Visit an adventure park, beaches and centuries-old caves at this historic port town on the northern shores of Puerto Rico Island.
Enjoy a blend of colonial heritage, prehistoric landmarks and tropical beaches in Arecibo. Settled by Spanish immigrants in 1556, Arecibo is Puerto Rico’s third-oldest colonial town. It sits on land once occupied by the Taíno tribespeople and takes its name from their chief, Jamaica Arecibo. The town played an important part in the Spanish defense of Puerto Rico when it thwarted a raid by British sailors in 1702.
The center of Arecibo attractions can be covered in an afternoon. The town revolves around tree-shaded Plaza de Recreo. Note the bandstand and the star-shaped mosaic floor pattern, which surrounds a central obelisk. Admire the neoclassical and Renaissance decorations of the late18th-century San Felipe Cathedral. Spot well-preserved colonial buildings such as Arecibo City Hall and Edificio Oliver.
Breathe in fresh ocean air while walking on Paseo Victor Rojas, a waterfront promenade. Jump in a taxi and cross the Arecibo River to Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park at Punta Morrillos. Inside the Arecibo Lighthouse is a small museum with maritime artifacts and objects rescued from shipwrecks. Nearby El Muelle Beach and Balneario Morrillos offer opportunities to swim and try watersports.
Travel east along the coast for about 6 miles (10 kilometers) to gaze up at the 413-foot-tall (126-meter) Birth of the New World statue by Zurab Tsereteli, depicting Christopher Columbus navigating the Atlantic Ocean. The family-friendly TerraVista Parkland amusement park has a beachside village, nature trails, restaurants and a zip-line course. Follow a boardwalk to Cueva del Indio, caves decorated with petroglyphs created by the Taíno people.
Find other interesting attractions inland from the town center. Go stargazing at Arecibo Observatory, hike to impressive limestone caves in Camuy River Cave Park and spot colorful birds in Cambalache State Forest.
Arecibo is a 1-hour drive west of San Juan. Getting around Puerto Rico Island is easiest via rented car; major agencies have offices located across the island. Continue your vacation at beach towns such as Luquillo and the celebrated surfer hangout of Rincón.