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Camping 


[ camping introduction ] [ dner sites at forest reserves & wildlife refuges ] [ dner camping permits ] [ government sponsored sites ]

[ el yunque rainforest ] [ independent campgrounds ] [ vieques island ] [ culebra island ] [ t.j. ranch ] [ villas mar ] [ hatillo ]

[ phillips fruit farm ] [ punta guilarte ] [ casas de la selva ] [ camping tips ] [ quick reference table ]


Camping Introduction

Camping under the stars in Puerto Rico, what more can a nature lover ask for? If you enjoy camping, and want to take part in this activity on your visit, then brace yourself for a pleasant surprise. Puerto Rico has many camping options from which to chose. The island features campgrounds in the mountains, foothills, karst regions* and on selected beaches. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) oversees many sites in several Forest Reserves and Wildlife Refuges. The government also runs five campgrounds with cabins. Campsites run by independent operators exist, as well. Many of the campsites are located far from San Juan, and you will need transportation to reach them. For first time campers, I recommended campsites in Toro Negro, Rio Abajo and Culebra Island. These sites are by far the safest. They're well maintained, and have exceptional accommodations.

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DNER Sites at Forest Reserves and Wildlife Refuges

The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) maintains and administers a number of campgrounds on the Island. These areas comprise campgrounds along the Cordillera Central including Charco Azul and Guavate in the Carite Forest, Los Viveros in the Toro Negro Forest, Las Cabañas in the Monte Guilarte State Forest, Lucchetti in the Lago Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge, Almáclgo I and Almáclgo II in the Susua State Forest. In the North of the Island there's Vereda in the Guajataca State Forest, La Boba and La Rosa in the Cambalache State Forest,  María Soto in the Rio Abajo State Forest and to the West Pájaros, Sardinera and Uvero in the Isla De Mona Wildlife Refuge. Information about these campgrounds are provided below.

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The Cordillera Central

The Cordillera Central is an extensive mountain range that transects Puerto Rico from east to west. Huge mountain forests blanket the country side at several locations along this range. The highest point is at 4,000 feet. The temperature is a typical 70 to 75 degrees during the day. At night It can drop to a cool 60 degrees. The forests offer visitors some excellent options for camping. At high elevations the rivers are clean enough to drink. There's also plenty of opportunity for swimming and fishing.

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The Carite Forest

The Carite Forest is located in the eastern region of the Cordillera Central, east of Cayey. The facility features two campgrounds. The Forest has a short winding trail that ends at the Charco Azul Recreational area pond and the first campground. It can hold 50 people on 10 campsites. A second campground, the Guavate Recreational Area, is at the opposite end of the Forest. It holds 30 people on 6 campsites. Both grounds have campfire, bathrooms, showers and outhouses. Recreation includes the Rio Patillas recreational areas and Charco Azul pool. Nearby Lake Carite has developed family style villas and a fishing facility. To reach the Carite Forest from San Juan travel highway 52 south towards Ponce. Between Caguas and Cayey take Route 184.

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Toro Negro Forest

North of the town of Villalba you'll find the Toro Negro Forest, the highest peak along the Cordillera Central and the highest geological structure in all the island. Los Viveros campgrounds is located in the Reserve between the highest lakes on the island, Lake Matrullas and Lake Guineo. Los Viveros holds up to 35 people on 7 campsites. Other campsite configurations are acceptable. Cabins are available around the lakes. Camping facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers and outhouses. The Doña Juana Recreational Area offers a great hour hike to an observation tower, the Salto de Dona Juana (waterfall) and a natural-water public swimming pool. Visitors can also hike 750' down the sides of a steep canyon, the San Cristobal Canyon. This volcanic rift is 10 degrees warmer at the bottom, were a stream exists. The Guineo and Matrullas man made lakes are stocked with plenty of bass, catfish, sunfish, tilapia and sardines. Fly fishing and kayaking is encouraged. Six bird species are commonly seen throughout. To reach Toro Negro State Forest from San Juan, take Expressway 52 South toward Ponce. At the Juana Diaz exit, take Road 149 North toward Villalba. Continue to Route 143 and follow this road to the campsite entrance at Km. 31.8.

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Guilarte State Forest

The Guilarte Forest is located in the western region of the Cordillera Central, just west of Adjuntas. There's no camping allowed, but there's an area called Las Cabañas where 5 cabins are rented and will hold a capacity of 30 people. For about $20 per night your cabin is equipped with no electricity, water, campfire, bunk beds (some with mattresses), Bathroom, with shower barbecue facilities. Reservations are required in advance.

