Travel Guide to the Best Beaches, Interesting Places to Visit, Visiting Tips, Popular Tours, Photo Gallery, & Map
The west coast has always been the most popular vacation destination for Puerto Ricans, which says how special the region 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.
Los Morrillos Lighthouse
The 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.
La Playuela (Playa Sucia)
The trail east of the lighthouse leads to La Playuela (Playa Sucia) 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.
The Natural Pools of Isabela
Crystal clear, waves crashing shows, uncrowded scene
No other travel guide has included the tidal pools of Isabela on their list of “top things to do in Puerto Rico”, to be honest, we don’t want to, we really want to be selfish and keep it to ourselves.
Most of the tidal pools are visited by few local families, during the week they’re typically empty. There are no facilities, and two of them require some walking, so that keeps them uncrowded and more pristine. They don’t look like much from a distance, but once you stand in front of them and take a dip, you don’t want to get out.
The water is very clear, there’s a constant flow of clean cool water coming in from the ocean, the pools are protected by a rock wall. The pools are shallow, keeping parts of the pool nice and warm, the rocks and boulders inside the pools become playgrounds for schools of colorful fish. The sights and sounds of the waves are mesmerizing. These pools have all the conditions for a high dose of sea therapy.
Winter is the best time to visit the pools, during summer, some of the tidal pools may be empty or too shallow for swimming.
The Guanica State Forest & Biosphere Reserve
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 breathtakingly scenic places, secluded beaches surrounded by the largest population of birds of the island.
Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora
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 the 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 in a paradise themed movie. Forman name of this cay is Cayo Aurora, the waters are the clearest 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.
Las Salinas (The Salt Flats)
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 faraway place, the topography is like nowhere else in Puerto Rico.
Your first stop in Cabo Rojo 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 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.
Hang out at Plaza de Colon in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
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.
Visit The Porta Coeli Convent Museum in San German, Puerto Rico
Porta Coeli translates to the 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.
Take in the Sights at Punta Higuero Lighthouse, Rincon, Puerto Rico
Elegant 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. Bring your swimsuit and take a dip at Domes Beach just next to the lighthouse, a great spot for watching surfers and the sunset.
Guajataca Tunnel, River & Beach
Quebradillas is technically not part of the west coast 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.
Playita Rosada – Lajas, Puerto Rico
A cool 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 at various restaurants along the water for delicious traditional Puerto Rican food at non-tourist prices.