We are hiking to remote beaches, birdwatching, and bike rides.
The Bosque Seco de Guánica, a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, is one of the world's most extensive tropical dry coastal forests, totaling around 9,000 acres of land.
Approximately two hours from San Juan and less than half an hour from Ponce, you'll find an astonishing slice of paradise on the southwest side of Puerto Rico. Close to the Bahía de Guánica, or Guánica Bay, the forest's arid land is home to hundreds of species of animals and plants, many endangered. The flora is divided into the deciduous, evergreen, and thorny categories, while the coastal zone includes mangroves, among other species adapted to the sand and rocks.
The sound of birdsongs is a regular feature of the park's peaceful splendor. More than 130 birds have been identified there, among them the guabairo, palometa, brown pelican, and various endemic species. Within the refuge is marine and terrestrial wildlife, including reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
The reserve features 12 different trails to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty. One of the most popular among locals is also one of the longest (six miles), but the payoff is a historic fort known as Fuerte Caprón. You can admire a fantastic view of Guánica Bay from the fort, a landmark structure built out of wood by Spaniards in the 16th century and then rebuilt in the 19th century by American forces as a protective fortification.
Other shorter options are available if you aren't inclined to that distance. For example, the Ballena Trail, close to Tamarindo Beach and Ballena Bay, is an exciting path offering a few breathtaking photo opportunities and a remote beach. Similar trails include the Cueva Trail, which leads you to the coast and features natural caves.
If you prefer to drive instead of hike, there are roads you can follow that will take you very close to the forest and provide you with a clear view of Guánica's coast or the Central Mountain Range. If mountain biking is your thing, you can also bring your bicycle.
Travel Tips and Recommendations
- Start your trip at the visitors' center for information and guidance about choosing a route. You can also park free of charge and find restrooms at this location.
- Plan accordingly: you'll need a full day to complete the trip if you are traveling from the metropolitan area of San Juan, spending time in the park, and making it back. You might be better off spending a night nearby and exploring at a leisurely pace. But that's up to you.
- Entrance to the forest is free of charge. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (or during daylight hours).
- Bring your sunglasses and hat. Wear sturdy shoes and light clothing. Bring sunscreen and plenty of water so you can be protected against the Caribbean sun and dry environment.
- A good spray repellent could prove helpful against bug bites.
- Carry plenty of water and snacks and maintain yourself hydrated at all times.
- A well-charged cellphone with GPS will help this trip, so ensure your devices are charged.
Directions and Address
Follow Route 116 until you reach Route 334. Turn toward Bosque Estatal de Guánica, Guánica, PR 00653 | Tel. 787-821-5706