Tropical Thankgsiving

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El Yunque

El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico

Last year we tried out this Thanksgiving concept for the first time – and loved it! Instead of hours of turkey consumption and sitting in front of TV, hours of exotic food and adventures in a tropical paradise. Our choice was beautiful Puerto Rico. We started our vacation in San Juan and I already blogged about the highlights. Then we headed east to explore the island’s natural beauty.

When searching for a perfect place to stay, I had in mind something similar to our amazing time in Costa Rica a few years back. We stayed on the Caribbean coast in a charming cabin nestled in the rainforest and yet only a few steps away from the pristine beach. I wasn’t exactly finding these kinds of accommodations in the area of Puerto Rico we wanted to explore, with the goal of staying relatively close to San Juan given how short our trip was. Most of the accommodations I was seeing where large resort hotels, and even smaller boutique ones were not quite small enough to match the peace and quiet of a secluded cabin. And then I found it!

When I came across photos of this log cabin on the edge of El Yunque National Forest, I knew I had to go there! I usually stay away from providing property reviews but I make exceptions for really special places and the Hamilton cabin is one of them. A little home away from home, the cabin has everything you need for modern comfort, including a king size bed and a sofa, fully equipped kitchenette, satellite TV, and Wifi (photos courtesy of FlipKey):

elyunquehamiltonforestlogcabin-003-1375924348elyunquehamiltonforestlogcabin-005-1375924348elyunquehamiltonforestlogcabin-007-1375924348And you can experience the beauty of tropical rain forest even without leaving the cabin: glass doors and windows reveal amazing vegetation all around with more than 200 species of plants – native orchids, giant ferns, and wild flowers. There is a peaceful patio for al fresco dining, in the evening accompanied by the persistent song of a tiny, elusive coquí frog. While hard to spot, the frogs are definitely easy to hear with their distinct, repeated “co-quí, co-quí” serenade calls. These frogs were of great significance to the island’s native inhabitants, Taíno Indians, and coquíes are frequently found in Taíno art. They still hold a special place in the hearts of contemporary Puertorriqueños who even have a saying: “Soy de aquí como el coquí” – I’m from here like the coquí.

elyunquehamiltonforestlogcabin-008-1375924348elyunquehamiltonforestlogcabin-021-1375924348The Hamilton cabin also has a truly unique outdoor feature: a small nature swimming pool fed by crystalline forest waters. I found the water a bit too cold for a dip, but it was nonetheless a perfect spot for poolside reading.

640x480_382860-06-1329510864 I would have been perfectly happy just spending our entire vacation in this cosy cabin but the added beauty of its location is that it’s so easy to get from there to other local attractions. We went on a nature hike in El Yunque Forest, following a wooded trail to the park’s crown jewel, La Mina Falls. There is no Costa Rican richness of fauna here given that the only extant native mammal species of the island is a bat. But El Yunque does have hundreds of bird species and amazingly lush vegetation.

El Yunque

Lush El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque

Green forest trail

La Mina Falls

La Mina Falls – you can swim right under!

The Hamilton Cabin is also very close to one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, Luquillo, with amazing food options in nearby kiosks (La Parrilla was our favorite). And if you’d rather cook in the cabin, you can shop for ingredients and other necessities in the nearby town of Río Grande – all within 10-15 minute drive.
Puerto Rico

Now on the way to the beach – you can see it in the distance…

Luquillo

…and up close – beautiful Luquillo beach

Luquillo

Non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert

That was our Thanksgiving island-style and I hope we get to repeat it soon. Until then, I close my eyes and picture that little cabin in the rainforest, humming that timeless song by Vaya Con Dios:

Aie aie aie aie aie aie Puerto Rico
Aie aie aie aie aie aie Puerto Rico

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  1. Pingback: Helen of the Caribbean | Sandstone and amber

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