While in Mayaguez, Don’t Miss the Bioluminescent Bay in Nearby Lajas

Mayaguez is the third largest city in Puerto Rico, considered the “capital” and cultural center of the west coast region.  If you’re visiting Puerto Rico you probably considered staying in San Juan, but if you’d like a more mellow city and wish to experience the more relaxed side of the island, Mayaguez is a great central point to do so.  From Mayaguez, you can go beach hopping and visit a nice variety of interesting attractions, among them the bioluminescent bays and mangrove keys of La Parguera, Gozalandia waterfalls, lighthouses, historic landmarks, caves, forests, and more.

Mayaguez has European charm, with one of the island’s most active and elegant squares.  If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico during the Christmas holidays, Mayaguez boasts the most beautifully decorated and festive square on the island, celebrations take place for over a month.

The city is located right in the center of the west coast of Puerto Rico.  Further below we have included a guide on the best airports to travel to Mayaguez and the west coast with more travel tips.

Travel Guide - Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

🏨 Best Hotels & Resorts in Mayaguez

Tryp by Wyndham - Mayaguez - Best hotels to stay in Puerto RicoMayaguez attracts business travelers, and you’ll find recognized American hotel chains at more affordable rates since the nearest beach is a 30-minute drive to Boqueron Beach.

Top Rated Hotels 

Top Rated Small Inns

Top Tours in Mayaguez

The local tourism office near the square offers free walking tours of the historic district. Visit the office for more information. 

See all tours on the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Main Attractions & Things to Do in Mayaguez

Mayaguez is really a home base to explore the west coast with a car rental.  The only attraction is the elegant historic square with shops, cafes and cultural events held throughout the year.  There are many restaurants in town, and one of the best bakeries in Puerto Rico for daily treats, fresh bread, and great sandwiches.  

A short drive from the center of town you can enjoy the beaches and attractions of Rincon, Cabo Rojo, Gozalandia waterfalls, and historical landmarks of San German.  Don’t miss the bioluminescent bay in Lajas, about a 45-minute drive from Mayaguez.

Pros & Cons of Staying in Mayaguez


Central location to explore nearby towns of Cabo Rojo and Rincon, Lajas.


Heavy traffic during commute time adds 15 -20 minutes in traffic.

Getting Around Mayaguez

You will need a car rental to get around.  The use of taxis will get expensive and not feasible for an enjoyable stay.

Best Things to Do in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Explore the Beaches & Attractions of the West Coast of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Beaches - Mayaguez

While there are no beaches in Mayaguez, just 30 minutes from the historic center of Mayaguez, you have several beautiful beaches to enjoy.  North of Mayaguez, you can explore the beaches of Rincon, which is known worldwide as one of the best surfing destinations in the Caribbean.  The beautiful beaches of Cabo Rojo are south of Mayaguez.  About 45 minutes from Mayaguez, you can spend glorious days exploring the keys of La Parguera, eat dinner at the fishing village, and stay until the skies turn starry dark to swim in the glowing bioluminescent waters.

Are there any beaches in Mayaguez?  Yes, there are, but they are not used for bathing since one of the biggest rivers flows into the Bay of Mayaguez, making the water murky and not the most attractive or safe for swimming.  Along the coast, you will find waterfront restaurants and bars attracting mostly a local crowd, locals fishing from shore, and families parking at the oceanfront park to do skateboarding, get exercise, and watch the sunset.

From Mayaguez, enjoy easy access to several natural attractions, cays, islets, bioluminescent bays, cultural and historical treasures in the nearby beach and mountain towns.  See our guide to the best things to do on the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Admire the City’s Architecture

Architecture lovers will enjoy walking around the blocks surrounding the Plaza de Colon square.

Mayaguez has a tumultuous history, with hundreds of buildings and residences destroyed by San Fermín, a 7.5 earthquake back on October 11, 1918, followed by a tsunami.   The city was rebuilt beautifully and up until the 90s, the city was prosperous with many local businesses housed in historic elegant buildings.  The arrival of big box stores destroyed local businesses resulting in many empty buildings dwindling the life of the city.  In the past decade, the historic district has been going through a nice revival with restored buildings and new businesses bringing back more life to the historic district.  Restored buildings have been turned into museums, restaurants, and offices.

+ Buildings you may wish to see near Plaza de Colon

You may go into the tourism office, they offer pamphlets with maps and information on historical places in Mayaguez.  You may also inquire about walking tours which are free to the public. 

