Guayama and the Ruta Gastronómica de la Costa
Plan a trip to this seaside foodie paradise
If you love fresh seafood, then Guayama’s Coastal Gastronomic Route should be part of your trip.
Visiting Guayama takes you through the diverse landscapes of Puerto Rico as you go from north to south. After leaving the San Juan metro area, you’ll ascend the Central Mountain range’s lush green slopes and then descend the rolling yellow hills of the south, where the arid weather favors an inland dry forest (the opposite of a rainforest) on the way to the Caribbean coast.
Eventually, you reach the peninsula where Guayama’s Coastal Gastronomy Trail begins, flanked on one side by the mangrove-lined Jobos Bay and Aguirre forest, and the vast Caribbean Sea on the other. This strip of the 7710 road, which crosses a sector known as Pozuelo, is a favorite destination for locals who want to enjoy fresh seafood.
As you arrive, restaurants with Ruta Gastronómica de la Costa signs (this translates to Coastal Gastronomic Route) flank both sides of the street. Some, like Libras Steakhouse and Seafood, El Trapiche Seafood Restaurant, Restaurante El Arcoiris, Restaurante El Bohio (this one is down a side street), Restaurante Donde Pica el Peje, and El Naútico Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge are sit-down restaurants with a varied menu that includes both local seafood and fish as well as other options like mofongo and chicken or meat-based dishes.
Other places like El Fogón de Susa, Restaurante El Sabor de Mi Tierra, El Balcón de Gerald, and Villa Pesquera Punta Pozuelo have open-air seating (usually under tarps or on a patio surrounding the restaurant). These will typically have a more limited menu emphasizing fried foods like alcapurrias (fritters made with root vegetables and stuffed with meat, chicken, fish or seafood) and pastelillos (deep-fried empanadas) and fish or seafood dishes. The atmosphere is more casual but the quality of the food is on par with their more formal counterparts.
Probably the best-known restaurant on the route is La Casa de los Pastelillos, famous for its 12-inch long pastelillos made to order and the over two feet long alcapurria called La Boa Puertorriqueña. The menu is enormous. They have dozens of fritter fillings like lobster, Surf and Turf (steak and shrimp), fried pork mofongo, chicken with mojo sauce, crocodile, pizza (cheese or pepperoni), and much more. They also serve appetizer plates, stuffed mofongo, meat, fish, and seafood dishes, and desserts. They have a covered terrace with ample seating and access to the beach facing the sea. Because the food is made to order expect a slightly longer wait time than in other places but the freshness and sheer variety of flavors make it well worth it.
If you wanted to stay in the area, you can book a room at Casa Pura Bed & Breakfast, a guesthouse that also offers sailing trips along Jobos Bay and has a restaurant called Tapas Comedor de la Abuela, specializing in fish tacos.
Pro-tip: While many of these restaurants do accept credit and debit cards, several only take cash or ATH Movil (Puerto Rico’s version of Venmo). So be sure to take some cash just in case.
Along with sampling local delicacies, you can also take a tour of Jobos Bay on the Paseo a la Bahia ferry, or book a day charter to the mangrove cove known as Isla del Barco. You can also park by one of the small piers along the bayside of the road for some leisurely fishing or bring your own boat, kayak, or paddleboard and explore the bay yourself. You might spot a Puerto Rican manatee. If you’re looking for a beach with few crowds that’s shallow and tranquil enough for swimming or taking in some sun, you can visit Los Limones beach.
For those who would like to hike in the Aguirre forest, there is a trailhead along the 7710 road but be warned that the trails have not been maintained for quite some time and require a fair amount of bushwhacking and some navigation. It’s a beautiful but challenging walk (not recommended if you’re afraid of spiders).
Beyond the Coast
Guayama has two more official gastronomic routes established by the municipal government as a way to promote tourism in the area.
The Ruta Gastronómica de la Montaña showcases the mountainous part of the town, where you can do a small chinchorreo (mountain bar and restaurant hop) and visit the eight businesses specializing traditional criollo food as well as fritters and Puerto Rican barbecue.
There is also the Ruta Gastronómica Urbana which goes through the center of town and has a wider variety of restaurants, including several coffee and pastry shops like Bourbon Coffee Bar, Azuka, Declart and Cake, and Púrpura Açai Smoothies and Juice Bar.