Along the North Coast

Coordinates: 18°27′32″N66°16′04″O to 18°30′47″N67°04′12″O

Each summer, our nieces traveled from New Jersey to Puerto Rico and stayed during the months of July and August. Making those weeks an unforgettable experience was the action plan. Not only so that they enjoyed their stay, but also so that they learn more about the island where they were born. Here are some of the activities that we did along the North Coast.

  Volunteers of the Leatherback Sea Turtle Project (Proyecto Tinglar) monitor the turtles in the Dorado area. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Volunteers of the Leatherback Sea Turtle Project (Proyecto Tinglar) monitor the turtles in the Dorado area. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Sea Turtles

One Wednesday during the Summer, we arrived at dawn at El Único Beach, located in the Highway #165 of Dorado. There, we approached the volunteers of the Leatherback Sea Turtle Project, who had their sleeves already rolled up and were revising the turtles’ nests. To see the small sea turtles coming out of their shells to reach the sea was a unique experience, not only for the adults, but also for the children. The group of volunteers taught the visitors how these nests can be protected and identified which animals are the neonatal sea turtles’ predators, such as dogs and iguanas. Finally, to see the tiny sea turtles in their race to reach the sea was liberating and a great relief. At least they passed that first stage of danger in land, but, at sea, they would be exposed to many other marine predators. Nevertheless, we wished they reach the sea alive, so that they make their life in the ocean and return to the same beach to make their nests.

  Observe them and return them to the sea. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Observe them and return them to the sea. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The Pocitas

Since we have a beach house in Vega Baja, finding things to do the days we were in that area wasn’t hard. The pocitas are well-known to locals from El Lido sector. Three generations of my family have enjoyed that area and it has been the place where our babies have experienced saltwater, marine life, and sea murmurs for the first time. The setting is ideal for the little ones because the rocks form a shallow pool where a baby can comfortably sit without any risk. Older kids can also enjoy marine life by walking along the rocks.

  The beach across from our house is perfect for bodyboarding. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The beach across from our house is perfect for bodyboarding. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Bodyboarding

Another place of recreation to those who live in this area is right across from our house. There, the kids and teens can practice bodyboarding. Before entering the water, one must first use swim shoes because there are many rocks and sea urchins at the bottom. The activity is perfect for those days we decided to stay in the area. The girls got out of the water with wrinkled hands and lips; little was left for them to grow fish scales.

  La pasa is the place between the two boulders. Photo: Pamy Rojas

La pasa is the place between the two boulders. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The Boulder Beach

In the Vega Baja area, there is also a perfect beach. The Puerto Nuevo public beach is characterized by two enormous boulders that protect it by forming a calm bay. We did paddleboarding from the shore near our house to the Puerto Nuevo beach. We also brought a raft and the group of kids spent all day jumping from it to the water. The boulders are another attraction in the summer. Between the two enormous rocks there is a space called la pasa. To get to this place, one must walk across the first boulder until you reach the spot where both rocks are joined. It’s essential to bring swim shoes, as the boulders have sharp rocks and to go up and down to the pasa, you must be careful with the sea urchins. None of this was an obstacle and the girls wanted to come back to this place over and over during the summer. And of course, they had an amazing time!

  We took out our new inflatable paddle board (iSUP). It is manufactured by  Tower Paddle Boards , an online-only storefront that offers high quality boards direct to the buyer. We love the fact that they are almost indestructible and feel solid in the water much like a regular board. Foto: Arianna Rojas-Rivera.

We took out our new inflatable paddle board (iSUP). It is manufactured by Tower Paddle Boards, an online-only storefront that offers high quality boards direct to the buyer. We love the fact that they are almost indestructible and feel solid in the water much like a regular board. Foto: Arianna Rojas-Rivera.

Exotic Animals

One day, we decided to leave Vega Baja Beach and headed towards Arecibo. In the Cambalache Forest, there’s a center of the Department of Natural Resources, where they keep the exotic animals seized in Puerto Rico until, in some cases, they can be returned to their place of origin. The place is open to visitors not only so that they can observe the different exotic species, but also to educate the public on the problems these types of animals cause to the flora and fauna of the country. The girls were allowed to touch some of the animals; however, it was important to wash their hands after doing so.

  Turtles, snakes, and monkeys are some of the animals you can see there. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Turtles, snakes, and monkeys are some of the animals you can see there. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Vaca Negra Cheeses

Another outing day took us to a town called Hatillo. We had planned with anticipation to go on a tour of Vaca Negra (which means black cow in Spanish) Cheeses. The tour consisted of a talk on the cheese-making process; we then sampled the different types of products (wine was given to adults and soft-drinks to the children). Afterwards, we confectioned our own cheese with the spices we chose. The experience was simply fascinating, not only because of the courteous manner of the owner, Wanda, but also because we learned about the cheese-making process and received our cheeses by mail after several months.

  They made their own cheese with the spices they chose. Photo: Pamy Rojas

They made their own cheese with the spices they chose. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Horseback along the Beach

Another day we went to Isabela to go on a horseback ride; for convenience it is advisable to wear long pants and tennis shoes. We chose the afternoon tour to watch the sunset. The tour lasted two hours: it began at the stables and then we crossed a stretch of the Villa Montaña Inn, passed a farm, and arrived at the beach. The path is totally safe and the horses are very friendly. You can tell that they are well-kept and loved. Once we arrived at the beach, we got off the horses to appreciate the sunset and then head back to the stables.

The days along the North Coast were a success. The girls learned about turtle conservation, the handling of exotic species, and even cooking. Who knows if they end up becoming a biologist, veterinarian or cook.

  In our horseback riding tour, we reached Survival Beach. Photo: Javier Vélez

In our horseback riding tour, we reached Survival Beach. Photo: Javier Vélez


Read more about this municipality in the section of Vega Baja.


Conscious Travel Practices:

1. Learn about turtles and invasive species.

2. Take a look at the marine species and return them to the sea.

3. Practice low impact water sports such as paddleboarding.

4. Promote local economy by visiting Quesos Vaca Negra business. 

5. Enjoy natural beauty without leaving trash behind. 


Sights:

Proyecto Tinglar, Dorado

Quesos Vaca Negra, Hatillo

Tropical Trail Rides, Isabela