La Torre Beach in Loíza, Puerto Rico (click image to enlarge)
Let's face it, most tourists head to Puerto Rico for the beaches. Puerto Rico is full of beaches. It is an island after all. So from here you can replace the word "destination" with the word "beach".
Now that we've covered that, let's get straight to the point and say something else: "not all beaches in Puerto Rico are created equal". Of course they all have water, sand and sun. But that's probably where the similarities end. In theory, all of Puerto Rico's beaches have been in the public domain since 1886, when the Spanish government (then the colonial rulers) passed the Harbor Law. But actually it's a different story.
Many hotels and apartments are built along the coastline. This makes it difficult or impractical to gain access to many of the island's best beaches. In other cases, governments have created "balnearios" that should work for everyone, but with rules and restrictions.
and then you have what i jokingly call“Beach Beach”in my book"Puerto Rico beaches and beaches". These are the beaches that many locals visit. But there is a problem! They are not equipped with facilities. They do not have buoys, lifeguards, gazebos, showers, bathrooms, kiosks or parking.
Just you and nature (and probably the hundreds of other people out there). so i guess this is the part where i tell you"If you decide to visit one of the beaches I'll be mentioning in this post, that's entirely up to you. I don't encourage you, recommend any of them or in any way take responsibility for what might happen to you".
The last week of March, my wife and I visited the Pinones area of the city of Loiza, Puerto Rico. We intend to cover the entire city, as we have done with other cities"5 Must-Go Places in XXXX City", bBut we wrote to the mayor's office and received no response. As I said before, these things are much easier if you have someone from the municipality to show you around and point you in the right direction.
If you don't, you do what you can and let the chips land where they can.
One of the most attractive areas in the whole city of Loíza has always been the Piñones district. When I was a young man, I used to drive through the area on Sunday afternoons, enjoying the coastline and the occasional "fritura" and "adult" drink. Today, the situation is completely different.
Of course, the beaches are still there; they're as wild and beautiful as God intended, but they're full of buildings. So much so that in many cases you can't even see the shore.
If you're asking yourself "what is fritura?", it's a fried food that can be eaten on the go. As for "adult beverages", I'm sure we're all on the same page.
crab mouth and food
My wife and I arrived near the Piñones at 10:00 heading straight to the coastline of Boca De Cangrejo. This is a small beach behind the restaurant area, you will find it on your left as soon as you pass the bridge that connects the towns of Loíza and Carolina. If you're still not sure where it is, there's a map at the end of this article with GPS coordinates for each location mentioned.
When I was a young man, the whole area was a pine forest. Not like the ones you find in the Rocky Mountains or Yellowstone, but tropical pines. My friends and I often go there on Sundays to park under a tree, get our car waxed, have a beer, and check out the girls. Today there are dozens of restaurants, garbage around every corner, and you can barely see the coast. Forget about pine trees. They were killed years ago.
As for the food, suffice it to say (and I'll try to be nice) that it's not the best representation of Puerto Rican "frituras". First off, many of the people who make the food aren't even Puerto Rican. Second, most of what you find has been sitting under a bulb for hours. It offers mushy food soaked in overused fat.
My wife and I ordered several of these monsters and ended up throwing them in the trash. After a few hours, our stomachs ached.
That doesn't mean you won't find really high-quality "frituras" anywhere in the region. Of course you want to, but you need to know what to look for. Here's a tip: "Find a place with a long line and someone actually frying food when he/she sells it. Long lines usually mean their food is good. Otherwise why would people line up? And in fact , you take the food out of the boiling oil with the assurance that it won't become mushy.
As for Boca de Cangrejos beach, this is a small beach that many locals go to. It is also in close proximity to the entrance to the Blasina Strait leading to the sea, next to the Cangrejos Yacht Club.
I used to fish in that area when I was younger, so I know from experience that there is always a strong current in and out of the channel, depending on the tide. Most of this beach is rocky with only a small area for swimming.
Locals go there because they know how the water behaves, but I wouldn't recommend it if you ask me.
From there we follow Route 187 for 2-3 miles until we reach the famous Vacia Talega beach. There are 4 other beaches along this road which I will cover next time. There is also a paved path that connects all the beaches. But before you "get a ride," here are a few things to keep in mind.
- consider your health— You’ll be walking 2-3 miles in the sweltering Puerto Rico sun, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, light-colored clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and plenty of sunscreen. Also bring a bottle of water. Remember, what I'm talking about in miles is one way. You will have to return.
- track condition- The government does a poor job of maintaining the trails, so in some areas you'll find overgrown vegetation and broken sidewalks.
- mosquito- Many areas along the route are covered with mangroves, where there are, there are.
