Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise filled with stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and exciting outdoor activities. One of the best places to experience all of this is in the charming town of Aguadilla. Located on the northwest coast of the island, Aguadilla offers a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure. During my trip to Puerto Rico, I spent a day exploring everything I could in Aguadilla and provided you with the hidden gems and how to plan your own unforgettable experience.
About Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, is a small town with a population of just over 60,000 people. Despite its size, it has a lot to offer visitors. The town is known for its beautiful beaches, world-class surfing, and laid-back vibe. It is also home to several historical sites and museums that showcase the island’s rich history and culture.
One of the best things about Aguadilla is its location. It is just a short drive from some of the island’s most popular attractions, including the Arecibo Observatory and the Camuy River Cave Park. The town is also home to Rafael Hernandez Airport, which makes it easy to get to from other parts of Puerto Rico and the United States.
Top Attractions in Aguadilla
Aguadilla offers a variety of attractions to keep visitors entertained. Below are the places I visited during my one-day exploration of Aguadilla.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
Start the day by saddling up on horseback through the forest of almond trees and the white sand beaches. Tropical Trail Rides offers group horseback riding twice a day, seven days a week. I scheduled a morning ride, hoping that the temperature would be cool and the horses would be eager for their first ride of the day.
Our guild led our group of 12 in a single file through the narrow path cutting through the arched branches of the trees. We were able to trot the horse at a fast pace in certain areas, which gave me a rush of excitement I hadn’t experienced since I was a child learning how to ride. The trail weaved in and out from the woods onto the beach. Before turning back for the barn, we tied off the horses to the trees to take a twenty-minute break on the beach.
Our beach we stopped for the break was like a movie. The waves were large tunnels of water chasing after one another towards the shoreline. Eventually, crashing over the rocks, the power of the waves disintegrated as they calmly slid onto the powdery sand. Our guide used this time to make lunch recommendations that left my stomach growling in anticipation.
Our guide kindly gave us a chance to snap some pictures with our horse on the beach before we headed back to the barn. Delta, my trusty steed, was a pro at striking the perfect pose for the photo.
Ruinas del Faro
This particular building, officially called the Borinquen Point Lighthouse, was originally built by the Spanish in 1889 and was an impressive structure made of brick. It featured a tower with a light and living quarters for the light keeper and boasted elaborate architectural details. Unfortunately, in 1918, a powerful earthquake struck the northwest, causing extensive damage to the lighthouse that rendered it irreparable. As a result, it was abandoned and a new lighthouse was constructed in 1922 by the US Coast Guard in Aguadilla, located slightly to the northeast of the original site.
Finding your way to Ruinas del Faro can be an adventure in itself. As you travel along Route 107 North, you’ll come across a massive, golf ball-shaped dome at the airport. Keep an eye out for it because just beyond the dome, you’ll need to turn left onto a golf course. The road leading to the ruins is quite narrow and full of deep potholes, so take caution while driving. If you decide to rent a Jeep, navigating this terrain should be a breeze. As you approach the end of the road, it will transition into a dirt path. From this vantage point, you should be able to spot the ruins. While there isn’t a designated parking area, there’s ample space available for parking.
The ruins that remained were abandoned, allowing nature to reclaim the area. However, despite this, the beauty of the once mighty lighthouse can still be seen. Large iguanas are now the residents of what remains today. Their statuesque poses over the rocks almost made me believe they were stone sculptures as they basked in the sun. Looking through the hollowed-out windows, you can see a small beach that takes your breath away. While the ground is covered in rocks and displaced bricks from the ruins, there are ample stretches of unobstructed shoreline, making it a perfect place for a walk by the coast.
Old Naval Facility
If you have reached the Ruinas del Faro, then you have also arrived at the Old Naval Facility. This structure, which was once a part of the Ramey Air Force Base, is now a vibrant outdoor space adorned with colorful mural art. Every wall is decorated with intricate street art, and some rooms can only be entered through gaps in the walls. Walking from one room to another unveils even more stunning pieces of art than the previous one.
Best Beaches to Visit in Aguadilla
Aguadilla boasts some of the most stunning beaches in Puerto Rico. During my visit, I made it a point to explore as many as possible, each with its unique atmosphere yet equally captivating in their beauty.
In order to reach Survival Beach, I first had to make my way to Surfer’s Beach and then embark on hiking to reach Survival Beach. The journey to Surfer’s Beach involves driving through a fence with a “Do Not Enter” sign, traveling down a steep incline, and traversing a dirt road that has been eroded by water (it is highly recommended to rent a Jeep for this purpose). Although the parking area is limited in size, the trailhead leading to Survival Beach is easy to locate.
