Masks Required (updated 13 Jan 2022)
😷 Indoors - Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone 2 years old and older, regardless of vaccination status, in public indoor spaces 😷 Outdoors - Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone 2 years old and older, regardless of vaccination status, in public outdoor spaces where you cannot socially distance, or where there are 50 or more people
Busness Closure & Dry Law (updated 13 Jan 2022)
πŸ›’ All businesses that serve the public must remain closed from midnight until 5am. Exceptions to closure include supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, health facilities, hospitals, among others. Restaurants, clubs, bars, etc ARE closed midnight to 5am. Effective through at least 02 February 2022, per executive order EO-2021-086, and extended by EO-2022-002.
🍺 Dry Law (no sale nor public consumption of alcohol) is in effect from midnight until 5am. Effective through at least 02 February 2022, per executive order EO-2021-086, and extended by EO-2022-002.
Restaurants, Bars & other Food Establishments (updated 13 Jan 2022)
πŸ” ALL CUSTOMERS (2 years old and older) must show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results - In order to be admitted to food establishments you are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 48 hours prior to arrival at the restaurant, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. Effective through at least 02 Feb 2022, per executive order EO-2021-081.
πŸ‘ͺ The capacity of "any place that serves (and people consume) drinks or prepared food" will be limited to 50% if indoors, or 75% if outdoors/open-air. This applies to restaurants, bars, theaters, food courts, etc. Effective through at least 02 February 2022, per EO-2021-085 and extended by EO-2022-002.
Stores, Offices & similar places that serve the public indoors (updated 13 Jan 2022)
πŸ›’ The capacity in all facilities that "serve the public indoors" will be limited to 75%. This applies to stores, malls, offices, etc. Effective 17 Jan 2022 through at least 02 Feb 2022, per EO-2022-002.
Hotels, Resorts & other Lodging (updated 13 Jan 2022)
🏨 In order to check-in to any lodging facility (short-term rentals, AirBNB, hotels, resorts, etc), all members of your party (5 years old and older) are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 48 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. This applies to all people 2 (two) years old and older. If you are unvaccinated and staying more than a week, you are required to show new negative test results weekly. Per executive order EO-2021-062 and EO-2021-075.
Tours & Excursions (updated 13 Jan 2022)
β›΅ Tour operators may require proof of vaccination or negative test results to participate. Check with the operator to make sure you have what they require.
Events, Stadiums & Theaters (updated 13 Jan 2022)
🏟️ All attendees at group activities of less than 250 people at facilities that encourage crowding, indoor or outdoor, must show proof of vaccination OR negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 48 prior to arrival at the event. Facilities include theaters, amphitheaters, stadiums, conference and activity centers, and any other place where events are held. This applies to everyone 5 years old and older. Kids under the age of 5 are not permitted to attend these events at all. Effective 22 December 2021, per EO-2021-080, and modified by EO-2022-002
πŸ‘ͺ The capacity of "event or activity venues" will be limited to 50% if indoors, or 75% if outdoors/open-air. This applies to stadiums, coliseums, convention centers, theaters, etc. Effective through at least 02 Feb 2022, per EO-2021-085 and extended by EO-2022-002.
Cruise Ship Passengers (updated 30 Dec 2021)
🚒 All cruise ship passengers and crew who wish to disembark in Puerto Rico must be fully vaccinated, and must have a negative molecular or antigen COVID test performed within 48 hours before disembarking in PR. All passengers and crew who test positive, or have been in close contact to someone who has tested positive, will not be permitted to disembark in Puerto Rico, regarless of vaccination status.
Air Travelers Arriving in Puerto Rico (updated 20 Dec 2021)
✈️ DOMESTIC TRAVELERS (effective 27 Dec 2021, per EO-2021-081)
All DOMESTIC travelers (2 years old and older) arriving in Puerto Rico are are required to show BOTH
  1. negative COVID test results from test administerd by an authorized health provider no more than 48 hours prior to arrival in PR AND
  2. either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery.
  • If you do not have your test results upon arrival, you have 48 hours to produce those results, or you will be fined $300 per person.
  • If you are un-vaccinated, you are required to quarantine for 7 days, even if you have negative test results.
✈️ INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS (effective 06 Dec 2021, per CDC)
All INTERNATIONAL air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show (before boarding flight to the US) a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the US. This applies to all travelers, 2 years old and up, flying from INTERNATIONAL (outside of the US) destinations. Flights between Puerto Rico and the States are domestic flights, so this does not apply to travelers arriving in Puerto Rico from the States.
πŸ“„ ALL TRAVELERS arriving in Puerto Rico are required to submit a travel declaration upon arrival via the PR Government Travel Safe website. This is where you will upload your COVID vaccination card and/or negative COVID test results.

Hike to Jungle Rivers & Waterfalls on La Coca Trail

Update- 10/2021 New rules- in order to visit this and the other trails and features along north RT 191, you need to make a reservation on Recreation.gov webpage or via mobil app.

Waterfall along La Coca Trail

For reasons that I can’t figure out, of the trails right along Road 191 in El Yunque National Forest, La Coca Trail is seemingly unknown. It is as if someone found out how beautiful it is and decided to keep it a secret! We invested some time and effort in hiking this trail, and were handsomely rewarded with rivers, waterfalls and swimming pools galore!

Not for the Faint of Heart

I will say this right off the bat — this trail is not used often, so parts of this trail is not well-maintained and it is a bit difficult, so it is NOT for the average El Yunque visitor. But if you are a hiker, or someone who is prepared for this experience, and have a sense of adventure, I feel this was a not-to-be-missed trail.

