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The RainForest Inn, El Yunque

A luxurious rainforest getaway in the mountains of Puerto Rico

What does tropical island getaway look like to you?

How about a chalet deep in the rainforest perched on the side of a mountain with panoramic views of the ocean? Weave in the rich colors of the flowers, the swaying palm trees, and the forest sounds that come alive as dusk settles in? What if we added a rainforest trail hike that ends in a private secluded infinity edge waterfall and cooling swimming hole to relax the afternoon? Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

views from the mountainsideIn our love for the Caribbean and especially for the beauty of Puerto Rico, our search revealed to us this gem located within Puerto Rico’s El Yunque Rainforest, a 45-minute drive east of San Juan – The El Yunque RainForest Inn.

El Yunque Rainforest Inn

RainForest Inn relaxationA wonderfully relaxing rainforest destination far away from the bustle of city life sits the El Yunque Rainforest Inn. As described above it sits mountainside with amazing coastal views. Rainforest flowers, palm trees, and a luxury property welcome you with 3 boutique rooms available to rent for your getaway. We had 5 in our party and rented the second level Chalet – 2 bedrooms sleeping 5, a full kitchen, bath and living room space, a wrap around balcony with hammocks for lounging and luxurious ceiling fans (no AC) spiralling the air. The RainForest Inn also offers additionally a private Jungle Suite and a 2-room Garden Suite Villa for rent as A patio for the symphonysuiting your luxury getaway needs.

As night falls, the forest sounds come alive! Coqui frogs, screech owls, lizard cuckoo’s … the symphony lasts throughout the night in a chorus of natural rainforest relaxation. And the stars … grab a lounge on the patio or in a hammock and revel at the night’s light show! Treats you just don’t get in the city at home.

Bill and Renee run the Inn as a Bed and Breakfast Inn format, treating each guest to a delicious gourmet vegetarian breakfast each morning with local fruits, pastries and Renee’s specially created vegetarian delights. Sumptuous!

infinity waterfall viewsA hook for us in finding this wonderful retreat was their Lost Machete Trail hike. All within their property sits a jungle hike and secluded waterfall swimming hole. While this may not be a motivating influence for everyone, the romantic thoughts of a 30-minute jungle hike through rich humid greenery, the trail sidling the side of the mountain up and down the slopes and the bustling rocky waterfall of cool water ending at a rock-faced swimming hole with infinity edge waterfall overlooking the mountain vista - this was the added hook to secure our interest. And it exploded expectations in the cool waters capping off the humid sweaty effort of the hike while we relaxed to the gurgle of the waterfall and swam in the cool relaxing waters with a Lost Machete Trail rewardkiller view. The challenge was we did have to hike the return path and dilute the cooling relaxation.

As excellent purveyors of a relaxed getaway, Bill and Renee have future plans to offer spa services in a structure edging the property that will deliver unparalleled views and tropical breeze wafted relaxation. While the RainForest Inn already offers a jungle-view yoga studio and offers massages, these future additions will add a unique enticement to visit again! Check out their property online at El Yunque Rainforest Inn, their great reviews on TripAdvisor, and book early to reserve your next getaway opportunity.

Restaurants along the route to Luquillo Beach

As the El Yunque Rainforest Inn offers only vegetarian breakfast with their getaway rentals, there are a number of great restaurants along Hwy 3 to Luquillo Beach open for business and offering some really good food.

  • Dos Panza Taqueria & Cantina – great Mexican entrees and margaritas
  • Ekelekua – Mexican tapas and cocktails
  • Revolution Pizza Shop – eat in or take out pizza and drinks
  • El Verde BBQ – roadside BBQ stop always busy

We grabbed pizza for one night to take back to the chalet and ate in town at the other restaurants returning the winding mountain roads at dusk.

Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma and Maria

tree canopy loss and landslidesWhile I’m no expert in the hurricane relief efforts after Irma & Maria roared through in September of 2017 (follow the progress with the Puerto Rico’s StatusPR), I can say that in our travels through the Luquillo Beach area and the areas leading to the El Yunque Rainforest Inn, there is still a lot of repair and reconstruction yet to happen to get things back in shape. Many restaurants and shops are open and the island is in need of our tourist visits and dollars. The El Yunque National Forest roads are still heavily damaged with landslide areas preventing access to some of the popular hikes and trails, but where the RainForest Inn is situated, access has been restored and cleanup efforts are proceeding. On our hiking trails, you can see where the hurricane ripped off the tree canopy (which will take years to regrow), but the lush undergrowth is more developed now generating the next generation of forest regrowth. Puerto Rico is a gem in our hearts – visiting San Juan and El Yunque many times over the years – our tourist dollars and continued visitations will help the island regrow and rebuild!

Another hike to explore – the El Toro Trail

starting the El Toro TrailMy partner and I love to explore an area on foot – whether through the local marketplaces of the islands ports or through the mountains and forests that make up the beauty of a geography. Recommended by Bill of the Rainforest Inn and itching for a challenge and to see more of the island, we chose to hike the El Toro and Tradewinds Trail to the highest point on the island of Puerto Rico.

The El Toro trail was a kick-butt trail with many mud challenges and a solid strenuous uphill climb to the peak. While billy-goating from side to side hanging on to vines and trees to avoid the central mud track and ending the climb with a very steep stone staircase the last 1000 feet, we summited to a rainstorm and clouds whipping by at airplane speeds completely blocking the view. Attempting to wait out the storm, we huddled under a tropical rain and mountain wildflowersfallen trees’ root stock and ate our cold lunch. Unsuccessful in the wait, we resumed our muddy decent to the trailhead – ending the exercise with 184 floors climbed in elevation and just shy of 20,000 steps. While the Tradewinds Trail continued after the El Toro summit, we were told the Tradewinds Trail had not yet been cleared post-hurricane and only to the summit had been re-opened by the locals. A beautiful, rainforest uphill hike, yet robbed of panoramic success by the wind and rain that day.

Some El Toro hike pics from a fellow hiker we met that day (please click to enlarge) ... Thanks for sharing Charlotte!

rainforest colors, by Charlotte Gorerainforest creatures, by Charlotte Gorethe final push to the top, by Charlotte Gore

For our party, we wrapped up our relaxing visit to the rain forest and travelled into Old San Juan to meet the rest of our party at the cruise terminal to depart on our southern Caribbean itinerary with Royal Caribbean cruises with stops in the A, B, C, Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and St. Maarten.

We love walking the cobblestone streets and markets of Old San Juan – this time we just had the luxury of a glimpse in passing, but being near to our hearts, we will return soon!

Have you enjoyed Old San Juan or visited the El Yunque Rainforest? Before or after Hurricane Maria? We’d love to hear your experiences. Drop a comment below and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


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