Splendor of Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden
Just thirty minutes drive from San Juan is a small city by the name of Caguas. And one of the attractions in Caguas is starting to become very popular with both locals and tourists, namely the Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden. Landscaped on sixty acres, the gardens now decorate the land that was once home to pre-Colombian Taino and in later years became Hacienda San Jose. The sugar mill closed down in 1920, and the ruins of its buildings and plants that have taken over add to the beauty and diversity of this new garden, which is a wonderful addition to the natural attractions list in Puerto Rico.
The Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden opened its gates in 2007 and was created to educate the public on the importance of conservation and how humans affect nature. It also highlights the culture of Puerto Rico and its close relation to tropical agriculture. This remarkable attraction brings some of the beauty and wonder of plants from different countries to the local community. Gravel pathways guide visitors through the magnificent garden and past some of the themed divisions along the way.
The Taino Arboretum is an area that has a re-creation of a ceremonial batey as a centerpiece, together with carved Taino monoliths, sculptures done by Juan Santos Torres and fifty different indigenous tree species and indigenous agricultural plant beds. Breathtaking sculptures, such as the fourteen foot Samuel Lind sculpture, can also be seen in the African Arboretum, with more than forty plant and tree species that have been brought in from various regions and countries across Africa. The Endangered Species Grove is a real eye opener, to realize what spectacular plants would be lost without protection; whilst the aquatic plant garden and butterfly house will take visitors’ breaths away. Other features that make the Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden so unique are the rural farm house with herb and vegetable garden, the bamboo collection, Flowering Tree Arboretum, lakes, palm trees, artisan shop, indigenous species, large range of bird species, fruit trees and lily ponds.
As a new garden, many of the trees are still growing, but the garden is still exceptional. It sometimes hosts weddings and concerts in its magical surroundings, and the cafeteria and clean bathrooms make every aspect of the facilities and gardens a joy. Guided tours in English are available on prior arrangement with the garden staff, even though most guests prefer to stroll around and discover the garden at their own leisure. The Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden is not just another attraction, but a relaxing, rejuvenating and educational exploration of the plants and trees that are usually taken for granted.