Off the beaten path, amazing beaches, surfing all year, mesmerizing natural pools..
Visitors can explore over 3 miles of coastline and tranquil trails of the forest high in the lush mountains. In Isabela, the Atlantic waves crash against rocks, reefs and cliffs to create melodies that speak to visitors’ souls…a great place to unwind, disconnect from the world and reconnect with loved ones.
The town of Isabela is warm, friendly, colorful, and tranquil… visitors will feel right at home with the warm hospitality of locals. Isabela invites you to explore its beaches, to taste great local food, to connect with the natural beauty, to experience the island life, and make Isabela your new home away from home.
Quick Facts about Isabela, Puerto Rico
Isabela’s history dates back to the early 1700’s. The first Spanish settlement was San Antonio de la Tuna.
- Name: This municipality is named Isabela in honor of the Queen Isabella I.
- Where is Isabela?: Isabela is part of the Porta del Sol tourist region, on the northwest of Puerto Rico. Along the coastal valley, Isabela has the town of Aguadilla and Quebradillas as neighbors. On the verdant hills, Isabela is neighbor to the towns of San Sebastian and Moca.
- Land Area: About 56 square miles / 238.2 Km
- Barrios: Isabela is divided into barrios:Arenales Altos, Arenales Bajos, Bajuras, Bejucos, Coto, Galateo Alto, Galateo Bajo, Guayabos, Guerreros, Jobos, Llanadas, Mora, Planas y Pueblo.
- Population: Average of 50,000 residents.
- Gentilicio (Demonym): Isabelinos
- Tourism Information Office: The Tourism Office of Isabela is located on the first floor of Casa Alcaldia (Mayor’s Building) across from the plaza in town. Grab a cup of coffee at the plaza or nearby coffee shops, then head to the tourist office to ask any questions, request assistance or coordinate a tour. Office phone # (787) 872-2100 ext 1201 / 1204
- Alcaldia (Mayor’s Office): Tel: 787-872-2100 Postal Address: P.O. Box 507, Isabela, PR 00662-0507
- Hospital: 787-872-2100 – See location on map below.
- Police Station: 787-872-2020 – See location on map below.
- Parroquia (Parish): San Antonio de Padua
Tourism in Isabela, Puerto Rico
This is the first travel guide to feature Isabela as one of the top destinations in Puerto Rico; we are very proud and excited to help promote this amazing town. Isabela is in fact our favorite beach town in Puerto Rico for its natural pools and uncrowded beaches.
Isabela is a wonderful town, people are very friendly, the coastline is gorgeous with a very unique landscape. The mayor of Isabela has worked really hard over the past few years cleaning up the town, improving access to beaches, revitalizing the town plaza and creating some really great events for both residents and visitors to enjoy among many other things. If you dreamed of buying an investment property or vacation home in the Caribbean, Isabela has many great opportunities since prices are still low and the town has not been exploited by tourism. You may have heard of Isabela on HGTV, it’s been featured various times on House Hunters International and Caribbean Life.
Isabela is still considered one of the unbeaten paths of Puerto Rico, among locals it is a popular surfing location with consistent waves year round for all levels, that rival the neighboring surfing beach town of Rincon. Isabela is one of the best cycling destinations in Puerto Rico with designated paths along the coastline. Isabela offers visitors back roads along karst country with hiking trails at Bosque Estatal de Guajataca (Guajataca State Forest), and the Guajataca Lake offers a fun adventure by kayak and paddle board.
Honeymooners and couples in love will find the coastline blissfully romantic with dreamy landscapes to enjoy without crowds. The adventurous couple will enjoy many activities in Isabela and nearby towns along the west coast. In addition, Isabela is an excellent vacation destination for families with children having a variety of beaches to explore and accommodations to meet every budget.
Points of Interest & Things to Do in Isabela, PR
Isabela is a destination replete with amusements for visitors as diverse as families, nature lovers, surfers, golfers, foodies, and eco-travelers. Comb beaches of glittering sand for sea glass and shells. Wonder at the wilds of cliffs and tidal pools. Catch world-class waves while you balance on a polished surfboard. Golf across a carpet of perfect green in the early morning or dine on local seafood. Isabela is still considered one of the unbeaten paths of Puerto Rico; unlike other destinations around the island, you’ll find Isabela to be relaxed with an authentic island vibe.
