Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (2024 Guide) – All You Need To Know

Mayagüez is one of Puerto Rico’s best towns to visit.

This town’s many attractions make it a must-see for anyone going to the island.

I grew up visiting Mayagüez regularly, and even went to college there! 

In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about Mayagüez, Puerto Rico:

What is Mayagüez?
Where in Puerto Rico is Mayagüez located?
What is Mayagüez Puerto Rico known for?
Why is Mayagüez important to Puerto Rico?
Does Mayagüez have nice beaches?
What are some things to do in Mayagüez?
Is Mayagüez safe for tourists?
Frequently Asked Questions


What is Mayagüez?

Mayagüez is the fifth largest city in Puerto Rico and a beacon of the west.

image of sunrise
View of sunrise over Mayagüez and the famous Medalla brewing company.

This town is a social and economic hotspot, with a huge variety of restaurants, beaches, shopping centers, and more.


Where in Puerto Rico is Mayagüez located?

Mayagüez is located on the far west coast of Puerto Rico, about a 2.5-hour drive from San Juan.

image of Mayagüez to san juan map
The route showing driving times from Mayagüez to San Juan.

Taking the southern route is recommended for shorter drive times, but visitors can also try the northern route for better ocean views and a longer road trip.

Mayagüez is only 10-30 minutes away from popular beach towns like Cabo Rojo, Rincón, and Aguadilla.


What is Mayagüez Puerto Rico known for?

Mayagüez is one of the most lively towns in the West, so there are several things to name off. 

A major export of Mayagüez is the Medalla brewing company, Puerto Rico’s favorite local beer.

It’s conveniently located right next to the University’s campus, which remains one of the island’s largest and most prestigious schools.

image of Facade of University Dean's Office
University Dean’s Office, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.

The high student population of Mayagüez makes it a hotspot for nightlife; making it to our 12 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico At Night

image of Cinco días con nuestra tierra
“Five Days With Our Land” festival in Mayagüez.

Every year, the town of Mayagüez works together with UPRM to host “Cinco días con nuestra tierra”, an agricultural fair on university grounds that celebrates and informs visitors on everything Puerto Rico has to offer.


Why is Mayagüez important to Puerto Rico?

Mayagüez has always been an important center of commerce and social life in the west of Puerto Rico.

Historically, the agricultural business thrived on the town’s fertile lands. Later on, the textile business also saw a boom while providing soldier uniforms to the U.S.

Eventually, Mayagüez became the modern city it now is, with some businesses taking the headlines.

For instance, The Medalla Brewery produces Medalla beer and Malta India for distribution across all of Puerto Rico and part of the United States.

image of factory
Production of Medalla in Mayagüez.

The UPRM also holds a Tropical Agricultural Research Station, with developments that change the way botany and animal sciences are viewed. 

image of UPR Campus Administration Building
UPR Campus Administration Building.

Similarly, the engineering programs at this university receive world-class acclaim, with scouts from companies like NASA and Google making yearly rounds to hire new graduates.


Does Mayagüez have nice beaches?

Yes! Mayagüez has lovely beaches, although most are better suited for watching instead of swimming.

A good exception to this is Isla de Mona, a nature reserve island just off the coast of Mayagüez with white sand, crystal clear water, trails to hike, and caverns to explore.

image of MONA
Isla de Mona, a nature reserve island just off the coast of Mayagüez.

The boat ride to Isla de Mona is about three hours, and full packages can be booked with local companies like Acampa Nature Tours.

But if you don’t love boats, Mayagüez is less than an hour’s drive away (south or west!) from some of the island’s best beaches.

If you head south, you’ll find some of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful beaches in Cabo Rojo. You can read all about them in our 11 Best Beaches In Cabo Rojo article. 

image of Buye Beach
Buye Beach, Cabo Rojo.

If you choose to drive north instead, you’ll run into the picturesque beaches of Rincón.

image of Playa Domes
Playa Domes, Rincón.

Everything you need to know about these stunning spots can be found in our 11 Best Beaches In Rincón article!


What are some things to do in Mayagüez?


Aside from local and nearby beaches, Mayagüez has a great variety of outdoor activities. 

The Monte Pirata Eco Tour is great for fans of hiking and the outdoors. 

image of Monte Pirata
Take a hike through the forests of Mayagüez.

