They say that Aguada was where Christopher Columbus landed when he found Borikén, now known as Puerto Rico. This is why it is also known as “The Town of Discovery”, but I have conflicts with that term, since the island was already inhabited by the native Taínos.
The name of the town came from the term “hacer aguada” which can be roughly translated to “get water”. Back in the day, ships with destination to Latin America or going back to Spain would make a stop (hacer aguada) on that side of the island to get water supply from a series of water-wells situated east to the river Guayabo. All mail going to South America would also have to go through Aguada then by a declaration of the King of Spain, promoting the town’s rapid economic growth and expansion (the towns now known as Aguadilla, San Sebastian, and Moca, used to be part of Aguada).
Here is what you can do in Aguada:
Visit the Ermita Espinar Ruins
We all know that the main goal of the conquistadors was to convert all the natives into christianity. For that, in the early 1500s the King of Spain authorized the construction of this small chapel, that also served as home to Franciscan Friars. Saint Francis of Asis is the Patron Saint of Aguada. This happened at the same time the Taínos began their rebellion, so just four years after the construction, it was burnt down by the natives, killing 5 Friars. Some historians agree that this officialized the beginning of the indigenous revolution.
To find the chapel, you can’t be looking for ruins. They reconstructed the chapel in the 60’s and reopened as the Parroquia Santuario Protomártires de la Immaculada Concepción. To find the location on google maps, click here.
Take a beach day
Some of the beaches in Aguada are Balneario Pico de Piedra, el Mameyito, Espinar (pet friendly), and Río Grande. These beaches are not as frequented by people since most tourists go to Rincón, and some, like Espinar, are really good for kids.
Visit the public plaza
If you read my blog you know that I always recommend visiting the town’s public plaza’s. This is where you get to mingle with the locals and in this case, you also get to see the Saint Francis of Assisi Parish.
Help me figure out if the museum is still open
Rumor has it Aguada has a tiny museum with the strangest things, but that at the moment it is closed.
Visit the last sugarcane refinery to close on the island
The Central Coloso or the Coloso Sugar Cane Refinery operated in Aguada until 2003, making it the first refinery to be founded and the last to close on the island. It was the economic pillar to that town, Aguadilla, and Moca.
Learn about chocolate production in Puerto Rico
When Juan and Maria decided to produce chocolate on the island, cacao was not locally grown in Puerto Rico. Now more farmers are planting cacao on the island, and Juan and Maria are dedicated to help them grow their business, pun intended. Hacienda Jeanmarie Chocolat produces organic cocoa and artisan chocolate products. They are located in Carretera 416 Km 8.1 Bo Lagunas, Aguada, 00602, Puerto Rico.
Eat all the local food you can get
I am a big believer that the best way to experience local culture is through food. Obviously some people would differ from this opinion, but I will stick with it. Some of the local restaurants I recommend are Marullo’s, Pikadera, Jardín Cafeto, Tip Top Acai Express (Smoothies and Ice Creams), Olajas Bar and Grill, Ocean Blue Bar and Tapas, Guayabo’s Tropical Sunset (Beachfront), and El Plátano Loco.
Wake up with the sound of waves
Have you ever watch a movie where there is someone with a glass window that faces the ocean, and you think, ah, I wish I lived there. Well, maybe you can’t live there but you can rent a few nights at Hotel Columbus that offers just that. Other beachfront hotels/houses I really like are Aguada Beach House, Villa la Giralda, Rooftop Cabin, and Hola Paradise.
Go to sleep with the sound of coquís
The Puerto Rican coquí is a tiny frog that begins serenading islanders when the sun goes down at dusk. The coquí genre has relatives all over the Caribbean, but only the ones that make the sound co-quí are Puerto Rican. Some people say that when you take a coquí out of the island, it can’t survive. I heard someone took one to Hawaii and now it’s considered a plague there. That said, everyone that loves Puerto Rico celebrates the coquí. Even the taínos drew the little frog on every rock they found and every cave they lived in. Nowadays, that’s a popular tattoo among Puerto Ricans. Now, you can hear it too!
Rustic Paradise is a shanty-type of house in the middle of a mountain that can accommodate up to 15 guests. They are about a 7 to 15 minutes drive to beaches and other activities. Its isolation makes it the best place for a mini retreat with some friends or family.
As for today, that’s everything I have on Aguada. We are visiting the Chocolate farm in October 2017, and will be happy to report our findings.
Main photo credit: Rustic Paradise