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Attractions & Places to Visit - Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico (West Coast)

The west coast has always been the most popular vacation destination for Puerto Ricans, that says how special the regions is;.  In Porta del Sol, you can vacation in beach towns where a relaxed laid back island life is evident in the way people live, laugh, eat and dance.  In Porta del Sol tourists become travelers and workaholics start re-thinking their way of life.  We are from the west coast, we proudly share the beauty of the west coast and hope to inspire you to venture out of the hotel property, and explore the natural treasures and fun places we’re lucky to enjoy every day of the year.

The natural treasures to explore are numerous.  We live here on the west coast and always find new places to enjoy with our family.  After exploring the west region, you may find yourself dreaming of buying a second home after you get a taste of island life.

We have created a list to make your planning easier by giving you an online tour starting south in the town of Guanica and heading up north to Isabela along the coast and then up into the mountains.  The list of attractions and places is long, following we’ve picked our favorite attractions and places to visit in Porta del Sol.

Although you may be tempted to beach hop all week, we encourage you to experience the other natural treasures of the west region.  Visit elegant lighthouses with fantastic views, limestone cliffs, wildlife refuges, secluded islands for adventurous day trips, fantastic hiking trails, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, relaxed squares and more.

Our Favorite Places to Visit on the West Coast of Puerto Rico

Guanica, Puerto Rico

The Guánica State Forest & Biosphere Reserve

Coastal hiking trail inside the Guanica Dry Forest -  Guanica, Puerto Rico

The crown jewel of Guanica is The Guánica State Forest & Biosphere Reserve, often named the best example of a dry forest in the world.  Also known as the Guanica Dry Forest, in 1981 it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  At the Guanica State Forest you can spend days hiking the numerous trails leading to breathtaking scenic places, secluded beaches surrounded by the largest population of birds of the island.

Beaches in Guanica

Guanica is the most unique beach destination on the main island of Puerto Rico.  Guanica has beaches frequently enjoyed by locals, while the beaches on the nature reserve are practically empty year round for those wishing more seclusion.

Puerto Rico Beach Vacation - Porta del Sol

Ballenas Beach / Bahia de las Ballenas – Guanica, Puerto Rico

Local’s favorite beaches are Playa Santa and Balneario Cerro Gordo, the best for swimming, therefore popular for families with children, busier in the summer months and weekends year round.  During the week Playa Santa and Cerro Gordo are pretty relaxed and empty.

The beaches on the nature reserve, are perfect for those seeking total seclusion and relaxation.  Hike trails along the coast leading to breathtaking scenic locations, you’ll find small beach coves and spots conducive to peace where you can listen to the sound of waves and enjoying the pleasures of doing nothing at all.  Our favorite beaches are Playa Tamarindo, best for bathing, Playa Pelicano, great place to relax and Bahia de las Ballenas, where you can hike all the way to Playa Ballenas.  These are all protected beaches, with no developments in sight, part of the Guanica State Forest.

Cayo Aurora / Gilligan’s Island

Gilligan's Island - Cayo Aurora - Guanica, Puerto Rico / Porta del Sol Places to Visit

Cayo Aurora “Gilligan’s Island”, Guanica, Puerto Rico

Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island) a tiny little paradise absolutely adored by families with small children and honeymooners wishing for a dreamy quiet spot in winter months.  Although this is not the same island featured on the famous “Gilligan’s Island” show, it’s so pretty, it should be featured on a paradise themed movie.  Forman name of this cay is Cayo Aurora, the waters are the most clear you’ll see on the west coast of Puerto Rico.  It’s like a giant pool with shallow waters lined by mangroves and teeming with barracuda and other tropical fish perfect for kids to snorkel in a safer environment. Get here early in the morning and later take a hike to the Guanica Dry Forest for a spectacular day.   Please don’t jump from the mangroves, help us take care of our tiny paradise.

Guanica Wall

Guanica offers one of the best dives on the island of Puerto Rico.  Various charters offer excellent diving trips.

Lajas, Puerto Rico

Lajas is a beautiful town, standing apart for it’s valleys, sweet pineapple fields, agriculture, La Parguera, colorful homes on stilts over the water and the bioluminescent bay.   Be sure to take a drive along the country side roads, unlike anywhere on the island.

Lajas, Puerto Rico - Places to Visit on the west coast of Puerto Rico

The country side of Lajas, Puerto Rico

If you only have one day to spend in Lajas, then head to La Parguera, where you can spend full days exploring the offshore cays, and islets of La Parguera Nature Reserve.   This is a fun place for the whole family to enjoy in nature.  During the day you can kayak through mangrove channels, scuba dive the Lajas wall, snorkel, and swim to your heart’s content.

