Guánica, PR – The Town of Friendship

Guánica is, to many locals and well-informed tourists, a treasure trove of a town in Puerto Rico’s southeast coast. It has often been touted as full of “secret beaches,” but the cat has been out of the bag for a while. Yes, tourists based in San Juan might be put off by driving distance, but ask any local and they will convince you that Guánica is worth the trip.

The municipality is home to various natural reserves including Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay) and the Bosque Seco de Guánica right next to it. Manatees and marine turtles roam the waters of the former’s diverse ecosystems present here. The United Nations designated this whole region of the Bosque Estatal de Guánica as a biosphere reserve. It is also the site of the most diverse population of birds in the island. As might be expected from its designation as a “dry forest,” this part of Guánica receives very little rainfall. Further inland and up the hills, the climate is not as arid and much more welcoming to hikers.

Within the dry forest visitors might come across a small fort named Fuerte Caprón. It dates back to the Spanish-American War, at the end of which Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States. This fort is actually American, as Guánica proved to be extremely strategic for their troops. It was from Guánica’s coast that American troops first entered the island, as Juan Ponce de León had done centuries earlier. Ironically, one of the town’s nicknames is “El Pueblo de la Amistad,” that is, The Town of Friendship.

As Guánica’s popularity continues to grow, it might cease to be the perfect place to get lost in Puerto Rico… but it’s doubtful locals will let places like Gilligan’s Island lose their charm. This small, mangrove-surrounded islet boasts crystalline waters and can only be reached via little boats that charge around $6 round-trip.

Then, there’s the option of staying underwater. Guánica’s beauty extends out to the sea, where divers can set out a mile from Copamarina Beach Resort’s shore and find a breathtaking 22 mile long wall of marine life. For travelers who like more traditional comforts, Copamarina is their oasis within the sparsely-populated, sometimes-rustic municipality.

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