El Yunque After Dark with Para la Naturaleza

El Yunque National Forest is a beautiful tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico. During the day it is lush and green, and you don’t really see much of the wildlife. But that all changes after dark, when the forest really comes alive with the nocturnal creatures. El Yunque is generally closed to visitors after 6pm, but Para la Naturaleza offers an after dark tour that will help you see El Yunque in a whole different light!

El Yunque Night Tour

The tour begins as the sun is setting and the nighttime chorus of frogs, owls, and other nocturnal creatures start singing. The tour starts right outside the Palo Colorado visitor center, where our guide welcomed us. The rainforest is home to many of Puerto Rico’s endemic and native species, so the guide stressed the education and conservation efforts of the Para la Naturaleza program. He also spoke about El Yunque and it’s importance for people and creatures alike, in the past and the present.

El Yunque Night Tour

Our guide seemed to know exactly where to look for the creatures — almost right away he was able to find 2 types of walking stick bugs, which he discussed with us. Shortly, it was dark, and we walked up to the Bano Grande pool. Here our guide described the native people’s relationship with El Yunque, how they used it, their beliefs, and religious rituals. He showed us some photos of the petroglyphs those people left behind, and discussed their possible meanings.

It was a rainy night, and the coquis and other animals were all very happy and active. The sounds of the waterfalls, the rain, and coquis singing were magical and mystical. We talked about some of the myths and legends surrounding El Yunque, luckily, no chupacabras were seen on our tour!

El Yunque Night Tour

We then walked up to Bano de Oro, which is an old pool area that has been reclaimed by nature. Here, our guide talked to us about the 14 types of coqui tree frogs, and the 11 we might find in this area. He had photos of each one, and he made the unique sound each one makes, so we could try to hear them in the surrounding area. There were a few other helpers that were looking for some frogs and coquis, and they caught some for us to see the differences. Then we spent some time around the area with the guide and on our own, finding and discussing all the other things we found, (mainly different snails and frogs).

By this time, it was really dark, with the fog moving into the forest. It felt down right mystical! We headed up-hill a bit, and into a closed road in the forest where we discussed some of the UFO legends in this area, but we did not see any UFOs that night. Our guide knew there are certain less-usual types of coquis to see or hear in this area. After he had explained their calls (and even had some recordings of them), I was able to hear a few coquis that I had never heard before (or at least I didn’t know what I was listening for before).

El Yunque Night Tour

In addition to the frogs, the area lights up with lots of fireflies (the ones in Puerto Rico are different than in the States — they don’t flash their tails, they have “headlights” that stay on longer. There is a species of fireflies in Puerto Rico that is in danger of extinction (the cucubano) that is sometimes in this area, but it was not the time of year when they are abundant. This area also had some spiders and mushrooms that (under a black light) emitted a fluorescent color. It is pretty cool!

We then headed down to an area where a patch of bioluminescent mushrooms can sometimes be found. These “glow in the dark” mushrooms are very small, but they give off a little greenish glow, that you can see in the darkness. We all turned off our lights, but sadly, (probably because there had been a drought up until this night), none were visible. But maybe you will be lucky when you go. Each night it is different what wildlife you will see. Maybe a boa, maybe scorpions, maybe an owl … one never knows for sure! Luckily the guides are experts at spotting them!

El Yunque Night Tour

Being immersed in the rainforest after dark is a unique experience — being part of this noisy, lively, magical place that few people get to experience at night. It helps educate people on the need to pay attention to the little things … everything is important and plays its part in the ecosystem.

This tour would be perfect for people of all ages, and the walking paths are all paved, so almost anyone could participate. However, there are a few steps and some uphill walking.


This tour is offered Thursdays (Spanish), Fridays (English), and Saturdays (Spanish) starting at 6:30pm. Minimum age to participate is 5 years old.

The tour is scheduled to take 2 hours. Plan on arriving 15 minutes early to check in and sign paperwork. Tour may be longer especially if there are interesting things to see.

This is a rainforest – it may rain (or pour) while on this tour. Be prepared with a raincoat or poncho. Bring drinking water and a small snack. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Bring a red wildlife flashlight if you have one. Consider bringing a towel or change of clothes for after the tour.

Restrooms are available at the visitor center (meeting point). There are no restrooms once the tour starts.

You can call 787-722-5882 for more information.

You can visit the Para la Naturaleza website for more information or to make a reservation.

Your reservation for this tour will allow you into the National Forest. You do not need to buy a pass on the forest reservation system.

Meeting point is Palo Colorado Visitor Center high up on Road 191 in El Yunque National Forest.

You need to provide your own transportation to Palo Colorado Visitor Center. Taxis/Uber cannot get to the visitor center (and you would be unable to get a pick-up after the tour.

Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...

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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Coqui's Hideaway Rainforest Villa in Rio Grande Located in the Foothills of El Yunque