Loiza – A Cultural Hub and Ideal Tourist Destination
Nowhere in Puerto Rico is there a more cultural and traditional destination than Loiza. It is a town that was neglected for many years, but as tourists began to discover the rich heritage and hypnotic atmosphere of Loiza, this destination in Puerto Rico began to enjoy a new lease on life. Although many residents of Loiza live in poverty, their untamed spirit for life and their appreciation of each day is intoxicating, especially during community celebrations such as the Fiestas Patronales.
Loiza was established in 1719 and the city’s name originates from a woman cacique, by the name of Luisa, who was on the island when Spain invaded Puerto Rico. Most of the population of Loiza is of Taino Indian and African descent. A vast majority of the slaves that were freed came to live here and their presence was responsible for the rich culture that still pervades the city. Today the town covers an area of 65 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 31 000 local residents.
Another name for Loiza is “The Capital of Tradition”, and it is rather fitting. It is not only the town where black Puerto Rican music originated, but it is also here that dance known as the Plena was born. Other traditions, such as bomba music and traditional food dishes of both the African and Taino cultures, can be experienced here. Visitors will find that it is at the Fiestas Patronales that all these traditions come alive. Multi colored coconut masks are worn by the local dancers who move through the streets to the pulsating rhythms of the music. Many well known musicians have their roots in Loiza, including Daddy Yankee, DJ Tito, Don Omar and La Sista, to name a few.
The town also has many attractions that highlight the culture and heritage of Loiza. The Loiza Artisans, for one, produce and display the beautiful coconut masks that are seen at the festivals. They also make and display the unique bomba drums of the island. Oil paintings, serigraphs and sculptures are on display at the Samuel Lind Art Studio. The oldest church in Loiza is Iglesia San Patricio, which was constructed in the year 1670, is still in use. The La Cueva de Maria la Cruz cave became a noteworthy sight when archeological evidence was found inside the cave in 1948. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Pinones Reserve. The forest has beaches, lookout towers, boardwalks and beautiful sand dunes. Tour operators in the area offer adventures such as biking, rain forest tours and kayaking. Other places worth visiting include the San Patricio Parish, Aviones Beach, the Ayala Family Artisan Centre and the Julia de Burgos Walk.
Loiza is a destination in Puerto Rico that has history, festivity, great beaches, amazing sights, culture and breathtaking nature adventures. It is a town that should not be judged by its size on a map, but the size of its spirit.