I know we said that this guide was going to be 3 parts, with this being the third. Turns out, though, that there's too much to share. So there's 2 more after this. Hurray! Sure hope some of you are reading. (Let us know on social, or something.)
Tips from Day 3:
1. Don't strictly stick to the beaches of Puerto Rico. There's so much nature to be seen.
2. Be prepared for rain. Always.
3. Just because something is "closed" doesn't mean you can't get in.
Day 3 – Nature Day!
Initially we thought that we were going to spend the day driving around the island. Luckily, a friend convinced us otherwise. We really just joined in on plans she already had – visiting two caves and one waterfall. How could we say no?
First up was the waterfall. We had breakfast and met up with our caravan, which eventually turned into a carpool because one car had more than enough room. We went into this thinking that waterfall meant gearing/packing up, hiking up a few miles of trail, taking a snack break, hiking a bit more, and finally jumping into a beautiful blue waterfall. The first thing our friend told us after seeing how we were dressed was to change. Beef did. I kinda hesitated and waited until we got to the parking area for the waterfall. The waterfall area was about 30 minutes from Aguadilla, a place called "Gozalandia" (loosely translated to EnjoyLand).
We park and our friends point out that the first waterfall is 10 minutes from where we parked. Really? Yep. Not exactly what we're used to in LA. So I changed. We walk down the grassy area, and less than 50 yards away, the freaking jungle. We walk down two flights of muddy stairs with what looks like bamboo handrails, get to the bottom, step through a stream and over some rocks, to be greeted with this:
The time it took us to get here from the parking was only a bit more than it took you to read up to this point.
We hung out here for a while; we swam, we jumped from (smaller than that kid's jump) cliffs, we snacked, we made it behind the waterfall. It was awesome. BUT WAIT. It gets better. As it turned out, there was another waterfall feeding this waterfall a few minutes up. Up we went. It could not have taken more than 20 minutes. It would have probably been faster had we had boots and not wet shoes/sandals on. Again, another beautiful waterfall:
Why this place is called "Enjoy Land" quickly makes sense after arriving. Unless you have some terrible accident, there's no way you don't have fun here. Between the scenery, the people, and the swimming, there's nothing but fun. There was actually someone BBQing right in front of us where we took the picture above. It smelled great. They didn't share, though. We actually ended up having to leave because it started raining and the locals were warning us that the water levels could potentially get dangerously high. The lesson? If the locals get out of the water, your non-local self better get out too. Back to the car, through pouring rain we went. Didn't really mind it, though. I mean, we went to waterfalls to get wet.
Next up was the caves. Except it was raining. A lot. As if we were going to let that slow us down. We did call ahead to make sure the tour area was open, though. Apparently this place had gates and whatnot all over the place to protect the trail/caves. We broke back into two cars and set off. The drive was another 30-40mins. Not too far from Aguadilla. Then again, when you can drive across the whole island in 2 hrs, what's far? Exactly. Go everywhere.
We did have an idea that because this place had tours, that there'd be some kind of fee. Right after arriving at the parking, some family (angry at the tour people) told us that it was a $20 fee. It seemed a bit steep for a nature hike, but we hadn't driven all this way in the rain to not pay.
This tour was for Cueva Ventana (Window Cave). Because it was raining (or at least we think that's why), the cashier lady was nice enough to give us all the local's rates. Lucky us! The fee included helmet (which ended up coming in handy for Beef), the tour, and a flashlight. We waited about 20 minutes to see if the rain would let up, but it didn't.
Honestly, even if we had not been lucky enough to get locals rates, the fee is justified. You get beautiful views, history lessons, explorer helmets, and caves! If the money goes to protect all this, we're all for it:
Btw, you realize why the tour guides are there when you walk about half-way into the cave. It's fucking dark. Even with a flash light. There's no way that once you're in the middle, without a guide, you know which way is out. So, good looking out, tour people!
It definitely felt like something out of National Geographics. Except live. Of course, even after all this natural beauty, our day was only half done. Cuh-ray-zee, right? We thanked our tour guides, walked back down the mountain, and on to the next cave.
The next cave, La Cueva del Indio (the Indian's Cave) was basically a straight shot north, all the way to the coast. It took maybe 25 minutes to get there. Except when we got there, the tour area was closed. Damn. Per usual, we weren't about to not do something after driving there. So we parked, since we figured the cave was accessible from the water. And it was. The walk to the cave alone was right off of someone's desktop wallpaper.
Funny enough, we ran into a group of people we had seen since Gozalandia. We did all the same things! Hey, great minds think alike. Like the cool people they clearly are, they pointed us towards the trail which led to the cave. Except we took a slightly longer, less maintained, spider crawling trail that connected to the one that they pointed to. And what do we find at the end of this trail?
If you ever find yourself in Puerto Rico wanting to go to Cueva del Indio, there's no reason to pay. Take the extra scenic route, save some money, and be careful.
We had a ridiculously fun time exploring. (thank you, Sara!!!). We really hope that seeing all this does a lot to inspire you to do the same. Go out, explore, be adventurous, don't let rain slow you down. At end, you can sit down and enjoy a delicious meal and a refreshing beer. Because you have to earn it.