Mask Requirement (updated 18 Apr 2022)
😷 Masks are not required, neither indoors (with some execptions) nor outdoors. Masks are recommended in indoor situations where you cannot be certain of the vaccination status of other people
😷 Masks are required inside airports, per Federal/CDC mandates
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
😷 Masks are required indoors in places like hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing homes, medical offices, health centers, clinics, labs, pharmacies, and on public transportation (including taxis and buses). The Department of Health may make masks mandetory in other situations where their use is deemed necessary.
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks.
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Restaurants, Bars & other Food Establishments (updated 08 Mar 2022)
👪 The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Hotels, Resorts & other Lodging (updated 08 Mar 2022)
👪 The requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result has been eliminated
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Tours & Excursions (updated 08 Mar 2022)
⛵ 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 18 Apr 2022)
👪 The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirement to wear a mask (if less than 1000 people are gathered)
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
🏟️ All attendees at group activities of 1000 or more people at facilities that encourage crowding — indoor or outdoor — must show proof of vaccination with booster (if eligible), OR negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 72 hours prior to arrival at the event. Facilities include theaters, amphitheaters, stadiums, conference and activity centers, and any other place where events are held. Effective 10 Mar 2022, per executive order EO-2022-019 and administrative order OA-2022-533
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
📄 These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Cruise Ship Passengers (updated 08 Mar 2022)
🚢 All cruise ship passengers and crew who wish to disembark in Puerto Rico must be fully vaccinated, OR 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 08 Mar 2022)
📄 The requirement to complete the travel declaration has been eliminated for ALL travelers arriving in Puerto Rico
✈️ DOMESTIC TRAVELERS (effective 10 Mar 2022, per EO-2022-019)
• The requirement to present a vaccination card or negative test results has been eliminated for DOMESTIC travelers
✈️ 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.

Hiking and Exploring Cueva del Agua in Río Abajo Forest

Update 1/21- There are parts of this forest people are using for walking, birding etc. This trail is not being maintained, so it may be difficult to find but it is passable. Campgrounds are still closed.

Many people who visit Puerto Rico head directly to El Yunque National Forest for their forest-hiking “fix”. That’s not a bad plan, but there are other options for hiking on the island. Río Abajo State Forest has a handful of trails, and a couple of caves to explore. This forest will appeal to bird watchers, and it used to have a pretty nice campground but not anymore. All in all, we have enjoyed our recent visits to this forest.

The forest has two caves that you can explore: Cueva Alta, which is a fairly extensive cave system filled with bats, and Cueva del Agua, which is a multi-level cave with a river in the mid-level cave that creates a waterfall in the lower-level cave.

We had previously visited the Río Abajo Forest in Utuado and explored Cueva Alta. During that visit, we had figured out how to get to Cueva del Agua, but did not have enough time to hike to that cave. So, we took another day and returned to the Río Abajo Forest camping area with a plan to explore Cueva del Agua.

Cueva del Agua Río Abajo Forest

A Hike & a Cave with a Waterfall

We drove to the Río Abajo Forest camping area, and parked on the side of the road (near the gate that blocks the road). The walk to Cueva del Agua begins on the paved road (Road 621), beyond the yellow gate that blocks the road.

We walked on Road 621 for about 25 minutes until we got to the trailhead for the path that leads to Cueva del Agua. Walking on the paved road was relatively easy, though it seemed to be (slightly) uphill most of the way. The good news is that means it’s downhill on the way back to the car!

Cueva del Agua Río Abajo Forest

There is a sign, installed by an Eagle Scout, that marks the trail to Cueva del Agua. If you’re walking from your car, the trail will be to the left of the paved road. The trail was wide most of the way. It appeared to have been a forest road at one time.

For the most part, you just need to follow the trail. At one point, you come to a V in the road, where you take the trail to the right. Thankfully, the Eagle Scout put another sign with an arrow pointing to the correct trail.