Many would agree that the beaches of Isabela are the main attractions, but Isabela is also home to other works of Nature such as the beautiful Guajataca River, a rich forest, and unique natural sites. For the Human aspect of Isabela, explore the historic sections or immerse yourself in the warm Puerto Rican culture. Isabela is a great location for many road trip adventures visiting attractions in nearby towns of Porta del Sol.
With the opening of the luxurious Royal Isabela resort, celebrities and visitors seeking privacy and seclusion delight in wandering along Isabela’s coastline. In order to experience the enchantment of Isabela, we suggest you stay at least one week and have a car rental to explore all there is to see and do. We have included a map of the major attractions in Isabela at the bottom of this page for your convenience.
We invite visitors to explore its natural treasures, participate in the town’s cultural events and enjoy the energy of local activities. Coastal scenery, sun-bleached stucco gleaming against the sapphire sky, intense color and scented breezes await.
Find your perfect beach in Isabela....
You may not have heard or seen the beaches of Isabela on top beaches lists, but once you get here, you’ll agree they ought to be. Those that already love the beaches of Isabela, want to keep this destination low key. Locals and surfers in the know, head to Isabela during the winter months, it rivals the neighboring surf town of Rincon, and many argue is better. The beaches are wide, undeveloped and uncrowded. Visitors can spend a full week visiting just the various beaches.
Isabela has a beach for everyone; ideal for romantic long walks, beaches to enjoy water sports such as surfing for all levels, bodyboarding, windsurfing and offshore fishing. Families with children will love Isabela’s gorgeous natural pools where toddlers can play and novices can swim safely. If you dream of secluded beaches, Isabela is among the top five best secluded beach destinations in Puerto Rico. More about beaches of Isabela, Puerto Rico.
Surfing in Isabela
Surfing in Isabela
When it comes to surfing in Puerto Rico, Isabela rivals the nearby town of Rincon to the west, but many locals argue that Isabela is much better because the surf is good…all-year-round. Middles Beach in Isabela has hosted the famous annual Corona Pro Surfing Tournament. Jobos Beach is just west of Middles Beach and is good for beginner surfers and has local beachfront restaurants nearby. Beginners are encouraged to schedule lessons with friendly experienced surfing pros that will also teach on surfing the waters of Isabela safely.
Scuba Diving in Isabela
+ Scuba Diving in Isabela, PR
Porta del Sol offers exciting adventures for scuba divers, Isabela offers divers an opportunity to explore the caverns of the Blue Hole. It is advised to schedule a tour with a local professional guide who know the caverns well, Open Water certification is required. There are various scuba shops that offer a variety of Padi Recreational Certifications. Beyond Isabela, world-class diving adventures await on the towns of Guanica, Lajas, Mona Island, Desecheo Island, Aguadilla.
Snorkeling in Isabela
+ Snorkeling in Isabela
Bring your snorkel gear and your whole family to experience the magic and wonder of a tropical under water world. Isabela’s unique natural pools offer small children a safe place to learn how to snorkel, best and safest snorkeling conditions is during summer. Playa El Pastillo is a good snorkeling spot during summer months only. The reefs at Shacks are very interesting with views of the caverns deep below.
Golfing in Isabela, Puerto Rico
+ Golfing in Isabela, PR
Isabela has been mostly known for its surfing beaches, but with the creation of Golf Links at Royal Isabela, this town will soon boast to be home of one of the best and well planned golf courses in the Caribbean. Golf Links sits on top of the most breathtaking cliff top of Isabela, overlooking the Atlantic, with a design inspired by the natural contours of the land. Isabela is a golfing destination unlike no other in Puerto Rico, quickly gaining attention and admiration around the world..
The Blue Hole
The Blue Hole
Lose your cares in the beauty of Puerto Rico’s blue hole, a deep natural pool made up of reefs, caves and diverse sea life. The blue hole goes down more than 300 meters deep and full of hypnotic turquoise water.
Isabela…a great destination for those that love to stay active or wish to jump start an exercise routine in a natural setting.
Isabela is one of the top destinations in Puerto Rico for bicycling. The town did a great job creating a coastal trail with marvelous views with great stops along the way. Paseo Lineal is a safe place to enjoy quality time with loved ones embraced by the natural beauty of Isabela. Isabela is a great place for cycling, hiking, walking and jogging.
Hiking in Isabela
+ Hiking in Isabela, PR
The unique landscape of Isabela’s coastline makes it a wonderful destinations for long hikes / walks on the beach. The Guajataca Tunnel offers a nice trail along the shore and through a historic path where the railroad used to chug along.
