Guanica…A charming seaside town with quiet beaches, world-class scuba diving, and home to United Nations World Biosphere Reserve
Puerto Rico is one amazing place in the Caribbean. For first-time visitors, it’s really surprising how a small island can have such diversity, the municipality of Guanica is one of those unique places. You don’t hear much about Guanica on popular travel magazines or television channels, those that love the pleasures that Guanica offers, want to keep it that way.
This charming town is quiet and relaxed, travelers that enjoy exploring the unbeaten paths will enjoy Guanica, contrasting with tourist districts in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. The main allure for visitors to Guanica is the rich natural treasures the entire family will enjoy exploring in complete serenity. Couples seeking relaxation and safe seclusion will reconnect in Guanica’s hiking trails, free of crowds, leading to breathtaking scenic spots.
Best Places to StayGuanica, Puerto Rico
Best Beaches in Guanica, Puerto Rico
Guanica is perhaps one of the unique beach destinations on the main island of Puerto Rico. Hiking and nature lovers will enjoy the oceanside trails leading to secret beach coves with breathtaking untamed natural beauty. The landscape along the coast of Guanica is unlike anywhere on the island since the beaches are part of a subtropical dry forest and one of the best-preserved in the world.
Local’s favorite beaches are Playa Santa and Balneario Cerro Gordo, for their facilities and calmer water for swimming. During the week Playa Santa and Cerro Gordo are pretty relaxed and empty. The beaches on the nature reserve are practically empty year-round for those wishing to experience sublime peace and seclusion by the sea, during the summer months locals enjoy these beaches. The best beaches on the nature reserve are Playa Tamarindo, best for bathing and boogie boarding. Playa Pelicano, a great place to relax, and Bahia de las Ballenas, where you can hike all the way to Playa Ballenas. These are all protected beaches, free of development, part of the Guanica State Forest.
Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora
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, and 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 Tamarindo is a nature lover’s beach like no other in Puerto Rico since is located in the subtropical dry forest of Guánica Biosphere Reserve. The beach is rarely crowded, and very peaceful. There are three sides to Tamarindo Beach, one for lounging and observing the surf, one for playing on the waves, and one for relaxation and floating on shallow waters over grass beds where baby fish play. Tamarindo Beach is the last beach you can access by car, and the drive is very scenic.
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 summer 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ballena Bay Beach is one of our favorites for walking, the sounds of the waves are loud, and the beach is wide and long. Along the way, you’ll find shallow pools for bathing, the scenery, and quiet and lush landscape will give you a great escape as the rugged natural landscape of a Caribbean beach totally embraces you. There are mangroves along the shore, many seashells, and old wood that look like art pieces that wash up along the coast 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.
Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Guanica, Puerto Rico
Scuba Diving in Guanica
Guanica is not a popular vacation destination, but serious divers in the know head to this sleepy beach town to dive the “The Wall”, a deep dive with excellent visibility, colorful healthy reefs, and abundant sea life.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling Charters in Guanica, Puerto Rico
Go Hiking at Guanica Dry Forest
Head to Bosque Estatal de Guánica (Guanica State Forest), commonly known as Guanica Dry Forest. Guanica State Forest is a subtropical dry forest, hiking the trails will give you bragging rights for visiting a UN World Biosphere Reserve. Guanica is one of the best hiking destinations in Puerto Rico, offering about 12 trails along in interior of the mountains and along the pristine rugged coastline. The hiking trails are of average difficulty to walk, some trails are good for families with children. Be sure to hydrate before the hike and bring plenty of water to drink during the hike, sunscreen to reapply often, and bug repellent during the rain season, it is also recommended you hike early in the morning since Guanica can get very hot midday. Visit the office for information on guided tours. You can hike on your own, the office has pamphlets with information on the trails.
Snorkeling in Guanica
Guanica is a great destination for families with children who wish to snorkel while on vacation in Puerto Rico. Gilligan’s Island is like a giant natural pool with shallow waters, perfect for children to learn how to snorkel in safe calm waters. When the weather conditions are optimal, there is a reef at Playa Tamarindo. Professional charters will be happy to take you to the best snorkeling spots in Guanica and nearby sites in Lajas.
A romantic place to visit is Finca El Girasol, a 10-acre farm where bright yellow sunflowers are grown. The blue skies and warm Puerto Rican Sun, contrast beautifully with thousands of sunflowers that seem to have a smile. A donation of $2 per vehicle is requested. Visitors can walk around the farm, enjoy the fresh air, scenic views and take home the perfect selfies to capture the memories. Fresh-cut sunflowers are available for sale, a romantic gift for your loved one. Call 939-402-7967 for hours before visiting. Visit their FB page
Have Fun on the Water at Playa Santa
Head to Playa Santa, one of the most popular beaches for locals when they wish to enjoy family-friendly water sports. Local vendors rent kayaks, jet skies, banana boats, boat rides and more. If you wish to relax on the beach, you’ll also find umbrella and lounge rentals.
Best Things to Do & Places NearbyGuanica, Puerto Rico
There are plenty more activities and points of interest to explore in the West Coast Region. We recommend the following attractions:
Map - Places to Visit in Guanica & NearbyWest Coast of Puerto Rico
Quick Facts about Guanica
Guanica’s Slogan: Paraiso Del Eterno Verano (The Paradise of Eternal Summer)
- Location: Guanica is on the southwest of the island east of Lajas.
- Land Area: About 53 square miles.
- Hymn: América es jardín del mundo
- Locals are known as: Guaniqueños
- Tourism Information Office: Tel: 787-821-4343, 787-821-0092. Address: July 25 th St. right in front of the plaza