Puerto Rico Travel Guide ⎮ Places to Go / Vacation in Puerto Rico ⎮ Isabela Puerto Rico
Off the beaten path, amazing beaches, surfing all year, mesmerizing natural pools…
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Isabela, a city kissed by the sun, caressed by the warm Atlantic waters, naturally landscaped by lush green and a kaleidoscope of wild tropical flowers on the hilly side. 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, 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, taste great local food, connect with the natural beauty, experience the island life, and make Isabela your new home away from home.
Along the coastal valley, Isabela has the town of Aguadilla and Quebradillas as neighbors. On the verdant hills, Isabela is a neighbor to the towns of San Sebastian and Moca. The Land area is about 56 square miles / 238.2 Km.
Don't forget to book a tour to the Bioluminescent Bay experience in the nearby charming village of La Parguera after a day of exploring Puerto Rico's west coast beaches.
Tourism in Isabela, Puerto Rico
We were the first to cover Isabela in detail and introduce this beautiful beach town as one of the top destinations in Puerto Rico; we are very proud and excited to help promote it. Isabela is in fact our favorite beach town on the main island of Puerto Rico for its natural pools and uncrowded beaches.
Isabela is a wonderful town, the coastline is gorgeous with a very dramatic landscape. The mayor of Isabela has worked really hard over the past few years cleaning up the town, improving access to beaches, and revitalizing the town plaza. If you dreamed of buying an investment property or vacation home in the Caribbean, Isabela is a great town to vacation and get to know, with great real estate 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.
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Among Isabela 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 with karst country with hiking trails at Bosque Estatal de Guajataca (Guajataca State Forest), and the Guajataca Lake offers a fun adventure by kayak and paddleboard.
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.
Isabela is about a 2-hour drive from the San Juan International Airport and about a 15-20 minute drive from the Aguadilla International Airport.
Top Rated Tours to Isabela & Nearby
Best Things to Do & Places to VisitIsabela, Puerto Rico
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.
Popular Experiences on the West Coast of Puerto Rico
Golfing in Isabela, Puerto Rico
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 to one of the best and most well-planned golf courses in the Caribbean. Golf Links sits on top of the most breathtaking clifftop 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.
Top Rated Hotels in Isabela, Puerto Rico
Popular Water Sports in IsabelaThings to Do in 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.
Top Rated Surfing Lessons in Puerto Rico
Snorkeling in Isabela
Bring your snorkel gear and your whole family to experience the magic and wonder of the tropical underwater world. Isabela’s unique natural pools offer small children a safe place to learn how to snorkel, the best and safest snorkeling conditions are during summer. Playa El Pastillo is a good snorkeling spot during the summer months only. The reefs at Shacks are very interesting with views of the caverns deep below.
Related Articles: Best Snorkeling Beaches in Puerto Rico
Top Rated Snorkeling Tours in Rincon, Puerto Rico
Scuba Diving in Isabela
The west coast of Puerto Rico offers exciting adventures for scuba divers, and 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 knows 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 in the towns of Guanica, Lajas, Mona Island, Desecheo Island, and Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla.
Top Rated Scuba Diving Tours in Rincon, Puerto Rico
Best Things to Do & Places to Visit for Nature LoversIsabela, Puerto Rico
Horseback Tours 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.
Top Rated Horseback Riding Tours in Isabela
Be sure to visit the Guajataca Tunnel where you can spend a full day enjoying a multitude of activities. Kayak or paddleboard 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 oceanside trail.
Pozo de Jacinto is more than a beautiful door opening to the sea, this is a long-time favorite local place with a legend, a work of art created by nature alone. Originally, this cave was called El Pozo de Jobos (Jobos Well). According to the legend, there was a farmer named Jacinto….
Go Hiking in Isabela, Puerto Rico
The unique landscape of Isabela’s coastline makes it a wonderful destination 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 the breeze moving through the lush tropical foliage.
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 the summer months to fully appreciate this precious natural site. On the side of the Native’s (“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.
Paseo Lineal / Coastal Trail
Isabela is one of the top destinations in Puerto Rico for bicycling. The town did a nice job creating a coastal trail with sea views where visitors can make stops at beaches and casual local restaurants. Along Route 466, walkers, joggers, and cyclists can amble the attractive coastal boardwalk. Unlike popular boardwalks on the mainland USA, the focus here is nature. 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.
Kayaking & SUP in Isabela, Puerto Rico
The Guajataca River is a wonderful place to take the whole family for a kayaking adventure.
Cara del Indio / Monumento Mabodomaca
Guajataca State Forest & Cave Tour
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.
Cultural Experiences & Places to VisitIsabela, Puerto Rico
Plaza de Recreo de Isabela, Puerto Rico
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 to which all are invited.
Cristo de los Machado
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.
Ruins of Ermita San Antonio…
Tour the main historical site of Isabela on which the town was originally established back in 1725.
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.
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.
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.
Best Rated Hotels & ResortsIsabela, Puerto Rico
Photos of IsabelaPuerto Rico
Isabela Travel Guide
Travel to Isabela
Isabela, a municipality on 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 Options - Travel to Isabela / West Coast of Puerto Rico
Option #1: San Juan Airport
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.
Option #2: Aguadilla Airport
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 through an online booking service 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.
San Juan Airport vs. Aguadilla Airport
San Juan Aiport (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.
Aguadillla (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)
+ Weather in Isabela, Puerto Rico
The beach town of Isabela offers residents and visitors the pleasant balmy weather that Puerto Rico is known for. Blue, sunny skies. The average temperature year-round is 85°F. During the summer months, temperatures range from 85°F to 95°F. During winter months temperatures are the most pleasant, nights get cooler and days warm up to 85°F.
+ Tourism Office in Isabela, Puerto Rico
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
+ Getting Around Isabela
As we discuss and provide tips on 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.
Quick Facts about Isabela, Puerto Rico
+ Facts & Need to Know Services in Isabela, Puerto Rico
Isabela’s history dates back to the early 1700s. The first Spanish settlement was San Antonio de la Tuna.
- Name: This municipality is named Isabela in honor of Queen Isabella I.
- Where is Isabela?: Isabela is part of the Porta del Sol tourist region, in northwest Puerto Rico. Along the coastal valley, Isabela has the town of Aguadilla and Quebradillas as neighbors. On the verdant hills, Isabela is a 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 the map below.
- Police Station: 787-872-2020 – See location on the map below.
- Parroquia (Parish): San Antonio de Padua
+ Festivals & Events
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