Puerto Rico is well known for its coastal towns and beaches. Over two dozen towns make up the entire shoreline of the island, and that makes it hard to decide which one is be best to visit. But, these six towns or municipalities – as they are known in Puerto Rico – will show you some of the best and most varied nature in the island, as well as many activities and sights on the road.
This list wouldn’t be complete of course without including San Juan, the capital city. Visit Old San Juan for the Spanish colonial treasures like El Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, Paseo La Princesa, and others. Walk along the cobblestone streets lined with Spanish colonial architecture, making this historical district an authentic look back in time.
When the sun goes down, these streets become the district’s nightlife center. Head to Calle Fortaleza for some of the city's best restaurants and later to Calle San Sebastian for a great selection of bars and pubs.
Isabela is considered to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. Playa Jobos (Jobos Beach) is one of the most popular among locals and tourists who want to explore the northwestern side of the island. While many of them are quite rocky and have strong currents, they do have some of the best paradise-like beach scenery on the island.
The beaches can get crowded during the weekend, but you can still find a secluded spot here and there where you can relax and enjoy the day. Along the coastal road you will find dozens of seafood restaurants and local shops.
On the westernmost point of the island, you’ll find the surfer’s haven known as Rincon. These beaches are famous for their world-class waves, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a family beach day in Rincon. Beaches like Playa Cofresí are much calmer than others while still catering to adults as well as young ones with water sports and ocean front resorts. Beyond the beach, take time to visit the famous lighthouse nearby. Depending on the time of the year, this is also a great place to go whale watching as these beautiful creatures come close to shore.
This coastal town, known as the "Pearl of the South," is not so much about the beach but about the colonial heritage. You'll know you've arrived when you drive through the massive letters spelling the name of the city. You should visit the main square where you’ll find the Plaza de las Delicias; the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a church dating from 1835; and the Parque de Bombas, a firehouse from 1882 that is painted in bold red and black stripes.
Walk or drive along the city streets to admire the art deco and neoclassical architecture, especially the one found at Casa Wiechers-Villaronga, a house built in 1911. Finally, don't miss the Museo de Arte de Ponce, one of the Caribbean's best art museums.
Here you should visit the Bosque Estatal de Guanica, a dry forest with scenery unlike any found anywhere else in the island. There are more than 700 species of plants, ranging from desert cactus to more tropical trees.
Also not to miss in Guanica is Gilligan’s Island, located just a short ferry ride away from the coast. This small mangrove island is a favorite weekend spot among locals. The waters are crystal blue, the sea is calm, and the scenery is gorgeous. Make use to take the ferry very early in the morning, or at least, try to get there before the ferries stop running when the island reaches its visitor capacity.
In Fajardo you will tour the mangrove forests of the Reserva Natural Las Cabezas de San Juan. This is a gorgeous reserve during the day, but at night, you’ll get a completely different experience since you can kayak the bioluminescent bay.
Also worth doing in Fajardo is a visit to Palominos, an island easily reached by ferry. To get a taste of the island, drive along the coast to hunt for local seafood restaurants and be sure to walk through the old city center.
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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