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El Yunque’s Best-Kept Secret: Juan Diego Falls

Posted on Aug 23rd, 2008 by • Updated on Jan 27th, 2012

Playing in a waterfall in the rainforest sounds wonderful doesn’t it? El Yunque has a few waterfalls that are really lovely and very popular. I am about to let you in on a secret – Juan Diego Falls. You can’t see them from the road, in fact to get to the largest and best ones, you have to be willing to do some off-road climbing and get muddy. But I think the reward is worth it.

Located in El Yunque National Forest at KM 9.5 on Road 191 is Quebrada Juan Diego (or Juan Diego Stream). There is a wooden sign marking this lovely little stream. Do not be fooled – this is not where you want to go. Park near this sign, but then walk about 25 feet up Road 191 to the next stream. There is a little trail on the right hand side. It is really a short trail, maybe an 1/8 mile long at the most. It is uneven, occasionally muddy and slippery, and there are some rocks to step up and down from. But I think it is very doable.

As you walk along this trail, you will get to a couple of little waterfalls (maybe 6 feet tall) that have little pools to sit in and cool down. The rocks at these falls are very interesting – more vertical walls than river rocks. The falls get larger as you go up. When you come to the "end" of the trail, there is a nice large area to have a picnic and a 15-foot waterfall. It is easy to walk right into the pool and sit or stand under the waterfall.

When you get here, you’re all happy new-found spot … then you look up, you will notice a much larger waterfall! But how to get there?

This is where you need to be adventurous, physically fit and a bit foolish of a risk taker. This is where we wnet climbing. Initially, we went on the right hand side first and came down a steep rock wall. Kind of scary, but we did it and lived! Wouldn’t really want to do it again though! Then, we meet a local guy, Carlos, and he told us the “safer/easier” way to go (believe me – it is not easy nor safe!). But it was easier and we were less on the edge of the sheer rock his way.

So the way we now go is to cross the stream and start climbing up on the left side. We follow the muddy path kind of to the left and then it turns and continues up and across to the falls. There are foot cut outs made by others that did it before you. The path ends up at the beautiful Juan Diego Falls.

It is about 40 ft tall. And there is a nice "swimming" area that is very easy to just walk into to get under the falls. It is really beautiful – it rivals La Mina in size, but it does have less water volume. The best part was that it was empty except for us, and then a little later Carlos and his friends showed up. We were there on a Saturday at about 11:00am – when La Mina Falls is normally packed! The tranquillity and beauty of enjoying nature by yourself is fantastic. I know locals know about this place, so I bet it is crowded on weekends in June/July and any holiday! Personally, I think if you do get to this beauty, you can skip La Mina Falls. The crowds at La Mina will just disappoint you.

If you are really into more climbing as we are, keep going (continue on the left – up a rock stream bed) and it comes to a longer water fall – more like a water ribbon than a fall. But it was probably 80 feet long and the pool at the bottom was deeper. Really pretty!

I would suggest wearing some shoes that can get muddy and wet that also have good traction.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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10 comments
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  1. How long was the hike?

  2. It was maybe a 5-minute walk to the first water fall. We went again recently, and spent over 2 hours climbing higher and higher. We finally gave up when we reached the sixth waterfall. It really is a great spot!

  3. Was really a nice spot!!! Thanks so much for your instructions!

  4. We are going in Jan 2010. So looking forward to this. Thank you!

  5. Thanks for sharing we went today and had our own little slice of paradise for half the day.

  6. This spot was amazing!! We were visting luquillo this last week and went up to El Yunque this weekend. We walked down to La Mina falls and I saw this article your wrote so we also checked out Juan Diego Falls. We all liked Juan Diego better. It was beautiful and there were many more falls to see on the one trail. Also we were the only ones on the Juan Diego trail/falls and at la mina there were at least 20 people, so it was a much better experience.

    The directions you gave were perfect. Thank you for writing this! It made our visit to el Yunque amazing!

  7. The directions were perfect, and after visiting Juan Diego falls this past week, I can really appreciate how good they were. Totally cool. The first little one was refreshing for the kids, the second was great, and the third was off the hook, off the chain, and off the hinges. By the time we got to the second one, there were some people there. I noticed that there was no action to the next level. I snuck up the right side to see what I could find. I went up and up and up, and then figured I was higher than I needed to be, so started coming back down. On my way down I noticed a little path to the side. It was not to inviting, but I made my way forward under a big fallen tree. It was steep and slippery, but eventually I realized that this was going to take me where I wanted to go. When I was almost there, I went down to the next level, and went down stream to where the previous waterfall dropped, and waved at the rest of my group below, which included my wife, my two sons (9 and 5), and my mother-in-law. I felt pretty cool at that moment. I headed back down the more correct/ direct way, and attempted to get the rest of my group to join me, since I thought it was do-able for them, too. When we got there,we were alone like for 5 minutes. At that point a tour guide arrived with a group of about 10. They were there for about 15 minutes, and were gone. :-) These spots are great, but extra special when you can be alone.

    Special thanks to PuertoRicoDayTrips for this, and many other great, great articles, that open up more and more of Puerto Rico to appreciate and enjoy.

  8. I also wanted to mention that this is not a great swimming/diving location, because there is not a lot of water depth such as places like Las Tinajas and Gozalandia. As long as you are not looking for that type of activity, you cannot go wrong with Juan Diego. Great place to enjoy a natural beautiful setting, get wet and cool off, and to sit under a variety of waterfalls. And quite possibly, be alone.

  9. I will be going here next Wednesday…can’t wait…last time I went to the falls that are a way down some stairs and it took forever to get there, big crowd and and endless trip back up…

  10. We followed your directions to find these falls in 2011, and it was fantastic. The rest of the park was crazy busy, but we only saw a couple other people back this way.

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