What to do and see in Ponce, Puerto Rico: The Best Places and Tips

November 10, 2017 Jana Sager

Discover the best top things to do in Ponce, Puerto Rico including Museo de Arte de Ponce, Isla de Caja de Muertos, El Museo Castillo Serralles, Hacienda Buena Vista, Parque de Bombas, La Guancha, Cathedral of our Lady of Guadaloupe, Plaza of Delights (Plaza de las Delicias), Museum of the History of Ponce, Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center.
Restaurants in Ponce

1. Museo de Arte de Ponce

2325 Ave. Las Americas, Ponce 00717, Puerto Rico +1 787-840-1510
Excellent
83%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 493 reviews

Museo de Arte de Ponce

Its internationally renowned collection comprises more than 5,000 works of art from various cultures, creating a unique dialogue between the Old and New Worlds.

Reviewed By Tuesflight11 - Boston, Massachusetts

Husband and I enjoyed our visit here. Lots of quality paintings, many with religious theme. I found the museum staff very friendly and helpful. The facility is very nice, air conditioned and there is free parking. I especially loved a small painting of a Japanese Geisha being readied for her work as I lived in Japan for four years.
Across from the museum is a lovely archway - entrance to a University.
We ate at Wendy's on the same road/side of museum's location.
Also, we received a senior discount!

2. Isla de Caja de Muertos

Street #12 Paseo de los Caballeros Final | off the coast of Ponce, Ponce 00716, Puerto Rico
Excellent
84%
Good
11%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 471 reviews

Isla de Caja de Muertos

Isla Caja de Muertos is an island located 8 miles off the coast, south of Ponce. It is a small island, just about 1.5 miles long and about a half-mile wide at its widest point. It is a nature reserve, with beautiful Beaches, hiking trails, a light house and a cave. Enjoy a day in paradaise! Island Venture takes you to Caja de Muertos island aboard a comfortable ship equipped with refreshments and other amenities that will be available throughout your whole trip and stay.

Reviewed By 10-FT-STOP - Flowery Branch, Georgia

Traveling the highway from Salinas to Ponce along the south coast of Puerto Rico affords views of Caja de Muertos (aka Coffin Island, also Dead Man's Chest) which is an island lying eight miles offshore. It belongs to the municipality of Ponce and reportedly received its name because, from a distance, it resembles a person lying face-up in mortal repose with hands folded across its chest.
Caja de Muertos is cactus-covered, dry island designated as a protected nature preserve. While there are no permanent residents, the Department of Natural Resources maintains a small staff and security contingent.
An automated light house sits atop a tall hill on one end of the island. Five Beaches dot its coast. Multiple hiking trails that lead to the faro and to other places of interest are marked by signs. A map is also available online. It is advisable to wear durable shoes when hiking especially when visiting the light house. It is also advised to take the light house trail in the morning before the temperature rises too high. Caja de Muertos gets very hot!
Travel to the island is by ferry out of La Guancha or by private boat. The ferry runs only once on certain days which keeps the number of visitors to a minimum. Most of the people spend the day at Playa Pelicano which is a short walk from the ferry dock and has received the designation as a blue flag beach. There are many gazebos with picnic tables adjacent to this playa.
Caja de Muertos and the Beaches are very picturesque. A rugged windward shore is littered with drift wood from a wild Caribbean battering its coastline. Access to this area is restricted by a fence with posted signs. Beaches on the lee are serene. Warm, clear water is what attracts the visitors here. Tall hills accent both ends of the island. The hill towering over Playa Pelicano has a cave visible at its top, but, access to it is also restricted. From the lee side of the island, the south coast of Puerto Rico with its cloud-topped Mountains dominates the horizon.
Everything that you bring to Caja must be taken back with you at the end of the day. Be sure to pack a trash bag so you can deposit it in a dumpster upon return to La Guancha. It is obvious that people adhere to this mandate; the island is kept very clean.
Plan a trip to Caja de Muertos. You won't be disappointed.

3. El Museo Castillo Serralles

17 Calle El Vigia, Ponce 00730-2926, Puerto Rico +1 787-259-1774
Excellent
67%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 409 reviews

El Museo Castillo Serralles

Evoking the era of the sugar barons of Puerto Rico, this beautiful Spanish Revival mansion was built in 1930 for the Serrallés family, owners of the Don Q rum distillery.

Reviewed By Louise M - Castle Rock, Colorado

What a gorgeous home, and fantastic location! We toured the grounds first, enjoying the Gardens and water features, then the home. Wow! The home was more of a mansion than a castle, but it was interesting learning about the history of the family and how they created the Don Q. rum brand. The swimming pool has one of the best views of any pool! At the end we got to taste a few of the Don Q. rums in the cafe/bar.

4. Hacienda Buena Vista

8 Carr 123, Ponce 00728-2759, Puerto Rico +1 787-722-5882
Excellent
69%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 189 reviews

Hacienda Buena Vista

Come up to the Mountains and follow the trail to the waterfall that gave Hacienda Buena Vista its name. What used to be an important coffee plantation was also the scenario of a unique relationship between land, water and slavery. Today, at the heart of the former hacienda is a carefully restored historical site containing structures more than a century old and a hydraulic turbine that's the only one of its kind. Completely refurbished, the turbine is still powered by the water of Río Canas and serves as the main engine for other machines of the time. Spaces are limited, please reserve in advance online or by phone. More dates are available for groups by request.

