Utuado, Puerto Rico (2023 Guide) – All You Need To Know

Utuado is a small town located near the center of Puerto Rico’s main island.

One of the most significant archaeological sites in the Caribbean is located in this mountainous town, known for its breathtaking landscapes.

In the evenings, relaxing on the mountainside can be the perfect ending to an amazing day in nature. I know because I was born and raised on the island.

In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about Utuado:

What is Utuado?
What does the word “Utuado” mean?
Where in Puerto Rico is Utuado located?
What is Utuado Puerto Rico known for?
What are some things to do in Utuado?
Is Utuado safe for tourists?


What is Utuado?

Utuado is a quiet town near the center of Puerto Rico, surrounded by mountains and lots of nature.

image of a church in Utuado
Utuado’s town center is a peaceful, quiet place.

Even as one of the biggest towns on the island, Utuado has a moderate population of around 35,000 people. 

Check out this video to see aerial views of Utuado:


What does the word “Utuado” mean?

The word “Utuado” comes from the Taíno native word “Otoao”, and means “Between mountains”. 

image of Lake Dos Bocas in Utuado
Dos Bocas Lake (Lago Dos Bocas) is located in Utuado and is surrounded by a few different restaurants that welcome visitors for lunch via a small boat ride.

The name is a cultural nod to the Taínos that thrived in the central cordillera region for hundreds of years.

You can learn more about Taíno culture in our article on the History of Puerto Rico


Where in Puerto Rico is Utuado located?

Utuado is located in the central cordillera region of Puerto Rico.

Surrounding towns include Arecibo, Hatillo, Lares, Adjuntas, Jayuya, and Ciales.

Utuado is located mountainous center of Puerto Rico.

If you take the main roads, San Juan is about an hour and a half away. Ubers and taxis can be costly, so having a rental car is highly recommended for getting there and getting around.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Utuado:

We also have an article with all you need to know about Renting a Car in Puerto Rico.


What is Utuado Puerto Rico known for?

Utuado is known for its many caves, hills, lakes, and rivers. 

image of mountains in Utuado
The mountains of Utuado are a favorite area for climbers and adventure enthusiasts.

This town is a favorite of thrill seekers and fans of the outdoors, as well as those looking to learn more about the indigenous Taínos.

The Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site is considered one of the most important pre-Columbian archeological sites in the Caribbean.

Utuado is also home to one of the University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses across the island.

This campus offers degrees in Business Administration, Agricultural Technology, Natural and Social Sciences, and more.

Check out the video below showing a tubing trip in Utuado:

Check out our 12 Best Caves in Puerto Rico, or take a look at our 15 Best Outdoor Activities in Puerto Rico for even more ideas.


What are some things to do in Utuado?

Explore Nature

Most of Utuado’s popular attractions are centered around rivers, mountains, and caves.

Tour companies like Tanamá River Adventures offer a wide array of tours for fans of the outdoors. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tanama River Adventures (@tanama_river_adventures_utuado)

Photo Credit: @tanama_river_adventures_utuado

Hacienda Las Cascadas is another great tour option for kayaking tours along the Lago Dos Bocas.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Hacienda Las Cascadas, Utuado. (@hacienda.las.cascadas)

Photo credit: @hacienda.las.cascadas

If you’re looking for a relaxed day without tours, check out Charco Los Morones. 

The hike there can be rough but the views and cool water make up for it.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julimar (@julimar_1798)

Photo credit: @julimar_1798

Another similar spot is El Cañón Blanco, named after the white stones surrounding the clear water.

Swimming is allowed in both spots, but staying aware of sharp rocks and shallow areas is important.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Adventure Puerto Rico🇵🇷 (@adventure_puertorico)

Photo credit: @adventure_puertorico

Check out the video below before you visit El Cañón Blanco:

Keep in mind some of these spots might not be suitable for younger or elderly visitors, so make sure to research before heading out!



History lovers can’t skip the Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Park, full of native Taíno artifacts and history.

image of an Ancient Petroglyphs
Visitors to the Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Park can learn about the indigenous cultures that once inhabited the region by exploring the Caribbean’s most important Taíno archaeological site.

You can find Camping Don Alí, one of the best camping spots in the area, only a short 10 minutes away from the park.

Finca Viernes is another great choice for camping, with amazing views and fun activities.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Finca Viernes (@fincaviernes)

Photo credit: @fincaviernes


Where to eat

Along a more culinary route, Utuado enjoys great lands for harvesting coffee. 

Hacienda Horizonte is a small adult-only wellness retreat located on one of these coffee farms. 

image of Hacienda Horizonte
Hacienda Horizonte in Utuado is the perfect place to stay if you are touring Puerto Rico’s coffee region.

If you’re a fan of this drink, you can’t forget to try some freshly roasted and ground coffee; it’s the best of the best. 

Café Jumao is a local favorite located right in Utuado’s town center, with amazing coffee and a huge variety of baked goods.

You can check out our 5 Best Coffee Tours in Puerto Rico for even more caffeinated fun. 

While you’re in the town center, you can’t miss the best photo-op Utuado has to offer; the Puerto Rico flag painted across a corner building in the town center.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Utuado Vive (@utuado_vive)

Photo credit: @utuado_vive

Check out our 72 Best Places To Take Photos In Puerto Rico for even more picture perfect spots!


Is Utuado safe for tourists?

Yes! Utuado is a quiet, calm town with a mostly elderly population.

image of Utuado
Utuado is known for its mountainous views, history and adventure tourism.

Crime rates are low, and it’s safe for people of all ages to visit. 

For more details on safety in Puerto Rico, take a look at our article; Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel?



FAQ section

Is Utuado worth visiting?

If you’re visiting Cordillera Central, Utuado is a must on your trip. It’s more of a relaxed spot than a fun adventure, but the natural beauty of the town is worth it.

How far is the drive from San Juan to Utuado?

Utuado is about an hour and a half away from San Juan, so rental cars are a must-have.


Final thoughts

Utuado is a peaceful town located in the mountains of Puerto Rico.

The food stops are always flavorful, the landscapes are lush, and the people are friendly. 

Before you visit, make sure to read up on our 30 Travel Tips and Things to Know Before Traveling to Puerto Rico.

If you’re looking for more fun when you visit, check out the 45 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Article by

Adriana Mercado

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I am a writer, editor, and freelancer. I was born and raised in San Germán, Puerto Rico, where I experienced the best landscapes, local eateries, and shops the region has to offer. Sharing the rich culture and history of Puerto Rico’s Southwest gives me the perfect reason to keep exploring! 

About the author

Find the best things to do
by interest