Active travelers head to western Puerto Rico, where there is surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, diving, snorkeling, sightseeing, bird watching, and horseback riding. Of course, there is also relaxation—lounging on beaches, sipping mountain-grown coffee, enjoying memorable Caribbean sunsets. Complementing these tropical attractions is a good dose of laid-back lifestyle.

La Parguera

Cays and bioluminiscent lagoon.

Central Plaza La Parguera Lajas PR

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Bosque Seco de Guánica

Subtropical dry forest reserve located in southwest of Puerto Rico.

End of Road 334 Guánica PR

Iglesia Porta Coeli

"Gateway to Heaven''. Convent church.

Plazoleta Santo Domingo San Germán PR

Isla Desecheo

Beaches, caves, unique wildlife and whale watching in winter months.

12 miles west of Rincón PR

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Zoológico Juan A. Rivero

Animals from all the continents. The only zoo in the Island, called Mayaguez Zoo.

Road 108 behind the University of PR Mayaguez PR

Seventeen towns make up Porta del Sol, and each is distinctive in its way, yet all abound in natural attributes. Starting in the southwest, Guánica is a former sugar-producing town known today for lovely beaches, offshore cays, and the International Biosphere Reserve at Guánica Dry Forest. Some of the best diving in the Caribbean is found along The Wall off La Parguera, where there is also a bioluminescent bay. Cabo Rojo in southwest Puerto Rico ranks as a beach and seafood capital. Within the town limits, the cliffs of Cabo Rojo Peninsula overlook a lighthouse, salt flats, crescent beaches, and bird-rich mangrove forests. For decades CaboRojo’s Boquerón has drawn visitors to its majestic bay, and restaurants in Joyuda serve up creole seafood in a coastal setting.

For history, go inland to San Germán, Puerto Rico’s second oldest settlement. In the 1600s Dominican priests built the small chapel of Porta Coeli, and much of the architecture reflects the town’s storied past. Old coffee estates ring the mountain town of Maricao, and a shrine commemorating a religious miracle has become the heart of Hormigueros.

Halfway up the coast is Mayagüez, the western region’s largest city. It is home to the Juan A. Rivero Zoo, biggest and best on the island; the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, whose agricultural research station grounds are open to the public; and a downtown district that includes a large square dedicated to Christopher Columbus, who landed somewhere along this coast in 1493.

Roads lead north to the quintessential surfing town of Rincón and the westernmost point on the island at Punta Higüero. Two worldsurfing championships have been held here, and the large waves north of the point have attracted surfers for decades. It is also a great place for most water sports, from bathing in the calmer waters south of the point and scuba diving off spectacular Desecheo Island to whale watching in winter months. An eclectic collection of restaurants, inns, shops, and rentals adds to the town’s appeal.

Rugged beaches hug the coast to Aguadilla, a small hillside city with an ice skating arena and a water park. Punta Borinquen marks the northwest corner of Puerto Rico. Once home to the Ramey U.S. Air Force Base, the peninsula today is a favorite vacation playground, complete with bathing and surfing beaches, an airport, golf course, hotels, casual restaurants, and watersports centers. Isabela on the north coast is another magnet for vacationers who enjoy surfing, boarding, beachcombing, and snorkeling the underwater caverns off Bajuras Beach.

Inland, the region’s distinctive karst limestone terrain is best viewed from a river, forest, hills and lake that all carry the name Guajataca. Small yesteryear towns here produce such crafts as bobbin lace and hammocks.