Guanica is beach town on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, which has retained an off-the-beaten-path feel offering miles of beaches without crowds when travel season is in high gear in the most popular tourist destinations of the island. You can spend a whole day beach hopping along the Guanica coast. As you drive along the coast on the reserve you’ll find “secret” spots great for swimming, snorkeling, and offshore fishing. The beaches of Guanica offer a unique landscape with more of a desert-like, no other place like it on the island. Some beaches are great for bathing and swimming, some great for long walks, and some really scenic and tranquil with views of limestone cliffs perfect for reading a book and relaxing under the sun.
We’ll start off with our favorite beach in Guanica which is actually one of the offshore treasures of Puerto Rico, Cayo Aurora is most known as Gilligan’s Island. Gilligan’s is a pretty mangrove island with crystal clear waters perfect for romantics, nature lovers, snorkelers, and great for kids. The waters are shallow, it’s like a giant natural pool with schools of tiny fish swimming at your feet. The photo below is on a cloudy day when storms were approaching, we show you this one on purpose just to show you how clear the waters are even on a cloudy day. At Gilligan’s you get to snorkel on slow currents along mangroves where you’ll see a variety of fish.
Playa Santa is the envy of any hotel developer, with its baby blue tones, water perfect for various watersports, and the perfect dry balmy weather year-round of Guanica. Locals love it for its food and family friendly atmosphere and safe water for swimming and playing under the sun. Playa Santa is both lively and relaxed, come during summers and you’ll experience how Puerto Ricans live island life by the sea, come during the winter months and you’ll find a more relaxed vibe with few people on the beach.
On the nature reserve is Playa Tamarindo, good for boogie boarding and very tranquil.
Playa Atolladora is an obligatory stop for everyone taking a drive along the coast of the Guanica State Forest, it just begs everyone to stop. Heading east you get a peak from the road tempting you to see what’s behind the trees and the water that makes that melodious sound. Driving along the road heading west, cars always stop to take a photo of the beach with its striking shades of emerald green and blue framed by the rocky and sandy shore. Playa Atolladora offers very easy access with parking just across the road. When we visit, we typically find honeymooners and lovebirds enjoying the beach in total peace or have it to ourselves.
A scenic stop as you go beach hopping in Guanica is Playa Jaboncillo… spectacular views from the road and from your beach chair too. Most of the beach floor is grassy but there are some clear spots for bathing and playing in the water. There are some old picnic tables and a gazebo but no bathroom facilities.
Ballenas Bay Beach is one of our favorites for walking, the sounds of the waves are loud, the beach is wide and long. Along the way, you’ll find small natural pools for bathing, the scenery, quiet and lush landscape will give you a great escape as you’re totally embraced by the rugged natural landscape of a Caribbean beach. There are mangroves along the shore, many seashells, and old wood that look like art pieces wash up along the shore giving you many photographic opportunities.
Balneario Cana Gorda
Other popular beaches in Guanica include Balneario Cana Gorda, the only public beach with facilities and lifeguards. The waters at Cana Gorda are calm and excellent for swimming and families with children.