Humacao, PR – The Pearl of the East

This coastal town features many wonders, some not as obvious as others. For about 10 miles off Humacao’s shore, the waters provide close to forty, not-too-deep dive sites, perfect for amateurs and professionals. In the spring lucky divers might even get to swim with visiting dolphins at Punta Santiago, a beach formed from sloping mountains stretching far into the ocean.

For those who prefer to explore deep space, Humacao has its own observatory with several telescopes, used by astronomers from the University of Puerto Rico. Visitors are welcome one day and one night a week (contact directly, schedule may vary).

One of Puerto Rico’s former sugar barons, Antonio Roig Torruellas, resided in Humacao in a spectacular house. The restored structure is now open to the public as an art and history museum for the region, as well as a cultural center. Its name is Casa Roig, and its architectural design has been cause of much controversy since it was built in 1919 by Antonio Nechodoma. Nechodoma was a Czech architect whose work, until an untimely death in 1928, made him one of the Caribbean’s preeminent artists. But his work was sometimes “more than influenced” by Frank Lloyd Wright’s own designs. Still, the house is a sight to behold: Nechodoma was able to incorporate some local stylistic elements and at the same time make it stand out by accenting its long horizontal lines.

When the sugar industry fizzled, tourism came to the rescue of the economy. The island’s largest mega-resort to date, Palmas del Mar, is located in Humacao. Locals often remark that the sprawling complex is a town onto itself. Visitors to “Palmas” will find themselves surrounded by a rich palette of beautiful vistas consisting of protected natural areas. This was always part of developer Charles Fraser’s long-term plan for the property, a consideration often abandoned in the mix at newer resorts. Perhaps not coincidentally, Humacao is host to the Festival Ambiental, which celebrates and promotes Puerto Rico’s commitment to the environment.

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