The municipality of Quebradillas is located on Puerto Rico’s northwestern shore but still within the island’s karst region. Karst is formed over time as water sinks into limestone, creating both sinkholes and haystack-like hills called mogotes. It is the area’s striking topography –rolling forests that rise and fall between 500 and 1,000 ft of elevation– that proves the biggest draw for visitors to Quebradillas. Its name is the diminutive for the Spanish word “quebrada,” meaning a stream, of which there are many to be found.
The Bosque Estatal de Guajataca spills over to neighboring Isabela, its 2,357 acres providing 46 trails of varying levels of difficulty. Camping is allowed with a permit, for those who want to spend a night or two communing with nature within this cool forestland. Guajataca is home to almost 200 different tree species, as well as the endangered Puerto Rican boa constrictor.
Quebradillas does have its beaches, most notably Playa de Guajataca, but the waters in this area are rough. The coast is beautiful, however, and a stroll along the golden sands will reveal surprises such as El Túnel Negro, a now unused tunnel for the sugarcane railroad. Further inland, an old bridge called exactly that, Puente Viejo, crosses the Guajataca River.
Quebradillas has the distinction of being the home of the Panadería Legendaria, a bakery that, as its name implies, has been in business for a long time. Since it was founded more than 150 years ago, the panadería has been baking bread in wood-fired ovens. The original recipe might be legendary, but the bread is fresh everyday. Those foregoing the pan sobao to buy souvenirs will want to stop by El Tallador, where award-winning wood carver Isaac Laboy Moctezuma sells his artisanal masterpieces.
The town has a slew of architectural wonders from bygone eras, including Antigua Casa de los Amador (18th century), Casa del Rey (late 19th century), and the still open European-style cinema, Teatro Liberty (early 20th century). But the area’s history goes further back, with Puerto Hermina, a port that provided 17th century pirates with the perfect hideout, due to its lack of accessibility by land. For a much stranger “trip” in time, stop by the recently renamed Museo de Muñecas, a doll museum that houses more than 800 Barbies.