About La Coca Falls
La Coca Falls is a straightforward waterfall to visit in the main part of the El Yunque Rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico.
It’s conveniently situated next to the main road PR-191 through the rainforest so it could very well be the most popular and most photographed waterfall on the island.
As you can see in the photo above, this waterfall holds its own in terms of its scenic allure thanks to its 26m (86ft drop) over a wide rock wall.
Our late season visit in late April resulted in the falls taking on a segmented appearance, but I’m aware that during hurricane season between May and November, it could easily become a massive curtain of water.
Speaking of hurricanes, El Yunque National Forest was heavily damaged from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which resulted in the PR-191 road no longer passing through the entirety of the reserve while also knocking out access to La Mina Falls.
In fact, with our inability to visit La Mina Falls in 2022, which was the most popular hike in El Yunque, that pretty much all but ensured that La Coca Falls would be the most popular publicly accessible waterfall left.
Further complicating matters, hurricane damage followed by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak caused the US Forest Service to institute a reservation system to even access the main part of El Yunque Rainforest (including La Coca Falls).
In our situation, we made a booking through recreation.gov a month before our planned visit, which was checked for during our eventual visit.
Nevertheless, aside from the hoops and hurdles to enable our visit, the experience itself only required a few minutes for viewing from the bridge.
There’s also an informal scramble to the left side of the bridge leading up to an outcrop right in front of the upper section of La Coca Falls.
This scramble is short, but rocky and slippery, as it’s often an introduction to how risky and potentially dangerous jungle scrambling in a humid rainforest can be.
It looked like the scrambling trail kept going further up the jungle, but I didn’t pursue it any further so I can’t say if it only went to the top of the falls nor if there was more to this experience.
Overall, our visit only took about 25 minutes, including all the scrambling and time spent on the bridge.
In fact, it was easy to continue the tour of El Yunque to the impressive Yokahu Tower just a couple minutes drive further to the south, which was another roadside stop like La Coca Falls.
La Coca Falls resides within El Yunque National Forest near Luquillo in the Rio Grande Municipality, Puerto Rico. It is administered by the US Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
As mentioned earlier, accessing La Coca Falls is very straightforward (assuming you’ve secured reservations, of course).
The main road that you have to take to access the main part of El Yunque Rainforest is the PR-191, which leaves the busy PR-3 road between Rio Grande and Luquillo (roughly 4 miles east of where the toll freeway PR-66 merges with PR-3).
Note that even though this is at a traffic light, it’s actually a very easy-to-miss turn so if you do happen to miss it, then turn right at the next traffic light and take the Calle Principal back towards the stop sign intersection with the PR-191.
From there, follow the PR-191 for about 5 miles where the main car park for the falls is past the bridge fronting La Coca Falls on the left.
Note that during our April 2022 visit, there was a secondary car park for La Coca Falls before (i.e. north of) the bridge fronting the falls, but it was being used as a checking station to verify if you have reservations to enter the park.
In order to secure reservations, about a month prior to our visit, we went to recreation.gov, searched for “El Yunque”, and clicked on “El Yunque Reservations”, then “Timed Reservation Ticket”.
From there, we picked a date and followed the process to pay $2 to buy and print out our reservation.
Now, most of the bookings are allocated for advanced bookings like this, but they do have a handful of last-minute 24-hour reservations though this can be quite competitive and a stressful experience.
Overall, Rio Grande is about 15km (typically under 30 minutes drive depending on traffic) west of Luquillo, about 24km (typically over 30 minutes drive) west of Fajardo, and about 39km (over 30 minutes drive depending on traffic while also using the toll PR-66) east of San Juan.
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