Isabela is a popular destination on the northwestern shores of Puerto Rico.
This area is known for world-class surfing and beautiful beaches.
I have lived in a town next to Isabela my entire life, so I am happy to share my knowledge with you about the area.
In this article, I will cover the 18 best things to do in Isabela, Puerto Rico:
Jobos is the picture-perfect beach.
It offers clear waters, golden sand, and an opportunity to see friendly and curious hawksbill turtles.
Several surf schools operate on Jobos. You can learn to surf in Jobo’s glassy waves.
For more information on where to surf, check out our article on Puerto Rico’s Best Surfing Spots.
There is a legend about Taino Chief Mabodomaca, who fought against the Spaniards with bravery.
When defeated, they say he jumped off a cliff to end his life on his terms.
The Great Spirit Yokahu honored his bravery by carving his face on a mountain at El Pastillo Beach.
To make this legend known, the city of Isabela commissioned a carving of the face of the chief on Karst Mountain on Road #2.
The first settlers of what now is Isabela built San Antonio de La Tuna Hermitage in the 1730s.
In 1818 the people of “La Tuna” got permission to relocate the settlement. They abandoned the original building and built a new church where the town square of Isabela is now.
You can visit the old church’s remains and look at Isabela’s past.
Playa El Pastillo is a beach to enjoy a long walk and gaze at the scenery.
On the west side of the beach, you will find a rock formation that resembles the face of Taino Chief Mabodomaca.
The Swallows Cave is at the foot of this rock formation.
High tides in the winter months make it hard to access the cave. But if you visit El Pastillo in the spring and summer, you can enter Cueva de las Golondrinas.
El Pastillo beach is perfect for taking photos, sightseeing, and walking.
Be aware that strong currents, big waves, and lack of lifeguards make this beach not the safest in Isabela for swimming.
Puerto Rico had a railway system during the first half of the 19th century.
The Guajataca tunnel connected the towns of Quebradillas and Isabela.
You can walk through the tunnel and see the ocean.
Check our article about Mirador de Guajataca to see the tunnel from the Mirador.
I started surfing Jobos when I was in high school. Somedays, we hit the waves at dawn before going to class.
For breakfast, we stopped to eat some empanadillas (turnovers) at this place. That is how the place got its name — surfers stop there to grab a quick bite.
If you like seafood, you will love La Parada de Los Surfers.
For more typical food, check out 30 Best Puerto Rican Street Foods.
Isabela has an exclusive bike lane from Middles Beach to Villa Pesquera.
That lane is a couple of miles long and fun for the whole family.
Some companies rent bikes and scooters at the beginning of the bike lane.
El Paseo Lineal Costero (Isabela’s boardwalk and bike trail) takes you along Isabela’s coastline.
The view is simply amazing. You can walk or ride a bike on the boardwalk.
Try the coconut water they sell at the trail’s east end.
Nature lovers are in for a treat at Guajataca Forest.
This forest is where the towns of Isabela, San Sebastian, and Quebradillas meet.
More than 25 species of birds and over 180 species of trees coexist in Guajataca Forest.
The forest has over 25 miles of hiking trails and the famous La Cueva de Los Vientos cave.
Check out Cave of the Wind in Guajataca Forest in the following video:
It is hard to find words that describe the feeling you get to Shacks Beach.
Shack’s Beach is home to the Blue Hole, a deep pool that will take you to what seems to be the set of the movie Finding Nemo.
The underwater cave ecosystem of Shack’s Beach is unbelievable. To ensure your safety, go with a guide or someone who knows the beach.
Below is a video showing snorkeling at Shacks Beach, Isabela:
Puerto Rico has nearly 30 golf courses.
Only Royal Isabela’s Golf Course has all holes on top of a cliff. The views of the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking. The wind will test both your golf skills and your patience.
After your round of golf, have dinner at Jota By Chef Jeremie, featured in the article 35 Best Restaurants in Puerto Rico.
There is a blowhole on the rocks close to Jobo’s beach.
Legend says that a man named Jacinto fell through a blowhole searching for a cow.
If you scream, “Jacinto dame la vaca” (Jacinto, give me the cow), Jacinto gets mad and blows water at you.
The blowhole itself is both fantastic and scary.
View this post on Instagram
Photo Credit: @gutiaymat
For a good time at night in a safe environment, visit Isabela’s Town Square.
The city of Isabela has a different themed activity each night.
On Friday nights, they have salsa night, where you can put your dancing skills to the test.
There are kiosks to try some typical cuisine and coffee shops with Puerto Rican coffee.
If you like playing dominoes, you can mingle with locals in the town square.
Picture yourself horseback riding along a secluded beach, going through an almond tree forest, and exploring cliffs and a cave.
Important Notice: Companies generally have a weight limit for this type of tour. Riders over 250 pounds should call ahead to confirm participation for this activity.
Check out Tropical Trail Rides in Puerto Rico in the following video:
Villa Pesquera means Fishermen Village.
If you love seafood, Villa Pesquera is a place you must visit.
There are many kiosks and restaurants where you can have the catch of the day.
Try the bacalaitos (codfish fritters) with Puerto Rican beer.
You can also have a langosta (Caribbean spiny lobster) caught within yards of the Villa Pesquera.
Middles Beach is home to The Corona Xtra Pro Surf Circuit in Puerto Rico.
You can surf this beach and imagine you are competing for a spot in the next contest.
View this post on Instagram
Photo Credit: @michaelturdo
Middles Beach is ideal for surfing but not recommended for swimming.
Strong currents and rocky shores can put you in harm’s way.
If you visit Middles when the waves are high, you’ll meet local surfing legend and four-time Corona Xtra Pro Surf Circuit Champion Brian Toth.
Below is a video showing Brian Toth surfing in Middles Beach:
For us Puerto Ricans, “poza” means a natural shallow pool protected from waves and currents by rock formations.
La Sardinera is one of the most famous pozas in Puerto Rico.
You will be amazed by the contrast between the calm water in the shallow pool and the waves hitting the rocks with enormous energy.
People walk on the rocks and get splashed by the waves.
If you are going to walk on the rocks, please be careful.
Check out Poza Sardinera in the following video:
Isabela does not have a bioluminescent bay, but is just an hour and 15 minutes drive from La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay in Lajas.
La Parguera is the only bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico where you can swim.
Puerto Rico has three different bio bays.
You can learn more about Puerto Rico’s bio bays in our article Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays – All You Need To Know.
Go to the Town Square Plaza, they have different activities for the public. You can also go to Villa Pesquera at night and have excellent seafood in a safe environment.
Swim in Jobos, go to Swallows Cave, Walk the Boardwalk, hike in the Guajataca Forest, and take your picture at the Taino Chief Carving.
Isabela has many fun activities for the whole family.
My favourite things to do in Isabela are visiting Jobos Beach and La Cara Del Indio.
I also recommend that you visit the bioluminescent bay that is just an hour from Isabela.
Also, check out our article Is Isabela Safe For Tourists – All You Need To Know.
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.