This tour takes you along the lush Mayagüez forest, with trails for both walking and mountain biking.

One of the tour’s highlights is the abandoned church, a popular photo spot and checkpoint for those who take on the journey. 

image of Church
Abandoned church along the hike.


Town Center

Plaza Colón is the heart and soul of Mayagüez, as the whole town was built around it.

The stunning architecture and lovely streets make this one of Puerto Rico’s best town centers, and one you can’t miss. 

image of plazas in Puerto Rico
Town center Mayagüez.

During Christmas, Mayagüez is one of the most highly decorated towns. People come from all over the island just to see the lights and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

image of Holiday Lights in Front of City Hall
Holiday Lights in Front of City Hall.

Teatro Yagüez is the official town theater, where different plays are always running with local talent.  

Grabbing tickets to one of these showings is the perfect opportunity to support local artists while enjoying one of Mayagüez’s architectural marvels up close.

image of Yagüez theater
Yagüez theater.

One of Puerto Rico’s most impressive churches, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Cathedral is a beacon of the town.

The church is still in operation, and anyone is welcome to come in for mass or simply to take in the beautiful aesthetic.

Check out the video below for more visuals:



Mayagüez Mall is one of the largest shopping centers on the island, and the biggest one in the West. 

Open since 1972 and with over 120 stores, this mall is a hotspot for people all across the western coast. 

The Mayagüez Plaza del Mercado is located right in the town center and had been the main center of commerce up until the opening of Mayagüez Mall.

This is the place to visit for the best and freshest foods, the best unique crafts, and the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

Check out the video of the Plaza below:


Where to eat

Located in the heart of Mayagüez, you have to visit La Jibaríta.

During the day, this spot offers classic Caribbean meals, as well as weekend brunches you’ll be dreaming about for months. 

image of La Jibarita
Visit La Jibarita for an unforgettable brunch.

At night, La Jibarita becomes a lively bar with music, amazing drinks, and a huge college population ready to party.

image of Jiba
La Jibarita at night.

After a long night, Ricomini Bakery is a must-try breakfast spot, with enough variety to satisfy anyone.

Their sandwiches are next-level, and their pastries are unmatched.

Sweets at Ricomini bakery.

If you want a spot to enjoy good coffee and relax, you can’t miss Friend’s Cafe.

They have several locations, including one right inside Mayagüez Mall! Coffee and shopping never looked so good. 

image of Friends Café
Iced coffee at Friends Café.

Carbón de Palo is a beachside restaurant serving up delicious meats and seafood for the whole family.

image of restaurant
Carbón de Palo, a beachside restaurant.

There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, a wide menu with quality foods, and an ocean view you just can’t miss.


Is Mayagüez safe for tourists?

Mayagüez is a safe place for tourists and locals to visit.

Crime rates are about the same as in most busier cities, so being cautious and aware of your surroundings is important.

image of police car
Police presence is active in the city, but always be sure to check your surroundings as you would in any other place.

You can learn more about staying safe in our Safety in Puerto Rico Article


FAQ section:

Is Mayagüez worth a visit?

Absolutely! Mayagüez is a key place to visit when you come to Puerto Rico, especially if you’re interested in the western coast.

How far is the drive from San Juan to Mayagüez?

The drive can take anywhere from 2 hours by the north, or up to three hours if you travel through the south. Tolls aren’t too high, so taking them to save time is recommended.

Final thoughts

If you want to explore culture, architecture, gastronomy, and nature, Mayagüez is the perfect city for you.

Mayagüez is a smaller-scale version of San Juan, with less big-city bustling and more relaxation. 

If you want to explore more of the island, check out our 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.

And if you’re looking for a challenge, take a look at our 30 Best Puerto Rican Street Foods and find them all across Mayagüez! Hint: Plaza Del Mercado is a perfect place to start your search.

Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (2024 Guide) – All You Need To Know
Article by

Adriana Mercado

Writer at I am a writer, editor, and freelancer. I was born and raised in San Germán, Puerto Rico, where I experienced the best landscapes, local eateries, and shops the region has to offer. Sharing the rich culture and history of Puerto Rico’s Southwest gives me the perfect reason to keep exploring!

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