On the first full day of our Thanksgiving vacation we rented a car and drove to El Yunque National Forest. Gary was a good sport and drove while we navigated with a tourist, picture map. We exited the highway and wound our way to park where we made our first stop at a lovely, roadside waterfall. Along with countless others, we admired the water cascading over the sheer rock formation before we traveled farther up the road to Yokahu Tower.
The Forest Service built the 75-foot structure as an observation tower in 1962 which is named for the good spirit “Yuquiyu” who reigned the mountaintop protecting Puerto Rico and its people. We took the 98 steps to the top for a view of the northeast coast, offshore islands, and mountain peaks.
After enjoying the view, we headed to our next stop, La Mina Falls. We followed a mostly cement trail filled with decorative rock for about 30 minutes to a waterfall which ended up being anti-climatic given forty screaming kids were in the pool below.
The walk to the waterfall, despite being terribly slick and super muggy, was quite nice. The path followed an aqua blue creek beneath a canopy of trees so thick that we rarely felt the sporadic showers. We should have spent more time on the path enjoying the small waterfalls and tranquil pools in the creek versus trying to reach the falls at the end!
After our time in the rain forest, we headed to the town of Luquillo to try out some street food. The street was lined with about sixty kiosks, half of which weren’t open probably because it was a Wednesday, but it didn’t stop us from finding some fantastic arepas!
Gary and I had the conch, Bart had the octopus, and Ellen had the shrimp. We all felt like we ordered the best one. We also ordered a few other fried, local foods that we probably could have skipped, particularly the meat pie wrapped in banana, but it is always fun to try the local flavor!
We made it back to the hotel just before the afternoon rainstorm and enjoyed a lovely dinner at the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Fern, with cuisine influenced by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While the food was delicious, the service didn’t stand out. In fact, it became quite humorous. I think five things got dropped in five minutes! And of course, we were on island time.
Overall, we enjoyed a fun day of vacation in the rain forest and touring Puerto Rico. ETB