Continuing to explore Puerto Rico, I made a quick trip to Ponce in the southern coast of Puerto Rico as well as a stop to see the waterfalls at Gozalandia in San Sebastian. Both were good side trips during my recent stay in Aguadilla but neither were planned trips.
I usually do a bit of research about where I’m going but these trips were both last minute decisions based on recommendations from friends. As a result, I didn’t do much research and wasn’t sure what to find. I was wrong in expecting more of Old San Juan – but I found something a bit different and equally interesting.
Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second largest city after San Juan with a rich history and compact town center. I started off at La Gaucha, the local boardwalk along the bay. This was interesting with some great views and I was fortunate to catch the tail end of a bicycle race when I arrived. I spent about an hour just walking around, climbing the tower for great views, and walking around the beach a bit.
Next was a quick drive to the center of town and the Plaza Las Delicias and surrounding area. A quick walk around the plaza got me a good taste for the area and from there you can quickly catch a glimpse of the Casa Armstrong Poventud, and the Catedral de la Guadalupe.
The main attraction here, however, is the Parque de Bombas – the old fire station which is now a museum.
A quick ride from the center of town and up the hill and you’re at Castillo Sorralles and La Cruceta del Vigia – directly across each other. A bit further away is the Hacienda Buena Vista – an old coffee plantation turned into a museum. Unfortunately, my lack of research meant that all I could do was have a cup of coffee and see some of the buildings as tours are by appointment.
While I enjoyed my day, it reminded me that last minute unplanned, and not researched visits don’t always work out. This one was not bad, but I have a feeling I need to go back to Ponce and schedule a tour of the Hacienda Buena Vista.
Leaving Ponce, I headed up to San Sebastian and the waterfalls at Gozalandia. The road there was narrow and windy – and in one case so steep that when I got to the top of the turn, I couldn’t see the road because the hood of the car was in the way! Gozalandia is two waterfalls with swimming holes. The larger of the falls (to the left of the trail) is prettier (in my opinion) and had a good crowd with many enjoying a swim in the swim hole (35 foot deep!) and some diving from the rocks. The smaller (to the right) had a swing rope from which people were jumping as well as a nice swim hole.
There is a restaurant and bar back near the parking area that serves good food and drinks. I enjoyed a watermelon mojito (my one time not having a traditional – or “regular” as they call them in Puerto Rico) and it was delicious and refreshing.