- cyclist— Many locals and tourists drive this route rather than walk, so be aware of your surroundings.
All that said, if you really want to experience the area (or at least parts of it), walking is the way to go.
pine nuts by the water
Many believe that the entire area got its name from Piñones Beach. But it's actually a bug. In fact, the beach gets its name from the Piñones forest that once covered most of the area.
Today, urban sprawl has wiped out a large portion of the forest, and most people associate the name with the beach.
Piñones Waterfront offers a great visual treat. You can't find a better place to snap those fabulous tropical beach photos. But it's really the North Atlantic Ocean with all its power, rocky bottom, and underwater currents.
As in the Boca de Canglejos area, restaurants abound. So much so that they've taken over the area, it's hard to find sweeping views of the coast anywhere.
Many of these locations began as small shacks that did not comply with government regulations or permits. Some still don't. Some are simply the ruins of repeated hurricanes over the years. We also observed a lot of litter and graffiti.
Finally, you have noise levels. This is also what we observed in the Boca de Cangrejos area. Some companies have music so loud that it's hard to hear your own thoughts. Let alone each other. Don't these hawkers know that annoying customers are hard to attract?
When I was a young man, this beach was right next to the road. People will park their cars on the side of the road, enjoy the scenery and shop at the local food stalls.
Today, of course, it's still by the wayside. But now you can't park your car. There is a double railing along the entire beach that seems to say "keep going", "don't stop here". And people don't.
I walked by Latorre on three separate occasions while making the video, and there was never anyone there. I found it odd because at first glance it seemed like a really nice beach, clean tan sand with few rocks.
But the fact that no one was there should tell us something. After all, this is the open North Atlantic we're talking about, so current and high waves could be a factor.
la posita beach
In Spanish, "pocita" means pond or pool. And that's exactly what you'll find at "la pocita" beach. It is a long beach with an equally long reef that runs along the beach and forms a pond. People love this beach, especially mothers with young children, because the water in the "pocita" is clear and calm.
Other than "pocita" is another story. Locals told us some people drowned trying to cross the reef into the Atlantic Ocean. You don't have to be a genius to figure it out. All you have to do is look at the way the water hits the reef and know it takes an idiot to go beyond "la pocita". But I guess there are some around.
This beach can get very busy on weekends. There are street vendors who rent out beach chairs and large umbrellas. Some also sell "frituras". Parking is another matter. You have to pull over and walk through traffic to get to the beach. Safety measures and showers are not included.
Surprisingly, we didn't find this beach too dirty as there is literally no government personnel maintaining it. I guess some people are becoming more "civilized".
The word "avión" means airplane in Spanish. I couldn't find anyone who could tell me why they called this beach "aviones", so I figured it must be because a lot of planes from the nearby Luis Muñoz Marín Airport fly over it on takeoff.
That said, I won't be caught dead on this beach. At least not in water. The place is beautiful, don't get me wrong. But from the moment you arrive, you can feel the fury of the North Atlantic. The waves are so high that you can see the rapids on the water.
The day my wife and I went surfing was extra high because there was a "high surf warning" going on. But this is no exception. Here are the rules. Like Piñones Waterfront, this is a beach that offers great visuals, but I recommend staying out of the water.
Also, there is almost nowhere to park your car (except in the parking lots of nearby businesses), and there is no shade.
When it comes to beaches in the Piñones area of Loíza, Vacia Talega tops the list. In fact, by my personal definition, it's the only place that's actually a beach. You see, Vacia Talega is shaped like a horseshoe (though not quite), and the entrance to the horseshoe has a reef that protects it from the violent Atlantic waves.
This provides calm water, a sandy bottom and very low surf. It also has a car park, although small.
Locals from Loíza and other nearby towns flock to Vacia Talega for its clear waters and calm waves. But be aware that weekends can be very busy.
Having said that, this is the best that the city of Loíza has to offer.
My wife and I always make it a point to visit every city's old town, and Loíza is no exception. Furthermore, it is only a little further from Vacia Talega.
Much of the Loíza is lived in nature. The original town was small and followed a typical Spanish layout with a town square in the middle, the town hall at one end, and the Catholic church at the other.
The church would have been worth a visit, but we couldn't go inside. Why? Because the building itself is open, but it has a closed high fence around it. We asked everywhere, even at the town hall, but no one was able to help us. So we left without visiting.
Holy Spirit and Saint Patrick Parish, Loiza, Puerto Rico (click image to enlarge)
If you are interested, the church is The Parroquia del Espíritu Santo y San Patricio. Built in 1645, it is one of the oldest Catholic parish churches in Puerto Rico. The coordinates are also on the map.
