(and why you should book your trip there now!)
One of the good things about the short time we lived in Miami was that we were able to take a few really inexpensive weekend trips to nearby islands. We were looking for a cheap Memorial Day weekend trip and quickly picked Puerto Rico. And to date, this beautiful island has some of the most gorgeous beaches we. have. ever. seen. Period.
So you can finish reading this… or just book your trip now. If you aren’t that convinced yet… read on.
We flew into a teeny tiny airport after midnight on PR’s North Western tip. We chose to fly into and stay in Aguadilla because the flights from Fort Lauderdale here were about $100 total for two of us. Yes, that cheap. Also, we love exploring the less populated, more local areas. Aguadilla is known for good surfing and great beaches. Neither one of us surf, but we are pretty good beach bums.
We booked a small Airbnb right on the water. There was still significant damage from Hurricane Maria, which had decimated the opposite side of the island about 8 months prior to our visit. In fact, our Airbnb host told us they had just gotten power back in March. Think about that for a second… that’s 6 months with no electricity. Pretty incredible… so we were glad to play a small part in helping give back via tourism dollars.
Without further ado, here is a list of our top must-visit spots on the west coast of Puerto Rico.
About a 45 minute drive east, the reward is totally worth it. It’s $5 to park and then you’ll head down a paved pathway to the lower falls. We had a good time watching folks much braver than us using the rope swing. We took a dip and then “hiked” to the upper falls (it’s more of a walk through nature). This waterfall was larger and there were more daredevils rock climbing and jumping from inside the falls. Totally cool to watch from the safety of our rock below. There’s even a little cafe where you can grab a beer or a bite to eat. Plus, this totally cool PR flag mural, which is actually on the side of the bathroom. Ha!
An old railroad tunnel that used to connect two towns is now the gateway to some serious beauty! Once the tunnel opens up and you make it down the stone corridor, you’re greeted with waves crashing against PR’s rocky coastline. Keep going down the path and you’ll come to a sandy beach area, not good for swimming, but definitely some epic picture taking.
If you’re looking for the best beach for swimming, we’d recommend this one. It’s an hour south, but there are few spots worth checking out in that area of the island. Buye was recommended to us by a friend who is from PR and it did not disappoint. The water is turquoise, clear and super warm. Unlike some of the other beaches that are rocky and not idea for swimming, this is the total opposite. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, it was packed. We actually had to park about a mile away and walk down. But on non-holiday weekends you could spend an entire day relaxing here.
After you hit Buye Beach, continue south to the very tip of PR and you’ll find Cabo Rojo. Hike up to the lighthouse if you’re feeling adventurous. The lighthouse was cool… but one of the best parts of this location are the views of the massive cliffs! The lighthouse is situated 200-feet above the ocean on limestone cliffs. There are no guardrails and we’ve read that sections of the cliff have broken off, so it’s best not to get too close to the edge.
Can we talk about food for a minute. This place is off-the-charts amazingly delicious. Another recommendation from our Puerto Rican friend (we seriously owe her) and you have to do yourself a favor and grab a meal here. Not only is the vibe of the place super chill and fun but the staff is incredibly friendly. Now back to that food… woah. They were actually sold out of many items when we were there since it was a holiday weekend. It was the best meal we had all weekend. Check out their menu here.
We saved the best for last. This beach is not easy to get to… in fact, we didn’t know what the heck we were getting into when we started. The only way to get to it is to park at Playa Punta Borinquen and then hike about 45 minutes along the coastline through rocky often treacherous terrain. (Take it from me… don’t wear sandals. You need sturdy shoes to really do this right.) You’ll have to do some climbing as well. We saw people who were bringing coolers, chairs, dogs… I honestly don’t know how they made it. But kudos to them! Once you get through the hike, the views will suddenly open up to a cove with a long stretch of beach that looked like something out of the show LOST. It’s a little rocky and rough for swimming, so be careful. But the beach is perfect for sunbathing and relaxing. Once you make back to the other side… reward yourself with a fresh coconut from the little stand in the parking lot.