In the 80s, my dad and his friends discovered Isabela, Puerto Rico and fell in love with the area’s great waves and beautiful uncrowded beaches. Over the years, they returned time and time again to this little slice of paradise. Though the beaches of Isabela and nearby Aguadilla have become more well known over the years, they remain one of the island’s best kept secrets.
I have been going to Isabela for as long as I can remember. But for the past 3 years I’ve either been working or in school and have had to miss out on my favorite family vacation. This year, however, the stars aligned and I made my much-anticipated return to this enchanting island.
A Hassle-Free Destination
If you’re coming from the East Coast, the trip to Isabela is quick, easy, and nearly hassle-free. We leave from Newark Airport and fly directly into Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla. Then we rent a car and drive about 10 minutes to Shacks Beach, our favorite place to stay in Isabela.
Our Favorite Place to Stay
Shacks is our favorite place to stay because it’s an absolutely gorgeous beach and on any given day you’ll find, at most, a handful of people on it. Contrary to its name, there are some first-rate houses for rent and a charming boutique resort on this beach. This year, we stayed oceanfront at Casa Bonita and it truly lived up to its name.
The Beaches of Isabela and Aguadilla
Whether you’re a surfer or a sunbather, the beaches of Isabela and Aguadilla have something for everyone. At Playa Crash Boat, hang with the friendly pelicans, snorkel, and jump off the pier. On the way to famous surf spot Wilderness, stop by the ruins for the perfect photo op. Then watch (or join!) seriously skilled surfers ride world-class waves. At Shacks Beach, discover underwater caves and coral reefs and enjoy horseback riding on the beach. On windy days, watch the kitesurfers zip through the surf and fly through the air. Local favorite Jobos is a busier scene with multiple restaurants to choose from and a powerful blowhole. Middles Beach has a long, walkable beach and tide pools that are fun for the whole family. Visit them all and find out which you like best!
Once you’ve hit all the beaches listed above, just drive around and you’ll stumble upon more tranquil, sandy beaches. Many of them won’t have a soul on them! We discovered the beaches below by doing just that. After all, every vacation needs a little adventure!
When it’s time for sunset, make sure you’re beachfront as you won’t want to miss it. And if it rains, don’t fret because there just may be a rainbow!
After all of that beach time, you may want a change of scenery. If so, do a day trip to colorful Old San Juan, the Camuy caverns, or the Gozalandia Waterfalls in the rainforest. But if you don’t feel like leaving the blissful beaches of Isabela and Aguadilla, I certainly won’t blame you!