Welcome to this guide on travel to Maricao, Puerto Rico.
The Maricao Jungle is seldom visited by travelers that head to Puerto Rico. This is because most don’t head out of the capital, San Juan, and also that many do not even know it exists!
Located in the western part of the island, the jungle is home to stunning waterfalls, vegetation, landmarks, and small off-the-beaten-path towns.
Maricao Puerto Rico
This guide explores the region, gives you info on why you should visit, and how to get the most out of a trip to this mysterious and less traveled region.
Why travel to the Maricao Jungle?
Located in the south-west of the Puerto Rico mainland, the Maricao Jungle is very attractive as an “off the beaten path” destination as hardly any people visit it.
There is lots of nature and hiking to be done here, as well as a trip up to Salto Curet falls which is simply beautiful with its secluded jungle scenery and mysterious presence.
Compared with El Yunque Rainforest which is located near San Juan, the Maricao Jungle has a much more rustic and unexplored feel.
Once you get into the region you’ll feel as if you are lost (in a good way!). Before you do that, though, be sure you’ve got a place to stay.
See these hostels in Puerto Rico if you’ve not yet secured lodgings.
Then you can simply kick back and absorb the nature vibes. This is the perfect opportunity to listen to the shrieks of exotic birds and animals and open your mind to a more secluded experience.
How to get to Maricao Jungle?
As with all off-the-beaten-path locations, getting there can be a bit of a hassle.
In this section, I will try my best to present the different options you have to get here and to explore the region.
You will first need to get to the western side of the island.
The international airport of Aguadilla is a convenient, closer option with some flights coming from the USA daily.
Flying into Aguadilla tends to be more expensive compared with flying into San Juan. But from Aguadilla you can take a direct bus to Mayagüez.
If flying into San Juan, you can catch a seat on a minibus or public buses that head to Aguadilla which usually takes around 4 hours.
From Aguadilla, you want to head to the large city of Mayagüez, which borders the Maricao region. From here, you’ll either need to hire a car or hop on a bus.
💡Smart Travel Tip
I’d recommend renting a car as buses can be scarce in these areas so prepare beforehand by looking up timetables.
Maricao Jungle: Places to See
Below we will explore the different things to do and see in this region.
Most are well off the beaten path and are best explored by renting a car for the day (or week!).
Otherwise, you will find that catching a bus or public transport to some of these will be rather difficult, so you may have to car share or even hitch-hike to reach some of the harder-to-reach ones.
Salto Curet Waterfalls
One of the most beautiful spectacles in Puerto Rico can be found here.
The Salto Curet Falls are modest in size but are magnificent to see and swim in with the surrounding nature and isolated feel.
To reach the falls, you will first need to drive to the parking zone from Maricao which takes about half an hour.
Then the hike to the waterfalls will take you only around 20 minutes, crossing streams and dense jungle in the process!
You can then enjoy the cool waters and lounge around (considering it tends to get very humid here).
Nestled up in the mountains, Maricao is a pretty, small town with an old colonial style of feel.
One of the best things to see here is La Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, which is a colonial-style catholic church which is great for taking photos.
There are some cheap accommodation options here, which are great considering that you will then be inside the Maricao Jungle zone and not need to constantly travel in and out.
As well as basic accommodations, you can also find some more rustic options here also.
From Mayagüez it will take about half an hour by driving, although this can vary considering the weather and/or any other unforeseen circumstances!
Torre de Piedra
Translated as “Stone tower” in Spanish, this monument is located a little deeper in the jungle, close to the town of San Germán in the Sabana Grande province.
This old tower is essentially a lookout tower (Mirador in Spanish) and offers spectacular views of the surrounding jungle and low-lying clouds.
Climb up the spiraling stone steps and get some great glimpses of the Maricao Jungle!
It should take about 45 minutes to get from Mayagüez, and 15 minutes from Maricao.
💡Smart Travel Tip
It’s quite small and easy to pass without realizing, so keep your eyes glued for “Mirador” or the close-by Parque Ecológico Monte del Estado and you’ll find it no problem.
Seen as the “last frontier” before heading off into the winding mountain roads towards the jungle, this city is also great to visit whilst exploring the area, even if it borders the region geographically.
The area is a major exporter of tuna, so there are many factories you can visit here to sample these.
Strolling around the city is great as there is a lot of European influence seen in the architecture compared to that on the rest of the island.
You can easily get to Mayagüez by bus from virtually all major cities including San Juan, Ponce, and Aguadilla.
Maricao Jungle: Travel Tips
When is best to go?
The weather in the Maricao Jungle can be best described as hot and oppressive, and also experiences extreme seasonal variations.
This is mostly relevant for precipitation, as temperatures are more consistent throughout the year.
Depending on the type of travel that you’ll be doing, you may want to keep your eye on the weather forecast before you travel.
If you are thinking of backpacking Puerto Rico just be sure to carry adequate clothing and footwear that will cover you for a range of different terrains and climates throughout your adventure.
The best time to visit the region is between the months of December and April.
Anytime between December and April is the best time to visit the region.
During those months the temperatures are very stable and warm, without being too hot as well as less rainfall compared to other parts of the year.
These factors make the area attractive for hiking and being out in the jungle for long periods of time.
On the other hand, the months of May, September, and October often receive a much higher amount of rainfall.
This can cause flooding and other storm-related issues on the small roads that wind around the mountains and jungle.
If you are traveling with kids in Puerto Rico hiring a car is by far the easiest and most effective way to explore all the gems in the region.
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My first and most important recommendation is to rent a car if possible.
I traveled with somebody who had rented the car, and in turn, made the area very easy to access especially if you want to learn about the delicious coffee from the region by going up into the mountains.
In comparison, the public transport options here are a lot less frequent and do not cover all the areas of interest.
Obviously, this won’t make or break your trip, but using public transport as always can sometimes be unreliable and frustrating. Not to mention in a more isolated region such as the Maricao Jungle.
Another recommendation is to spend some time lodged up in Maricao, and I would recommend around 3 or 4 days to spend time taking in the Jungle and visiting some of the destinations on this list.
Of course, you can also stay in Mayagüez considering its proximity, and maybe a more suitable choice if you want more options for food and nightlife as well as accommodation.
However, if you are aiming for more of an experience, with fewer worries of getting around then basing yourself in Maricao is the way to go.
Last but not least is to pack right before you go.
Many underestimate the humidity and other frustrations that come with exploring a jungle.
Be sure to bring lots of water, a change of socks (if crossing rivers, etc), and some good mosquito spray, as the last thing you want is to get bitten to death.
Maricao Puerto Rico Jungle
And that is all in this guide to traveling in the Maricao Jungle!
In this article, we have explored this relatively unknown region of Puerto Rico, why you should visit as well as advice on how to access it.
We have also looked at some cool things to do and see including the Salto Curet Falls and The Stone Tower monument, as well as when to visit and some recommendations to get the most out of a trip here.
The Maricao Jungle really is a great region to visit, and if you are considering a more off the beaten path experience in your travels to Puerto Rico, then I more than recommend this relatively unknown gem!
Remember to see my backpacking Puerto Rico guide for more ideas on places to see on the island.
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