The municipality of Cayey is blessed with majestic mountains, fertile valleys, the rivers that wind their way down from the former to the latter. It lies within the Sierra de Cayey, which one could call the southeastern annex of Puerto Rico’s Central Mountain Range.
Cayey’s name is derived from the taíno phrase for “place of water,” but its nickname, “La Ciudad de las Brumas,” translates to City of Fog. These names should give a clue as to what to expect on a trip up the hills. Two volcanic peaks, known to everyone as Las Tetas de Cayey (or, Cayey’s Breasts) mark the landscape and can often be seen enveloped by fog.
The University of Puerto Rico has a Cayey campus, which tourists will want to visit for the Museo de Arte Dr. Pío López Martínez. The museum features the work of local painter Ramón Frade along spectacularly-decorated walls, as well as a collection of traditional prints. One of the exhibits is a recreation of Frade’s house as designed by mixed-media artist Antonio Martorell.
Cayey’s Arenas Bridge was completed in 1894, when Puerto Rico was still under Spanish rule. The metal bridge, which had the longest span of any at the time, was brought from Belgium to become part of the first highway built across the Central Mountain Range. Some of the mountains here are perfect for catching panoramic views of the region, like Cerro El Torito (1,300 ft.) and Cerro La Santa (2,962 ft). El Monumento al Jíbaro, a large statue in honor of hard-working farmers, stands on the side of the road at perhaps the most recognizable rest stop in the island.
Cayey’s 6,000-acre Carite Forest Reserve is a natural wonderland, featuring over fifty bird species, the Charco Azul natural pool, a dwarf forest, and several camping options. Ask any local, however, and they will point towards the Guavate area bordering Carite, where crowds gather “religiously” on weekends to sample roasted pig from the “lechoneras” and to dance to all kinds of styles of Puerto Rican music.