Go Hiking in Guayanes Dry Forest
I am always looking new places to go hiking. If you want to try something different from rain forest hiking, you can go to Palmas del Mar and go for a hike in a dry forest. The Guayanes Dry Forest has so many great view points, a series of dirt trails that lead to a number of beaches, and an observation tower. We spent a few hours exploring the area, and it is definitely worth checking out!
The Guayanes Dry Forest is located in Yabucoa, which is on the east coast of Puerto Rico. The only way I know to get there is by going through the Palmas eel Mar resort in Humacao. We had originally been there many years ago, and it was tough going. At the time, here were some interesting archaeological dig sites, and we enjoyed the views. But on our recent visit we noted that there are now a number of wide trails all throughout the forest. There is even an observation tower at the top for the hardy hikers and bikers.
We went on a sunny Sunday morning. At the Palmas del Mar guard house, just tell them you are going to the beach. All you need to do is follow Palmas Drive straight all the way to the end, where you will see a gate. Park on the side of the road, or down the side street to your right. Of course, the sign on the gate says “private property do not enter”, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone. There were many other people walking to the beach, hiking like us, or riding mountain bikes.
The first time we did this hike, we parked down Shell Castle Road at the parking area, walked to beach, and then up and over the hill to get to Punta Icacos. This avoids any private property signs and any guard who may be there stopping you. But going through the gate is so much easier!
I suggest you bring up the area on Google (or Apple) Maps on your phone in satellite mode, so you can see where you are and where you want to be as you walk. There are a few main trails. The ones to the left will lead to beaches or points, the big one to the right will lead to the observation tower (which you can see in the distance when you are walking). There are no signs inside the forest, but we managed to get to the tower and all the beaches without getting lost. You can almost always see either some home in Palmas del Mar, or the ocean, so it’s easy to keep your bearings. You might want to mark the location of your car in your map app, just to be safe.
There are some points of interest – Punta Icacos, Secret Beach, and Playa Icacos, another unnamed rocky beach, and the observation tower. We visited them all, and found them each to have something of interest. We found a bunch of nice sea glass on the beach, so that was a plus for me!. But we both really enjoyed the views. You can see up and down the east coast, and you can see Vieques on the horizon.
We both really enjoyed the rock formations at the beaches too, hidden pools (at Punta cacos), and the general beauty of nature. It’s a photographer’s dream! The most popular areas are the first two beaches, which can get a bit crowded on weekend afternoons. The farther trails and observation tower are not used too often, except by hikers and mountain bikers. We spent about 3 hours exploring. I thought the hike up to the tower, which has some unsure footing (due to loose rocks/gravel on the trail) was worth it, Ray did not!
There is no cost to access the Guayanes Dry Forest.
We would suggest only going during daylight hours. Note that the mid-day sun is HOT. There little to no shade on the trails.
Bring a hat, water, sun glasses, sunscreen, etc. Though we didn’t need it, it might be good to bring insect repellent. There are no facilities inside the forest. Pack out all of your trash.
We spent about about 3 hours hiking. You could spend much more time there.
The entrance to Palmas del Mar is on Road 906 in Humacao. Road 906 can be accessed easily from Route 53 in Humacao. Once through the guard house gate, follow Palmas Drive all the way to the end. That’s where you’ll find the gate. An Alternate entrance that avoids the Palmas Del Mar access is to pass the Palmas entrance and continue on RT 906 until you get to just before it curves at the water. There is a few parking spots on the side of the road and a way in( about at 18.061725,-65.8159344). This is a much further hike to the tower and Playa Icacos, but still a nice hike! .
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