High up in the lush mountains, you can explore the trails of Bosque Estatal Guajataca (Guajataca State Forest). The whole family can enjoy hiking through interpretive trails where you can learn about the native flora, and visit a cave. The trail is shady, the temperature is cooler and the only sounds you’ll hear are birds singing and breeze moving through the lush tropical foliage.
Guajataca Tunnel , Beach & Nature Park
Be sure to visit the Guajataca Tunnel where you can spend a full day enjoying a multitude of activities. Kayak or paddle board up the Guajataca River, park your lounge chair and simply relax while watching the Ocean waves, unwind at the natural infinity pool, chill on a hammock under a palm tree, cross the railroad tunnel or take a walk along the scenic ocean side trail. You will feel as if you found yourself immersed in a picture postcard.
Paseo Lineal / Coastal Trail
+ Paseo Lineal / Coastal Trail
Isabela is one of the top destinations in Puerto Rico for bicycling. The town did a great job creating a coastal trail with marvelous views and plenty of great stops at beaches and places to eat. Along Route 466, walkers, joggers and cyclists can amble the attractive coastal boardwalk. Unlike popular boardwalks on the mainland USA, the focus here is natural beauty. You won’t find crowds or a busy business stretch; this is a place to unwind with the natural allure of the Isabela coastline. A great spot is along Middles Beach, where you can observe surfers riding the Atlantic waves.
Paseo Lineal is a safe place to enjoy quality time with loved ones embraced by the natural beauty of Isabela.
Plaza de Recreo de Isabela, Puerto Rico
+ Plaza de Recreo de Isabela
At the center of Isabela, visitors can visit the colorful and charming town, featuring the traditional plaza, the historic Catholic church, relaxed cafés, restaurants and government offices.
The plaza in Isabela is an active cultural center where you can immerse yourself in the welcoming culture of Puerto Ricans. Many free events are held throughout the year with live music, crafts, delicious food and more. Festive and fun, the plaza becomes a neighborhood party where all are invited.
+ Pozo de Jacinto...
This exquisite work of art created by nature stands alone on an ocean-side cliff. More than a beautiful door opening to the sea, this is a long time favorite local place with a legend. Originally, this cave was called El Pozo de Jobos (Jobos Well). According to the legend, there was a farmer named Jacinto…. More about Pozo de Jacinto, Isabela, PR.
Guajataca State Forest
+ Guajataca State Forest & Cave
Take a break from the sun and traverse deep into the mountains to explore the cool shaded trails of Bosque Estatal de Guajataca & La Cueva Del Viento (Guajataca State Forest & Del Viento Cave), nestled on the karst region. Highlights include karst formations and Cueva (Cave) del Viento. The Guajataca Forest is an educational and adventurous place for those that love to be embraced by nature. At the Guajataca Forest you can enjoy birdwatching, cave exploring and learning about the native flora on the interpretive trail.
The Original Cara del Indio
+ The Original Cara del Indio
The original Indian face was artfully carved by nature alone on a cliff facing the beautiful beach of Playa El Pastillo. This place feels sacred and it’s certainly worth a visit. You’ll have to come during summer months to fully appreciate this precious natural site. On the side of the Indian face you can enjoy a very special natural treasure…when the tide is low, you can walk into the side of the Indian face to admire a sub-marine cave that fills up with fresh water from the mountains.
+ Monument to Tribal Chief Mabodomaca
Be sure to make a quick stop for a picture with this handsome famous Taino Chief. The beloved Cacique Mabodomaca will be honored and remembered for many generations by this carving on the side of a rocky mountain off Highway 2. He was a brave Taino warrior who gave all to protect his tribe. More about Cara del Indio.
Horseback Riding in Isabela, PR
+ Horseback Riding in Isabela
You walked the beaches, you admired the breathtaking landscape from your lounge chair…exploring the shores by horse will give you a totally different perspective. Horseback riding on the beach is a therapeutic activity, the beauty of the scenery, the gentle sounds of the ocean, the cooling breeze caressing your skin and the sound of horses galloping on the sand will erase all your cares away. When you get back home, you can close your eyes and re-live the experience. Whether you’re celebrating love or spending quality time with the whole family, you’ll cherish the experience forever.
Ruins of Ermita San Antonio…
+ Ruins of Ermita San Antonio de la Tuna
Tour the main historical site of Isabela in which the town was originally established back in 1725.
+ Kayaking in Isabela
The Guajataca River is a wonderful place to take the whole family for a kayaking adventure.
