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Central Mountains

Those who explore these winding roads gain a dramatically different perspective on the island and chances to commune with Puerto Rico’s old soul. Best approached with a flexible agenda, this is a place of Taíno legends and sugarcane moonshine, muddy hillside towns and misty afternoons.

The whole thing is strung together by the Ruta Panorámica, a vine-covered ribbon of potholed blacktop that rolls like a roller coaster along the island’s rugged spine. It meanders through ragged agricultural towns, humid patches of jungle and past cliff-edge vistas where birds of prey glide in lazy circles. Between fog-covered valleys and the sharp scent of fresh-roasted coffee beans, visitors catch a whiff of the endangered cultural essence of Puerto Rico.

For those requiring more definitive reasons to visit, they are manifold: the island's highest peaks, remotest hiking and best coffee haciendas – plus one of the world's most thrilling adventure parks near Barranquitas.