Known as both the "paradise of eternal summer" and the "town of friendship,” Guánica is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico — the warmest and driest part of the island, with year-round temperatures hovering between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you enjoy venturing down unpaved roads to explore uncrowded (and nearly untouched) nature, Guánica is your perfect slice of paradise. It’s an example of the rich geographical and ecological diversity that the island offers, and is distinguished primarily by its hidden beaches surrounded with dense flora.
Aurora Key (Gilligan’s Island)
One of the truly wonderful places to visit near Guánica is Aurora Key, better known as Gilligan's Island. This small mangrove key is surrounded by crystal-clear, shallow waters that are ideal for families with small children.
You can reach Aurora Key by a 10-minute ferry ride, and once there you can enjoy picnic areas near the water to admire the landscape. There are no restaurants on the key, so make sure to bring a cooler with food and drinks, or grab a hot meal to-go at the pier restaurant before the ferry journey begins.
If you go on the weekend, arrive early as trips fill up quickly. The ferry makes a round-trip every hour. On Mondays, the island is closed to visitors. Make sure to also visit the colorful Finca El Girasol, Guánica's sunflower farm, where you can walk through a flowery garden and capture some incredible photos.
Guánica State Forest
Guánica is home to the best-preserved dry forest in the Caribbean. Whereas El Yunque receives 200 inches of rain every year, the 1,000-acre Guánica State Forest — a United Nations World Biosphere Reserve — receives only about 30 inches annually.
Popular among families, couples, and solo explorers, the reserve is a habitat for more than 700 species of plants, of which about 50 are endangered and about 15 are endemic. The forest also features 12 hiking trails with varying levels of distance and difficulty. Follow these trails to stunning secluded beaches such as Ballena Bay (take Ballena Trail) and Tamarindo Beach (take the Lluberas Trail), where you can enjoy a day at the beach in a tropical paradise.
Meanwhile, the Fuerte Trail — about six miles roundtrip — leads to Fort Caprón, which was once an observation point during the Spanish colonization. En route to the fort you will find spectacular views of Guánica Bay, as well as other shorter trails, in case you want to explore a little more.
The entrance to the forest is free of charge and it is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It’s best to arrive early in the morning in order to make the most of all the sightseeing opportunities. Make sure to bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, snacks, and plenty of water, and wear light clothes and comfortable shoes suitable for walking on rocky trails.
Where to Eat
In Guánica, you’ll find incredible Creole cuisine and exotic, seafood-centric fusion dishes. For a memorable dining experience in a coastal setting, visit Alexandra Restaurant at the Copamarina Beach Resort. For a laid-back lunch or dinner, visit Mojito Beach Bar, where the menu features everything from homemade pizza to Creole dishes and fresh seafood in an outdoor setting just steps from the beach.
Brisas del Mar dishes up fancy local fritters made with delicious lobster asopao or a capitán (a local fish similar to red snapper, but fatter) paired with mofongo. Its location on Guánica’s boardwalk provides diners with a casual ambiance and exquisite cuisine.
Where to Stay
For a luxurious stay that offers first-class service, exquisite food, and private access to Gilligan's Island, book your stay at Copamarina Beach Resort.
For a more local experience, book a stay at one of the island’s paradores — small inns managed by local families — like the Parador Guánica 1929, where you’ll receive friendly service and a memorable stay in a historic setting. Additionally, the paradores on the island are known for facilitating cultural immersion experiences for their guests and being located near top local attractions.