Guanica: Guánica, Puerto Rico
Guánica, Puerto Rico
Guánica is known as «El Pueblo de las Doce Calles» (the town
of the twelve streets).
Guánica was founded on August 12, 1508, by Juan Ponce de León when he first arrived
and established a settlement called Guaynia.
Guánica derives its name from the Taíno Indian term guaynia, which means
«here is a place with water».
Guánica is the place where most historians concur Christopher
Columbus landed during his second voyage to the New World in 1493, and later in
1898 became the site where General Miles and the U.S. troops landed to take
Puerto Rico from the Spanish, during the Spanish-American War.
Natural Bridge Guanica
This small town is the home of the Guánica Dry Forest Reserve,
also known as «El Bosque Seco de Guánica». The reserve covers over
9,500 acres of land along the southern coast, making it the largest remaining tract of
tropical dry coastal forest in the world and it contains hiking trails, caves, beaches,
and the ruins of a Spanish fort, Fuerte Caprón. Located in
driest area of Puerto Rico, temperatures in the forest are, on average, around 80 °F
(27 °C) in shaded areas and 100 °F (38 °C) in exposed areas. The dry forest
has 700 plant species of which 48 are endangered and 16 exist nowhere else, including
the Puerto Rican woodpecker, the Puerto Rican lizard cuckoo and the Puerto Rican emerald
hummingbird, and the Puerto Rican nightjar. Because of its location along the coast and on
low-lying hills, the forest hosts the greatest number of bird species on the island.
Because of this biological diversity the forest was designated a reserve in 1919.
Since 1981, it is also the only dry forest designated by the UNESCO as an International Biosphere Reserve.
The reserve features 36 miles of trails. No camping allowed. Open Mon-Fri, 9am -5 pm. Located on
Rt. 333 to Rt. 334, (787) 821-5706.
The Punta Ballena Reserve is located next to the Guanica Dry Forest Reserve and is
included in the Biosphere Reserve because of its coastal ecosystem. It contains mangrove forest,
manatees, nesting sites for Hawksbill turtles, and crested toads.
The Fuerte Caprón was originally built in the 16th century by
Spaniards as a lookout to watch for pirates and corsairs right after they arrived. The
original wooden structure was destroyed in the Taino Uprising of 1511 and abandon for
many years. It was not until July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, when the
American forces landed in Guánica that a new fortification was built to lookout over
the bay and was named after Captain Allyn K. Caprón, who was killed in action in Cuba.
The fost was abandoned once more and disappeared over time. The structure you see today was
built further north and at a higher point by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 as a panoramic observation tower.
The Caña Gorda Beach adjacent to a little fishing village with small restaurants
and a lovely series of cays are located nearby.
Besides Caña Gorda Beach, you’ll find plenty of beaches to choose from,
including Santa, Mangillo, Rosada, Serra, and Jaboncillo.
Nearby is the Parguera Phosphorescent Bay («Bahía
Fosforescente»), where millions of luminescent dinoflagellates light up when
disturbed by movement; a tiny form of marine life, which produce sparks of
chemical light when disturbed.
Guanica nica Lighthouse in 1905
Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard
The Guánica Lighthouse is located at Punta Meseta, built in 1892 and activated in
1893 to mark the entrance to Guanica Bay, between the lighthouses at Cabo Rojo and Isla
Caja de Muertos. The neo-classical style one-story structure with an octagonal red brick
tower in the center that measures 33 feet in height. The historical significance of this
lighthouse comes into play as stories claim that on July 25, 1898, Robustiano Rivera,
keeper of lighthouse, spotted the American vessels heading towards the coast of Rincón
during the Spanish-American war, and was able to warn local residents. After an earthquake
on September 6, 1937, the lighthouse was damaged and rendered inoperable, later deactivated
on 1950. Today, the lighthouse is not in operation and stand in ruins.
The surrounding areas produces sugar cane and salt.
Guánica is located in southern coast, bordering the Caribbean Sea,
south of Sabana Grande, east of Lajas, and
west of Yauco. Its only river is
Loco River, which rises in Yauco and flows into Guánica by the northeast
and ends at the Guánica Bay. The annual precipitation is around 29
Guánica is made up of 8 barrios (wards/districts):
- Susuá Baja
10 Day Forecast
There are many well-known «guaniqueños», among them:
- Agripina Seda
- Agüeybaná and Agüeybaná II, Taino chiefs
- Domingo Bracero Hernandez
- Domingo Suarez Cruz
- Pedro Vargas Rodriguez
- Jaime Cancel
- Luis A. Nieves Lopez
- Miguel A. Morciglio
- Pedro Santana Ronda, writer, poet and journalist
- Rosa Franco, first Puerto Rican woman Chief Warrant Officer in U.S. Marine Corps
- Concha’s (Puerto Rican), (787) 821-5522
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Festivals and Events
- Celebracion Llegada de Juan Ponce de Leon — August
- Desfile del 25 de Julio — July
- Festival del Pescao — April
- Fiestas Patronales de Santiago Apostol — July
Every year, Guanica celebrates a patron saint festival. The festivities include dances, food, parades and religious processions.
