Discover Hidden Beauty at Charca las Vegas
There are so many little gems hidden around Puerto Rico, and Charca las Vegas is another one of them. This little waterfall and river swimming hole was a huge surprise. So peaceful and pretty. And obviously its beauty has been appreciated by people for many hundreds of years — there are pre-Columbian petroglyphs on the rocks around the pool as evidence.
I was so happy to find this … it has a number of my favorite things all in one easy-to-get-to spot!
This little charca is located in Maricao, just over the border from Mayagüez, in the middle of the western part of the island. It is easy to find and reach, but it is hidden from the road, so it is not well-known.
Our Short Visit
We just happened to be a couple miles away, visiting a friend’s fruit farm, so we decided to take a few minutes to check out Charca las Vegas. Of course, as our luck would have it, it started to pour rain just as we started the on trail, but we continued anyway.
I was blown away with how nice this place was. It is only about 1000 feet from the road, but it is hidden from view by buildings and then, behind them, giant bamboo. Once you get back there, the trail is nice and wide! The charca is to the right, just steps away. People have cut some “steps” into the clay river bank down to the water.
The waterfall is pretty, and about 12-15 feet high. The water drops into a charca, forming a nice swimming hole. While we didn’t go into the water, it was obviously pretty deep by the falls.
In the river there is a piedra escrita — a rock that has carved petroglyphs in it. Beautiful faces and even a nice coqui symbol. We took a bunch of pictures from most every angle! It was a magical place.
Once back on the trail, you can continue up river a little and you will come to what looks like a damn, that has some small “falls” going over it. Worth a quick look.
We couldn’t spend too long there, as it was pouring rain and you could see from the river banks how high the river can get when it floods. The clay steps got very slippery, too. The trail from the road also floods — we ended up walking back to the car through about 4 inches of muddy water!
On a sad note … It is obvious from the piles of trash along the trail that this is a popular place for locals to pass the day. I will never understand why people who obviously enjoy nature can dump on it so much. It really disappoints me!
It’s just a couple minutes’ walk from the road to the charca. The hard part is finding the trail!
You’re really going to have to rely on the map (below) or your GPS to get to this place. The trail head is on Road 119, not far from Road 105 in Maricao. The trail is between the chain link fences that surround a church and a picnic area (how is that for exact directions?). Once you get behind the fenced areas, the trail opens up. Follow the trail up-river just a little bit. You’ll see the charca on your right.
We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ...
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