The South Coast of Puerto Rico is full of beautiful landscapes, warm people, fascinating attractions and intriguing cities.
We’ve spent a month+ in PR and are amazed at how much it has to offer. The island itself is only 110 miles long (west to east) but offers everything from pristine beaches to tropical rainforests and a very lively and exciting culture. Each stop along the way allowed us to experience different foods, music, and customs.
Great anchorage, except maybe on Sundays! Expect lots of jet skis and boats zipping throughout. It offers good protection, convenience, and its the only anchorage with a designated dinghy dock. Not to mention as we pulled up to the anchorage we noticed a familiar looking Hallberg-Rassy sailboat, it was sailfriends SV Borealis who we met in the Abacos months ago! We finally caught up to each other – it’s a small cruising world!
Boquerón is the wild child of the west-coast fishing towns in PR! During the weekdays, the atmosphere is very quiet and relaxed but on the weekends the town really comes alive with artists, food vendors lining the streets (selling ceviche, raw clams and oysters) musicians, karaoke, and dancing in the streets! It’s full of color, brightly-painted, and fun to explore by foot. Not to mention everyday ends with a beautiful sunset.
Los Remos – Pirate themed and located on the main strip overlooking the water, this spot draws a crowd and gets packed quickly. However, my favorite thing about this place was the chips and salsa!
Boquerón Bakery – Good place for breakfast, within walking distance, and makes a great cafe con leche! Mercados is still our favorite though.
The Copy – Thursday night is 25-cent wings! And I finally get the local obsession with mojitos. They are fantastic here. We ordered 4 different flavors (Blueberry, Watermelon, Coconut, and Mint) all were beautifully made!
Sweet & Sour – Billard and Sunday biker bar. Fun spot to shoot pool for 50-cents a game and enjoy an ice cold beer!
Puerco Pirata Smokehouse – We feasted like kings here, on family style BBQ! The four of us each ordered a meat and large sides to share. Funniest moment of the night here was when we got the bill, our check ID labled our table as “gringos”. Haha.
El Bulgao’s “Tiny fucks” – When in PR! It’s a very small bar located in the Boqueron beach village. Tiny F’s are chichaitos (shots!) you get for $1 offered in some delicious flavors – snickers, nutella, limon, etc.
Balneario de Boqueron – From town you can access this beach by crossing over the marina bridge. It’s a 3-mile stretch with lots of palm trees, shade, and a giant parking lot. Brent and took a long walk around the surrounding property. Towards the middle you can find showers and bathrooms. Some debris still left over from the hurricane and repairs are needed but a great place to swim and relax.
Boquerón street art – No matter where you travel in Puerto Rico, it’s likely that you’ll see beautiful art that has taken over the streets. Colorful murals on walls, buildings, stairways and docks.
We cruised through on a week day so the town itself had closed up, with only a few places open, but its a very similar set up to Boqueron – Seaside village with a blazing nightlife. The anchorage is unique, it offers free mooring balls near the mangroves but unfortunately most of them are either too shallow for our 5.5-ft draft or are broken. So we settled for anchoring closer to shore.
No dinghy dock available here and most docks you see are marked private. However we found a nice dock owned/operated by the University of Puerto Rico. We pulled up to the University Boat Ramp and asked if we could tie up. The guy said no problem even though there is a sign that says you can’t. Our dinghy was left for a few hours and fine when we returned.
M&M Bakery – Guessing you’ve picked up our trend of finding the bakery. Breakfast any time here! Make sure to ask for the special of the day. They have a large and delicious looking dessert case along with fresh pastries.
Moons Bar & Tapas – Lovely ambiance, casual, and outdoor seating with live music. The fish tacos and ceviche are a must here!
Fagatas – We sat on the top level (3rd story) and our view was really beautiful overlooking all of La Parguera. We shared the BBQ for two, it was SO much food! Made for some great left overs.
The big attraction here is the Bioluminesent bay. There are a total of 3 along the South Coast of PR. Unlike Luperon, you CAN actually swim in the water at night and experience the glittery glow of the dinoflagellates triggered by a physical disturbance such as a splash or waves. Its a cool thing to see, therefore, it is worth doing once. I personally enjoy seeing this more when we are night sailing.
You can access the bay by dinghy, it’s 1.5 miles from the La Parguera anchorage. I’d suggest going before dusk and bring lights as its a long ride back in the dark. There are tour boats that go out everyday of the week starting at 7pm to 9pm. Not a big deal, they don’t stay for very long and it wasn’t crowded.
We spent one night here and immediately dinghied over to Isla de Gilligan a beautiful small Island made of mangrove trees with crystal clear water. A natural “lazy river” of channels loops through the mangroves and you float back with the tide. The mangroves are really neat and we saw one of the biggest iguanas! Note: The currents are strong outside the enclosures.
