Why Manatí Is the Best Puerto Rican Town You’ve Never Heard Of

Find gorgeous beaches and great food just 45 minutes from San Juan

Deserted beach with golden sand, bright blue water and palm trees in Manati Puerto Rico

If you’re travelling to Puerto Rico on a cruise, your visit will probably begin and end in San Juan. But if you have a little more time to explore Puerto Rico, it’s worth making the 45-minute drive west to Manatí. Here’s where to go in this off-the-beaten path coastal town.

Frutos del Guacabo for restaurant-worthy produce

Group of people tasting fresh herbs grown at Frutos del Guacabo in Manati Puerto Rico

Farm-to-table enthusiasts should book a tour of Frutos del Guacabo, a working farm where chickens roam and goats nap in a limestone cave, all a short drive from downtown. The farm supplies everything from edible flowers and micro-greens to tomatoes, peppers and goat cheese to restaurants in San Juan. Taste everything that’s offered and even if you can’t get a tour, stop by the tiny market for hot sauce made with homemade pineapple vinegar.

Playa Mar Chiquita for some beach time

Palm tree, sand, water and rock formation at Playa Mar Chiquita in Manati Puerto Rico

Bring sunscreen and a camera to Playa Mar Chiquita, a picturesque cove that’s protected from crashing waves by a rocky wall. In the summer, the water is clear enough for snorkelling and you can climb on the rocks; be wary in winter as storms can make it slippery and dangerous.

Four palm trees along the sand at Playa Los Tubos in Manati Puerto Rico

To do as the locals do, visit Playa Los Tubos and lie out on its stretch of golden sand. Even the drive there is gorgeous, with palm fronds making a green tunnel over the road. Currents make it unsuitable for swimming, but you can sometimes glimpse petroglyphs at low tide.

Hacienda La Esperanza for a taste of nature

Group of people walking through knee-high grass in field at former sugar estate Hacienda La Esperanza in Manati Puerto Rico

What was once a profitable sugar estate is now Hacienda La Esperanza, a nature reserve rich in flora and fauna. Explore its more than 2,000 acres of beach, wetland and forest, along with the restored hacienda building, on a tour with Para La Naturaleza, and learn about how slavery fuelled the island’s industries for centuries.

Where to stay in Manatí

Facade of new Hyatt Place Manati hotel in Manati Puerto Rico

Hyatt Place Manatí made waves when it opened in 2014, bringing a sleek, urban vibe to the edge of town. It’s just off the highway from San Juan, the rooms have space to sit and relax, and, best of all, CAA Members can save up to 10 per cent on their stay.

Get to know the island of Puerto Rico

Read about how we fell in love with Puerto Rico in the winter 2019 issue of CAA Magazine.

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Image credit: Alexis Antonio/Unsplash, courtesy of Frutos del Guacabo, George Oze/Alamy, DaPaCon/Alamy, courtesy of Hacienda La Esperanza and courtesy of Hyatt Place Manatí

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