Top 10 Things to See and Do in Central Puerto Rico

Cordillera Central (central mountain range)
Cordillera Central (central mountain range) | © Deb Stgo/Flickr
Mariela Santos

Central Puerto Rico is probably the area on the island that is least visited by tourists, particularly as the capital city is breathtaking and the west coast so popular for its surfing waves. However, there are plenty of exciting attractions in central Puerto Rico, particularly for nature lovers. Here are the top things to see and do in the area; you’re guaranteed to want to return.

Toro Negro Forest

This nature reserve is located within the Cordillera Central, the mountain range that spans from the town of Yabucoa to Mayagüez. It covers about 7,000 acres (28 square km) and in addition to the lush foliage, there are rivers and waterfalls inside of the reserve’s borders for visitors to discover and enjoy. One of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful waterfalls, Dona Juaña waterfall, is part of the reserve. There are areas for hikers and restaurants nearby.

Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center

The Tainó indigenous community is a vital part of Puerto Rican heritage, and travelers can learn about them by visiting the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center. This interesting attraction in Utuado dates back for centuries and has been well preserved. Visitors can see petroglyphs, indigenous artifacts and ceremonial plazas.

San Cristobal Canyon

A natural beauty, the San Cristobal Canyon is an open crevice that extends 500 feet (152 metres) into the Cordillera Central and is home to the Usabon River. It’s fairly easy to view the canyon, but entering it isn’t recommended for everyone, as some mountaineering skills are required. The canyon may take some visitors by surprise, as it seems to open out of nowhere. This is definitely a must-visit attraction for your to-do list.

Part of San Cristobal Canyon in Puerto Rico

The Tanama River

By traveling to and along the Tanama River, visitors can go hiking, cave tubing, and look at petroglyphs. Many adventures are available, and there are many companies that can guide visitors in these activities, including Tanama River Adventures and Westside Adventures. Make sure to bring necessities such as sunscreen and water for these outdoor adventures to guarantee that your experience will be more comfortable.

El Cemi Museum

One of Puerto Rico’s top museums, the small but fascinating El Cemi Museum is named after the cemi, a three-pointed object with religious significance for the indigenous people of Puerto Rico, the Tainos. It is believed that the cemis were important because they had religious meaning, and the museum’s building is shaped just like the artifact. The museum is located amongst mountains and the surrounding views are lovely.

Two Mouths Lake

Two Mouths Lake, or Lago Dos Bocas in Spanish, is an artificial lake located in Utuado and boasting some impressive views. Don’t forget to stop at one of the nearby restaurants to try some of their delicious dishes. There are some other attractions not far from the lake, such as the Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Center and the Arecibo Observatory.

Two Mouths Lake in Puerto Rico

Hacienda Luz de Luna

Hacienda Luz de Luna is a family-run restaurant with a focus on local ingredients. You can also buy a number of products here, including coffee, cider and marmalade.

The Ruta Panoramica

The Ruta Panomarica or “panoramic route” passes through many towns and takes travelers through parts of the mountainous Cordillera Central. Take this scenic route to see areas of Puerto Rico that many people don’t experience. You’ll be treated to lush landscapes and unforgettable views.

La Piedra Escrita

La Piedra Escrita or “the written rock” is a huge rock, some 32 feet (10 metres) high, featuring ancient petroglyphs. The meanings of these markings aren’t known. Not far from the rock is El Cemi Museum, and both attractions are great locations for learning about the Puerto Rican indigenous people, the Tainos.

Part of Piedra Escrita in Jayuya

Guilarte Forest Reserve

Found in part of the Cordillera Central, the Guilarte Forest Reserve offers beautiful views; visitors can even see sections of San Juan and Ponce on a good day. There are cabins available in the reserve for visitors, places to go for picnics and some great spots for birdwatching. Entering the reserve is fairly easy as there are various entrance points in a handful of different towns, including Adjuntas and Yauco. Check out the stunning scenery and be in the know about one of Puerto Rico’s great spots.

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