Don’t forget to pack a lunch or snacks! It is typically visited by local folks, but holidays and weekends it can be packed depending on day/season.
Still battling the trade winds as we head East, so we got held up in Ponce for a few days. Which allowed us to provision at Walmart (again), hit up West Marine, get a check up at the doctors, and go inland to explore El Yunque National Forest!
During our stop in Ponce was the start of Holy Week. For many Puerto Ricans, Easter is the biggest holiday of the year and isn’t just a one day celebration. The entire Holy Week leading up to Easter is typically celebrated. Good Friday finds most businesses on the island closed, and people use the day off as an opportunity to kick off beach season. So if you’re cruising through PR during the Easter holiday get ready for one hell of a party!
Isla Caja de Muerto/Coffin Island
located 8 miles off the coast, south of Ponce. Made us feel like we were back in the Bahamas! The water here is very pretty and the bluest we’d seen in a while. We anchored for one night and didn’t take long before jumping in the water.
Caja de Muerto is a nature reserve, and though the island is small it features a beautiful beach, hiking trails, and a light house. The ferry also runs between Ponce and the island usually making 1 trip per day. So Pelican Beach was fully set up for a beach day excursion when we arrived; Umbrellas, chairs, paddle boards, and a giant inflatable water park. Which we had some fun with once the ferry left.
Palmas Del Mar
We’d been having some alternator problems while moving along the south coast. So we decided to skip our original route to Vieques and make a detour into Yacht Club Marina and assess the problem. It’s located inside of a golf course resort and residential community consisting of beach resorts (2,750 acres). Very state-of-the-art, with a fantastic laundry facility, beautiful pool, full concrete docks, fuel, showers, and a business center. Everyone was kind and helpful.
$1.75 per foot a day OR $1.25 per foot a week
Target rental car is onsite, $29 a day, so we were able to run errands and order a new alternator at Auto Zone. Along the way we found a fantastic local taco joint (cash only) called Charlies bar and grill.
The marina was also a great location to pick up new boat guest from SJU, Brent’s mom came to visit and crossed over with us to USVI!
Culebra has been a top destination of ours since we started mapping out our Carribean adventure. Culebra is somewhat of the anti-tourist destination made up of a small group of cays 18 miles east of PR’s mainland. Known as the “Spanish Virgin Islands”, it has no major hotel chains or stores. We anchored in Ensenada Honda for two nights, which offers fantastic protection and beautiful scenery. With boat chores behind us and guest onboard we treated this stop like a vacation.
Blac Flamingo Coffee – Mmm. Cafe Con Leches! Small bakery with breakfast.
Carlos Jeep Rental – We didn’t get a jeep but we did get a 4-passenger golf cart! $35 for the day till 5pm. Such a fun way to see and explore the island. Best to call ahead and make sure theres availability
Zaco’s Tacos – The best taco joint on Culebra. Ok, It’s the only taco joint on Culebra, but it’s really good and lives up to the hype. Great drinks too. Because of its popularity expect a bit of a wait.
Flamenco Beach – dubbed one of the most beautiful beaches in the world so it definitely attracts a crowd. Also famous for rusty painted tanks resting on the shore, which marks Culebra’s time as a US Navy gunnery and bombing practice range until 1975. Adjacent tree-covered campgrounds and food stands. Highly recommend the Culebra specialty drink – Melon Ball (Rum, Pineapple, and Midori)
Note: There is an entry fee to this beach (we didn’t know this prior and its not advertised) $4 to get the golf cart in plus $2 per person.
Ferry Terminal – There is transit to Fajardo on the PR mainland from Culebra, $2.25/pp each way. Many visitors come over to the island for the day or to have dinner then ferry back.
Zoni Beach – The most perfect place I’ve ever been. A jewel of a find, white sand, romantic with gentle waves and a nice breeze. I won’t say more because I want to keep it a secret. Less people, the better – haha.
Punta Soldado – Peaceful and relaxing beach great for finding seashells. Don’t be intimidated by the dirt and gravel roads getting there. No facilities here.
Dinghy Dock – The name says it all, we love cruiser friendly places that make tying up our dinghy so easy. One of the best waterfront hangouts. Can’t comment on the food but a fun place for cocktails on the water and to meet more cruisers. After months of following each other on instagram we finally got to meet Grace and Bill from Calicoskiessailing.
This tiny cay is just located off the north-east corner of Culebra and is uninhabited. You can only get there by a private boat. Unfortunately we only stayed one night but it has a gorgeous beach, natural baths, and a historic 1800s lighthouse that makes this little island worth your time!
The lighthouse (Faro Isla de Culebritas) was put into service in 1886, and was operating until 1975. Since then it has been left to ruin, from both natural and human forces. But what is left is still beautiful. In October 1981, the lighthouse was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.
Feels good to have made our way along the south coast and moving on to new territory! 🙂
Cheers from Puerto Rico!