Reviewed By Christopher F - McMurdo Station Antarctica

this must be booked in advance and offers a view of a historical coffee plantation. tour last about 90 minutes. it starts with a general overview, heads into the forest to identify the farm plants and see the waterfall and then heads into the farm system where they operate the mills and other equipment. very worthwhile experience.

5. Parque de Bombas

Plaza de Las Delicias, Ponce, Puerto Rico +1 787-284-4141
Excellent
49%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
17%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 456 reviews

Parque de Bombas

This loudly-colored building in black, red, green and yellow, was built for a volunteer fire-fighter's brigade.

Reviewed By Aury D - San Juan, Puerto Rico

My friends and I visited Ponce on August 14, 2017. As part of our hanging around Plaza Las Delicias, we stoped at Parque de Bombas. This is the town's first fire station built in 1883.  It's a popular tourist attraction and free to visit.  The entire firehouse will take less than a half hour to get through.
It is a historic firehouse building. It is one of Puerto Rico's most notable buildings, with some considering it "by far the most easily recognized landmark in the Island." It is located at the Plaza Las Delicias town square, directly behind the Ponce Cathedral. The building housed the city's main fire station for many years, and it is now a museum. Its name comes from the mobile hand-pumped fire fighting units the building once housed. It has been heralded both for its historical and architectural roles in Puerto Rican society. It was Puerto Rico's first ever fire station. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 12, 1984.M

6. La Guancha

Plaza Del Monte, Ponce 00716-4840, Puerto Rico +1 787-284-4141
Excellent
47%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
4%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 582 reviews

La Guancha

Ponce's boardwalk and beach area isn't so popular for swimming, but the people-watching and socializing are great.

Reviewed By Andres72423 - Bridgeport, Connecticut

We always stop at La Guancha when in PR. What a nice boardwalk. You are able to take a nice stroll and stop at any one of the various restaurants/bars along the way. The scenery is beautiful! Plenty of parking for you to enjoy and if you like you can even visit the beach which is close by. You cannot go to Puerto Rico and not visit La Guancha.

7. Cathedral of our Lady of Guadaloupe

Calle Concordia/Calle Union, Ponce, Puerto Rico +1 787-842-0134
Excellent
57%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 106 reviews

Cathedral of our Lady of Guadaloupe

This elegant 17th-century Cathedral rises majestically in the midst of Ponce.

Reviewed By Ellie L

It's beautiful. I have seen so many weddings and sweet 15 celebrations coming in and out of this church. It's in the center of the town.

8. Plaza of Delights (Plaza de las Delicias)

Ponce, Puerto Rico
Excellent
40%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 146 reviews

Plaza of Delights (Plaza de las Delicias)

Ponce’s main square has enough to keep you busy, from historical sites to boutiques.

Reviewed By Felix B

Ponce is a beautiful old city with plenty of history and sites to see. We started in the central plaza which is anchored by the Catholic Cathedral and the City Hall building which are both very common for towns in Puerto Rico. Ponce, however has a third historic structure which sets it apart from other Puerto Rican towns. It is the Parque de Bombas (or fire station) which was built in 1882 and remains today as a museum which gives you insight into the way fire rescue was done back then. The plaza itself is absolutely gorgeous with its beautiful Fountain flanked by four lions (they symbol of the city) as is the church, the fire station and the many historic buildings in the city. From there we went over to the seaside boardwalk known as "La Guancha." I've heard that the boardwalk is best visited in the evening where music and festivities bring it to life. We went during the day and had an opportunity to feed large gatherings of Tarpon fish (or as we called them in Puerto Rico "sábalos"). The fish and the pelicans gave us a joyful time at the boardwalk. There is much more to see in Ponce, but unfortunately, we were there on Memorial Day and many of the other attractions were not open. Plan your trip carefully and call ahead to make sure your attractions are open.

9. Museum of the History of Ponce

51-53 Calle Isabel, Ponce 00730-3721, Puerto Rico +1 787-844-7071
Excellent
53%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 82 reviews

Museum of the History of Ponce

Situated in a beautiful and architecturally significant building, this museum traces the city's history from pre-Columbian times to the present.

Reviewed By Talia Z

Displays were primarily in Spanish, but there were a few English bits and there were quite a few rooms to walk through. Free admission, open everyday (I believe). Most Ponce museums are closed on Tuesday, but this one isn't. Interesting, and worth a visit, but small children may get bored easily.

10. Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

Rte. 503, Ponce, Puerto Rico +1 787-840-2255
Excellent
45%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
3%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 154 reviews

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

This historical site features a 1,500-year old Taino village, much of which remains intact, and skeletons dating back to A.D. 700.

Reviewed By nes512 - New York City, New York

The museum is very informative and I learned somethings about the tainos and the pre-tainos on the island before them, the park is a nice walk and you get to see the ball court and other stone structures they built, the only thing is that the structures did not have any information signs on them as too read what each structure was and there was only one bohio(hut) up at the time the other one was not complete. Overall it doesn't take long to see everything and the area is nice as well with foilage and a hill further down in the site, almost makes you wonder how it would have looked back in the days of the tainos.

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