The five waves, blue and yellow represent the Gunica Bay, a fragment of the Official Shield of Guanica.
Coat of Arms
The anthem of Guanica was written by Jose Luis Padilla. The title is America es jardin del mundo…
There are 11 public schools in Guanica,
education is handled by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
Puerto Rico: 3,285,874
Land Area: 37.05 sq mi
Density: 427.1 per sq mi
Median Age: 43.5
Sex: 52% female
Per capita income
Puerto Rico: $21,058
Median household income: $12,283
Puerto Rico: $21,058
Persons below poverty line: 66.2%
Housing, families and educational attainment *
Number of households
Housing units density:
Persons per household: 2.8
High school grad or higher: 69.4%
Marital status: 32% married
* U.S. Census Bureau 2020 data, unless otherwise noted — Source: Quick Facts Puerto Rico.
** U.S. Census Bureau 2016-2020
Coordinates: 17.9717° N, 66.9081° W
Zip Code: 00647, 00653
Driving Distance from San Juan: 101.3 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours, 11 minute
15 Best Things to Do in Guanica (in 2022)
With calm and inviting beaches, a giant dry forest, and multiple cays, there are plenty of things to do in Guanica, Puerto Rico for year-round adventures.
Located in the south of Puerto Rico, and off the beaten path of many visitors, Guanica is one of the best Puerto Rico destinations for beach bums and nature lovers. You won’t get enough of the beautiful crystalline beaches or the nature of the dry forest.
As a Puerto Rican local and a major fan of our mesmerizing forests and beaches, I can assure you Guanica will not disappoint.
Not convinced yet? Check out these 15 amazing things to do in Guanica.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Things to Do in Guanica, Puerto Rico
- Guánica State Forest
- Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island)
- El Malecón
- Punta Ballena Natural Reserve
- Finca El Girasol
- Guanica’s Lighthouse Ruins
- Fuerte Caprón
- Playa Santa
- Guanica Town Center
- Cayo Don Luis
- Puente Hamaca
- Caña Gorda Beach
- La Jungla Beach
- Playa Jaboncillo
- Bio Bay La Parguera
- FAQs About Guanica
- What is Guanica known for?
- Is Guanica Puerto Rico safe?
- What is the best time to visit Guanica?
- Where should I stay in Guanica?
- How do I get to Guanica from San Juan?
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
15 Best Things to Do in Guanica, Puerto Rico
Guánica State Forest
Hike through Puerto Rico’s dry forest
📍 Map It: X4CJ+HGF, Guanica, 00653 | Phone: (787) 821-5706 | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
Part of the United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, this dry coastal tropical forest hosts hundreds of flora and fauna species that nature lovers can discover through various hiking trails. The Guanica Dry Forest also leads to some of the best beaches Puerto Rico has to offer.
👉 Did you know? The Guanica Dry Forest is one of the largest tropical dry coastal forests in the world. That’s why it’s one of the top things to do in Guanica and one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico.
Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island)
Snorkel in crystal clear waters
📍 Map It: Guánica 00653 | Phone: (787) 821-4941 | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Tues-Sun, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $10 per person, $6 for coolers
Cayo Aurora, also known as Gilligan’s Island, is a mangrove island close to the coast of Guanica. You can reach this popular cay either by taking a ferry or renting a kayak. Cayo Aurora is home to shallow crystal-clear waters great for snorkeling. Keep in mind there might be jellyfish in the water.
👉Local Tip: As of January 2022, Gilligan’s Island is temporarily closed. Before visiting, call 787-821-4941 to know if the island has opened back up to the public.
Take a stroll on the beachfront
📍 Map It: 33-55 Av. Esperanza Idrach, Guánica, 00653 | 👉 Book a Tour to El Malecón on Viator
If you want to take a relaxing walk, go for a run, or take your kids for a bike or scooter ride, then El Malecón in Guanica is your best option. From this oceanfront boardwalk, you can see small fish boats on the bay, the abandoned sugar mill, and the Caprón Fort. While there, make a stop at La Piedra de Guanica, a rock carved by the American troops when they landed in Guanica during the 1898 invasion.
