Puerto Rico’s West Coast

Welcome to my first post on SWC (She Wears Color) Travels

As the travel bug has bit me to explore new places + cultures, I have decided to share with you the places I visit, enjoy, and recommend from a colorful point of view. Enjoy xx

Puerto Rico’s West Coast 

An island just two hours and a half away from Orlando by airplane, this tiny island offers big adventures, amazing cuisine and some of the best beach views you can imagine. As I was raised in the San Juan area, which is Puerto Rico’s capital, I never had the chance to explore the West Coast of Puerto Rico as an adult up until last week. As my sister decided to celebrate her 22nd birthday in our beautiful country with her best friends, I was more than ecstatic to visit off the tourist path of San Juan  and see what the West Coast is all about.

B U T…There were two must-see places to visit, hands down, before heading to the West coast:

First Stop: Old San Juan

Our flight stop was at San Juan, so naturally we had to visit “El Viejo San Juan”. With so many childhood memories crossing my mind, my heart was overflowing with happiness. From flying kites at “El Morro”, eating “coco, parcha y piña” ice cream, and walking down the colorful cobblestoned streets, it is a definitely a must-see if it’s your first time visiting PR. I ate at “El Jibarito”, a place serving typical Puertorican food, from mofongo to pulled pork and it was definitely a treat.

Second Stop: Santurce (Calle Cerra)

Santurce is one of the districts of San Juan which has transformed into San Juan’s hipster haven. Santurce’s neighborhood stands out not only by their cool, hipster coffee shops and quirky local shops, but their bona fide street art defined by an explosion of colors and shapes. It reminded me of a smaller version of Wynwood (located in Miami, FL) with a “boricua” twist, representing our culture from another viewpoint. I was really excited to have had the chance to visit Calle Cerra and see some astounding murals; I was definitely mind-blown by the bustling art culture that’s booming in Puerto Rico. I wanted to visit Lote 23 (a parking lot full of different food trucks offering different types of cuisine), but the rain didn’t let me and ended up at Libros AC Barra & Bistro, a cool café operated with a bookstore. A place full of students on their breaks and business people enjoying lunch, it was an odd mix that created hipster vibes with a touch of coolness. If you’re into street art like me, this is definitely a must if you want to see what Puerto Rico has to offer.

Now that you have seen a little bit of San Juan and its art scenery, it’s time to take the highway and go across the country! I stayed in the beach village of Boquerón located in Cabo Rojo. From there, I visited Aguadilla, Isabela, La Parguera, Mayaguez, and Rincón.

westcoastmap

Peña Blanca 

Translated as “White Rock” in the city of Aguadilla, this tiny area has some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in my life. With no actual place to park and just one street (actually, a road that’s not even covered in tar), it is like going on a treasure hunt in where you find a place blissfully serene and gorgeous. The main viewpoint is a colorful hammock with Puerto Rico’s flag on the side. The view? The vast ocean, with waves hitting the rocks right beneath it. I should warn that to get to the “actual” beach, there are some stairs on each side that lead to rocks that you have to walk over (hence the name) to actually get in the water. Even though I was pretty scared of slipping and hitting myself with the rocks, floating in that tiny oasis made the trip completely worth it.

 

Las Salinas / The Salt Flats

On the way to Playa Sucia, you see one of Puerto Rico’s most underrated natural treasures the country has to offer. This place is very unique in the fact that it is part of Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge and it is used for salt mining. Water coming from the sea is controlled and then evaporated for the extraction of salt in hypersaline lagoons; as a result, there are mountains of salt all around the lagoon but beware: it is not for consumption. The coolest part of these flats is the pinkish-tone water that forms, creating a divided lagoon of both white and pink-red tones. It’s something I’ve never seen before and definitely recommend seeing in person.

Playa Sucia/Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

Continuing the road and passing the Salt Flats, you get to “Playa Sucia” (Dirty Beach), but don’t let the name fool you; the waters shine in turquoise and navy blues with white sand. What’s better than the gorgeous beach scenery is the scenery of the beach at the top of Cabo Rojo’s lighthouse. As you walk up a hiking trail to reach the lighthouse, it’s one of the best hikes I’ve done in my life; you have the view of the different ecosystems surrounding playa sucia as well as the view of the big, vast ocean. For sure one of the best views I’ve seen in my life.

Guajataca Tunnel

Located in Isabela, the Guajataca tunnel is a remnant of a railroad used to transport sugarcane from the farms in the area during the sugarcane era.  Now a forgotten tunnel, it is part of Puerto Rico’s history with an oceanside view. At the end of the tunnel, you can walk through an oceanside trail with views of beautiful sceneries of blue oceans and green trees surrounding the tunnel.

Sunsets in Rincón

Last but not least, you cannot visit the West Coast without seeing the sunset in Rincón! Known as “el pueblo de los bellos atardeceres” or “the city of beautiful sunsets”, this city is also home to the best surfing beaches in all of Puerto Rico. In fact, the Corona Pro-Surf Circuit was going on while I was there and even though I wasn’t able to see it, I was able to catch one of its infamous sunsets and boy, is the title fitting! Despite having clouds, the sunset was full of pastel colors, from amber to baby pinks, the sound of the waves transporting you in a place full of serenity and bliss, surrounded with great people. Also, these pictures are all completely natural, #nofilter… It was truly a great way to end this trip!

E A T S

I went to some amazing places to eat and even though I didn’t take pictures of it (hunger got the best of me!), these were some of my favorite places to eat:

Buena Vibra > Their fish coated in platanutres (plantain chips) was the bomb!

Rock n’ Go > Definitely one of a kind; it offers an odd mix of rock and surf that truly embraces what this little chinchorro is all about! From burgers to mofongo bites, I just have one word to mention: MAPLE BACON PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE = HEAVEN, you will definitely NOT regret getting it!


 

Visiting the West coast of Puerto Rico really took my breath away; it was great going back home and truly enjoy its beautiful scenery, places, and people. Even though I have been living in Orlando for ten years, I am grateful to have the opportunity to go back and explore my roots. If I were to be born again and again, I wouldn’t change my roots for anything in the world. This is my little piece of heaven, my “Isla del Encanto”, my “Borinquen”, from my heart to you xx

 

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