The beach town of Isabela Puerto Rico has become a premiere tourist destination on the island for the wide variety of attractions available for many different types of travelers. The area encompasses a wide variety of terrains, including coastal flats, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, cliffs, and caves, making it an ideal place for any type of adventure. Also known as the “Garden of the Northwest” for the kaleidoscope of wild tropical flowers that grow in the region, the area is considered one of the most beautiful places on the island.
Founded on May 21, 1819, the town was named to honor Queen Isabel of Spain. The area celebrates a unique indigenous culture and traditions that have been passed down through generations. Their pride in their history can be seen in a large statue of Taíno chief Mabodamaca carved into the mountainside, placed there to showcase the courage and spirit of the people. Legend says Mabodomaca leaped to his death rather than be captured during the Indigenous Rebellion of 1511.
The entertainment hub of Isabela is the town plaza, which contains a beautiful park with a large bandshell, pools, and fountains. The plaza is where the region’s famous Gastronomic Festival is held, along with other popular festivals throughout the year. Each June, the town holds its patron saint festival, the Fiestas Patronales de San Antonio de Padua, featuring parades, rides, games, live entertainment, artisans, and local foods. Other notable festivals include a Textile Festival and a Weave Festival in May and a Muscle Cars Auto Show and an International Tango Festival in August.
Isabela Puerto Rico is well-known for year-round surfing for those at all levels of surfing experience. The world-class surfing conditions has led to the town hosting some Rip Curl Pro competitions and two World Cup Surfing Championships. Middles Beach, where powerful currents and offshore wave breaks combine for ideal surfing conditions, is home to a very popular annual surfing competition.
Isabela’s beaches are also accommodating to swimmers and snorkelers. One of the most popular beaches is Jobos beach, with swimming, snorkeling, and surfing areas along with restaurants and bars for relaxing with the locals. Shacks beach is favored for snorkeling, surfing, and diving, while Montones beach is good for families due to a shallow pool for swimming safely.
Visitors to Isabela will also want to visit the Guajataca State Forest, a pristine nature reserve containing 156 types of trees and 45 species of birds. With 25 miles of trails to explore, an observation tower, and a beautiful natural cave filled with limestone rock formations, this forest offers a wide range of adventures. The forest system allows camping and provides parking, fresh water, and bathrooms.
The state forest also contains Guajataca Lake, which is great for kayak and paddleboard activities, and the Guajataca Tunnel. The tunnel was used by the railroad in the early 1900s to transport sugar crops between Isabela and the town of Quebradillas. Today, the tunnel is a beautiful historic path leading to some of the best beach scenery on the island.
The accommodations available in Isabela range from rustic to luxurious. Some of the most popular are the beachfront cabins of Villas del Mar Hau on Montones beach. There is also the Villa Montaña Beach Resort, which offers one- to three-bedroom villas with private patio terraces and jacuzzis. For the height of luxury, a stay in Royal Isabela’s cliff-side private villas with their private pools will provide an experience that will never be forgotten.