Guánica is a small town in Puerto Rico that is big on history and biodiversity.
Did you know that when the United States Army invaded Puerto Rico as part of the Spanish American War, they disembarked on Guánica’s coast? Or that Guánica’s Dry Forest has hundreds of species of plants, animals and marine life?
As a history enthusiast and nature lover, Guánica is one of my favorite towns on the island. I have been visiting Guánica and taking tourists there for over 30 years.
In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about Guánica, and will answer the following questions:
Guanica is a historical town in Puerto Rico.
It has spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, excellent seafood, natural resources, and small mangrove islands.
If you are interested in history or love to be in contact with nature, you should visit Guanica.
Check out this video showing the town:
You will find Guanica at the southwest tip of Puerto Rico. Guanica is on the Caribbean coast.
Below is a map depicting where Guanica is in Puerto Rico:
Find Guanica on the Google Map below:
They call Guanica the town of the eternal summer.
Winds from the Caribbean Sea and the Cordillera Central Mountain Range provide dry, warm weather year-round.
Guanica is famous for its history.
In the Taino era, Guanica was part of the Guaynia Territory ruled by Puerto Rico’s most famous Cacique (Taino Chief) Agueybana.
In 1508 Juan Ponce de Leon (who later became the Island’s first Governor) arrived in Puerto Rico through Guanica Bay.
General Nelson A. Miles commanded 3,300 US Troops that, on July 25, 1898, arrived at Guanica Bay during The Spanish American War.
Guanica is also famous for its Spanish Lighthouse ruins.
Unfortunately, on January 6, 2020, an earthquake took a toll on the structure.
Parador Guanica 1929 is a famous small inn operating since 1929 in Guanica Bay. Guanica is also famous for its mangrove minor island keys, especially the one named after the 60’s sitcom Gilligan’s Island.
Nature lovers know Guanica for The Guanica State Forest.
We call it Bosque Seco de Guanica (Guanica’s Dry Forest) because of the small amount of precipitation it gets.
With a total of 9000 acres of land, GSF is one of the most extensive tropical dry coastal forests in the World.
The United Nations declared GDF as an international Biosphere Reserve.
Guanica also has famous beaches like Ballena and Tamarindo.
In Guanica, you can see where history unfolded.
Visit Guanica Bay, and at the end of Calle 25 de julio (July 25 street), you will see a boardwalk and a giant boulder that US Troops engraved when they disembarked there on July 25, 1898.
The place where the US Troops disembarked is significant in Puerto Rican history.
On Road PR 333, on a cliff overlooking Guanica Bay, you will find the remains of a Spanish Lighthouse built in 1892.
On January 6, 2020, an earthquake devastated the remains of the lighthouse. However, it is still an exciting place to visit to see a panoramic view of the bay.
Do you remember the sitcom Gilligan’s Island and its theme song?
In Guanica, you can visit Cayo Aurora, aka Gilligan’s Island. The tiny mangrove and sand island is excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and Kayaking. When you enter a channel that splits the Island in two, you will feel like you are in a remote place.
Bring plenty of water and snacks, and remember to use sunscreen.
Please be aware that this will be a little more than “a three-hour tour.”
The best way to get to Cayo Aurora is through CopaMarina Beach Resort.
If you are into kayaking, rent a kayak and paddle to Gilligan’s Island.
Hike the trails of Bosque Seco De Guanica (Guanica’s State Forest).
The southwest of Puerto Rico only gets a little rain. But, in that arid land, you will find a thriving ecosystem adapted to the harsh conditions. They have identified over 550 species of plants in the forest,180 of those are trees, and 45 are endangered.
Over 166 species of birds call the forest home, and 15 are considered either rare or endangered.
The Department Of Natural Resources of Puerto Rico estimates that there are close to 1,200 species of marine organisms in the biosphere reserve, including fish, algae, coral reefs, and crustaceans.
You can hike or mountain bike the trails, but stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
Inside the forest, you will find the remains of Fuerte Capron, a Spanish Fortress that the US Army later used.
The view from the fort is worth hiking to get there.
Below is a video of hiking in the Guanica forest:
Follow the signs to El Guayacan Centenario (centuries-old Guayacan tree). This tree has struggled to survive in the dry environment, and its roots are all over the place.
The Ballena trail will take you close to Punta Ballena Beach and Tamarindo Beach.
You can swim, kayak, snorkel, or sunbathe on these remote beaches.
You will find restaurants near the beaches serving freshly caught seafood.
La Cueva (The Cave) Trail will take you to caves where they mined limestone.
The cave system sustained damage during the 2020 earthquake; now, it is harder to get into the caves, and some parts collapsed.
Please, exercise caution if you enter the caves.
In the early 1900s, Guanica’s economy mainly depended on sugar cane. They had a sugar mill that employed most of the town’s population.
Now only the ruins of the sugar mill remain.
But for history enthusiasts, the sugar mill ruins are a place to visit.
Finca El Girasol is a sunflower farm where you can visit and buy sunflowers and other small plants. Remember to call before you go to make sure they’re open.
If you like to scuba dive, you can book a trip to Playa Santa so you can Scuba dive at La Pared (The Wall), a hundred feet dive filled with marine diversity.
I have visited Puente Colgante de Fuig (Fuig suspension bridge) many times, but I have never crossed it.
The people I’ve taken there say it is fun and scary at the same time.
One of my favorite things to do in Guanica is drive.
Driving on Route 333 with the car windows down and the music up while enjoying the scenery is something you must experience.
Even though it is not in Guanica, you can go to La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay.
A short 20 minutes drive will get you there.
Yes, Guanica is safe for tourists.
Guanica is a small town; according to data from the US Census, less than 15,000 people live in Guanica.
Other than petty theft, there is nothing to worry about.
Keep your belongings secured, lock your car, and you will be fine.
While you are visiting the southwest of the Island, you can check out the famous Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, just a short drive from Guanica.
Yes, Guanica is an excellent town, full of history, nature, and outstanding cuisine. This small, low-paced town will be one of your favorites in Puerto Rico.
Guanica is almost 100 miles from San Juan. A two-hour drive crossing the Island from north to south will get you to Guanica.
If you like nature, history, beaches and seafood, then Guánica is a town you should visit.
Guánica is a getaway from the fast-paced San Juan area, and you will enjoy your time there.
For more information about places to visit in Puerto Rico, please check our article 45 Places To Visit In Puerto Rico.
You may also enjoy our article Where To Stay In Puerto Rico – 13 Best Places & Areas.
Writer at PuertoRico.com. I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. I’m passionate about Puerto Rican history and culture. I live on the west coast of Puerto Rico, and host an Airbnb for tourists. I also coordinate tours and concierge services for tourists. I authored “Eat Like A Local, Puerto Rico”, and have contributed to blogs and magazines with articles about discovering and enjoying what Puerto Rico has to offer.