Cristo de los Machados
+ Cristo de los Machados
Cristo de los Machados, a statue with the image of Christ, is the most beloved statue in the town of Isabela. . The large crucifix was a gift donated to the Catholic church of Isabela by Juan Machado Diaz. The statue was a show of appreciation for the miracle of his family surviving a shipwreck from the Canary Islands to Puerto Rico. In 1918, the town suffered an earthquake, leaving the entire temple destroyed, but the wall in which this statue was hanging remained intact.
Epifanía de los Tres Reyes Magos / Feast of the Epiphany with the Three Kings
Everyone that knows Puerto Ricans, is well aware that Christmas is a very special time. The Three Kings are the most beloved personalities at Christmas, bringing gifts to children in January 6. Just about every town in Puerto Rico celebrates Three Kings Day with a special event celebrated at the plaza. Isabela’s Three Kings are the only ones in Puerto Rico who also compose and sing, sharing the Christmas message of love and peace. If you happen to be visiting Isabela on the 5th and 6th of January, be sure to attend the Three Kings Christmas event at the Plaza Manuel Corchado y Juarbe in center town.
+ Shopping in Isabela, PR
Should you desire a break from the beach, need groceries at a supermarket, or just feel like shopping for whatever, you can do so in Isabela. Venture into the town square, a very safe area, park free on the street, and walk around the surrounding blocks to visit local clothing and jewelry shops, pharmacies, and the Plaza de Mercado (farmer’s market) where you’re certain to find something you need. Or, head further south to the Plaza Isabela shopping mall, at the intersection of PR Routes 2 and 4470, where you’ll find U.S. “chain” stores and restaurants. Please reference the map below and zoom in to see names of stores in the aforementioned areas.
Paso Fino Horses
Isabela is the place to learn and admire the sport of racing Paso Fino horses. Since 1966, Paso Fino racing is the national sport of Puerto Rico, Isabela is proud to continue the tradition and do it best than any other municipality on the island. When you visit Isabela, be sure to check the town calendar for a Paso Fino event.
Hotels & Resorts in Isabela, Puerto Rico
Royal Isabela was designed to synchronize with nature's own design and natural contours of the land in beautiful harmony without sacrificing luxury. Preservation, conservation and sustainability was extremely vital to the visionaries of Royal Isabela. Royal Isabela broke the mold, there's no other place like it in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean. Guests can enjoy well appointed suites in Spanish Colonial architectural style, delightful food, magnificent golf and excellent service. The opening of Royal Isabela attracts individuals seeking for a private pampering oasis.
Villa Montaña Beach Resort, plantation style beachfront resort in an intimate romantic tropical setting. Accommodations are spacious, with handcrafted furniture and well-appointed. Villa Montaña Beach Resort has one of the best restaurants in Isabela. The setting makes it a popular choice for weddings and special events.
Isabela Travel Guide
Travel to Isabela
Isabela, a municipality in the northwest coast of Puerto Rico offers various travel options for tourists. If you live on the east coast of the United States you’ll be happy to know that in just 4 hours you’ll be basking under the Puerto Rican sun.
You have two airport options to fit your travel needs and desired vacation itinerary.
Airport Option #1 - San Juan International Airport (SJU)
Numerous daily flights from various major airlines fly into Luis Munoz Marin Airport (SJU) from many cities in the United States. Isabela is 72 miles west from San Juan. It is about a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from SJU to Isabela, depending on traffic and road conditions.
You may take a taxi from the airport, but that would be very costly due to the distance away. The drive is easy and on major roads, so we advise tourists to rent a car at the airport. That way, you may also enjoy exploring all the attractions and things to do in Isabela and nearby places in the Porta del Sol region (west coast).
Vacation Tip: To make your day of arrival easier and have the bonus of exploring another destination in Puerto Rico, we recommend you stay in San Juan 1 or 2 nights in order to explore Old San Juan. After seeing the historic city, leave San Juan after a relaxed breakfast and then head to Isabela.
Airport Option #2 – Aguadilla International Airport (BQN)
Airline carriers flying from the USA to the Aguadilla Airport, Rafael Hernández Airport (BQN) include United Airlines, Spirit and JetBlue. Isabela is only about a 10 minute drive east from the Aguadilla Airport to the most popular hotels in town. Because it is best to explore Isabela and/or the west coast with a car, we highly recommend you rent a car ahead of time, to save money, through an online booking service like Priceline.com rather than at the airport. If you’re staying at a resort in Isabela and don’t need transportation around Isabela, taxis are available and waiting outside of the airport after flight arrivals.
