Things to Do in Guánica
A natural paradise full of ecological diversity and marine wonders.
The coastal town of Guánica, located in the southwest corner of the island, is the warmest municipality on the island and known for its relaxed vibe. A visit to this town is ideal for those who enjoy the beach and being in contact with nature, without the hustle and bustle of busy tourist areas.
Known as the paradise of eternal summer, this town is home to the Guánica State Forest, designated as a biosphere reserve by the United Nations, where you can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, visiting historic forts or secluded beaches like Tamarindo or Ballena.
You could also spend a day on a mangrove island swimming in calm, crystal-clear waters with a visit to Cayo Aurora, known by locals as Gilligan's Island. To this small and beautiful cay you travel by a ferry that operates from Tuesday through Sunday.
Here are some of the best things to do in Guánica.
Guánica State Forest & Biosphere Reserve
This ecosystem is the best example of a dry forest in the Caribbean region. Unlike El Yunque Rainforest, which receives about 120 inches of rain per year, the Guánica Dry Forest gets only around 30 inches. This wonderful place has 12 well maintained hiking trails of average difficulty. In addition, it is a paradise for birdwatchers with a variety of exotic birds that thrive in warm habitats. Contrary to what the name of the forest might suggest, you will see a lot of green vegetation, with many trees, shrubs, cacti, and other flora unique to this environment. Among the available hiking trails, there are some that take you to secluded beaches such as Tamarindo and Ballena. Another trail leads to an area where there are natural limestone caves, and another that will take you to the historic Fuerte Caprón, where you will find unbeatable panoramic views of the Guánica Bay.
The forest is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has a visitors' center and picnic area. It is very important that you wear sturdy shoes since you will walk on unpaved land that could be rocky, also wear clothes that protect you from the sun. Be prepared with sunblock, lots of water, and snacks because there are no kiosks or restaurants near the forest.
Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island)
Cayo Aurora is a mangrove island very popular among locals. With shallow crystal-clear waters and pristine surroundings, this tropical paradise is excellent for families with young children or seniors. The ferry that transports visitors to the islet — which makes a roundtrip every hour — leaves from a restaurant dock, where you can order hot meals that will be delivered to you.
Because there are no restaurants or kiosks on the island, visitors can bring a cooler with drinks and snacks. On Gilligan's Island there are a few gazebos to picnic with shade, and a sanitation system. Keep in mind that the cay gets very crowded on weekends, so its recommended to go on weekdays or early in the morning. On Mondays, access to the island is closed.
Besides Cayo Aurora, in Guánica you’ll find beaches such as Playa Santa, which is a good choice for spending a full day as it has restaurants and kiosks nearby as well as kayak rentals, jet skis, and more; or the Balneario Caña Gorda, located close to the pier where you take the ferry to Gilligan's Island. It has gacebos, playground areas for children, restrooms, and other family-friendly amenities.
Finca El Girasol
This is a quick and picturesque stop on your tour of Guánica. Finca El Girasol is a charming, family-friendly place where the owners cultivate different types of sunflowers. You can walk among the bright flowers and the location is a popular backdrop for colorful photos. They also sell flowers, if you want to take some of your favorites. Bring water and sunblock, because the farm gets a lot of sun. Parking on location has a cost of $2. Finca El Girasol is open seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please note that the schedule is subject to sudden changes due to rain or availability of flowers.
Wall Dive Excursions
Guánica is an ideal destination for divers, whether amateur or experienced. Tour companies such as Island Scuba offer trips to visit different diving sites to appreciate reefs and extraordinary marine life such as sharks, octopus, lobster, eels, sea turtles, sting rays, and lots of diverse fish life, among others.