A horticultural hub known as Puerto Rico’s Garden
Set high in the Cordillera Central mountain range in central Puerto Rico, the idyllic municipality of Aibonito is known locally as Puerto Rico’s Garden, but the area’s appeal extends beyond horticulture.
If you’re in the market for flowers, Aibonito is the place for you. The area is renowned for its gardens and nurseries, which cultivate everything from fruit trees and ornamental flowers to succulents and medicinal plants. Jardin El Cerro, Jardin La Ceiba, and Jardin Luriam are among the local businesses that sell their beautiful botanicals directly to the public.
Thousands of visitors flock to Aibonito every summer for the annual Festival de las Flores (“Flower Festival”). In addition to colorful floral exhibits, the multi-day event features vendors selling planters and other gardening tools and accessories. You can also partake in delicious food, browse artisan crafts, and dance to live music.
Nature and Culture
Aibonito shares one of Puerto Rico’s most breathtaking natural attractions with neighboring Barranquitas. The Cañón de San Cristóbal, a magnificent 5.6-mile (nine-kilometer) canyon, is home to more than 749 species of plants and wildlife. The formation features natural pools and stunning waterfalls, including Salto La Vaca, which, at 300 feet (91 meters), is the highest waterfall on the island. Para La Naturaleza, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Puerto Rico’s natural wonders, oversees the site and offers informative tours. Explorers in search of a more adventurous experience can book hiking and repelling excursions with private operators like Go Hiking PR.
History buffs enjoy several sites of interest throughout the 31-square-mile (81-square-kilometer) municipality. Casa Museo Federico Degetau, which was once the home of the prominent Puerto Rican politician, now serves as a museum and cultural center. The Antigua Tabacalera, a former tobacco factory originally constructed in 1830, has been converted into a community center. Two structures – the hospital and the convalescence building – remain from the Spanish military occupation; built in 1887, they were later used as a school and offer a glimpse into the past.
Aibonito’s culinary scene offers a variety of dining experiences. The area is particularly popular for its chicken, which is celebrated every October during the Festival Del Pollo in the town plaza. The municipality has even created la Ruta de Pollo (“the Chicken Route”), making it easy for visitors to make the rounds to local eateries. Depending on your tastes, you can sit down for chicken pizza and pasta at Fiore Trattoria or savor fajitas and other Mexican fare at El Cantinflas Restaurant. The views are as enticing as the chicken mofongo at La Piedra de Degetau Wine & Beer, which also serves pizza, tacos, and other crowd-pleasers. Or snack on skewers, cracklins and other small bites at Campofrio Tapas Bar.
Reservations are in high demand for the bi-weekly Mana Gastronomic Experience at local farm Finca El Llano, but if you can snag one you’re in for a treat. Every other Saturday, a different acclaimed chef creates a six-course dinner on site, incorporating the farm’s tomatoes, peppers, microgreens and other bounty into sumptuous, satisfying dishes.