Do Some Hiking at Reserva Natural Inéz Marin Mendoza
Finding diverse places to hike in Puerto Rico is occasionally a challenge. Luckily, we found The Nature Reserve at Punta Yeguas (officially called Reserva Natural Inéz Marin Mendoza) in Yabucoa. We had been there many years ago, but it was not really “open” to the public. Now, they have added walk-through gates and signs, to welcome and educate the visitors. It is a beautiful place, but very hot, so be prepared.
The reserve is located on the south east coast of Puerto Rico, in the town of Yabucoa. The reserve comprises 280 acres of land acquired by the Conservation Trust (Para La Naturaleza). The forested area slopes down and changes to grasslands, cliffs, rocks and ravines that lead down to the beaches. Many birds and animals call this place home. The rocky sloping area over the blue water make for some great views and beautiful photos! There is not much specific written about the reserve. We got lost finding an entrance on a prior trip a number of years back. This time, Google Maps led us right to the main gate!
If you enter through the main gate, you will see the sign and 2 main trails cut in the grass – one straight ahead that goes to La Teresa beach, and one that leads to the right, down the hill a bit which takes you out to Punta Yegua cliff. These trails are in full sun, the whole way – so go early in the day. We went one morning in early May and it was HOT! Summertime must be brutal! Bring plenty of water (more than you think you need!) and a hat, and take your time.
The 2 main trails are nice packed earth trails. They ask people not to make new trails, but I admit, as we walked down the road to La Teresa beach (maybe about half way), we saw a little trail of trampled-down grasses on the left that someone made, so we took it. It is obviously well-used. It is steep and thin in places, not easy to do, but not that bad. It eventually leads down to a beautiful cove beach. Really, very beautiful, and there was plenty of sea glass, so I was happy to stay a while! It is not an official trail, but it was so nice, I hope they decide to make it official
Trail to Playa Teresa
The trail to Playa Teresa is down hill, which makes it a bit difficult on the way back! If you want to go down to the beaches, this part is only for people in decent shape and with hiking shoes or sneakers. The path down to the beach is steep and really looks more like a rain run off route than a trail! Some places have ropes to help you, some places you need to manage on your own. But the pay-off at the end (Playa Teresa) is a beautiful cove beach. The way back up was hot and hard, but the area is so pretty, it was worth the effort. The official trail from main gate to the beach is only about ¼ mile. It seemed much longer on the way back up-hill!
Trail to Punta Yeguas
The trail out to Punta Yeguas is much more flat and therefore easier. Most people should be able to handle this one both ways. This trail goes from the main gate to the point, it is about ½ mile long. You end up on a beautiful cliff. There is no beach access from this trail. At the end, you can see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other side. The views are great (you can see the Punta Tuna lighthouse in Maunabo in the distance to the south ,and part of Playa Teresa to the north). There were loads of butterflies on this trail!
Parking? What Parking?
Biggest problem with the area that I found was parking … as in there is none. The main gate area in on a thin, dirt road (maybe 1½ cars wide). The road itself is in really bad shape, so higher clearance vehicle is needed the farther down the road you go. The road turns to the right at the main gate and goes down to the Punta Yeguas trail head, but that part is even in worse shape and only has maybe area for 1 car to park. You can’t park in front of main reserve gate and you can’t block the road by parking on the side. And you can’t block the driveways of people that live on the road. They suggest you have to park way down at the beginning of the road, on the side, and walk up to the main gate. When we went, we were the only people there, so we were able to park right against the side, without blocking. But 1 car is definitely the limit here!
There is no cost to access the reserve.
Visit during daylight hours – early morning before it gets too hot is probably best.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and more water than you think you will need.
Allow 2-4 hours to walk the trails. Take your time – it is hot there.
Pre-MARIA, a local group called YUCAE (who have a farm nearby) occasionally led tours of the area. Check their Facebook page for more info.
Access the road to the reserve off off Road 901 in Yabacoa.
We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Reserva Natural Inéz Marin Mendoza, main gate: (18.018610, -65.837000)
- Reserva Natural Inéz Marin Mendoza, Playa Teresa: (18.015886, -65.834607)
- Reserva Natural Inéz Marin Mendoza, Punta Yegua: (18.012447, -65.834565)
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!