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Hidden Puerto Rico: Gozalandia Waterfalls in San Sebastian

What if I told you there’s a place in Puerto Rico that you’ve probably never heard of or read about? A place that’s so beautiful you want to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming? It’s hard to imagine that there are still parts of Puerto Rico that are off the beaten path. But there are. And one of those places are the Gozalandia Waterfalls in San Sebastian, on the western side of Puerto Rico.

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You won’t see signs for the Gozalandia Waterfalls on the highway, so you’ll need to rely on Google Maps or Waze to get you there. We found Waze to be the most accurate and alerted us to the speed traps that were set up along the highway.  Most of the drive is on the highway through beautiful green mountains, with occasional pops of orange from the royal poinciana trees that are so common throughout Puerto Rico.

When you finally arrive at Gozalandia Waterfalls, after a somewhat harrowing drive up super steep, narrow roads, you’ll come to a grassy parking lot. Some people say you are charged $5 to park, but we were able to park for free. There is a lake at the far end of the parking lot, and next to it is a little open air restaurant called Sha’s. There is also a clean bathroom across the lake.

The waterfalls are located by the left side of the lake. You take some wooden stairs down to a paved path. The bigger of the two waterfalls is right at the start of the path. You”ll be able to hear it before you see it. The second waterfall is about a 10 minute hike up the path (go to the right when you get down the stairs from the parking lot).

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The closest, larger waterfall is located at the bottom of a steep set of wet, somewhat slippery stairs. There’s a little lookout point towards the bottom that offers fantastic views of the falls.

Once you’re at the bottom of the stairs, you’d be wise to either be wearing water shoes or just take your shoes off all together. The rocks are very slippery! If you walk through the water it’s less slippery.

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The waterfall itself is about 50 feet tall and cascades down a rock face that has a lot of footholds for climbing. We really enjoyed sitting on the rocks at the edge of the pool and watching people much braver than us climb up behind the waterfall and jump from the halfway point. Some real daredevils climbed off the path and jumped from the very top! The water in the pool is quite deep once you leave the rocky edge, so keep that in mind if you’re not a strong swimmer.

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The water is cold, but super refreshing. It definitely takes some getting used to! I sat down on a rock and then slowly slid into the water, although I suppose it’s probably better to just dive in and get it over with!

This waterfall was my favorite of the two because there are a lot of places to sit and it’s easy to walk in the water as there’s a rock shelf that slowly descends into the pool.

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The second waterfall, the one down the path, is about 30 feet tall and empties into a small pool of water. There’s a rope swing across from the waterfall that is very popular with kids and adults alike. Like the larger pool, this one is also very deep so there’s no danger in hitting the bottom if you jump off the swing. This pool was harder to get into, and the water not as clear so it was hard to see where you were stepping. It’s beautiful, but the waterfall near the parking lot is much nicer for lounging and swimming.

Plantain chip nachos...you have to get these!

Plantain chip nachos…you have to get these!

Once lunch rolls around, you definitely need to eat at Sha’s. They open at 11:30 and have a full liquor bar and are well known for their mojitos. I had some pina coladas that were very delicious and they’re pretty liberal with their pouring. The drinks are only $6 each. Sha’s also has the best mofongo I’ve ever had in Puerto Rico.

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I had the chicken mofongo and ate until I felt sick! You should also try their incredible plantain nachos. My mouth is watering just thinking about the food! Sha’s is open until 7:30 during the week and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

This was my 4th visit to Puerto Rico and until last week I had never even heard of Gozalandia Falls, but I am so happy I learned about them and went. There were very few tourists there, maybe 10 or 15 total over the course of the day. Most of the visitors were locals there with their families and friends. It was a really cool way to spend the day and you’ll be happy you went.