Lajas, Puerto Rico - Places to Visit & Attractions in Lajas, Puerto Rico

La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico

Most accessible and fun cays to visit are Mata la Gata and Caracoles.  A unique place not to miss is Playita Rosada, a cool natural pool.  When the sun goes down, experience the magic of bioluminescent bay, best experienced by kayak.  Stay for dinner and mingle with locals on various restaurants along water for delicious traditional Puerto Rican food at non-tourist prices.

Playita Rosada - Lajas, Puerto Rico / La Parguera Nature Reserve

Playita Rosada, La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico

San German, Puerto Rico

Historic District - Attractions / Places to Visit in Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico

Historic District of San German, Puerto Rico

Take a break from the beach, and go for an afternoon walk to the historic town of San German, the second oldest city established in Puerto Rico.   San German is like the Old San Juan of the west coast.  Old world charm, historic Spanish Colonial buildings, and narrow brick and pebble stone streets.

Porta Coeli Church, San German

Porta Coeli translates to doorway to heaven, the formal name of the church is El Convento de Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli.  This church is the most famous attraction in San German and one of the oldest churches in the western hemisphere. More about Porta Coeli Museum, San German, Puerto Rico

Porta Coeli - Attractions and Places to Visit in Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico

Porta Coeli, San German, Puerto Rico

Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Boqueron Beach - Cabo Rojo, Puerto RIco

Cabo Rojo, our home town, is located right at the southwest corner of Puerto Rico.  If you have the chance to ask Puerto Ricans about Cabo Rojo, they’ll often use the world “paradise”.  Cabo Rojo has been the preferred place for Puerto Ricans to enjoy a family beach vacation.  Cabo Rojo is a very different place, the landscape is very green and open, the beaches have calm waters, and the vibe…very relaxed island life.  Once you get here, you may fall in love with Cabo Rojo too.

Cabo Rojo is like various destinations into one, the most popular places are Boqueron, Combate and Joyuda for it’s beaches and excellent seafood.   Following are must visit places and attractions in Cabo Rojo.

Don’t leave Porta del Sol (the west coast), without spending at least a full morning or afternoon at Los Morrillos Peninsula inside the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge.  This place feels like you’re in a far away place, the topography is like no where else in Puerto Rico.  Your first stop will be at the observation tower of Las Salinas (The Salt Flats), here you’ll be able to get a bird’s eye view of the the various ecosystems in the area.  Get back in the car and head over towards the lighthouse.  As you approach the Bahia Salinas Hotel sign, park along the road and walk into the salt flats, seeing them up close is really amazing.  By the salt flats, you can enjoy a hiking / bicycling trail, if you’re short on time, head over to Los Morrillos, the best is yet to come.

Las Salinas / The Salt Flats - Places to visit in Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico

Las Salinas / The Salt Flats, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Next stop is Los Morrillos Lighthouse, one of the most beloved lighthouses in Puerto Rico.  The lighthouse has become the most visited attraction site in Porta del Sol, often featured on covers of magazines, you don’t want to miss it.  The elegant lighthouse commands attention, but once you step at the upper observation deck, you’ll understand why this is a must visit attraction.  You’ll be able to have a wide open view of the Caribbean Sea, migratory and endemic birds flying over the Salt Flats, the prettiest beach cove on the island, and the lush green mountains extending out to Lajas.

Faro Los Morrillos - Places to visit in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Faro (Lighthouse) Los Morillos, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Take a short hike along the lighthouse trails, prepare to be wowed by magnificent views.  The trail on the west side leads to The Natural Bridge / Arch, known in Spanish as El Puente de Piedra.

Cliffs at Los Morrillos - Places to visit in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

The trail east of the lighthouse leads to La Playuela and more amazing views.  It’s a very romantic walk, but be sure to bring plenty of water and sunblock.  You can walk down to La Playuela from the lighthouse, but instead go back down where you parked and drive to La Playuela, it will be more convenient for you.

If you want more beach time, there are more beaches and attractions to explore in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. 

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

As you drive along the main road of Rt. 2, you’ll see that Mayaguez looks very much like a city in the United States with just about store and business you see back in the states.   We invite you to go into center Mayaguez towards the plaza, you’ll find a very elegant city with many charming unique qualities offering various attractions the whole family will enjoy.

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico - Best attractions and places to visit - Porta del Sol

Plaza de Colon

The plaza of Mayaguez is one of the most elegant plazas on the island.  During Christmas, don’t miss visiting Plaza de Colon, the Christmas decorations are spectacular, the best and most festive on the island, it’s a party almost daily, especially on weekends, with live music, food, crafts and activities for weeks before and after Christmas Day.  As you’ve heard, Puerto Rico celebrates the longest Christmas in the world, Mayaguez goes all out for the festivities attracting visitors from all over the island.

