Visitors to Puerto Rico often leave feeling that it is the most beautiful place they have ever seen and cannot wait to return. The flora and fauna of the island add to the rainbow of color that abounds. Here’s a guide to some of the incredible animals and plant-life you might see on your next visit.
Iguanas are native to Central and South America, but were introduced to Puerto Rico in the 1970s through the pet trade. Some of these pets were released into the wild and have now become a full-blown pest control issue, mostly due to the fact that they have no natural predator on the island. Their herbivorous diet makes the agricultural southeast region of the island a perfect area for them, but a detriment to the farmers. Harvest and sale of their meat may be a solution to this problem. If you want to see a lot of them, visit Puerto Rico in March, which is their mating season.
In July, the roadsides and mountains glow with the fiery red of the flamboyant tree. These gorgeous trees are also found in yellow, but are not as prevalent. There is also a rare blue flamboyant, but there is some debate whether this is a true flamboyant. Red, yellow or blue, they are all breathtaking.
Puerto Rican screech owl
This small brown owl is native to Puerto Rico, and is found primarily in El Yunque rainforest, but can also be seen on the islands of Vieques and Culebra. They help with pest control by eating large insects like cockroaches, small lizards like anoles and various rodents.
Puerto Rican hibiscus
According to elboricua.com, Puerto Rico’s national flower is the flor de maga. The maga is closely related to hibiscus, but unlike the common hibiscus the maga is a saucer-sized flower and grows on a large tree. The maga is native to Puerto Rico and is grown in tropical climates as an ornamental plant, with pink or red flowers. The maga flowers are cup-shaped with five overlapping petals. These flowers grow on a tree, not a bush, and they depend on birds and bats for dispersal.
Puerto Rican parrot
At the time of the first Spanish colony in the early 1600s, there were believed to be a million parrots on the island. But over the years, as human population increased and deforestation occurred, the numbers dropped drastically until in 1973 there were only 13 iguacas, the Taino word for the parrot. The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program was making great strides to renew the population and at last count, before hurricanes Irma and Maria, there were almost 60 parrots in the wild. The scientists at El Yunque continue to work at locating and reviving their parrot population.
Beehive ginger have a unique shape and are a sturdy flower that comes in a number of different colors. Chocolate beehive ginger is a chocolaty brown, yellow beehive ginger is yellow with splashes of red, and Pink Maraca has a reddish-pink lower bract area topped with gold. Depending on the variety, beehive ginger can grow from four to 15 feet (1.22 to 4.57 meters) tall.
You will find the most amazing avocados in Puerto Rico. The variety grown here is a very large avocado with tremendous flavor and a very creamy texture The fruit is ready around September and October, and the trees only produce every other year. Two trees are needed to produce fruit.
Rhesus macaques monkeys
Cayo Santiago is also known as “Monkey Island.” In 1938, 406 rhesus macaque monkeys were shipped there and have been studied ever since. It took the monkeys a little time to adjust, but they eventually did and started breeding. They quickly ate most of the naturally-available food, so monkey chow was shipped to the island and still is to this day. Hurricane Maria devastated the island, and scientists who work with the populations indicate that they are skittish, probably suffering from some PTSD, but employees were going to the island the day after Maria to check on them and take them food. The monkeys used their survival skills to hide and huddle, and they continue to survive.
Coccoloba rugosa is an ornamental plant that is also known as red sea grape. This plant is native to Puerto Rico and can be identified by its long thin cluster of red globe-shaped lobes.
No article about the fauna of Puerto Rico is complete without including the ever-present and very loud coquí. The male coquí’s mating call of “ko-kee,” from which it gets its common name, has been measured at 90 to 100 decibels, making it the loudest existing amphibian. Once found only in Puerto Rico, the coquí is the cultural symbol of the island. There are 17 different coquís on the island that range in color from green to yellow to brown with various accent colors.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.