 

Recreation includes picnic facilities, a half-hour-long hiking trail to Guilarte Peak and visitors center, smaller trails to Lake Garzas, Charco el Mangó pool and Adjuntas Forest. Out of 26 bird species, 10 species are commonly seen throughout.

 

There are to ways of reaching Monte Guilarte State Forest, from San Juan. Take Expressway 22 toward Arecibo to the Route 10 exit. Take this passed Utuado  to  Adjuntas exit and take Road 135. Follow it to Road 131 and continue on 131 to the campsite entrance. A second way is to take highway #52 South toward Ponce. At Ponce switch to highway 2 to Guayanilla. Take highway #10 North to Adjuntas. Catch Road #518 to Guilarte Peak.

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Foothills of the Cordillera Central

Lago Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge

Lago Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge is located near Yauco in the western expanse of the Cordillera Central foothills. The campgrounds at Lake Lucchetti Recreational Area holds a capacity of 71 people. The grounds are equipped with bathrooms, showers and tables. Recreational facilities include a boat ramp and picnic areas. To reach the Lago Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge, take Expressway 52 to Ponce and Route 2 to the Yauco exit. Then take Road 128 to the refuge entrance at Km. 12.3.

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Susúa State Forest

Susúa State Forest is located between Lago Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge and Sabana Grande in the western expanse of the Cordillera Central foothills. Two campgrounds are located in this region. The campgrounds at Almáclgo I holds a capacity of 100 people on 25 campsites. Almáclgo II holds a capacity of 75 people on 15 campsites. Both facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, ball courts, bike paths, recreational area and a river. To reach Susúa State Forest from San Juan, take Expressway 52 to Ponce and Route 2 to Yauco. In Yauco switch to Road 368 and continue to Km. 2.1.

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North

Guajataca State Forest

Guajataca State Forest is located west of Quebradillas in the northwest region of Puerto Rico. The campground at Vereda hold 50 people on 10 campsites. Facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers. Recreational area includes 25 miles of trails, Cueva del Viento ('wind cave), Lake Guajataca Recreational Area. To reach the Guajataca State Forest from San Juan, take Expressway to Route 2. Head west to the Road 446 exit between Quebradillas and Isabela. Take this road to the entrance of the facilities.

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Cambalache State Forest

The Cambalache State Forest is located in the North Central region of the island near Barceloneta. The Forest has two campgrounds. La Boba campground accommodates 14 people on 4 campsites.  La Rosa campground holds 35 people on 8 campsites. Facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, outhouses. Recreation includes various trails including bike trails.

 

To reach the Cambalache State Forest take Expressway 22 from San Juan to Arecibo and exit at Route 140. 

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Rio Abajo State Forest

Rio Abajo State Forest is located in the North Central region of Puerto Rico west of the Cambalache State Forest. The María Soto campground holds 40 persons. This facility features water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, gazebos and tables. Recreational areas include caves, hiking trails, Lake Dos Bocas, Río Abajo (river).

 

To reach Rio Abajo State Forest from San Juan, take Expressway 22 west toward Arecibo. Turn south on Route 10 toward Utuado. Turn west on Route 621 and continue to Km. 4.4 and the park entrance.

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West

Isla De Mona Wildlife Refuge

Mona Island is located about 50 miles west of Cabo Rojo. This nature refuge has evolved into a well balanced ecosystem, and features many trails, caves, cliffs and pristine shores with the clearest waters you'll find this side of the Caribbean. A diversity of land and marine life flourish here including sea turtles, whales, exotic birds and giant iguanas. In addition visitors to the island will find a multitude of species of plant and tree life and insects.

 

Three campgrounds exist on the Island. Pájaros campground accommodates 30 people, Sardinera 75 people and Uvero 30 during hunting season only. the Sardinera campground features bathrooms and showers. Recreational areas include a museum, information center, caves, cliffs, hiking trails and coral reefs.

 

The only way to get to the island is by boat, and it must cross into the Mona passage. This body of water is treated with the utmost respect because of its rough reputation. There is no drinking water on the Island so don't forget to take your own. Reach Mona Island Wildlife Refuge by private charter, tour operators or fishing boats from Puerto Real in Cabo Rojo.

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Forest Reserves and Wildlife Refuges Camping Permits

You will need camping permits for all the DNER campgrounds mentioned above. Call the forest service offices at 724-3724 or 724-3647 for information on permits and regulations, or obtain them in the San Juan Offices next to San Juan Bay Marina. The average price for a camping spot is about $4 per person, per night.  Cabins in Guilarte go for $20 for up to 4 persons. They also handle permits for trips to Mona Island. A quick reference table is available below with information on some popular sites mentioned.

