Barceloneta was the last town officially founded by the Spanish in 1881, just eight years before Puerto Rico became part of the United States. The name means "Little Barcelona" in honor of founder Don Bonocio Llenza Feliú's birthplace.
Being a very small town (just 32 square miles), with Arecibo to the west and Manatí to the east, many of the landmarks associated with the two larger towns such as Cambalache State Forest, Caño Tiburones Marshland, and Hacienda La Esperanza Natural Reserve are also partially in Barceloneta. There are even a couple of rugged north coast beaches tucked into its relatively limited shoreline.
But when you say Barceloneta to a resident of Puerto Rico there's one thing that comes to mind: outlet shopping.
This colorful shopping center is just 45 minutes from San Juan on the highway. It's colloquially known as "The Outlets of Barceloneta" and has over 40 stores, including Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Nike, Adidas, Clark's, Crocs, Gap, Guess, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, and many more. There's also a movie theater and several chain restaurants like Chili's and Olive Garden, as well as local favorite Metropol, a very good Cuban restaurant with locations around the island.
There are three main beaches in Barceloneta: La Boca, Las Criollas, and Las Palmitas. Playa La Boca, or The Mouth beach, is a black sand beach located near the mouth of the Río Grande de Manatí, a large river marking the border between Barceloneta and Manatí. There are several restaurants in the area and a malecón, or pier, for visitors to admire the view. Playa Las Criollas is closer to the Arecibo border and has a small pool area protected from the rough Atlantic surf by volcanic rock ridges. Playa Las Palmitas, much like the name implies, is lined with a row of palm trees. The sandy shoreline gives way to slabs of smooth rock going into the water.
Coastal Road 681
Barceloneta is also where the scenic PR-681 road begins (or ends, depending on which direction you're coming from) at the mouth of the Manatí river, continuing along the coast to Arecibo. Colorful and delicious chinchorros dot the route making it a perfect place to do a beachside chinchorreo (bar hop). Sample local fritters, fresh seafood, and drinks made with fresh tropical fruit juices with the ocean breeze blowing and a stunning view of the north coast of Puerto Rico spread out in each direction.