The northern side of Puerto Rico, referred to as Porta Atlantico, offers beaches, caverns, forests, historic lighthouses and sites, lakes and the largest radio telescope in the world. North Puerto Rico includes the towns of Dorado, Vega Baja, Vega Alta, Toa Alta, Manatí, Barceloneta, Arecibo, Hatillo and Camuy.
A trip through the northern Puerto Rico coast is well worth the trip. The northern coast offers spectacular beaches and a ragged coastline punctured by blowholes, caves and lagoons, while karst country, its hilly hinterland, is a sparsely populated, ethereal landscape of overgrown limestone peaks, quite unlike anything else on the island. It has a totally different ecosystem and feel to the rest of the island.
Popular Northern Puerto Rico Destinations:
Mar Chiquita Beach
Off the beaten path, Mar Chiquita (“Little Sea”) is a uniquely picturesque beach. Mar Chiquita’s waters are protected from the rough Atlantic surf by twin arms of rock and coral that nearly enclose it, creating a beautiful natural pool.
Manati – Road 685
This is the world’s largest telescope (you’ve seen it in James Bond and the movie Contact). The visitor center gives a good over view of the telescope and the work that it does.
End of Road 625
Open Wednesday – Sunday and holidays
Camuy Cave Park
This is home to one of the largest cave systems in the hemisphere, with the third largest subterranean river in the world and it’s home to an incomparable tropical ecosystem and environment that still conserves its natural state from millions of years ago. When open visitors can tour the large Clara cave. This is a family-friendly attraction for all ages with easy accessibility to see the caves.
This Taino Park celebrates the history of the Taino Indian culture. It has a great small museum and also has full batey game parks that the Taino used in ceremonies, along with rock carvings and other remnants. While it has been many years since we personally visited the site, we remember it as very informative and the tour guide was excellent. A nice place to walk around and spend some time.
Lunch and Boat Ride on Lago Dos Bocas
At KM 69.7 on Route 10, turn left onto Road 621 toward Road 123. Turn right onto Road 123, and stay on Road 123 following the signs to El Embarcadero parking area.
More Info: So Many Things to Do in Arecibo
Rappelling, Caving, Body Rafting and River Journeys
There are several tour companies that offer adventure sports in this area. The longest zip lines can be found here along with operators that offer combinations of rafting, canyoning, caving, rappelling and the such. One such operator is Aventuras Tierra Adentro. Their Caving tour was selected by the National Geographic as one of the “500 of the world’s greatest trips”.
Cueva La Ventana
The beach is protected from the roaring sea by two coral and limestone formations, creating a golden horseshoe cove. The pool however, is not always ideal for swimming due to constantly changing currents so use your judgment when bathing at the beach and stay close to the shore.
Black Sand Beaches
The north coast of Puerto Rico is where to find beaches with black sand. There are also many beaches where the sand is made up of sea urchin spines which creates a very cool effect. Beach hopping is a great pastime in Puerto Rico- each beach has it’s own personality. To visit black sand beaches, here is more information on them:
Cueva del Indio
Located in Arecibo along the coastline of Route 681, this cave features evidence of the Tainos and a natural amphitheater. It is an interesting trip with beautiful scenery. It is not very commercialized and a little tricky to find, but well worth the trip.
Dorado is a great town with a great beach, and home to the new Ritz Dorado, the only six star resort in the Caribbean. It offers the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which is very interesting if you want to learn more about protecting the environment. If you are a golfer or a foodie, this town is worth visiting. And definitely don’t forget a trip to the beach!
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