La Coca Trail is just past La Coca Falls as you are driving up Road 191. The trail head is located at about KM 8.8 on the left (eastern) side of the road. There is a small parking lot there and a trail map.

La Coca Trail map

Note — There is a trail map at the trail head. STUDY it. La Coca Trail is not on the trail map you get from the ranger’s station and the trail itself is not well-marked. We took a picture of the trail map with our digital camera so we could refer to it during the hike when we had to make a decision. But here is a tip we noticed— when you get to a river, cross it and the trail continues on the other side (this is not real obvious when you are there). There is an end-of-trail marker at the third (and final) river. Click the map to the left for a bigger map in a new window.

 

About the Trail

La Coca Trail

This trail starts at an elevation of 1476 feet and descends to 820 feet. It is an in and out. The length of the trail is 1.6 to 1.8 miles (depending on what source you’re reading) each way.

When you take a look at these numbers you’ll quickly realize that this is a downhill trail on the way in. Which means is an uphill trail on the way out — after your hot and tired. The last 0.4 KM almost killed me!

 

Our Trek on La Coca Trail

We started out at about 1pm on a Saturday. I was actually surprised to see another car in the parking lot, as this trail is hardly ever used. We had "done" this trail a few years ago, but at that time, it was only open up to the first river crossing. Now the whole trail is open. I am glad we went again and got to do the whole thing. It is really a pretty trail.

First River Crossing on La Coca Trail

This trail is rated as "difficult" — and I would agree with that. The first ½ mile down is slippery rock. Then a river crossing. The next ½ mile is downhill in slippery mud to another river crossing. The last part is mixed mud and rocks, until you get to the end at a third river. For the river crossings you have to either go across on slippery river rock or through the water. The water is only ankle- knee deep at the crossing points. When you finish these challenges, you turn around and do them again, but this time going up the mountain!

But don’t think I am complaining — this trail is beautiful! It is probably the most "jungle-like" of all of the trails I have seen in El Yunque. We saw large areas of wild heliconias, wild gingers, bananas, and huge philodendrons. The river crossings are great — beautiful river pools to play in and waterfalls to enjoy. And I heard and saw more birds and different plant life than I have seen on most trails in the rain forest. And the sound of the river along various parts of the trail, with distant views of waterfalls … It was just a stunning trail in all aspects! Well worth the time and effort.

Waterfall at the First River Crossing on La Coca Trail

We took our time and explored and played in each of the rivers. It took us about 4 hours from start to finish. Hiking the trail in and out takes a minimum of 3 hours for the physically fit, but plan on more time so you can play (and cool off) in the rivers. I mentioned earlier that the trail is not maintained very well — there were times it looked more like a riverbed then a trail. Sometimes it was a little difficult to decide which way to go. But we managed fine.

For a shorter walk, but still being able to enjoy a quiet trail to the river and waterfall, just go to the first river (it is about ½ mile each way). When you get to the first river crossing, head up stream to get to the waterfall. This is still a difficult hike, but worth it as you will probably have it all to yourself.

Going Off-Trail

The El Yunque National Forest posts the following Safety Awareness Notices

  • To avoid becoming lost DO NOT leave the trails.
  • We recommend caution when swimming or wading in Forest streams. River rocks are extremely slippery and may cause a bad fall.
  • Due to periodic rain at mountain peaks, and especially after persistent rain fall, flash floods can occur.

Waterfall along La Coca Trail

I agree with all of these points, so I would NEVER suggest anyone go off the trail. At around half way through, we heard and saw glimpses of waterfalls in the distance, off the trail. They are beautiful. I wouldn’t suggest trying to go see them so you may get hurt/lost. Speaking with a Forest representative, they have to send “Search and Rescue” teams out to this trail all the time because people go off trail and can’t make it back for some reason.

 

Tips, Notes & Other Important Things

  • Bring water — lots! I’d suggest at least 1-2 liter/person. We only had ½ liter for each of us, and it was not enough.
  • You need to wear at least sneakers with good traction or hiking shoes for this trail — no flip flops!
  • If you have long hiking pants and a long sleeve shirt, wear them. The trail is not maintained very well, you will be muddy and brushing against plant life. I did notice some Stinging Nettle type plants along this trail (Ortiga Brava and Urera braccifera).
  • Second River Crossing on La Coca Trail

  • Be careful of what trees you grab for support — some have thorns!
  • Bring water shoes if you want to play in the rivers (or be prepared to get your hiking shoes wet), because the underwater rocks are sharp.
  • Bring a swim suit — either change at the rivers or wear it underneath (but that would be really HOT!). I didn’t bring mine, as I am not usually a river swimmer, but it was hot and the trail is very private, so I went in au natural. The water is VERY cold (about 60 degrees!) but refreshing.
  • The gates across Road 191 close at 5:00pm, so make sure you leave enough time to get back to your car before 4:45pm to get out of the forest before the gates are locked.

Like the rest of El Yunque National Forest, there is no charge to hike on this trail.

Open daily 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m . Ranger stations are open 9-5. The gates close at 5:00pm.

Remember to pack out all of your trash!

Allow 3–4 hours total.

Drive up Road 191 on the north side of El Yunque until you pass La Coca Falls just the right of the road. Continue driving and start looking at kilometer markers. The trail head is on the left hand side around KM 8.8. There’s a small parking lot at the trail head. The trail head is marked with a sign.

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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