LUQUILLO, Puerto Rico, is truly an understated Caribbean beach town. Larger than a village, but not at all a big town Luquillo has a special 'beach villege' charm of its own. Nestled in the shadows of the Caribbean National Rain Forrest, Luquillo has been the winter home for numerous retirees coming from the snowy northern regions of Canada, and New England, and also form some northern European countries. The surfers have always been here as the La Pared beach waves are quite famous among surfing circles. And, in the last few years we are beginning to see lots of young families with children, as well as some overseas vacationers. The town has a few restaurants, and a well stocked supermarket, and many other convenience stores.
Why come to Luquillo? There are many reasons. Luquillo's splendid walkable beaches are stretched over several fine sandy beaches connecting shallow bays, from the Rio Mar hilly coastline in Rio Grande to the hills of El Conquistador in Farjardo, which is a sizable large town. In between these two towns Luquillo occupies a palm fringed coastal belt that gently rises up to the steep mountains of the rain Forest just a twenty minute drive away. Pack a picnic and spend a day in the rain forest along the many trails, and don't miss La Mina waterfall. The rock pool there is outstandingly refreshing.
The ocean is rough where the surfers are at La Pared, but if you walk away from the rocks and the old town to the sandy point the water gets very calm, good or swimming, and there are many good areas to snorkel. This is also a great place to put up your hammock and read a book. Walk further and you reach Playa Azul which is a crescent shaped bay with good swimming. The waves are stronger than at the ends of the crescent, so if you have young children go to the two sides. On an idyllic day the water is crystal clear and calm. Of course Balneario La Monserrate, the famous public beach is at the entrance to the town, and a short walk along from Playa Azul.
Come to Luquilo if you want to get away from it all, from the stress of a big city or just to experience a taste of a tropical paradise, and you can find it in the small town of Luquillo. Bring you sketchbooks, crayons, and water colors and settle under the palms. The lighting and colors each day can be different and varied as you try to capture a moment.
To me walking in the late afternoon along the long miles of sandy beach listening to the ocean, seeing the blues and greens of the water, is a total meditation and experience not to be missed. Pelicans, frigate birds, gulls, herons, egrets, same sandpipers and boobies are always to be seen, so pack your binoculars. If you are away from the beach, perhaps at Casa Brava you will always see hummingbirds, white winged doves, mozambiques, pitirres, reinitas, and other smaller birds. Soaring far above you will also see the falcons and hawks circling slowly.
If you like to dance or just listen the Sunday night rumbas are yet a happening at the Flambo, and during the day a good stop for a refreshing drink and sandwich. For me the best local 'frituras' can be sampled at the kioskos. There are several vacation rental places to stay. Right on the beach in the three tall condominiums which have always been popular with the 'snow birds,' or other vacation rental houses are along the beach, in the old town, in the urbanization, up in the hills and the rain Forest areas.
Author is the owner of vacation rental unit #181