The hike to Survival Beach isn’t difficult. The terrain is a slow uphill hike covered by trees. Watch your step and your head; the roots are large, and the tree branches are low. After fighting your way through the beach forest, the path opens up to a breathtaking beach with enormous rock formations. Survival Beach is exactly where I would want to wash ashore if I was a shipwrecked sailor.
Crash Boat Beach
Aguadilla’s Crash Boat Beach is a highly sought-after destination for beachgoers, and it’s easy to understand why. With its pristine, clear water and velvety sand, it’s a natural haven for sunseekers to unwind and bask in the warmth. In addition, the beach is a favorite among snorkelers and divers due to the vast array of vibrant marine life.
Parking is very limited. Fortunately, I was able to secure a spot at the beach where the sand meets the pavement. Food vendors were selling delicious mixed fruit drinks in pineapples, and there were also hotdogs being cooked for the hungry beachgoers. The dock, painted in bright blue and yellow, provided a perfect spot to relax and absorb the surroundings. From there, I watched as a group of kids take turns jumping off the dock into the crashing waves below. Unlike the murky gulf waters of Florida, I could see almost every detail of the kids as they swam under the water before climbing back to the dock. I’m not usually a proponent of busy beaches but Crash Boat Beach is the exception.
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling crowds, Wilderness Beach might be the perfect place for you. This secluded sandy stretch is enveloped by lush greenery and offers ample shade, creating an ideal setting for a relaxing picnic. Located near Ruinas del Faro, Wilderness Beach can be accessed by driving South on the same dirt road along the coastline from the ruins. Although the ride may be slow and bumpy, the tranquil atmosphere of this hidden gem makes it well worth the effort.
Jobos Beach is a bustling hotspot for surfing enthusiasts, boasting a lively atmosphere. After a vigorous morning workout horseback riding, Jobos Beach was the best place to stop for lunch. There were an array of bars and restaurants lining the shore. It’s easy to spend a full day at this beach. After considering all my options, I decided to eat at KAI because of its shaded outdoor seating, friendly neighborhood cats, beach access, and delicious Pina Coladas.
Jobos Beach has no shortage of crystal clear blue water; however, space on the sand can become crowded quickly. If you want to experience the beach’s beauty while ensuring convenient access to a restroom and a fully-stocked bar, it’s best to arrive early.
Additionally, the breathtaking sunsets at Jobos Beach are an absolute must-see.
Playa Peña Blanca
Discover a hidden treasure at Playa Peña Blanca. This secluded beach is nestled among towering cliffs and offers pristine, clear water for swimming. Unlike Crash Boat Beach, there are no amenities on Playa Peña Blanca, so remember to bring all of your necessities for the day.
Accommodation Options in Aguadilla
When looking for a place to stay in Aguadilla, you have a variety of options available, including budget-friendly hotels and luxury resorts. Although I did not personally stay in Aguadilla during my trip, I did choose to stay in an Airbnb located in the mountains. If you are planning a trip to Aguadilla, I have compiled a list of my top picks for accommodations to consider.
Airbnb Options, Aguadilla
Tips for planning your Puerto Rico Vacation in Aguadilla
Rent a Jeep
It is impossible to get around Aguadilla without a car. Spend the extra money on a 4×4 vehicle or a Jeep. You will thank me when trying to navigate the sandy roads to many of the areas I’ve mentioned. If you’re flying to Aguadilla, you can find a variety of car rental options at Rafael Hernandez Airport. Personally, I prefer renting from Avis as they make the process of picking up and returning my rental car hassle-free and convenient. Additionally, their prices are always the most competitive.
Pack Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Puerto Rico has a tropical climate that is similar to Florida’s weather, including the intensity of the sun. During my day trip around Aguadilla, I solely engaged in outdoor activities. That meant up to ten hours in the sun while I traveled from place to place. I cannot stress enough to apply sunscreen and apply it often.
When traveling to the mountains or horseback riding through the woods, mosquitoes can be a nuisance, particularly in the evenings. To avoid them, I made sure to get some bug spray before embarking on our two-hour ride, and it turned out to be the best decision.
For optimal protection from the sun and bugs while outdoors, layering light long-sleeved tops over a tank top is recommended. This versatile clothing provides coverage for all elements of the outdoors, including periods of rest in the shade.
Aguadilla is a hidden gem in Puerto Rico that is just waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, this charming town has something for everyone. From beautiful beaches to exciting outdoor activities, there is no shortage of things to do in Aguadilla. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable Puerto Rico vacation.
The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm rates and details when planning your trip by following the links in this article. If you find out-of-date or inaccurate information, I’d love to hear about it to update the article. Use the comments section below. Thanks!