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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Las Paylas - Natural Slides in Loquillo, Puerto Rico

Las Paylas 
(also known as Las Pailas) 
Natural Water Slides in Loquillo, Puerto Rico 

There are so many different ways (or types) of travel. 
You can take a cruise to join the masses and eat your way across the Atlantic. You can fly to a secluded beach and spend a week soaking in the sun and tackling your reading list.  I am kind of the adventurer travel.  Scuba dive, hike, explore - that is my kind of trip.  Not only do I love to find activities for my active lifestyle, but my favorite way is to travel somewhere and find the spots off the beaten path. The spots where the beer is half the price, the food is amazing, and the locals are friendly. The spots where there are no crowds, but instead you can experience a different kind of culture, eat what the locals eat, and see what people in the area really do for fun.  If you like to travel to the lesser known spots where the beer is a dollar and you can eat mystery meat on a stick, this post is for you.

Our trip to Las Paylas was exactly this type of "off the path adventure". After reading a tourist brochure about a (very expensive) guided tour to slide down some of Puerto Rico's waterfalls, we did a little research to find some waterfall sliding of our own (yes, that is a thing). Chris did a little bit of research and stumbled onto Puerto Rico Day Trips to find some information on the natural slides of Loquillo. 

We plugged in the address and headed into Loquillo to find these (really not well known) natural slides. You can tell by the area you are NOT in tourist town, but instead are traveling through neighborhoods and less traveled roads through Puerto Rico. After a few missed turns, a lot of doubt, and the GPS trying to take a shortcut through someones yard, we finally made it to the area we needed to be in. After asking a local on the street about the slides, she pointed us in the direction of the house next door.  There are no large signs, or advertisements, but merely a large blue barrel with the faded work "Paylas" spray painted on it. 

Sign number 1 we had found a hidden gem. 

Parking Area and Entrance 
We pulled into the gate and parked in the driveway of the house. The operation is on private property and for $6, you can park in his driveway, walk through his yard and down a path to the natural water slides.  This may sound odd, but I promise it is worth it.

As you follow the path down to the river, you will see the first slide to your left. This is the longer, faster moving water slide. Carefully walk up the right side of the rocks, have a seat, and attempt to travel down the rock slide without any broken bones or a concussion. The water is moving faster than you initially expect, and I have to say the slides are much more fun that we anticipated.

 We watched some of the locals go first to assure we were doing something right, and to try and look a little less out of place. The tricky part is the last split at the end of the side.  If you can try to stay to the left (as seen from the bottom) instead of the sharp turn on the right.  Try to keep your arms in as you will likely knock your elbows shooting around that fast last turn if you end up going to the right (as seen from the bottom).  As you can see in the really graceful video of me below, it is really easy to get knocked down and turned around coming down the slides.

And no, the rocks dont hurt as you slide down,
 just when you knock your elbows on the rocks. 

Natural Slide 
 You can continue to the right, following the rocks down the river to another area with a smaller slower water slide, and a big lagoon with a rope swing. The area was like a postcard, and made you feel like you were in the jungle (when hey, you are in someones back yard). If you decide to use the rope swing, be very careful as there is a very small margin of error when launching off the rocks to the deep spot in the lagoon (you will touch the bottom, be very careful). 

Growing up in the U.S. (read sue happy country), it was absolutely surprising that this site still exists. No waiver, no forms, no signing your life away. You pull into his driveway, pay him $6, and run jump and slide around some slippery jagged rocks. With that being said, be very very careful when enjoying the area. And do not be the person who does something stupid, hurts themselves, and shuts down the area for everyone else. 

Small fall by the second slide 

Second (smaller) slide leading to the lagoon

Lagoon and rope swing 

Stick around for a few minutes to watch the local boys slide down the waterfall slides head first, and even on their feet. If you want to feel like a local, check out Las Paylas.  When we talked to the locals or cab drivers about our trip to this spot, they were all surprised that we ventured out of the tourists trap and into this local spot.  I hope this encourages you to leave your beach chair, rent a car, and explore more of the lesser known areas of Puerto Rico. 

More Information from Puerto Rico Day Trip
Parking and Directions:
(GPS Cordinates: 18.337856, -65.731060)
From San Juan: Take Route 3 until you get to the Sabana exit (it is the second exit for Road 992 you come to traveling east on Route 3). There is a sign just before the exit, but none right at the exit. It is the exit after Playa Azul corner. Take Road 992 and then make a left onto Road 991. Continue until you see a sign for Sabana and turn right onto Road 983. Follow Road 983 for a while. You will see a house with a chain link fence around the yard and the words Las Paylas on a sign and mailbox and “Finca Privada” sign on the fence. This is what you’re looking for. He has 2 gated areas for parking in his yard. There is a path down to the river at this house. You can pull in and park in this lot ($6 per car) I also read you can park along the road and walk into this property and pay 50¢ per person to use the path. 

You will need a car as this is about an hour from Old San Juan.  The owner’s name is Carlos Concepcion. He said he is there almost every day. He told me that even if he is not home, you can come in and use his path (his dogs seemed tame) and if you see him later, you can pay him then. Nice guy. He does not want people going down with BBQ’s or lots of stuff. The trail down to the river is not too long (150 ft maybe), but it is steep in spots, and it can be muddy.

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