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A Guide to Guánica: Where to Go, its History, and its People

This compilation will help you get to know this beautiful town in Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast

April 8, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Chair on Guánica’s Malecón. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Guánica.- If you wish to visit Guánica , or learn about its history and its people, you have come to the right place.

In this guide, which compiles our coverage as part of the Somos Puerto Rico project, you will find everything you need to know about the town of “Los jueyeros”.

So keep this link handy for when you go on a road trip, and share it with family and friends so they can have a good time too.

Witnessing History

Guánica split from its larger neighboring town, Yauco, in 1914. Last March, the town celebrated its 107th anniversary of becoming an independent municipality.

However, this town’s history began when the Americans arrived in 1898 and disembarked in Guánica Bay. Eventually, a group of Americans became interested in establishing a sugar mill on the island, and after analyzing several plots of land, they chose the town of Ensenada and began clearing the land for the construction of the sugar mill, and the new community.

The Ensenada community developed to such an extent that it had everything it needed to achieve independence from Guánica, but its two attempts to officially become a town did not prosper.

5 ideal selfie spots

Guánica has spectacular locations that are perfect for taking videos, pictures, or selfies.

Five of them are: Finca El Girasol, Silla en el Malecón, Fuerte Caprón, the chimneys of the Ensenada sugar mill, and the dry forest.


This beautiful coastal town in southwestern Puerto Rico has —not one, not two, not three, not four— but 28 beaches.

It’s no wonder it’s one of the favorites of tourists and locals alike for enjoying the breeze, the sun, and the smell of the sea.

From Tamarindo Beach and Ballena Bay to the Caña Gorda cays (Guilligan) and El Obispo, there’s something for everyone; while they are all beautiful, they offer noticeable contrasts regarding the type of experience you’re looking for.

For example, Caña Gorda Beach is ideal for family outings. It has ample parking, gazebos, restrooms, showers, and a basketball court, providing a comfortable space for various activities, as well as security. In addition, the beach—which is protected by the Federal Parks Program under the Department of Natural and Environmental Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA)—is suitable for the entire family, as its waves are gentle.

Fuerte Caprón

If you are visiting Guánica, a visit to Fuerte Caprón, one of the town’s most emblematic buildings, is a must. The hike can span from 25 minutes to up to two hours, depending on the route taken and the visitor’s physical condition.

There are two possible routes: the most comfortable path takes about 30 minutes to complete, along the PR-333 road, while entering through the Guánica Dry Forest, in the La Luna barrio, can take two hours.

Originally, the structure was built in wood by the Spaniards in the 16th century. At the end of the 19th century, the Americans rebuilt it in stone. The building was named in honor of Captain Allyn K. Caprón, first soldier to die in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.

Somos Puerto Rico: el encanto histórico del fuerte Caprón en Guánica

Somos Puerto Rico: el encanto histórico del fuerte Caprón en Guánica

Te contamos la historia de uno de los puntos más altos de este municipio.

Emblematic Lodging

Almost a century after its construction, Guánica 1929 Parador stands not only as a symbol of the golden age of the disappeared sugar mill in barrio Ensenada, but also as a sign of the strength of the people of Guánica, after the earthquakes that rocked the town in 2020.

Originally, the parador was known as the American Hotel. It was renovated to its present structure in 1929 with the classical architecture of the time. It was inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century to serve the recently established Guánica sugar mill, as one of the first inns on the island established under the new government. Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United States, stayed at the facility in 1906.

Parador 1929 in Guánica.
Parador 1929 in Guánica. (Xavier García)

Guánica 1929 has 27 rooms. It features a simple and picturesque decor, and has a swimming pool, parking, internet, and a restaurant.

Likewise, the Museo de Arte e Historia de Guánica is the most important construction of this municipality showcasing its general aesthetic and historical values.

The building, designed by yaucano Tomás Olivari Santoni, served as the town’s city hall from its construction in 1921 until 2006. Its twelve columns, which represent one of Guánica’s nicknames, “pueblo de las 12 calles” (town of the 12 streets), have evidenced the strength of its construction.

As a curious fact, while it served as the mayor’s office, the building also served as an activity hall for the celebration of large balls and was also used as a jail, since it was the site of the court where monthly trials were held.

The Old City Hall is today the Museo de Arte e Historia de Guánica Don Pedro Juan Vargas.
The Old City Hall is today the Museo de Arte e Historia de Guánica Don Pedro Juan Vargas. (Xavier García)

Flora and fauna

Another attraction is the Guánica State Forest, the home of animals such as turkey vultures, woodpeckers, troupials, and Adelaide’s Warblers.

In addition, you can find thorny trees and different varieties of cacti and succulents.

Delicious Food in Playa Santa

Umami is a Japanese term that in English means “savory” or “delicious”. Therefore, it’s no surprise that, when entering the restaurant that carries the same name, located at the entrance of Playa Santa, the sensations kick in.

With a menu specialized in fresh Puerto Rican food, Umami Restaurant is the dream come true of Félix Manuel López Irizarry and his wife Heidy Martinez Otero, who always wanted to serve delicious food in Guánica’s beautiful coast.

Make sure to visit!


The decrease in constructions near Guánica’s coastline has contributed to the significant recovery of its coral reefs, compared to other costal areas on the island.

For Pedro Padilla, professional diver and owner of Island Scuba Puerto Rico, it is good news to see how the coral reefs in this town—which has been heavily impacted by hurricanes and earthquakes—have recovered their colorful appearance.

Padilla organizes expeditions to admire the underwater beauty, and even the chance to swim with sharks. This diving experience lasts between 40 to 45 minutes.

Hacienda Santa Rita

The Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima are the custodians of the historic Hacienda Santa Rita, their monastery.

The Casa Madre dates back more than 250 years. The Corsican Mariani family occupied the old mansion during the time of the Spanish-American War. It was then occupied by Spanish troops and later by American troops.

In 1901, it became property of Guánica Sugar Mill, being used for offices and meeting rooms for the sugar mill administrators.

In 1953, the congregation’s founding sister, the late Mother Dominga Guzmán, temporarily acquired the old hacienda, but it was not until 1962 that the congregation was able to purchase the property.

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