Punta Ballena Natural Reserve
Discover a unique reserve
📍 Map It: Calle C, 00653 | Phone: (787) 722-5844 | Website
Located inside the Guanica Dry Forest, Punta Ballena Natural Reserve features a cay known as Isla Ballena and there is an isthmus you can cross between it and the mainland. Besides the peculiar vegetation, the reserve’s coast also sports beautiful beaches like Playa Ballena, where you can spend the evening swimming or sunbathing.
Finca El Girasol
Get lost between sunflowers
📍 Map It: PR-116, Guanica, Guánica 00653 | Phone: (939) 402-7967 | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Fri-Sun only | Entrance: $1.25
Finca El Girasol is an ideal stop for couples. The farm features a field with hundreds of sunflowers where you can take pictures, stroll through the fields, and buy sunflowers to take home. Call before visiting to make sure they’re open, as sometimes the weather affects the opening hours.
✈️ First time to Puerto Rico? Check out these best activities to do in Puerto Rico to help plan your itinerary!
Guanica’s Lighthouse Ruins
Witness history at a fallen lighthouse
Guanica’s Lighthouse before the 2020 earthquakes
📍 Map It: X32W+9P8, Guánica 00653 | (787) 821-5706 | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
Also located inside the dry forest, Guanica’s XIX century lighthouse ruins are barely standing, but they represent the damages made by the 2020 earthquakes. This lighthouse was the first to spot the American ships during the invasion in 1898.
Admire the best view in Guanica
📍 Map It: Guánica 00653 | Phone: (787) 821-5706 | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily
Although the original fort dates back to the Spanish occupation era, the current fort was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930. More a tower than an actual fort, Fuerte Caprón offers beautiful views of Guanica Bay. The Fuerte Trail is a 6-mile long trail of average difficulty but there are other two trails you can take to get there.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Guanica is a top destination with outdoor attractions that make the perfect Caribbean getaway. You can stay at Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa to have Guanica’s beaches a few steps away.
Discover another world underwater
📍 Map It: Guánica 00647
Besides being a popular public beach in Guanica for its calm waters, farther outside Playa Santa, 100 feet underwater, you can find La Pared. Translating to “the wall” this underwater elevation is full of coral reefs and sea life that will delight any diving enthusiast. You can book a tour with Paradise Scuba.
Guanica Town Center
Search for street art in the town center
📍 Map It: 39 Calle Dr. Veve, Guánica, 00653
Following the trend of urban art in cities like San Juan and Yauco, Guanica also created its route of street art in the city’s town center. The project known as Guánica Color y Vida includes a total of 17 murals you can find on 25 de Julio street, Calle B, and Calle A.
🚗 How to Get There: If you’re staying in San Juan, your best option for getting to Guanica is to rent a car. Use Discover Cars to compare agencies and find cheap prices for car rentals.
Cayo Don Luis
Soak in the shallow waters of a cay
📍 Map It: Guánica 00647
If you love Gilligan’s island, you can’t miss Cayo Don Luis. This small cay located less than a mile from the main island features channels among mangroves you can explore and shallow turquoise coastal waters that will make you feel like you’re walking over the ocean.
Cross the city’s hanging bridge
📍 Map It: X3MQ+MH9, Fuig, Guánica 00653
For those that like to hunt for curious sites, a quick visit to Puente Hamaca in Guanica is something they can’t miss. This is one of the hanging bridges in Puerto Rico and it dates back to 1956.
📚 Related Reading: Is Puerto Rico Safe for Traveling?
Caña Gorda Beach
Enjoy a family beach day
📍 Map It: PR-333, Guánica 00653 | Phone: (787) 821-5016 | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm Wed-Sun, 9 am – 5 pm Mon-Tues | Entrance: $4 parking
Families looking for an easy access beach with facilities, head over to Caña Gorda. This beach has calm waters where everyone can swim, bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, gazebos, picnic tables, and lots of trees for shade. You can also rent watersports equipment.
La Jungla Beach
Explore the beach mangroves
📍 Map It: W2WM+9MH, Ensenada, Guánica 00647 | Hours: 7 am – 5 pm Tues- Sun, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $2, adults, free under 12
Playa La Jungla is a shallow beach surrounded by mangroves you can explore by kayaking, swimming, or snorkeling. Visit during the weekdays to enjoy a calmer atmosphere. There aren’t any facilities close by, so bring along everything you need for a day trip.
