Visit the Pleasant Little Town of Maricao
Situated on the western edge of Puerto Rico’s mountains, Maricao is a small town with a small population. In fact, it has the second lowest population in Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, it is an appealing little town, built in rather hilly terrain and centered around a small but attractive plaza. Despite the diminutive size of the municipality, it is divided into fifteen different wards. The administrative center of the town is Paricao Pueblo.
Locally the town is known as ‘El Pueblo de las Indieras’ which means, when translated, ‘the town of Indian settlements’. It was founded in 1874 by four men, namely: Bernardo Collado, Francisco M. Sojo Napoleon Pietri, Julian Ayala and Leoncio S. Martinez. The area where the town was located was the most ‘Indian’ part of the island and so, while the town may not have the biggest Indian population, it does have a distinctive Indian identity. Many of the people living here today are descendants of the poor Indian farmers – the Jibaros - who once farmed most of the land in this area. During the 19th century the majority of the island enjoyed massive economic growth due to the coffee boom and this resulted in a number of elegant plantation houses being built. While Mariaco in Puerto Rico is no longer a massive coffee producer, many of these houses still exist and are now being used to cater for tourists looking for the ideal place to spend a relaxing vacation.The annual Maricao Coffee Festival is festive event that should not be missed by visitors.
Today two of the main attractions in Mariaco are old coffee plantation houses, namely: ‘Hacienda Delicias’ and ‘Hacienda Juanita’. Other noteworthy attractions include the La Bambua Recreational Center and the Torre de la Piedra tower. Natural attractions include the Monte del Estado, the Prieto Lake and the Salto de Curet waterfall. Another notable landmark is the nearby Maricao Fish Nursery where some 25 000 fish are raised each year. The nursery takes the form of a collection of tanks and ponds which are set in a picturesque garden setting and the fish raised here are used to stock fishponds and lakes across the island. The hatchery is part of the Monte del Estado forest reserve and makes for a great day trip. Maricao is also home to a great population of birds, so if you are a bird watcher, make sure you pack in your binoculars.