Things to do during your visit to the plaza:

  • Walk over to Panaderia Ricomini, the most famous bakery on the west coast of the island.  Located just a few blocks from the plaza to taste the famous Brazo Gitano, a rolled over cake filled with guava jelly, pineapple, cream and other flavors.   You will be tempted to taste other delicious Puerto Rican pastries, it’s also a great place to have a cheap delicious Puerto Rican lunch.
  • Go for ice cream at Rex Cream.
  • Relax at the plaza with a good cup of coffee and admire the Spanish Colonial architecture.

Mayaguez Mall

The Mayaguez Mall is the best place to shop on the west coast of Puerto Rico.  Most of the stores are the same you see in the United States, but the selection of clothing, and jewelry are amazingly tropical.  If you love shoes, prepare yourself to buy another piece of luggage at Marshall’s, the selection of open toe high heel shoes and sandals are amazing.  Love sundresses? It’s Puerto Rico, you’ll find them everywhere at really great prices.   For those visitors craving All American restaurants during your vacation, just head over to the mall and nearby plazas along Rt. 2.

USDA-ARS Tropical Agriculture Research Station

A free, educational and relaxing place not getting the publicity it deserves,  well worth visiting.  Walk through gardens and admire 96 plant / tree species.  Best times to visit are during the Spring and Summer since winters tend to be more dry and the plants are not at their full glory.  Visit official site for more info.

Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo, Mayaguez

Zoologico de Mayaguez / Mayaguez Zoo - Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

If you can manage to get away from the coastline of Porta del Sol, and you have children that love animals, head over to the zoo in Mayaguez, it will make a nice afternoon visit.  This is the only zoo on the island, featuring an aviary, African Forest & Savanna.  More about Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Playa Domes - Visit the beaches of Rincon, Puerto RIco / Porta del Sol

Rincon is the surfing capital of the Caribbean, known for it’s great surfing beaches year round.  Rincon is many things in one, a fun surfing destination attracting a cool crowd, a family friendly place to experience the island life at a cost friendly resort, and a very romantic quiet place loved by celebrities seeking for luxury, privacy and uncrowded beaches.

Best attractions are the beaches and the lighthouse.  Rincon is a destination on it’s own with great accommodations for every budget.

Punta Higuero Lighthouse, Rincon

Beautiful lighthouse and nice park with scenic vistas, with various events held throughout the year.  During the winter months, it’s a great spot to watch humpback whales.  More about Punta Higuero Lighthouse Park.

Rincon Lighthouse & Beaches - Places to Visit in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Aguadilla is gaining popularity as a destination in Puerto Rico. This town is home to the international airport named Rafael Hernandez.   Within an hour of arriving to Aguadilla, you can find yourself surfing or taking a relaxing walk on the beach.

A nice place for sightseeing is the following lighthouse ruins.

Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins – Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Faro Punta Borinquen ruins is a great place to take beautiful photographs, located on a quiet often secluded beach.  More about Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins.

Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins - Aguadilla, Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico

Isabela, Puerto Rico

The beaches of Isabela are those that you want to walk from beginning to end. Rock walls protect the beach from the strong surf creating these dramatic scenes of waves crashing and forming swimming pools safe for swimming and relaxing.  Our favorites are Pozo Teodoro and Montones beach for scenery and Jobos beach for playing on the waves.

Montones Beach / Playa Montones - Beaches of Isabela, Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico

Playa Montones, Isabela, Puerto Rico

While a Jobos, take a short walk up to the following site where you can experience natural art and a legend…

Pozo de Jacinto – Isabela, Puerto Rico

Pozo de Jacinto - Isabela, Puerto Rico - Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico Places to Visit

Bosque de Guajataca / Guajataca State Forest – Isabela

Go inland and high up into the mountains and visit the Guajataca Forest, a number of hiking trails into a lush forest with scenic views and caves will be another adventure, sure to fuel your found new love for Puerto Rico.

Bosque de Guajataca / Guajataca State Forest - Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico Attractions / Places to Visit

Isabela / Quebradillas

Guajataca Tunnel, River and Beach

guajataca-puerto-rico-places-to-visit-porta-del-sol-west

Quebradillas is technically not part of Porta del Sol Tourist Region, however Guajataca is located right in between both towns of Isabela and Quebradillas.  The west side of the tunnel is on the municipality of Isabela and the east entrance is on the Quebradillas municipality.  Both ends have stunning scenery, the beaches are not for bathing or swimming due to strong currents, however, these beaches are very scenics with giant boulders, rock formations and even a natural infinity pool.  More about Guajataca Tunnel, Quebradillas, PR

Sunsets

Here in the west coast, people from all over the island, come to be mesmerised by the majestic work of art that’s painted on the horizon of the Caribbean Sea everyday of the year.

Where to Stay on the West Coast of Puerto Rico

If you’d like to stay for a few days you’ll find a great variety of restaurants, affordable hotels, a few luxury resorts loved by celebrities, small Inns, paradores and lots of vacation rentals.





Index of Attractions by Name

Attractions by Towns in Porta del Sol

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