Located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico between Ponce and Mayagüez, Guánica is a town where life is intrinsically tied to the sea. Many islanders have summer homes in the area, and it is one of the few places where houseboats are a common sight. Guánica’s Caña Gorda Public Beach is a favorite among local families and visitors for its tranquil emerald waters and broad white coral beachfront.
You can hike along the coast and discover a beach of your own, or take a side trip to the nearby Guánica Forest Reserve, a 1,570-acre treasure grove for bird watchers – with, of course, a few wonderful secluded beaches.
The sea around Guánica is dotted with tiny cays, many of them unnamed and none inhabited, except by rare species of plants and birds. The small islet called Gilligan’s Island is a snorkeler’s dream, surrounded by crystal clear shallow waters brimming with sea life.
Guánica Bay, long thought to be the landing place of Christopher Columbus, is an attractive harbor with a narrow entrance wedged between high, rocky promontories. It is also where American General Nelson Miles landed in 1898 during the Spanish American War.
Farther west, you can drive up to Ensenada, where you’ll find the remnants of the magnificent Guánica Sugar Cane Central, once the largest sugar mill in Puerto Rico.
How to Get There
From San Juan, take Highway 52 to Ponce, go west on Road 2 and south on Route 116 to Guánica. Follow Route 333 to Caña Gorda.