easily experience while visiting Puerto Rico.  It is best seen on a dark night, or moonless night.  But even on a less than ideal night, the bioluminescence will be visible.  The best way to see it, is to take a kayak tour of the bay with a local company.   The island of Vieques, off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, has another Bioluminescent Bay, Mosquito Bay or The Bio Bay, and is considered the world's largest and brightest.

Toro Verde Adventure Park

Toro Verde is the largest aerial park in the western hemisphere and owns the longest cable in the Americas.  Children and adults can enjoy extreme sports and beautiful landscapes at Toro Verde Park.  If you like adventure, this is the place for you.  The park has 15 zip lines, including The Beast, a 4,745ft long zip line which is about 900 ft. above the forest floor, monkey bridges, and you can go mountain-biking on routes with various difficulty levels.

There are many attractions to see and to explore as an eco-traveler in Puerto Rico.  Take time to visit beyond San Juan.  Take a look at this video from El Yunque National Forest:


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