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5 Off The Beaten Path Destinations To Avoid The Tourist Crowds In Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico is the island of enchantment, and it has fantastic amenities like beautiful beaches and town centers that are historical and colorful. It's one of the best Caribbean islands, with everything for every type of traveler.

As a kid, I grew up in Arecibo, one of the most prominent northern cities, with superb beaches that are sometimes only known to locals. Growing up here made me appreciate it in a way that can be lost to someone who just passes through it. 

Cave in Arecibo, Puerto Rico overlooking field

When I was younger, my favorite things were going to the beaches in Hatillo, Arecibo, and Aguadilla. Each town, beaches, and people differed from the others, and sometimes, having a drink on a beach where there are not many tourists is the best thing to do.

If you plan to head down to Puerto Rico this summer, you must respect the local spaces and people. 

Puerto Rico is a beautiful island, but its culture makes it great, meaning we, as travelers, must keep that alive. If you plan on getting to the smaller areas that don't have many tourist crowds, learn a little Spanish, buy from local businesses no matter how small they are, and respect the lands by cleaning after yourself. 

Here are the five off-the-beaten-path destinations to avoid the tourist crowds in Puerto Rico. 

Shipwreck on beach in Puerto Rico

Arecibo

As mentioned, Arecibo is one of the most significant towns in the north, and it sits on the Atlantic coast. Beaches here, like La Poza del Obispo, are perfect for travelers and locals because it doesn't have the hustle and bustle some beaches in the capital (San Juan) have.

It's entirely laid back and also great for families. There's a natural pool next to the main beach, protected from the sometimes aggressive currents.

This makes it a perfect place for kids to play since it's not too shallow and has crystal-clear waters. Another fun aspect of this town is its growing food scene. In the downtown area, more than five restaurants are local businesses and fun places to grab a drink or some food.

Places like Amapola Rooftop on Calle Gonzalo Marin are perfect for catching a sunset with a nice cocktail. Most of the bars and restaurants are within walking distance from each other. You can bar crawl the local scene. 

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view of pedestrian street in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Aguadilla 

If you plan a beach-only vacation, you must check out Playa Crash Boat in Aguadilla. The name comes from when the United States military used the area to reach downed air force planes. Since then, it's become a popular destination for mainly locals.

There are tons to do, like snorkeling, diving, or having a cocktail while sunbathing. It's considered one of the nicer beaches on the island for its crystal clear waters and soft sand. It's around 45 feet deep, so if you're interested in a free dive while traveling, check this place out. 

Crash Boat Beach pier in Aguadilla.

Manatí

If you're looking for another incredible beach not well-known to travelers, check out Playa Mar Chiquita. It's shaped like a manatee's tail and is known for having exciting rock formations.

It's protected from the ocean through a small inlet (the beginning of the manatee tail). This creates a natural wave pool situation. There's not a lot around, but it's a great place to sit and enjoy the sound of the waves. 

An arial shot of the scenic beach Mar Chiquita in Manati Puerto Rico.

Cabo Rojo

Cabo Rojo is one of the more popular local regions in the southwestern point of Puerto Rico. The town is a great place to see the island from a local perspective.

Many beaches and businesses are run or visited primarily by locals. It's a great place to get away from the tourist crowds.

Places like Playa Combate are significant areas to enjoy a different side of the island. Other places like Poblado de Boqueron will enchant you with its numerous colorful shops and restaurants.  

Aerial view of Puerto Rico. Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo. Playa Sucia beach and Salt lakes in Punta Jaguey.

Rincón

Located on the westernmost tip of Puerto Rico, Rincón is known as the town of beautiful sunsets. Beaches like Playa Domes are perfect for catching a wave with an otherworldly background (there's an early 1900s defunct boiling nuclear superheater reactor facility on the beach.)

It has some of the best surfing spots on the island due to its positioning. It's also known as an LGBTQ+ destination for travelers and locals.

A surfers on the beach against the setting sun at Domes Beach. Rincon is a popular surfing destination for tourists in the winter months.

If you're traveling to Puerto Rico this summer, check out this list. Not every stop on the island has to be in the metro area. Suppose you venture out further west. You'll discover an enchanting side that reminds you of what makes Puerto Rico unique to many travelers.

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