The forest jungle known as Piñones State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Piñones) is only seven yards away from one of Puerto Rico’s longest beaches, an ecological timberland east of Isla Verde operated by the country’s Natural Resources Department.
Have Latino Fun on a Weekend
The site seems to be the “it” place for the locals on weekends and especially so on Sunday afternoons when live bands with musicians perform at various spots within the area. Latino fun is had by all, long into the wee hours of the morning with all the pool bars, roadside hangouts, and dance floors.
Route 187 is the solo road into as well as out of this lively site so expect a lot of traffic when congestion happens. While Isla Verde is located just north of Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Luis Muñoz Marín), it has neither traffic lights nor high rise condominiums or buildings.
There’s More than Mangroves
Designed purely for recreational and relaxation purposes, Piñones State Forest has 11 kilometers of trail/boardwalk running through a mangrove forest along the island’s northern coastline. This trail/boardwalk is for non-motorized transport but people would really rather bike or walk along it.
Enjoy it better by walking through some of its parts and stepping off its path and head straight for the beach. Explore the awesome tidal pools, marvel at the unique rock formations, and see how the waves splash into foams when they come in just as local fishermen catch the local sea snails.
Bike and Kayak
Rent a bike along Road 187 (usually $5 a pop) but enjoy the trail but remember there is no lighting there of any kind so it’s best not to go at night; besides, it’s prohibited to use at that time. Also, just overlook the trash that may be everywhere.
You can also rent bikes from shops in the Piñones cooperative COPI. Open daily between 9 AM to 4 PM, the bikes are newer and include helmets. The stores have clean bathrooms and drinking water and gated parking. Kayaks go for $10/per hour for a renter with a route into the mangrove area.
La Comida or “The Food”
Old stands in the road side or restaurants along the coastline, Piñones will give anyone an excuse to go on a food trip. The stuffed mofongo alone at The Waterfront Restaurant can have you coming back to the area time and again.
Monfongo is made from green plantains. These are fried and then mashed with deep fried pork skin called chicharrones and garlic and served with a Creole sauce of peppery tomato or garlic butter. When your monfongo is stuffed with your choice of shrimp, steak, lobster, chicken or crab, it automatically becomes monfongo relleno.
Enjoy Pork the Puerto Rico Way
The Soleil Beach Club is a stone’s throw from The Waterfront. Complete with a couple of floors for dancing and bars, it’s a terrific place to go for nightlife in Piñones. Don’t leave Piñones without getting a taste of the popular slow-roasted porcine delight at Pipo’s Lechonera.
Most of the restaurants are closed on Mondays as well as Tuesdays, although they are open the rest of the week for lunch and dinner. Don’t worry, food shacks along the boardwalk’s beaches serve a variety of foods to choose from. What any visitor to Piñones State Forest should enjoy are beaches.
Pick Up Sea Urchin Shells While Strolling
Okay, beaches and the mangrove forest. A large rock separates the beach area, called pozo, from the deep blue ocean and makes for a shallow but wide pool that visitors splash around in. Pick up some interesting sea urchin shells when taking a stroll. And bring enough water because it could get pretty hot.
Rest in gazebos that dot the way and wear insect-repellant if going sightseeing into the mangrove forest. For avid shoppers, there are mortar and pestle sets, hammocks, cute Caribbean-style hats, and souvenir items. If you want a new vacation destination, go for Piñones State Forest. You won’t regret it.