After leaving the small town of Loíza, we took Route 187 back to Isla Verde. This is the easiest way to return.
likeCatagno, a city we've visited before, Loíza has so many possibilities it's unbelievable that they didn't take advantage of them. I do not recommend any type of large hotel or resort. God knows Puerto Rico has seen enough. They spend all the subsidies they can get from the government and leave them with the bag when there is nothing more to squeeze.
I undertake ecotourism projects. I'm talking about controlling the proliferation of ugly, poorly designed structures that line the beach so much that you can't see the shoreline. I'm talking about burned buildings, destroyed buildings, abandoned buildings... Piñones can be a tourist attraction for locals and tourists alike. But it's ugly and dirty.
I know many of my Puerto Rican brothers and sisters don't take kindly to me criticizing my own people. But I do it because I care and I believe Puerto Rico can be better. All it takes is a little shared purpose, a little planning, and a little work.
My mission is to showcase Puerto Rico to English speakers all over the world. But I can't hide the garbage that appears in the video. Believe me, I'm working on it. But sometimes it's too much. Other times I leave it on purpose. After all, I can't paint a picture of what doesn't exist. If I do, people won't trust me anymore.
The next few videos may be shorter. The same goes for the next few articles. Why? For the next few cities (let me try to be as polite as possible) it's okay. They are dormitory towns. That means people sleep there, but they work in San Juan. Also, I tried to write to their mayor, but nothing happened. So, if they don't, why should I care?
I guess when I started this series, I was a little bit idealistic. I mean, it shouldn't be that difficult to find 5 must-see attractions in any city. correct? Well, I'm not so sure anymore.
we will see.
until the next town...
© 2023, Orlando Megar, MA
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Writer, Photographer and New Media Specialist
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A few minutes outside of San Juan and just past touristy Isla Verde is the town of Loíza, best known for its traditional vejigante masks and the beachside community of Piñones, where you can get some of the best frituras in the region.What are some fun facts about Loiza Puerto Rico? ›
Loíza is known as "El Pueblo de la Cacica". Loíza was proclaimed a town officially in 1692 and named in honor of Yuisa or Luisa, one of the women caciques on the island when the Spanish conquerors arrived. It was not until 1719 that the Spanish government declared it as an official town.What is the prettiest place in Puerto Rico? ›
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Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan)
Spanning 500 years of history, Old San Juan is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic and treasured places in Puerto Rico.
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San Juan, the largest municipality and capital of Puerto Rico. Bayamón, the second largest municipality of Puerto Rico, located just west of San Juan. Carolina, the third largest municipality of Puerto Rico, located just east of San Juan.What are 3 famous Puerto Ricans? ›
Some other Hollywood “big names” who hail from Puerto Rico include actress and philanthropist Roselyn Sánchez, Academy Award-nominee Joaquin Phoenix, and veteran actor Luis Guzmán.What is the mask from Loíza Puerto Rico? ›
Loíza. In Loíza, the vejigante masks are made from coconut, whose cortex has been carved out to allow a human face. The eyes and mouth are carved out of the coconut with an addition of bamboo teeth. The costume is made of "a jumper" that has a lot of extra fabric at the arms to simulate wings.What month is best to visit Puerto Rico? ›
The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer.What is the safest tourist city in Puerto Rico? ›
San Juan is the safest city for tourists in Puerto Rico. Although there are some dangerous areas, it features extensive public transportation, some of the best attractions in Puerto Rico, and beautiful beaches. Taking common precautions should be enough to stay safe.
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Puerto Rico
Visitors should avoid areas like Puerta de Tierra, El Parque de las Palomas, Piñones, and La Perla at night. Other great areas for tourists are Rio Grande, Fajardo, Ponce, Cabo Rojo, Vieques, Culebra, and Rincon.
Mayagüez was also a major textile industry hub; almost a quarter of all drill uniforms used by the United States Army were sewn in the city. Today, Mayagüez is the fifth-largest city in Puerto Rico and is considered one of the most important cities in the island.What is Puerto Rican most known for? ›
Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island. There is a counted number bioluminescent bays in the entire world. Puerto Rico is home three bioluminescent bays.What does the flag of Loiza mean? ›
The wavy bar symbolises the Rio Grande de Loiza river. The crown is a symbol for the local woman chief Luysa, after which the town is named. The bordure shows some flames, symbol of the Holy Spirit, and trefoils, symbol of the other local patron saint, St. Patrick of Ireland."Where did the Loiza come from? ›
The origins of Loiza date back to the 16th century when members of the Yobura tribe settled here after they were brought to the island as enslaved West Africans. The customs brought from West Africa became the foundation of the Afro-Puerto Rican identity of the city's residents.