After a little while, the wide trail goes downhill, and gets considerably narrow. At that point, you need to start looking for marker tape tied to trees to help stay on the trail. The trail then turns uphill, and ends at the entrance to the cave. The walk on the forest trail (from the paved road to the cave) is about 20 minutes.

Cueva del Agua is actually three caves, stacked on top of each other. The lower cave is the one that you arrive at when you follow the forest trail. This cave is not very deep (front to back) at all. The waterfall, and the resulting stream, are to far right as you enter the cave.

Let’s talk about that waterfall … The thought of exploring a cave with a waterfall inside conjured up all kinds of images in my mind’s eye … I was expecting to see something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark or Romancing the Stone.

Instead, what we found was a cascade maybe 8 feet tall (if that). Granted, we went during the drought. Despite that, there was a decent amount of water coming over the cascade. But it just wasn’t that impressive. My imagination had gotten the best of me, and I had mis-set my own expectations from the beginning.

Though I was a little disappointed in the visual aspect of the waterfall, the sound of the water cascading down the rocks, and echoing in the cave … that was pretty cool. I also really enjoyed exploring the rest of the cave system there. So, all in all … I left as a happy camper!

Outside and to the right of the mouth of the lower cave, you will find a trail that leads up and around to the mouth of the upper cave. Once inside the entrance of the upper cave, you will notice that it has a very low ceiling. Exploring this cave requires duck-walking at best, and crawling on your elbows and knees at worst. We were not prepared (with knee pads and helmets), so we did not explore deep into this upper cave.

The mouth of the middle cave is just below the mouth of the upper cave, and continues through to the top of the waterfall that drops into the lower cave. This middle cave also has a very low ceiling, and this is where the water runs that feeds the waterfall.

Cueva del Agua Río Abajo Forest

We went during the drought in 2015, so there was only about 1″ of water in the middle cave. But I could imagine that, during non-drought conditions, this middle cave could be filled to the ceiling with water. Or, at very least, could have a flash-flood of water rushing through it. For these reasons, we cannot recommend entering and exploring this middle cave.

As compared to Cueva Alta, Cueva del Agua had no bats (nor guano) in it. We did notice a few birds coming and going. And we saw crickets and whip scorpions, on the ceiling and walls.

Cueva del Agua Río Abajo Forest

A Short Hike to Cueva Alta

After finishing at Cueva del Agua, we retraced our steps on the forest trail, back to the paved road, where we turned right to return to our car. We had a quick lunch at the car, and then took the short walk to Cueva Alta. All in all, we were at the forest for about 4 hours total.

Cueva del Agua Río Abajo Forest

Details

The Río Abajo Forest is open for hiking from dawn to dusk. Camping overnight requires a permit.

The walk to Cueva del Agua is about 45 minutes total (25 minutes on the paved road, and 20 minutes on the forest trail).

If you want to visit both Cueva del Agua and Cueva Alta, allow about 4 hours total.

Bring plenty of drinking water. Though there are water faucets in the camping area, it’s not potable water. Wear appropriate footwear (sneaker or some type of hiking shoe).

There is no cellular service in the area. If you are depending on GPS that requires cellular service (like Google Maps) … it’s not going to work. Your best bet would be to download a GPS/compass app for your smartphone that doesn’t require an internet connection to work. For our iPhones, we use iArrow and Commander Compass.

The Río Abajo Forest Manager’s office is on Road 621 KM 4.4 (approximately). If the office is open. you can stop in and see if they have any info on other trails, or trail maps. I would love to know if there are other trails.

To get to Río Abajo Forest, take Route 22 to exit 75b, then Route 10 south to KM 67 (approximately). Then take Road 6612 to the end, then turn left onto Road 621. Follow Road 621 to the end (KM 7.4), and park on the side of the road, being careful not to block the road or any of the gates. You can enter the camping area to the right of the fence.

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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