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Government Sponsored Campgrounds

The government sponsors five campgrounds with cabins at Añasco, Boqueròn, Humacao, Maricao and Punta Guilarte. The cabins accommodate up to six guests.  Amenities include barbecues, refrigerators and stoves. For Information and pricing, call the government's Recreation Development Company at 722-1551 or 722-1772.

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El Yunque Rainforest  (Caribbean National Forest) 

The US Forest Service oversees the Caribbean National Forest. The Forest is a popular tourist site known to the locals as 'El Yunque Rain Forest.' 

 

El Yunque is located in the northeast region of the Island. It features one of the most popular hiking sites on the largest area of forest in Puerto Rico. When you enter El Yunque from highway # 3 you'll be on road #191. A short drive on this road will take you to El Portal visitor center. This is where you can get a camping permit. There is no fee for the permit. Just make sure you get to El Portal before 3pm. You can also get a camping permit at the field station a little further up on the north side of road #191.

 

There are no specified campgrounds in El Yunque, and no facilities. With your permit, you are allowed to camp anywhere in the forest. There is one small snack concession at the side of the road on your way up on road #191. There's over 13 miles (20.8 km) of well maintained trails, some of which can take as long as 4 hours to complete. A favorite trail is the 30-minute walk to La Mina waterfall from the Palo Colorado Visitor Information Center & Picnic Area. The South side of the mountain has no facilities, and scarcely any tourists. Most of the trails begin from Route #191. At higher altitudes the river waters are immaculate. 

 

Recreation includes jumping into one of the mountain streams and waterfalls! Watch out! It's cold! You can also try to hike up a trail to Mt. Britton, in the dwarf forest. Remember! This is a rain forest and everything is commonly wet. 

Like everywhere else on the island you have to look after your personal property especially if you are camping over night. Thievery is not uncommon by the roads if property is left unattended. Thieves do not wonder far into the forest, so don't camp near a road or trail. 

 

To reach El Yunque Rain Forest from San Juan catch Baldorioty De Castro (Route #26) to highway #3. Approaching Luquillo turn into road #191.

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Independent Campgrounds

Vieques Island

Camping is allowed on Vieques Island. You'll find Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, several lagoons, mangrove canals plus three of the most beautiful beaches this side of the Caribbean. Here on the south side of the island kayakers are welcomed for an evening and day excursion in Mosquito Bay. There are a few bathing facilities on the beaches. On the south side, Sun Bay provide coastal campgrounds. Permits are required for all sites. Call 721-2800 or 636-6340 for more information.

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Culebra Island

Culebra Island is a popular place to camp especially during the winter. The campground is located on the lovely Flamenco Beach. For $10. per tent you get water and toilets. Drinking the water is not recommended. A bus trip into town for supplies is a snap. The campgrounds are well protected at night, with guards. Recreational areas include the snorkeling, sun bathing, and hiking. The island gets very crowed during the summer. Reach Culebra Island by ferry from Fajardo or Vieques Island. You can also fly there from the mainland.

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T.J. Ranch

T.J. Ranch does not feature camping any more. They have private cabins at $100. for double occupancy and breakfast. Each cabins has a porch. You must reserve a cabin in advance. Email tjranch@caribe.net  or call 880-1217 for more information.

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Villas Mar

Villas Mar is a private farm on the beach in Isabela. Cabins and some tent sites are available for $10. per night. Inquire with the main office about horseback riding. Villas Mar can be reached off road #411 in Isabela. Call 872-2045 for more information.

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Hatillo

In the north, in the province of Hatillo, near Sardinera Beach you can rent tent sites for $50 for the first two nights. Call 820-0274 for more information.

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Phillips Exotic Fruit Farm

This 12 acres exotic fruit farm is locate north of Naguabo off the perimeter of El Yunque rain forest on road #191. Rent cabins there for $35 and night. several tent sites are also available. Ask for Robin as your guide to the petroglyphs and forest area. For more information call 874-2138, or  write to: Phillips, HC1 box 4449, Naguabo, PR 00718 .

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Punta Guilarte

On the South of the island in Arroyo, there are coastal campgrounds in Punta Guilarte. Bathing facilities are included. Permits are required for all sites. Call 721-2800 or 636-6340 for more information.

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Las Casas de la Selva

Near Carite Forest lies Las Casas de la Selva, a privately owned 1,000 acre reserve. You'll find a saw mill and some primitive cabins on the site. Call 636-6340 for reservations and more information.

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Camping Tips

During the evening you will be continually serenaded by Puerto Rico's tiny tree frogs the coqui. 'Killer bees' have migrated to this island, so stay away from bee hives. You'll find snakes and scorpions, none of which they tell me are lethal. A law was passed in 1995 forbidding camping on public beaches, so only camp on beaches that are designated campsites. Always be on the lookout for petty-theft in areas that are not patrolled, especially at night. 

