Puerto Rico is best known for its stunning Caribbean beaches, however, if you head inland there are other treasures to be found. Here you’ll find for otherworldly tropical forests, cool swimming spots and, of course, some epic waterfalls.
Visit the Cordillera Central, a chain of mountains that runs through the spine of Puerto Rico, and La Sierra de Luquillo to the east. Tucked into the forests there, you'll find some of our favourite waterfalls in Puerto Rico.
If you are visiting the town of San Sebastian, Gozalandia Falls is a must see. The stunning 60-foot waterfall and smaller falls are connected by a river with natural bathing pools.
There’s also a submerged cave that’s popular with locals for swimming in. Some of the more daring visitors even try the 30-foot cliff jump into the deep pool at the base of the falls.
The falls are best known as a filming location for the 2009 film “A Perfect Getaway” starring Milla Jovovich and Timothy Olyphant.
From the large parking area, it is about a 5-minute walk down a paved pathway, and there are some steep steps to the first main fall. If you carry on for about 10 minutes along the path, you will find the upper falls.
La Coca Falls is probably the most famous waterfall in Puerto Rico. The 85-foot drop makes this waterfall a spectacular one to visit and there are even a few pools that look pretty tempting to take a dip in. Just keep in mind that swimming isn’t advised here due to the extremely slippery rocks.
Just off the road PR-191 on the La Coca Trail, you’ll find the trail to La Coca Falls about 5 miles past the entrance to El Yunque National Forest. Follow the winding jungle trail through the Puerto Rican wilderness - finding the falls is an adventure in itself. There have been reports of people getting lost in the dense undergrowth, so be careful to stick to the trail markers!
The La Mina Trail takes you past several small waterfalls, around lush tropical trees and wildlife and down towards the 35-foot high La Mina Waterfall or “Cascada La Mina”.
At the foot of the falls, you’ll find a pool where walkers can cool off with a swim, with an average water temperature of 18 degrees (65 degrees Fahrenheit).
The walk is just 0.7 miles, and easily accessed from the parking area. La Mina Falls can get busy though – swimming in its cool waters is popular with locals - so get here early to avoid the crowds.
Known simply by the locals as Salto, Charro or Cascada, the Doña Juana Waterfall is an impressive waterfall made of three tiers. It comes in at around 100 feet tall and is one of Puerto Rico's biggest waterfalls.
There’s a huge pool below the falls that’s popular for swimming, but it's a steep climb down to get to the pool, and can be quite chilly compared to other nearby swim holes. These falls don’t get too busy and are often just seen from the road, so make sure to stop a while and take in the full natural beauty.
To find the falls, head towards the Toro Negro State Forest. Drive along Road 149 of La Ruta Panorámica through Orocovis, Ciales, and Villalba. You will easily spot the Doña Juana Waterfall as it's one of the few waterfalls in Puerto Rico that can easily be seen from the road. Look out for it around the 41.5 kilometer marker.
At nearly 200 feet high, Charco Prieto is an impressive waterfall to see. Located near the city of San Juan, in the Bayamón region, it's a popular tourist destination and for good reason.
The falls can be accessed by the Charco Prieto Hike, a windy jungle path that can takes 2-3 hours for the round trip. It’s best to get a guide to avoid getting lost, and also to learn about the Taino culture. Guided tours can be taken with Jerry’s Adventures - Jerry has been running trips here for many years and is a bit of a local celebrity.
When arriving at the pools you are confronted by a scramble over the lower falls and murky pools in order to reach the main waterfall. The rocks are slippery here, but the guides know the safest spots to stand.
The falls actually get their name from the muddy waters. “Prieto” is slang for dark, referring to the muddiness of the natural pool or “Charco”. This is mainly due to soil erosion from the sheer force of the waterfalls.
El Yunque National Forest is a well-known spot to visit in Puerto Rico, however the El Hippie pool in the Rio Blanco, near Naguabo, is a little more out of the way. When you reach the pool, you will find caves and petroglyphs (ancient carvings) that will make you feel like you have discovered a lost world hidden in the forest.
Carved out over thousands of years, La Canoa Falls cuts through the boulders surrounding it. For the best views climb up and around the rocks on the right side of El Hippie (about 70 feet up).
The falls and swim hole can be accessed by road, and a short walk. Saying that, if you want to see the falls and petroglyphs you will need to be able to scramble over some boulders. There are also some natural water slides for added fun!
Parking is offered by some local entrepreneurs for $5 a day. A guide is recommended to be able to find and understand all of the Taino carvings. Robin Phillips runs tours here and comes highly recommended.
Driving between San Sebastian and Ores, you can’t miss the 30-foot high Salto Collazo. And, on the other side of the bridge, there’s a much higher waterfall.
Just below there is a 100-foot drop into another pool. Accessing these falls is a little harder as there is no set pathway, but they are much quieter and you will probably have the place all to yourselves.
You can sit on the rocks at the main falls with a picnic or go for a swim, but there is some road noise that puts most people off from staying too long.
The Salto Collazo falls can be seen from the road bridge along the PR-111 between the towns of San Sebastian and Lares in Western Puerto Rico.
A short (but very muddy) hike through the Fajardo Mountains will lead you to one of the most underrated waterfalls in Puerto Rico – Las Tinajas.
The falls themselves are stunning, if not very tall, and surrounded by two natural swimming pools. Charco Frío, the largest pool, has large boulders and rope swings for jumping in.
There’s also a natural rock slide, BBQ area and picnic tables. It's so out of the way there isn’t even any phone signal here, making it the perfect place to unwind.
There are two options for parking: The first is 3$ with around a 45-minute hike to the main falls (not recommended for small children). The second parking area is at the end of the road and will take around 15 minutes to walk to the falls. It's $10 per car plus $2 per adult.
Planning a trip to Puerto Rico? Read our guide on where to stay in Puerto Rico.
Last Updated 26 July 2022