Forest Bathing: Connecting with Nature in Puerto Rico to Boost Your Mental Health

[Courtesy of]
Puerto Rico is the island of enchantment for a reason; it is a gorgeous tropical paradise with an abundance of natural beauty. From the lovely shorelines to the rugged mountainous interior to the tropical rainforest, Puerto Rico offers a plethora of natural settings. These attractive natural sites offer much more than a pretty view; growing research suggests that spending time mindfully in outdoor spaces – or forest bathing – can positively impact your mental health. Learn more about the science behind forest bathing, its benefits, and some of our favorite places on the island to reconnect with nature.

What is Forest Bathing?

According to National Geographic, forest bathing emerged as a concept in 1980s Japan, known there as shinrin-yoku. The need for many people to step back from daily life and absorb the beauty of nature was due in part to the growth in technology and an increasingly modern way of life during that time period. As the practice of forest bathing grew more popular, scientists began to research the practice to more deeply understand the therapeutic benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.

How Does Forest Bathing Work?

[Courtesy of]
Spending time in nature has been observed to have a number of benefits, according to an article published by the Japanese Society for Hygiene. In that particular study, working-age participants with and without depressive tendencies participated in sessions of forest bathing. The participants had their blood pressure, pulse rates, and mood states tested. Following the forest bathing session, all participants had observably reduced blood pressure and a reduction in negative mood attributes like depression and anxiety. For participants with depressive tendencies, the reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety was even greater than that of participants without depressive tendencies. These results align with a vast amount of research that suggests spending time mindfully in nature has a myriad of positive benefits.

How Do I Forest Bathe?

Forest bathing simply involves spending a set amount of time in nature, whether that be a forest, the beach, or any natural area. According to Time, when forest bathing, you should spend as little time on technological devices (cameras, smartphones, portable gaming devices, etc.) as possible, even leaving such devices behind if it is safe and practical to do so. Slowly wander around the natural setting, letting your attention focus on the sights, sounds, and smells of the scenery around. Consciously observe the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and allow yourself to feel like you too are a part of the natural world.

Where Are The Best Places in Puerto Rico for Forest Bathing?

[Courtesy of]
Because Puerto Rico is abundant in serene, outdoor settings, forest bathing can be practiced almost anywhere on the island. 

For a true “forest” bathing experience, El Yunque National Forest is a wonderful destination for anyone looking to reconnect with nature. The approximately 29,000-acre park is the only tropical rainforest in the United States national park system, according to the USDA. In El Yunque, visitors can take in the fresh mountain air, view the lovely, clear rivers, and hear the sounds of animals found nowhere else on Earth.

In the Central Mountain Range, Utuado boasts a number of forests with ample space and privacy for forest bathing, according to Discover Puerto Rico. Utuado is also ripe with indigenous history and has numerous coffee farms, making it ideal for a full day’s visit.

Perhaps the easiest and most accessible way to partake in forest bathing in Puerto Rico is to simply visit the beach. Long shorelines are filled with palm and mango trees, as well as other island flora. The gentle waves, the sounds of birds, the smell of the ocean, and the feel of the sand beneath your feet allow you to fully connect with the outdoors, while distancing yourself from the stresses of daily life and technology.

Whether you travel around the island to reconnect with nature or you prefer the simple comfort of the beach, book your stay with Maria’s. When you’re ready to stay with us, booking is done through Twin Palms, Maria’s rental, and onsite management. Please visit our booking page on this website to view the availability of Maria’s and fill out our convenient contact form. If you have any additional questions regarding Maria’s, you may call Elizabeth at 787-685-6648 (español: Cristina at 787-449-3673).