If you are looking to explore the central mountain area of Puerto Rico, the town of Jayuya offers some of the best mountain views in the area, and all as a day trip from San Juan. Here are some of the things to do during your visit to Jayuya.
Fly on an aerostatic balloon
An aerostatic balloon is a hot air balloon that is tethered to the ground. The one in Jayuya is unique as it is the only one (as of 2017) with a platform at the top of a mountain, sitting at an elevation of 3,200 ft. Then you fly up to 500 ft in the air, for a total elevation of 3,700 ft!
The view from the air is absolutely amazing! On a clear day, you can see the Arecibo Observatory, Cerro Maravilla, the Colon Statue in Arecibo and even the Atlantic Ocean.
There is plenty of parking space available at the site. After you park, you need to board a shuttle bus ($3) that will take you higher up in the mountain to the platform. Once there, get your ticket ( adults $16.99 + tax, children under 13 $14.95 + tax) and wait for another shuttle bus that takes you to the actual platform.
The balloon ride takes from 8-15 min and is weather dependent. So check the weather before driving up there, and try to go first thing in the morning. We arrived around 11 am and we were the last group to board just before a big storm rolled in. If you need to wait for the weather to clear, there are food stalls at both the parking and platform area. Or you can visit the coffee museum Hijos del Cafetal.
- Hours (as of June 2019): Monday -Thursday from 9am to 5pm, Friday – Sunday from 9am to 7pm.
- Address: Globo Aerostatico de Jayuya, Carretera 141 Ramal #530 km 0.1 , Jayuya
- Info: @tucentrojayuya (Facebook page)
Explore the Taíno petroglyphs
The Taíno were the indigenous people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In Jayuya, you can see some Taíno stone carvings in la piedra escrita (the written stone), which is a big rock in the Rio Saliente. To reach the stone, you walk down a wooden walkway (paseo tablado), all the way down to the river. There are a few observation points and covered areas as you head down.
The rock is very easy to spot once you get there. You don’t need to get too close to appreciate the carvings. Although there are no signs or barriers stopping you from climbing on the rock, please consider that this is a historical site that should be preserved. It is up to all of us to minimize the impact of our visits to these unique heritage sites.
Some of the carvings represent animals, like the coquí, some are human-shaped, and some others just fun spirals.
The rocks create a natural pool within the river. Many families go there to spend the day. Notice how the current was very strong on the day we visited, so always be very careful if you decide to go into the river. Even the stones can be slippery, so be careful.
Entrance to the site is free. There is a parking lot and a restaurant at the entrance.
- Address: Area Recreativa La Piedra Escrita, Carretera 144 km 7.3 , Jayuya
Visit a coffee plantation
The neighboring towns of Utuado and Jayuya are famous for their coffee. While in Jayuya, you can visit Hacienda San Pedro, a four-generation coffee plantation. They do guided visits on Saturdays and Sundays ( call 787-828-2083 for reservations).
You can also just stop by and try their delicious coffee at the coffee shop. Don’t forget to visit their coffee museum on the second floor of the shop to see some really cool vintage coffee roasting equipment (free entrance) .
- Address: Carretera 144 km 8.4, Barrio Coabey, Jayuya .
How to get there
From San Juan, you have a few choices to reach Jayuya. However, since Jayuya is located high up in the mountain, all of the access roads involve driving through small winding rural roads, which may prove difficult for those with motion sickness. In some areas, the road is quite narrow. We found that road 140 through the town of Florida was slightly less winding than road 146 through the town of Ciales. It was pretty amazing to see how road 140 goes through the limestone hills (mogotes), which had to be cut to build the road.
We followed the directions on google maps and @tucentrojayuya and were able to reach the sites without problems. However, note that to reach Hacienda San Pedro you must enter the address manually.
Note that mobile signal is spotty in the mountains, so download map directions to use offline (or even bring an old-fashioned paper copy!).
The drive through these rural mountains roads is so panoramic. The lush green vegetation gives way to farm land. Feels like a world away from the city of San Juan.
Where to eat
La Casita del Chef Javier is located between the aerostatic balloon and la piedra escrita, so it was a great location to stop by and have lunch. The place is amazing! I enjoyed a delicious mofongo with shrimp (fried mashed plantains).
Hijos del Cañaveral is another option, located at the entrance of la piedra escrita.
We enjoyed a cup of coffee at Hacienda San Pedro before heading back to San Juan.
For more information and to discover many other places to see in Jayuya, visit the Jayuya Municipality tourist info site.
Have you been to the mountains of Puerto Rico? Let us know in the comments!