A Botanical and Cultural Garden Blooms in Caguas
Puerto Rico is rich in history and culture. It also has a perfect climate to grow some of the prettiest flowers and plants imaginable. Caguas decided to put these things together and opened the Botanical and Cultural Garden (Jardin Botanico y Cultural) in April 2007. Recently (9/10) renamed William Miranda Marín Botanical & Cultural Garden after a much loved mayor.
Caguas is a small city located abut 30 minutes south of San Juan. The garden itself is situated on 60 acres, on the grounds of a former sugar mill. The Botanical and Cultural Garden of Caguas is a thematic park designed to educate the public on the Puerto Rican culture in relation to nature and tropical agriculture.
This is a large park. It has many paths that let you meander. Note that the paths are gravel, not paved, so it’s not too easy to use a wheelchair or stroller. There are many "special" areas designed to highlight aspects of Puerto Rican heritage and culture.
Probably the prettiest area is by the remains of the sugar mill. There are many beautiful large old trees and plantings. It has been vacant for years and as you walk around, you see how nature is taking over the ruins of the mill, making it a thing of beauty. The chimney of the refinery and many sugar cauldrons are there. Also, the foundations of the factory can be seen.
My favorite area is the reproduction of an old country house and kitchen garden. This is what many Puerto Rican people remember as grandfathers house or a typical Jibaro (poor country folk) house. It is simple wooden structure, with a large garden to help feed the family. If you go off the beaten path and up through the Puerto Rican countryside, you will still see a few of these houses, or similar ones, many in ruins and some still being used today.
The first time we went to this garden, we met some wonderful older Puerto Rican women who walked us around this area and explained each of the vegetables/herbs and about what it was like living in one of these houses. It was extremely interesting to get a first hand account.
They have some other areas where they highlight some of the influences that make up the Puerto Rican culture: the Taino Indian area and the African area. The Taino Indian area has replicas and sculptures of the indigenous people and their stone petroglyphs. It also has indigenous plantings. The African area has some fantastic sculptures and plants from many zones of Africa.
There is also an area where they have planted many trees in danger of extinction, to help protect them and to educate people of the importance of conservation of our natural resources. The garden has been planted with various flowering plants like heliconias, bromeliads, orchids and gingers. It also has an area of palms and another of fruit trees. There is a mariposario (butterfly garden), but we haven’t seen any butterflies there lately! There are a few lovely ponds, some with water liliys, some large enough to have peddle boats you can rent (on weekends). There is also a stage in this pond where they hold many great concerts.
This is a young garden, so many of the trees are still small. But it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
There are clean bathrooms, a gift shop, book store, a food stand and sometimes a cart selling plants. There are Pedal boats available in the “lake” $3 for 15 mins.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and sunscreen. No food not drinks permitted in, so no picnics.
Admission fee is $7 for adults and kids 13 and over, $4.00 for kids 7 – 13 years old and seniors (60+). Kids under 7 years old are free.
The garden is open 10:00am to 4:00pm Thursday through Sunday. Visitors can remain in the park until 6:00pm.
Allow a minimum of 2 hours to visit the garden. Allow more time if they’re hosting a special event.
You can call the garden at 787-653-8990 to get more information.
You can visit their (mostly Spanish) web site at Caguas Botanical Garden
They hand out a bi-lingual map. They also offer guided tram tours of the garden for an additional fee. The tram tour is about 40 minutes long. You must make a reservation. For the guided tram tour in English you MUST make a prior reservation and get confirmation back (though we were unable to after multiple phone messages and emails). The additional fee for the tour is $3 per person. There may be a higher charge for an English tram tour.
Just outside the garden gates is PARAÍSO DE ARBOLES FRUTALES – a fruit tree nursey. Open Mondays- Saturdays 9 am- 5pm and Sundays 11am -5pm. Free entrance and parking for this store. For info call Edwin at 787-207-8917 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Driving directions from the San Juan area – Take Route 18 south to Route 52 south and get off at exit #18 toward Aguas Buenas. At the end of the exit ramp, go to the right onto Road 196. Go until the road tees. The garden will be in front of you, parking is into the garden and to the left. The parking is limited. For regular visits, it is fine. For special events, additional parking is allowed along the street and various other areas.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.