We spend a lot of time with family in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and I now have suggestions on where to go for music, food, and beautiful beaches!
Beach Time at Crash Boat Beach:
This is our favorite beach to visit in the world! It is quiet, clean, and beautiful, with a few locals and sporadic cruise ship day guests. Crash Boat Beach was hit hard by Hurricane Maria and when we went to visit right after the terrible storm, we were shocked by how much debris and how little sand remained. Another year has passed and we have visited many times since, and Crash Boat se levanta! The beach has been beautifully restored and is open for business! Did you know? Crash Boat Beach got its name because Remy Base kept PT Boats for transporting military officials and one of them crashed and sank. You can find locals selling pinchos de pollo, Medalla, handmade jewelry, and soaking up the healing, warm waters with the view of Desecheo Island floating in the clear water. If you would like some activity, there is an ample array of jet skis, paddle boards, snorkeling, and scuba options.
Music and Salsa Dancing:
This is something we aim to learn more about every time we visit. Once you leave San Juan, the music scene is quite different from that of a busy city, and being New Yorkers, we like our live music every night. The best way to learn what is happening is to ask the locals. We have so many family members who live in town that we get a lot of suggestions of new venues to check out. We have met local musicians and bands and find that keeping in touch with them directly is the best way to follow the scene - The venues do not usually have much content on the internet and are not always able to keep up with a change in plans. The internet and power is stable but still spotty, and as I learned, an unexpected rainstorm can cancel your performance 30 minutes before showtime if the venue is outside in the plaza. At night, we find ourselves driving along the strip of bars by Playa Jobo, where it is best to roll down your windows and drive towards the music that you like. Tsunami Restaurant has salsa dancing on Wednesday nights, the Marriott has live music Fridays and Saturdays, and there is a plethora of karaoke and small duo/trio offerings during the week.
Mofongo! This is the local specialty, and I simply cannot get enough of it! Mofongo is made of crushed, seasoned plantains, (garlic, garlic garlic), shaped into a bowl and filled with a stew of fresh fish, pork, or steak. On the rare occasion that I have a drink, I do like to enjoy a refreshing Pina Colada. The fish dishes are as fresh as you can get: Sometimes, we buy fish off the fishermen once they dock on Crash Boat Beach to cook at home. You have to be quick, because there is a line waiting for them to pull in with their catch. Tostones are mashed, fried plantains that have garlic and pique - They are delicious with pinchos, and pretty much any dish. The local food is very rich and we sometimes opt to buy produce from local roadside vendors and make a light dinner using the buttery avocados and ripe mangos we crave in NYC. Rompeolas is one of our regular haunts. This year, we found newly painted murals in the town of Aguadilla by the restaurant, that were in response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. We also found a plaque honoring the construction contributions of my husband’s cousin, to the town of Aguadilla. He was awarded several large government construction and restoration projects that my husband actually helped him work on as a teenager in Puerto Rico.
Things to do:
If you can pull yourself away from the beach, there are so many wonderful activities to explore in the area! A visit to the town of Aguadilla can lead to quaint shops with artisanal crafts and treasures to bring home, while a quick drive out of Gate 5 to the town of Isabela can take you to Tropical Trails. The horseback riding tours take you through an almond forest and along Playa Jobo. There you can also find a lot of local bars and restaurants, including our favorite, Tsunami.
And if you want to hear the sounds of Puerto Rico, the Fleur Seule Latin Big Band will be performing again at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center on Saturday, 2/16 at 11:30pm to honor some of salsa’s greatest Puerto Rican cantantes:
Nos vemos, Borinquén!