Besides history, music and other culture, cuisine, and beaches, one of the prime allures of the “Island of Enchantment” is its nature in various forms, from castaway offshore isles to rain forests to bioluminescent bays. Another of nature’s spectacles on impressive display here is a slew of waterfalls, all of which have pools at the bottom where you can take a refreshing dip.
La Mina and Charca Juan Diego
Both of these are located in El Yunque National Forest, about an hour’s drive from San Juan and the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest system. You’ll find short but might La Mina at the end of a 1.1-kilometre (just under 3/4 of a mile) trail, tumbling some 11 metres (35 feet); come during the rainy season (May through October, with August being the wettest) to see it at full force. Far higher at 328m (1,076 ft.) Juan Diego is also easier to get to, at the end of a trail of just 200m (650 ft.).
Down around the centre of the island between the towns of Ciales and Jayuya, some 90 minutes from San Juan, a somewhat twisty road through the Tres Picachos State Forest is home to “The Delights”, an intimate little charmer which is actually a double waterfall, the higher of which drops about 10m (33 ft.). It truly feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, and the water here is said to be the purest in all of Puerto Rico.
El Chorro de Doña Juana
Not far from Las Delicias, in the Toro Negro State Forest between Ciales and the nearby towns of Orocovis and Villalba, the skinny, three-tier “Lady Jane” is located right alongside the road (which is part of the Panoramic Route across the interior of the island), but there’s no car park, so visitors leave their wheels at the road’s edge. Besides swimming, you’ll even spot some people (usually young guys, of course), jumping into the pool from rocks.
Farthest west on our list, out in the central highlands near the mountain town of Maricao, also on the Panoramic Route just under two hours from San Juan, this very-off-the-beaten-path-feeling pair of falls drops 100m (328 ft.) and can be reached after a 20-minute walk along (and sometimes wading in ) the shallow, crystal clear Lajas River (you can also make the trip shorter/easier with a 4WD vehicle).