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For your convenience we have provided you with a summary of the above information in an easy to read Quick Reference Table format. Directions to all sites can be found at the end of each article above.


Quick Reference Table

Campgrounds Capacity Description
Almáclgo I 100 people, 25 campsites Both facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, ball courts, bike paths, recreational area and a river.
Almáclgo II 75 people, 15 campsites
Charco Azul 50 people, 10 campsites Both grounds have campfire, bathrooms, showers and outhouses. Recreation includes the Rio Patillas recreational areas and Charco Azul pool. Nearby Lake Carite has developed family style villas and a fishing facility.
Guavate 30 people, 6 campsites
Culebra Island Info not available.

 

$10. per tent. You get water and toilets. Drinking the water is not recommended. A bus trip into town for supplies is a snap. The campgrounds are well protected at night, with guards. Recreational areas include the snorkeling, sun bathing, and hiking. 
Hatillo Info not available.

Visitors can rent tent sites for $50 for the first two nights.

La Boba 14 people, 4 campsites Both facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, outhouses. Recreation includes various trails including bike trails.
La Rosa 35 people, 8 campsites
Las Cabañas 30 people, 5 cabins

For about $20 per night your cabin is equipped with water, campfire, bunk beds (some with mattresses), Bathroom, with shower barbecue facilities. No electricity. Recreation includes picnic facilities, hiking trail to Guilarte Peak, lesser trails to Lake Garzas, Charco el Mangó pool and Adjuntas Forest. Out of 26 bird species, 10 species are commonly seen throughout. Reservations are required in advance.

Las Casas de la Selva Info not available. Near Carite Forest. A privately owned 1,000 acre reserve. You'll find a saw mill and some primitive cabins on the site.
Los Viveros 35 people 7 campsites. Other campsite configurations are acceptable. Cabins are available around the lakes. Camping facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers and outhouses. The Doña Juana Recreational Area offers a hike to an observation tower, the Salto de Dona Juana (waterfall) and a natural-water public swimming pool. Hike 750' down the sides of a steep canyon, the San Cristobal Canyon. The Guineo and Matrullas man made lakes are stocked with plenty of bass, catfish, sunfish, tilapia and sardines. Fly fishing and kayaking is encouraged. Six bird species are commonly seen throughout.
Lucchetti 71 people The grounds are equipped with bathrooms, showers and tables. Recreational facilities include a boat ramp and picnic areas. 
María Soto 40 persons This facility features water, campfire, bathrooms, showers, gazebos and tables. Recreational areas include caves, hiking trails, Lake Dos Bocas, Río Abajo (river). 
Pájaros 30 people Only the Sardinera campground features bathrooms and showers. Recreational areas include a museum, information center, caves, cliffs, hiking trails and coral reefs.
Sardinera 75 people
Uvero 30 people (hunting season only)
Phillips Exotic Fruit Farm Info not available.

This 12 acres exotic fruit farm is locate north of Naguabo. Rent cabins there for $35 and night. Several tent sites are also available.

Punta Guilarte Info not available.

On the South of the island in Arroyo, there are coastal campgrounds in Punta Guilarte. Bathing facilities are included. Permits are required for all sites. Call 721-2800 or 636-6340 for more information.

T.J. Ranch Info not available.

No camping. They have private cabins at $100. for double occupancy and breakfast . Each cabins has a porch. You must reserve a cabin in advance. 

Vereda 50 people, 10 campsites Facilities include water, campfire, bathrooms, showers. Recreational area includes 25 miles of trails, Cueva del Viento ('wind cave), Lake Guajataca Recreational Area. 
Vieques Island Info not available.

 

Sun Bay provide coastal campgrounds. Permits are required. You'll find Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, several lagoons, mangrove canals plus three of the most beautiful beaches this side of the Caribbean. Here on the south side of the island kayakers are welcomed for an evening and day excursion in Mosquito Bay. There are a few bathing facilities on the beaches. On the south side, Sun Bay provide coastal campgrounds. Permits are required.
Villas Mar Info not available. A private farm on the beach in Isabela with cabins and some tent sites for $10. per night. Inquire with the main office about horseback riding. 
Yunque  Info not available.

With your permit, you are allowed to camp anywhere in the forest. Must hike to one snack concession. There's over 13 miles (20.8 km) of well maintained trails. Recreation includes jumping into one of the, mountain streams and waterfalls! Also hike up a trail to Mt. Britton, in the dwarf forest.

*karst - irregular limestone region with sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.

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Revisado /Revised: January 17, 2017