Blessed with one of the south coast’s most flawless natural harbours, GUÁNICA is a once-prosperous sugar town with a typically torpid plaza and a couple of low-key sights. The real reason so many people flock here is the adjacent Bosque Estatal de Guánica, a unique dry forest of twisted trees and stumpy cacti, with well-maintained hiking trails winding down to a glorious coastline of sparkling beaches and sprawling mangroves. The coast is also accessible by road, its highlight the coral- and mangrove-smothered Guilligan’s Island just offshore, where you can float in crystalline waters rich with fish and crabs. With the Central Cordillera draining moisture from the trade winds, this area has the lowest annual rainfall on the island, meaning you are virtually guaranteed hot, sunny days.
Guánica is 9km southwest of Yauco on PR-116: you’ll pass the turning to the forest first (PR-334), before reaching the road to the beaches (PR-333), which effectively bypasses the town. The main road to the centre is PR-332, at the next junction. Needless to say, you need a car to get the most out of the area, as things are extremely spread out.