Playa La Guancha in Ponce © George Collazo

Lying a few miles inland, in the centre of Puerto Rico's south coast, the attractive city of Ponce is rich in Spanish colonial heritage and architecture, with a well-preserved 17th century historic heart. Pretty colonial homes and majestic churches surround the lovely city plazas where fountains dance in radiant sunshine.

The preservation of its neo-classical architectural heritage and several interesting attractions makes Ponce a worthy port of call for Caribbean cruisers and holidaymakers. The nearby Playa de Ponce Port is Puerto Rico's principal and busiest trade port. Tobacco, coffee, rum and sugar cane from all over the Caribbean are loaded aboard vessels here, and floods of sightseers disembark regularly from an increasing number of cruise liners that have added Ponce to their itineraries.

The city, dubbed 'the pearl of the south', also offers some interesting excursions, and a short drive out of town will take you to the lovely white sandy Playa de Ponce, where the clear waters are ideal for snorkelling.

The city's built-up beachfront promenade area, a few miles south of the centre, is called La Guancha. The boardwalks, bars, souvenir shops, restaurants, and eateries surround hundreds of yachts and small boats moored in a saltwater estuary, and the area becomes very crowded with locals and visitors at weekends and holiday periods. Despite this, Ponce is laidback and fairly quiet in the evenings, making it a great Caribbean holiday destination for visitors of all ages.


Coffin Island © Schenko

Coffin Island

On weekends, a ferry carries visitors from the pier at La Guancha on the Ponce waterfront to Coffin Island, a tiny uninhabited island five miles south of the city. The island, also known as Dead Man's Chest, is part of the Reserva...  see full details

Puerto Rican Troupial at the Mayaguez Zoo © Kati Fleming

Mayaguez Zoo

Although found rather off the beaten tourist track in Mayaguez on the east coast of Puerto Rico, the Mayaguez Zoo (also called the Dr Juan A. Rivero Zoo) is a world-class establishment and well worth a visit for animal lovers and those...  see full details

Museo Castillo Serralles © Mtmelendez

Museo Castillo Serralles

Perched above the city of Ponce on El Vigia Hill is the restored residence of the Serralles rum-producing family. The multilevel Spanish-revival hacienda, designed by Pedro de Castro and built in 1930, is a beautiful example of the island's post-World War I architecture. The house...  see full details

Museum of Puerto Rico Music © Roca Ruiz

Museum of Puerto Rico Music

The Museo de la Música Puertorriqueña is dedicated to documenting the rich tapestry of the island's music history and pays tribute to Puerto Rican musicians. The museum explains the significance of the romantic danza music style, and the African-inspired popular forms of bomba and plenza....  see full details

Ponce Art Museum © Oquendo

Ponce Art Museum

The Museo de Arte de Ponce contains one of the largest art collections in the Caribbean, housed in a building designed by Edward Durrell Stone, who designed the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The impressive building is comprised of seven interconnected hexagons...  see full details

San German © Oquendo

San Germán

A historic town with a colourful past, San Germán was the second city founded in Puerto Rico by the Spanish. Its mountainous location made it an ideal escape for artists, poets, and revolutionaries, and present-day San Germán still carries that lively spirit. It...  see full details