La Parguera, a Little Jewel on the SW Coast
As mentioned in my last post, we made a quick dash through La Parguera while checking out the area around Guánica. La Parguera is most famous for its bioluminescent bays, followed by its seafood. Our plans precluded sticking around until after sunset so we gathered contact info for later.
La Parguera is actually a sector of Lajas and falls within it’s jurisdiction (Fixed/thanx Sdog). It even has its own police station and Post Office. The bay is part of the La Parguera Nature Reserve established in 1979.
We were there on a Saturday afternoon and it was pretty busy. It is as popular with the locals and San Juan as it is with tourists.
From a Google Maps satellite view, you can see how built-up La Parguera has become. The main road through town (Hwy 304) takes you down past the waterfront. On the bay side, there is a small Plaza with a formal public arcade/promenade next to it. From the arcade there is access to several shuttle boat and tour services.
Parking is always a problem.. we ended up parking about a block up from the Plaza. No big deal. After making our way down to the Plaza, we proceeded to check out the arcade area and boat launch pier. About half the kiosk sized shops were open, though some don’t open until near sunset. There were food, drink and tourist shops of all kinds. It had an almost carnival like vibe. There were sail-like cloth panels to shield you from the sun. The sails were a little sun bleached and weather-worn, but still did the trick. OH! There were also benches so you could take a break. I wish more places did that.
I also checked out a couple of the shuttle boat services.
These are run by local guys in small boats, but there were several so you could shop around. They all looked like they had been doing this for quite some time. I did not see folks wearing life-vests.. I guess they did not want to risk spilling their drinks. I did not go down and specifically check to see if they had them… I’ll assume they do for now.
Still have to do the Bioluminescent Bay thing.
I wanted to try out something local so we stopped at Los Balcones across the street from the Plaza. It was a flight of stairs to the top where you had the choice of sitting inside or outside on the balcony. We chose the balcony, though it was pretty windy.
It was a real effort to hang onto your napkins.
The place was very clean and neat. From the balcony, you have a very good view of the Plaza below and some of the arcade and waterfront shops. It is hard to see the shoreline for all the tall buildings. It was still a nice place to take in the view and relax a little.
We promptly ordered beers (cervezas) and they were promptly delivered.. ICE cold.
Not frozen, but still had ice on the outside of the bottle. They were a welcome relief from the heat. After looking over their generous menu, we settled on a of couple appetizers. We ordered the deep fried mozzarella sticks (always a safe bet) and the coconut shrimp. Our waiter Manny was very polite and retuned with our order promptly. I was most impressed. The kind of service you usually get stateside, but not so much in PR. With the beers, the tab came to $20. Not too bad. The 6 shrimp were absolutely delicious! There was Marinara sauce for the cheese sticks and a very light, tasty sweet sauce for the shrimp.
Los Balcones has a nice family type, upscale feel to it. I would recommend it to anyone.
Five Skulls for the visit to La Parguera & Los Balcones.. ARRG!
Since we were heading uphill to the car from there, we went out the back. Right there next to the road was a beautiful Quenepa tree full of fruit. As mentioned in my last post, Quenepas can be found all over PR and are quite a delicacy in their own right.
We drove Hwy 304 to Hwy 116 so we could finish the rest of the story regarding Guánica. Since I had no room to post the cool boat shaped house last time, here it is.
There is also the 24.7 acre Magueyes Island not far off shore where there used to be a zoo. It is the home of a large iguana population as well as the base of the Marine Sciences Dept. of the Univ. of PR in Mayagüez.
All things I discovered while researching this story.
We are off to Yabucoa next, for a more intense rundown of the area.
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