SJU vs. BQN
SJU – Many more airlines and convenient flights to choose from, but it is a longer drive to Isabela from San Juan. A great travel option is staying in San Juan for two nights to enjoy Old San Juan and the city attractions.
BQN – Only 10 minutes away from Isabela, but flights are very limited to three airlines, from only a few select departure locations, and with inconvenient arrival times typically between 1 am and 5 am.
Driving from the San Juan Airport to Isabela
- Upon leaving the airport, take PR Highway 26 OESTE (West) towards San Juan.
- After traveling 3 miles, stay right and take the exit for Highway 22 OESTE (West).
This route has tolls, so as mentioned above, make sure your rental car has an AutoExpreso prepaid toll sticker for traveling to Isabela. Most car rental companies will add tolls to your bill for your convenience.
- After driving an hour + on PR 22, this route will merge with / become PR Route 2 OESTE after passing Arecibo and before Hatillo.
- Stay on PR 2 OESTE for another 25-30+ minutes, approx. 13.4 miles.
- Just after crossing the concrete bridge into Isabela, you’ll immediately see a large “ISABELA” sign on the right. Do not exit here as it leads to the Guajataca Tunnel and Beach area only.
- Take the next right, after just a 1/4 mile or so, and exit off of PR 2 and onto PR 113 (there is a large green road sign for Route 113 just before the road/turn. This route has much less traffic than PR 2 and conveniently runs west past the Royal Isabela Golf Resort.) If staying at Royal Isabela, the entrance is on the right at roadside km marker 4.0.
- Continue on 113 for approximately 4.5 miles to the Isabela town plaza/square.
- Once there, you must take a right due to intersecting with a one-way street.
- Take the second street left, then first right turn onto PR 466 (sign there says HACIA 466).
- Route 466 goes downhill toward the ocean, curves left, then runs along the coastline where there are numerous beach access points, restaurants, and places to stay. PR 466 becomes 4466 at Jobos Beach which heads west past more lodging and beaches. (See Interactive Map provided below)
Driving from the Aguadilla Airport
- When exiting the rental car lot at the airport, turn right onto Hangar Road and follow it to the end until you must make a left turn.
- Take the first right to get onto PR 110 South.
- Drive just over 2 miles, approx. 5 minutes, and make a left turn onto PR 4466 at the flashing yellow signal light just after km marker 30.3 (Brisas del Atlantico restaurant is on the right). This road provides access to lodging and beaches and becomes PR 466 near Jobos Beach. Again, PR 466 is the main beach access, lodging, and restaurants access route in Isabela. (See Interactive Map provided below)
+ Getting Around Isabela
As we discuss and provide tips in the Getting Around page, a car rental is the best option for exploring and seeing all of the wonderful attractions in Isabela and the west coast should you choose to venture out further. Isabela has a very long coast, with many beaches, and attractions in many different areas around this Puerto Rico municipality. Both airports mentioned above have many car rental companies and options to choose from.
We love using the Priceline.com to book your car rental in advance. Enter SJU to search for rental cars at the San Juan Airport or BQN for the Aguadilla Airport.
Tip: If renting a car and driving from SJU, make sure the rental vehicle has an Auto Expreso prepaid toll sticker needed for Highway 22 to Isabela.
The Tourism Office of Isabela is located on the first floor of Casa Alcaldia (Mayor’s Building) across from the plaza in town. Grab a cup of coffee at the plaza or nearby coffee shops, then head to the tourist office where friendly staff is ready to help you plan a great stay and coordinate a tour of the town.
Office phone # (787) 872-2100 ext 1201 / 1204
Festival & Events in Isabela, Puerto Rico
For dates and more information please call 787-872-2100, 787-872-6400, 787-872-1034
- Fiesta de Reyes – January
- Festival del Tejido – Art exhibits of needlecraft, music, food and family fun. – May
- Festival en Honor al Santo Patrón San Antonio de Padua / Isabela Patron Saint Festival– Music, games. – June
- Festival del Tango – June
- Festival de la Virgen del Carmen – July
- Natalicio Manuel Corchado y Juarbe – September
- Isabela tiene Sabor – November (due to elections, it took place in October this year)
- Yuca Festival – Held at the Plaza de los Festivales, come for great food made with Yucca, music and local art crafts. – October
- Encendido Navideño – (Christmas Lighting) – November
- Classic and Antique Auto Show – Plaza de los Festivalea – November
- Festival de los Santos Inocentes – December
Isabela's Nearby Places & Things to Do