Piñones – Loíza, Puerto Rico - Atlas Obscura

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Loíza, Puerto Rico

Archaeological sites and great food inside the island's largest mangrove forest. 


A coastal area just a few minutes from San Juan, Piñones is popular for its scenic beaches, idyllic boardwalk, and dozens of food kiosks, where families and friends gather to do chinchorreo: jumping from one to another, enjoying mofongo, alcapurrias, and tostones as well as music and dancing.

But of equal note is what residents of the area, which has long been eyed by eager developers, have managed to protect: Puerto Rico’s largest mangrove forest and other landscapes that range from sand dunes to lagoons and are home to hawksbill turtles and other endangered or threatened species.

A natural paradise, Piñones has also long been called home by human inhabitants. The island’s Indigenous population has lived here since time immemorial and, since the Spanish brought Africans to labor on local sugarcane plantations, many residents are descended from people brought to the area by slavery. Today, this Afro-Puerto Rican heritage is present in the food, music, and dance of Puerto Rico and Piñones, and the area is characterized by a large number of archaeological sites that document this history (although they are not currently run as tourist sites).

Know Before You Go

If you’re visiting during the weekends, make sure to reach the neighborhood before midday, so you can avoid heavy traffic and find a parking spot. 

The Piñones Trail (boardwalk) is a good way to appreciate the natural landscape. It can be walked, or La Corporación Piñones Se Integra offers bike rentals as well as kayak rentals and regular music workshops and cultural activities.

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