Take a Relaxing Trip on the Río Espíritu Santo
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The town of Río Grande has branded itself as the “Cuidad del Yunque” — the “City of El Yunque”. While El Yunque National Forest is certainly the highlight, there are a few other things of interest to do here.
Río Grande is also home to the only navigable river in Puerto Rico — the Río Espíritu Santo.
The Río Espíritu Santo starts high up in El Yunque rain forest, where you can play in waterfalls and see petroglyphs. It runs down the mountain for miles, flattens out, and eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, it is joined by a number of other rivers and streams, making it wider and deeper. Small craft can easily use the lower part of the river to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the way.
La Paseadora is a small, family-run company that has been offering enjoyable boat trips up and down the river for years.
We made reservations for a group trip, and we met up with our friends at the La Paseadora facility one recent Sunday afternoon.
After everyone got there, we walked down to the boat ramp, which is in an area planted with flowers and bananas, with a small view of the river. In the “waiting area”, there are benches and tables where you can sit until it is time to board. I hear you can stay a while after your trip, to have a picnic or just to enjoy the riverside.
When it was time to go, we boarded the pontoon boat. There were about 13 people doing the tour with us, and it looks like the boat holds about 20 people (plus crew).
As we motored slowly down the river, the narrator gave us some info about the river, the scenery, local legends, and the wildlife we were seeing along the way. The river itself is a nature reserve, but recreational activities and fishing (and crabbing, at times) are allowed.
We saw water fowl, iguanas (big ones!), turtles, mangrove forests, giant bamboo, and other shoreline vegetation. There were views of El Yunque and the Atlantic Ocean (once we reached the end of the river). I enjoyed seeing the local fishermen in their boats.
At times, because this river opens to the ocean, they said they have seen dolphins, manatees and even the occasional shark (though we didn’t see any of those on our trip).
I thought it was a relaxing ride down-river — natural and interesting. Once we got to the ocean, they turned the boat around, passed out bottled water and snacks, turned on some music, and we made our way back up-river.
Observations & Comments
While we enjoyed this trip, this is definitely a “local” experience. By that, I mean that they cater to Spanish-speaking visitors. Others are welcome, but narration during the trip is done in Spanish (not bilingual).
Our group (of 7) had some English-only speakers, so they had an “interpreter” join us, but he didn’t give us nearly the quantity of info the narrator was giving in Spanish. Also, it was not easy to hear him over the Spanish narration coming out of the speaker system.
The music they played on the way back up-river was loud salsa music — which I felt kind of ruined the natural feel of the river trip, and made conversation difficult. But some of the local ladies liked it and were “dancing” in their seats. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t please all of the people all the time!
I would have loved to have had a few minutes to get off the boat on the beach and look around, but that didn’t happen on our trip. I am not sure if they are generally able to let people go onto the beach or not.
Though this was supposed to be a nature-oriented trip in a preserve, they didn’t slow the boat down when we spotted something of interest. As a result, Ray had difficulties getting many good wildlife photos.
They need at least 10 people to run the trip, so this is perfect for local groups, family get-togethers, and parties. Couples and small families can join others on the boat to meet the minimum group size (for example, we were a group of 7, and there where 3 other couples). As an alternate experience, they rent kayaks, and you can paddle the river from their boat ramp.
The cost for this trip is $20 per person. Kids under 11 years $10.
They rent kayaks for $20 for 2 hours. If you have your own kayak, you can put-in from their boat ramp for a small fee.
They run a few trips per day on the weekends, at 9am, 11:30am, and 3:00pm. Weekday trips are available, if your group is large enough. In any case, reservations are required.
They require a minimum of 10 people to make a trip. If you have a group of less then 10 people, they will do the trip for the full boat price of $200.
The trip on the river is approximately 2 hours.
You can call 787-612-3075 (Spanish only) or 787-614-5144 (bilingual) for reservations for more information.
You can visit their Facebook page for more info.
Their email address is email@example.com, but they never responded to any email we sent to them.
They are located on the marginal on the north side of Route 3 KM 25.2 in Río Grande, a little east of Road 186 and the entrance ramp for Route 66.
The photo of La Paseadora boat is from La Paseadora del Río Espíritu Santo Facebook page, and is used with their permission.
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