Kayaking at La Parguera

Kayak your worries away at La Parguera. 

Six Days of Underwater Adventures in La Parguera

From diving to just relaxing, Lajas has the perfect seaside experiences for you.

Blue skies above your head and water all around you, life sounds pretty good at La Parguera.

Bountiful coral reefs, tropical fish, and the perfect on-the-water adventure is waiting for you in Lajas, a town in the south of Puerto Rico with an array of fun aquatic experiences everywhere you turn. From fishing to scuba diving, kayaking, and even relaxing, there are many ways to explore and enjoy all the underwater treasures the island offers.

Start your vacation chilling at a fishing village just two hours away from SJU airport (and 1 ½ hour from Aguadilla’s airport) that boasts nearly 30 cays, islets, and mangroves just a mile offshore.  

Work your way around the cays to find out what makes this coastal destination a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Food at the After Lounge

Day one: Road trip to La Parguera

Getting to La Parguera is a road trip. After you’re all settled with your rental car, head south (if you arrived through SJU) to begin your oceanfront escape. Depending on your arrival time, you can experience iconic places if you make a few pitstops along your trip to Lajas.

A few detours before taking on your aquatic vacation can include Caguas Botanical Garden, a true testament to the island’s history and flora. You can explore 60 acres of land made up by gardens and the remains of Hacienda San José — a 19th-century sugar plantation. This place is ideal for instagramable memories to share with friends back at home. 

While in Caguas, grab a bite at La Mordida, an authentic Mexican taquería where you can find some of the best al pastor tacos and chilaquiles in a family-friendly environment; or visit El After Lounge for a varied menu ranging from BBQ-style burgers to pasta. You can also drive a little further into the mountains of Cayey for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at El Mesón de Melquíades, a mesón gastronómico known for their upscale take on local dishes.

After your meal, continue your drive to La Parguera and settle down in your lodging place for the week. You can choose between independent rentals like Hacienda Tres Casitas and El Bañito de Abi; or a parador or small inn like La Jamaca, Parguera Plaza Hotel, and Parador Villa Parguera, which are all just steps away from El Malecón. If you’re not too beat from your day trip, take a walk around El Malecón – where all the nightlife action is, and stroll in and out of souvenir shops and local artisans’ stores.

Diving at La Pared in La Parguera

Dive into adventure at The Wall in Lajas. 

Day two: Dive into adventure

Plan for a hearty breakfast at your small inn or lodging of choice, you'll need the extra oomph for an exhilarating experience at "The Wall" (La Pared, not to be confused with the surf haven in Luquillo). A rare phenomenon that happens underwater in Lajas is one of the main attractive spots, and it is also where your adventure will begin.

One hundred feet below the ocean's surface, you'll find a long stretch of wall covered with reefs sea plants that are home to colorful and tropical schools of fishes. The famous diving spot is teeming with beautiful marine life and rare black corals that grow along with the drop. 

If you take an underwater camera, be ready to snap breathtaking images of sponges, barracudas, manta rays, triggerfish, snappers, angelfishes, turtles, large crabs, and sometimes even dolphins. With low currents, this dive is suited for all levels of divers. You can book a diving trip with companies like Paradise Scuba, Papayo Divers, and West Divers that depart directly from La Parguera.

 

Diving at The Wall is such a full experience that could keep you busy for the most of your day, which is why you would want to knock it off your underwater bucket list on your first day at La Parguera. If you don't feel comfortable deep diving, you can also book a snorkeling trip around the shallow reefs in the area.

Once you're back inland, you'll be hungry, so get ready to delight in authentic comida criolla and fresh seafood. Some popular spots include Puerto Parguera Restaurant, La Jamaca Restaurant, Los Balcones D'corales, and El Karakool, just around the boardwalk.

Read more about Scuba Diving: From Novice to Advanced

Bio bay at La Parguera

Day three: Relax by day, sparkle by night

Another day of adventure awaits, and you should start it off with breakfast at M&M Bakery Deli for a local experience. Before heading out for today’s water adventure, make sure you have your camera ready, as the green and blue colors of the location will enchant you.

Since you went scuba diving yesterday, today you get a “relax for the day” pass to Isla Mata la Gata, a mangrove island perfect for a traditional day at the beach. Catch a boat ride departing from La Parguera and bring everything you might need for the day (snacks, water, sunblock) as the only facilities on site are picnic tables, BBQ pits, changing rooms, and outdoor chairs. A visit to Mata la Gata’s natural pool is the perfect opportunity for sunbathing, snorkeling, or picnic by a crystal-clear water Caribbean beach. There is also kayak rental available so that you can practice other watersports. 