Escape to a hidden beach
📍 Map It: X33W+874, Guanica, Guánica 00653 | Entrance: $2, adults, free under 12
If instead of doing watersports, swimming, or mingling with the locals, you just want to enjoy the landscape and sunbathe on the sand, Playa Jaboncillo is your go-to beach. This half-moon-shaped beach is less crowded than Playa Santa and Playa La Jungla and it’s surrounded by rock formations that make a nice hike along the beach.
📚 Bookmark for Later: Best Season to Visit Puerto Rico
Bio Bay La Parguera
Take a night trip to a bio bay
📍 Map It: Puerto Rico 304, La Parguera, Lajas 00667 | 👉 Browse La Parguera Tours on Viator
A short ride away from Guanica you’ll find the bio bay La Parguera, one of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. La Parguera in Lajas is the only bio bay where you’re allowed to swim in the water, but kayaks and boat rides are an option too. Be sure to visit during the new moon to appreciate it better.
📍 Looking for more nearby attractions? Check out our list of the best things to do in Ponce!
FAQs About Guanica
What is Guanica known for?
Guanica is known for being home to Guanica’s Dry Forest, a 9,000-acre land part of the United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, with amazing biodiversity, and ecosystems.
Is Guanica Puerto Rico safe?
Overall, Guanica is a safe city for tourism. As in every part of Puerto Rico, pickpocketing and theft are common crimes and travelers should take common safety precautions. Also, since 2019, the city is prone to experiencing small earthquakes.
What is the best time to visit Guanica?
The best time to visit Guanica is from December through February for fresher temperatures in the city. From August to November visitors will find cheaper prices in hotels, and fewer crowds, while the summer is the best time to find good tides on the beaches.
Where should I stay in Guanica?
Guanica visitors should stay in Carenero, Guanica Pueblo, Montalvo, and Ensenada for a prime location close to the top attractions and the best things to do in Guanica.
How do I get to Guanica from San Juan?
Visitors will need to rent a car to get to Guanica, as public transportation doesn’t reach the city. The fastest route from San Juan to Guanica is through PR-52, crossing Caguas, Cayey, Salinas, and Ponce among other cities.
Thanks for reading the best things to do in Guanica! If you’re looking for more fun options, check out other fun activities to do in Puerto Rico.
Have fun in Guanica!
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hotels in Guanica, — Booking.com
Lowest price at the beginning
Number of stars and price
Rating + number of reviews
Parador Guánica 1929
Hotel in Guanica
This Puerto Rico hotel features a restaurant, hammocks and separate pools for adults and children. The hotel is 3. 3 km from Playa de Tamarindo and a 10-minute drive from Ensenada Bay.
beautiful stay. Many families but they all left the pool area and it was so quiet by 10pm. Had a great dinner, try the skirt steak, it’s fantastic . Saw dolphins in the bay.
Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa
This tropical resort is set on 8 hectares of land on 800 meters of Caribbean beach. It features 2 outdoor pools, a spa and rooms with ocean views.
The staff was friendly and willing to assist in anything we needed.The breakfast was great.We had the buffet.The buffet had from a lot of food from eggs,ham,fruits bread,you name it.The coffe was nice and hot to start your day. The view from the restaurant, spectacular.
Guanica Malecon Bay House
Boasting city views, Guanica Malecon Bay House features accommodation with a balcony and a coffee machine, around 1.9 km from Jaboncillo Beach. It has sea views and free WiFi throughout the property.
Guanica Malecon Bay House in a comfortable and quiet place
Featuring city views, Guanica Malecon Bay House in a comfortable and quiet place provides accommodation with a balcony and a coffee machine, around 1.9 km from Jaboncillo Beach.
Palmeras Beach Apartments — Playa Santa
Set in Guanica with Cayo Terremoto nearby, Palmeras Beach Apartments — Playa Santa offers accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking, as well as access to a hot tub.
Los Pinos House
Yauco (Near Guanica)
Holiday Home Los Pinos is located in Yauco and offers a restaurant and a terrace. This air-conditioned holiday home is 32 km from Ponce.
Excellent place close to everything. Control access gate nice place
My Little Shack by the Sea
Sabana Grande (Near Guanica)
Offering free WiFi throughout the property, Great Savannah Guesthouse is located in Sabana Grande. The guest house has family rooms.
It is an old property, but well maintained! It brought back good memories!
Costa Bahia Hotel, Convention Center and Casino