Feel the ocean breeze as you walk along Loíza’s boardwalk.  


A few minutes outside of San Juan and just past touristy Isla Verde is the town of Loíza. It's best known for its traditional vejigante masks (folklore characters seen in Puerto Rican festivals) and the beachside community of Piñones, where you can get some of the best fritters in the region.

But what makes Loíza distinct from any other part of Puerto Rico is the rich African heritage that permeates its identity. The town was settled in the 16th century by members of the Yoruba tribe who were brought to the Island as slaves. Nowadays, most of the music, dance, culinary traditions, and art within Loíza is Afro-Puerto Rican. It also has the largest Black population of any town on the Island.

Puerto Rico's culinary traditions are ingrained into our history, and El Burén de Lula keeps these traditions alive and well to ensure they are never lost. Go inside her restaurant in this special collaboration between Discover Puerto Rico and La Mafia P.R.

A rope swing hangs into the ocean in Loiza.

A rope swing hangs into the ocean in Loíza.

Things to Do


The first stop for many people that visit Loíza is Piñones. This community is comprised mostly of businesses selling frituras (fritters made from Indigenous vegetables), as well as chicken and pork skewers, fresh seafood, and fruit frappes. 

You can also visit Piñones State Forest, a mangrove forest that spans most of the Loíza coast. You can bike, walk, or run the more than six miles (11 kilometers) of trail and boardwalk from Punta Cangrejo (where Piñones starts at the Loíza city limit) all the way to Vacía Talega beach.

The Corporacion Piñones Se Integra (COPI), a cultural and ecotourism center in Piñones, has bikes and kayaks for rent and offers bomba dance classes and cultural workshops.

Beaches in Loíza

Loíza has plenty of beautiful Puerto Rican beaches for you to choose from with several just off Road 187, which follows the Island's coastline. La Posita Beach is a wonderful family-friendly location, as it's essentially a giant tide pool created by a natural rock barrier. A bit farther down is an ideal surfing spot, Aviones Beach, named after the airplanes that are often seen and heard flying overhead as they take off from nearby Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). Much farther down is Vacía Talega Beach, a sandy crescent with tranquil waters and a gorgeous view of the shoreline.

Festival of Saint James

The most famous celebration in Loíza is the yearly Fiestas Tradicionales en Honor a Santiago Apóstol or Festival of Saint James. For a week in July, the town celebrates with multiple processions and parades, and live bomba and plena music plays in the town squares as women in colorful skirts and men in traditional garb dance and sing. This is the festival where the vejigantes come out in force, wearing the emblematic coconut mask with horns, along with other characters like the Spanish Caballeros (knights), the Viejos dressed in rags, and the Locas, men dressed as crazy women.

Parque Histórico Cueva María de la Cruz

Venture deeper into Loíza and you'll reach the María de la Cruz Cave Historic Park, an archaeological site discovered in 1948. Inside were the remains of some of the first inhabitants of the Island, dating back as far as 4000 BC, as well as many Taíno artifacts. The cave itself is impressive, measuring 98 feet high, 164 feet wide, and 82 feet deep. In 2018, Loíza's government established facilities around the cave including an education center, an art gallery, an artisan market, a playground for children, and a campsite. Guides offer tours of the cave and workshops about beekeeping, since the area is also a bee sanctuary.

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