After you’re done splashing around in the water, you can walk along the mangroves and observe the unique ecosystem surrounding La Parguera Nature Reserve.

A trip to La Parguera will not be complete if you don’t visit the bioluminescent bay. After your day at the beach, head back to your parador or vacation rental, and get ready for the experience of a lifetime. At the bio bay, you’ll witness the magical spectacle of glow-in-the-dark water as you kayak or paddle your way. This portion of La Parguera is one of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico and one out of five in the entire world. Some guided tours provide you equipment so you can dive and swim after dark (this is the only bio bay where swimming is allowed), or you can book a crystal bottom kayak, so you don’t miss the “stars” underwater.

Pro tip: Book your tour on the darkest night possible to make the most of this rare ecosystem’s visit.

Once you dock back into La Parguera, head to El Malecón, where you can have a night of chinchorreo, hoping from dive to dive eating frituras and sipping on piña coladas.

Read more about the island's bioluminescent bays here

La Parguera beach at sunset.

La Parguera beach at sunset.

Day four: A day by the lagoon  

Is any aquatic trip complete if you don’t go fishing or hiking?

After breakfast, visit Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge for a different side of Lajas. The freshwater lagoon is 773 acres of wetland and was once a vast open expanse of water migrating waterfowl and birds on the island. The refuge is open to the public only during daylight, and you can book a tour of multiple activities or explore on your own. 

At the refuge, you can hike and explore the endemic flora of Puerto Rico, rent a boat and go fishing in the lagoon, or do some birdwatching to encounter over half of the birds that have been registered in Puerto Rico. Bring your camera, as you might spot a West Indian Whistling Duck, Masked Ducks, and many other rare species of migratory and resident aquatic birds.

Back in La Parguera, you should book another midday or afternoon excursion with Caribbean Chilli Boats, a water cycling company dedicated to ecotourism. Rent a water bike and pedal away through the mangroves or arrange for a well-trained host to take you around the cays as you enjoy the astounding surroundings.

Cap off your evening again at El Malecón, where you’ll find live music on most days and can hop around grabbing a beer here and a cocktail there for the night.

Explore Puerto Rico’s Natural Wonders

Day Five: Detour to Cabo Rojo

Since you’re in the southwest region of the island, it would be a shame not to visit the neighbor town of Cabo Rojo on your day before departure. This town has some of the most dramatic landscapes and natural wonders you’ll find throughout Puerto Rico.

After having breakfast (which we recommend you do at a local bakery), drive to Los Morrillos Lighthouse, an elegant neoclassical building set atop a cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Once there, you can hike or bike the many trails that lead to the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find the colorful pink salt flats and a stunning stone bridge that will make your Instagram feed pop. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes, bring plenty of sunblock and water, as there are no kiosks in the area.

A visit to the lighthouse can be paired with a beach day, and Cabo Rojo has many locations to choose from. Playuela, which is easily accessed through the lighthouse, is one of the most popular spots for visitors and locals and is a crescent-moon shape, white-sand beach ideal for swimming. 

Other postcard-ready beaches in Cabo Rojo include BuyéCombate, and the Balneario de Boquerón. These beaches offer complete relaxation complemented by the tranquil crystalline waters. 

Before returning to Lajas, you should enjoy another traditional dinner at Nautica by Poly’s or Annie’s Place, where you’ll find fresh seafood dishes and unbeatable beach views. Don’t forget to try the mofongo! 

Discover more things to do in Cabo Rojo

Young people visiting Parque de Bombas in Ponce.

Day six: Heading back!

On your last day, take a final walk around El Malecón for some last-minute souvenir shopping and grab breakfast or brunch before heading to the airport. Depending on your flight’s schedule, you can hit a few extra spots on the way back. For instance, take a slight detour into Ponce and walk around Plaza Las Delicias and la Fuente de Leones, or pay a quick visit to El Parque de Bombas — a firehouse turned museum right in the center of the town’s square. You can also grab one of the iconic ice creams at King’s Cream for a quick Ponce experience. Once you’re at the airport and have returned your rental car, take some time to share all those pics with your family and friends and tag @Discover Puerto Rico.

Until next time! 

A street art tour of Ponce

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