West of San Juan

There's a seaside fortress, a cave, and a strange beach that I check out.

Fortified


The day begins with a driving tour through Old San Juan to Castillo San Cristóbal. Street side parking is difficult to find and I end up going to an underground parking lot. It's strange to think that even the prettiest destinations have the same concrete bunker garages.

The castle grounds are scenic, the spacious lawns in front well cared for. I walk past the bridge over the moat into the castle and imagine life in the late 18th century here as a Spanish soldier fending off a British attack. There are a lot of tunnels and little alcoves to explore.

The view from the top of the fort.

Fortifications at Castillo San Cristóbal.

Explore the fort's numerous tunnels.

Stalagmites and stalactites


Further west, I take a guided tour of the Cavernas de Camuy. Lamps keep the interiors well lit and there are just enough of them to light the paths, a nice feature I suppose. I've been to some caves where they light the place up like a Disneyland attraction.

The limestone walls and formations are immense, the product of thousands of years of nature at play. The drops of water that have trickled down these walls have carved subtle works of art, a face here, a skull there, a rock resembling a head of broccoli, etc.

It's harder to miss the giant sinkhole, however, which captures my interest with the abundance of light it lets in. This is the rock framed floor-to-ceiling window that everyone wants in their dwelling with a direct view of the forest outside and it's on such a majestic scale that it dwarfs anyone walking by it.

The giant sinkhole at Cavernas de Camuy.

This one beach has this one thing you'll never believe


Is there ever a day without beach in Puerto Rico?

No.

No is the answer. There is never a day in Puerto Rico without beach.

On the northwestern tip of the main island there are three beach cities to check out. They are Rincon, Aguadilla, and Isabela. My friends and I choose to visit one in Aguadilla.

First order of business was to pick up some freshly hacked coconuts. The beach was too hot to lounge on so we stayed near the benches.

I should note the beach is not particularly remarkable. It's a bit overdeveloped in some areas and underdeveloped in others. By that I mean there are rusting fences, an unattractive pier attached to the shore, and broken sidewalks. It's also really crowded. But we've paid for parking already so we stay a while, at least to finish our coconuts.

Not too far away, a boat points itself towards shore, the engines rev, and the little heads poking out of the water float out of the way left or right of the boat's path. The motor crescendos in one measure and the boat accelerates until there's no water left for it to run on and it crashes ashore.

You could say it's bizarre and unexpected. I for one didn't have time to get my camera ready for a shot, but this is my fault. I do not take names, like Crashboat Beach, literally.

The red boat in the background is the one that crashed onto the sand.