Giant Radio Telescopes, the Rainforest, Luquillo & Old San Juan

Location | Rincon Beach Resort

We started out relatively early. Set out with the El Yunque Rainforest in mind. We got some coffee and drove off. We decided that we should check out the Arecibo Observatory, a giant radio telescope in the mountains. It’s the most sensitive radio telescope in the world. It’s been featured in movies like GoldenEye and Contact. Anyway… if you’re pressed on time, Greg and I made the decision it’s not worth visiting. It’s $6 a person… but apparently we walked in w/o paying, and we went outside, bought tickets and went back in… We could’ve gotten away without paying for anything at all.

Radio Telescope at Arecibo Observatory

Radio Telescope at Arecibo Observatory

The size of the telescope is incredibly impressive, but there’s nothing else to see besides that. Especially for how long the drive is to get there. After the telescope, we headed toward the rainforest, but since we were starving, we decided to make a quick stop in San Juan. We stopped in Ocean Park to go to Kasalta Bakery for lunch. I had a Cuban sandwich that I’d consider one of the best of my life. We also ordered empanadillas, pan de agua and Greg got rice pudding. Clean with a lot of variety, not too expensive either. A great place to grab lunch (and from the number of people inside, it was a popular place).

Afterwards, we headed out to El Yunque. We got there relatively late, around 4:30pm. The gates closed at 6. We drove up to Coco Falls, the “most photographed” falls in the rainforest.

Coco Falls in El Yunque National Rainforest

Coco Falls in El Yunque National Rainforest

We looked for a trail that we could complete within an hour. We ended up at the Big Tree Trail – which was supposedly 0.5 miles long. We hiked and hiked, but it felt a lot longer. It was an easy trail, partially paved or at least covered in gravel. Up and down, we saw trees, trees and more trees. We listened to birds calling and the sound of the rainforest was deafening. We didn’t finish the trail before we turned back. Apparently we missed seeing La Mina Falls, where you can also go swimming at the bottom of the falls.

Trail Map for El Yunque

Trail Map for El Yunque

After going through the trail, we wanted to go to Luquillo Beach. We headed there as twilight was setting in. The beach was pretty pristine (minus the kelp on the shore).We headed back to San Juan in our wet bathing suits. When we arrived in Old San Juan but traffic was terrible. There was a motorcycle accident and too many cars on narrow streets. It took us 30-40 minutes just to park. We walked around before we settled on a place called Raices to eat. All the other restaurants seemed emptied out at 10pm, but Raices still had a wait. We were seated at the bar (yay!) and I ordered the Kan Kan Super Porkchop w/ sweet plantains (I’m not sure what it was… but it was aweeeeesome when it came out). Greg ordered the Dorado, fish under some vegetables w/ rice and beans. The pork chop was totally awesome, but parts of it were overcooked. I love sweet plaintains, so I’m glad that’s what I ended up ordering (no more rice and beans for me!).

Afterwards we set out for the 2 hour drive back to Rincon. We got back around 1:30/2am and went on a twilight swim and dip in the hot tub. It has been a late night, but a great set up for tomorrow!

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09 2009

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