Located in the center of the west coast of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez is the island’s fifth largest city. The city has historic sites, architecture and attractions that rival those of San Juan and Ponce and is close to the Western Mountains for those who want to enjoy an exceptional outdoor experience. It is one of the prettiest mountain towns on Puerto Rico.
Accommodations in Mayaguez are quite different than those you will find in other more touristy parts of Puerto Rico. Here you can spend your vacation in a renovated coffee plantation house or rent a cabin in the Monte del Estado National Park. There are small coastal villages within driving distances of the city that will make you forget that you are staying in a bustling city. It is the perfect choice as your base of operations when you want to explore the west coast of the island.
After the city was just about destroyed by fire in 1841 and again by an earthquake in 1918, renovations were carried out and buildings were rebuilt. These renovations gave Mayaguez a very unique architectural style that is evident in the downtown core of the city. The variety of styles used in the rebuilding included those that were popular at the time.
Christopher Columbus actually landed on Puerto Rico in 1493 quite near what is now Mayaguez. You can see a large statue of this explorer standing on top of a metallic globe in the town square. The harbour is the second largest one on the island and was built to control Mona Passage, which was an essential route for the Spanish in their trade with the Dominical Republic.
The area surrounding the elegant Plaza Colon is the site of several restored historic buildings. These include the Mayaguez City Hall and the Nuestro Senora de la Candelaria, which dates back to the late 1700’s. Calle McKinley is home to the Yaguez Theater, which is still active as an opera house. The historic waterfront area is home to a restored Customs House and the century old University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus.
Visit the Juan A Rivero Zoo , which spans 14 acres. Here you can visit an African Safari exhibit where there are lions, rhinos and elephants. The Caribbean exhibit contains animals native to this region, such as jaguars. There is a butterfly and lizard exhibit as well as birdhouse with an elevated walkway.
The Tropical Agricultural Research Station is worthy of a visit. While this is not a botanical garden it is a working research facility for the US Department of Agriculture. Here you can see one of the largest collections of tropical plant species that have practical uses. The station is divided into four main areas – fruit trees, a plantation of palm trees, a forest of bamboo trees and a small botanical garden.
While Mayaguez does not have a beach, there are many different beaches nearby. This city is within close proximity of the tranquil waters of the south and the exceptional surfing beaches of the north.