Lago Las Curias – Take an Adventure & Support the Community
Today, Lago Las Curias is a beautiful lake, and an active recreational area. But this wasn’t always the case. For many years, the lake was partially covered with water plants, and then it got even worse after Hurricane Maria. The local residents banded together with the goal of improving their community, and amazing things happened.
They formed Los Custodios del Lago (the Custodians of the Lake), and did a ton of work to clean up the lake and area so that everyone could enjoy it. Now, they have a monthly Farmers Market (Mercado Agricolas), where community members can sell their products, and volunteers offer ecotourism activities, including kayaking tours and tours to the spillway cone (which is a fantastic photo-op!).
Lago Las Curias is located in the Cupéy Alto section of Río Piedras (near San Juan). The lake is a water supply for the San Juan area, so it is “owned” by the water company. The lakes in Puerto Rico are all man-made, fed from rain and run off. The lake is dammed on the one end, and it has a “trumpet” or “cone” overflow system (technically a “glory hole spillway”). This unique cone shaped “hole” in the lake allows for the water to drain out of the lake when the water level gets too high. But this cool “hole in the lake” is also a bit of a tourist attraction, now more than ever.
We visited this area once in back in 2016, and the lake had a lot of water plants clogging up the spillway and eventually it covered almost the whole lake! So we weren’t real keen on going back too soon. Recently, I heard that the community cleaned it up, and is encouraging everyone to come and enjoy the area. On the first Sunday of each month, right on the paseo along the dam, they have a Farmers Market. And the community volunteers also offer tours of the area and kayak tours.
We signed up to do the “cone” tour. We met our guide (Vionette), who told us about the area, the community, their vision, the work they did, and their reasons for doing so. Then we walked down the paseo to get to the cone viewing walkway. This used to be open, but they now keep it locked, and only open it for tours. Here, our guide told us about the work they did to clean the lake, and about the cone spillway. And of course, they gave us the opportunity to take a bunch of photos!
Then we set off to go down into the cone! This did require some effort — it is a steep, muddy trek, and a very short slippery walk in the ankle deep (or more) water. But taking our time, (and they let you borrow walking sticks) everyone did fine. Once down below, we went into the dark tunnel. It was interesting. We saw crabs and bats in the tunnel.
At the far end of the tunnel, you get to the bottom of the cone, and it is a cool photo! Vionette was really good about taking people’s photos (she knows the best angles, etc). The amount of water coming down varies with the lake’s water level. Coming back up the hill was a bit tough, but exercise is good for you!
We really enjoyed the tour. Going into the tunnel is not something I would try to do alone, because there is a large side-opening the water company can open to drain the lake that would flood out the tunnel (and anyone in it). That would be something I would worry about if I didn’t go with the authorized tour!
The volunteers of Los Custodios del Lago also offer a kayak tour of the lake. We will go back and do this activity sometime in the future.
Tours are by reservation only. I highly suggest you reserve ahead of time because they have limited space, and they fill up quickly. The tours are usually only in Spanish, but they may be able to accommodate English speakers if you ask when you make your reservation.
Tours are $10 per person for either the Cone/Spillway Tour or the Kayak tour. Or $20 if you want to do both.
Tours are offered the first Sunday of the month, at 9am, 11am, and then another one in the afternoon. They close at 4pm.
For the Cone/Spillway tour, Wear closed-toe shoes that can get wet, long pants, and maybe a hat/sun glasses. Bring water to drink, your waterproof camera, and a flashlight (it is a dark tunnel).
Our Cone/Spillway tour took about 90 minutes. The kayak tour is a little shorter (about 1 hour)). They also have a small, 3-person boat available for those who cannot kayak but still want to go out onto the lake.
For reservations and info, contact (call or text) Vionette Sanchez at 787-478-5597.
You can visit their Facebook page for more information.
Paseo Las Curias is located on Road 176 in Cupéy Alto. There is limited parking on the side of the road (do not park on the bridge/dam). The town provides shuttle service from Milagros BBQ to the lake.
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!