  • El Teatro Yagüez
  • Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria –  see further below on this guide for history and important facts about the cathedral.
  • Casa Alcaldia – The original building was built in 1845, it was destroyed in 1918 by the earthquake, demolished, and reconstructed in 1926, designed by Fidel Sevillano.
  • Antigua sede del Casino de Mayagüez (Headquarters of Mayaguez Casino) – The original building was destroyed as well by the earthquake originally occupied by Casino Español (Spanish Casino).  The design is Spanish Neoclassical by Mayaguez native Luis Perocier. 
  • Casino de Mayagüez – this building dates back to 1874 designed by Francisco Porrata-Doria in the Spanish Renaissance style.
  • Edificio La Gloria – This building belongs to the family that owns La Gloria, one of the oldest shoe stores in Puerto Rico which is still open today.  The building was designed by Mayaguez native José Sabás Honoré.  The first floor was for the store and the upper floor was a residence, the four arches are the only remains of the top floor since it suffered severe damage from the earthquake.
  • Edificio Sucesión Fálagan –  This building dates back to 1850 and it is one of the oldest buildings in Mayaguez designed by Pedro Alcántara.   This building was constructed for Eugenio de Hostos, father of Eugenio María de Hostos, one of the most important personalities in the history of Mayaguez.  In 1861 it was turned into the headquarters of Casino Español (Spanish Casino).
  • Antiguo Convento de las Siervas de María (Hotel Colonial) –  The original building was a convent for Siervas de Maria which also suffered damages by the 1918 earthquake, and was re-constructed by 1933.  The building was a convent until 1960.  After its closure, it was turned into a small inn, first named Hotel Plata, and today Hotel Colonial welcomes residents from around the island and travelers.  Right next to the entry door of the hotel you’ll notice the door to what used to be a chapel, now serving as a guest room.  Sadly the chapel was remodeled instead of being restored to retain its historical charm, however, it is a unique experience to stay in that room.

Just 25 minutes from Mayaguez the town of San German established in 1506, is the second oldest municipality established in Puerto Rico after San Juan, it will not disappoint with its historic architectural treasures, museums, and churches.


Source: Mapa de Mayaguez en Google

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

+ History of Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candelaria Cathedral)

“On July 19, 1760, on behalf of the inhabitants settled on the banks of the Yagüez River, Don Faustino Martínez de Matos asked the Governor of the Island of Puerto Rico, Don Esteban Bravo de Rivero, for authorization to found a town. On July 30, 1760, the decree authorizing the foundation of the “Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria” was issued in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

About a month after the authorization granted by the island’s governor for the foundation of the new town, under the patronage of Our Lady of Candelaria and patronage of San José, the Vicar General of the Bishopric and the city of San Juan gave permission so that the Priest of San Germán moved to Mayagüez to place the first stone and give him his blessing

The first construction lasted almost three years. According to the archives in the city of San Germán, by 1760, the first Catholic church in Mayagüez was built in wood (1763) on land donated by Don Juan de Aponte and Don Juan de Silva. The residents, concerned and eager to comply with the precepts of the Catholic Church (hear mass, confess and receive communion) requested that, during the construction period of the new church, due to the considerable distance from the Parish of San Germán to that of Mayagüez, a chaplain was appointed to live in the new town and celebrate Holy Mass in the Hermitage that already existed on the land of Don Esteban Irizarry.

The parish church in masonry was completed in 1780. In 1830, under the direction of the architect, Don Vicente Piera, planning and construction of the new church with three naves and eight altars began, which was finished in 1836. It also had two octagonal towers, placing the public clock in one and the bell tower in the other.

In 1841, Mayagüez suffered a terrible fire where only 40 of the 700 existing houses were left standing. The church, being made of masonry, was one of the refuges for the homeless. In 1854, lightning struck the right tower, which was rebuilt until 1870 when the building was restored. At that time, the church was made of masonry and was characterized by a simple neoclassical style, two octagonal towers, and interiors richly decorated with paintings and reliefs.

In the month of October 1918, the island of Puerto Rico was shaken by the San Fermín earthquake. In Mayagüez, this phenomenon was followed by a tidal wave. The parish church was one of the most affected buildings. The towers partially disappeared having to be demolished in their entirety using dynamite. After the earthquake, the reconstruction works took two years to begin. For this, it was necessary for Father John Lynch to travel to the United States where he would collect donations in the amount of $65,000 and an additional donation from the Province of Baltimore. With this money, the reconstruction was paid for, which included a new façade design by the architect Luis Perocier and a new building by Luis F. Nieva. This reconstruction which ended in 1920, is the one that lasts until the present.

The different designs presented by Arch. Perocier presented alternatives with and without the towers. The lack of financial resources led to the decision not to build the towers at that time. These would be built at a later time when the economic situation allowed it.

The separation of church and state as a result of the change of sovereignty in 1898, caused the economic responsibility of building their parishes to revert to the parishioners; This, together with the precarious economic situation in which the population found itself, did not make it possible to raise enough money to complete the works.

In 1976, Pope Paul VI, through the bull Qui Arcano Dei, created the diocese of Mayagüez, naming Monsignor Ulises A. Casiano Vargas as its first bishop and raising the rank of Cathedral of the Diocese to the Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de the Candlemas.

As is common knowledge, eighty years after this reconstruction, the work is still unfinished: without its towers. Currently, the third attempt of the Catholic Church to build its long-awaited towers is being pursued, but in addition, the remodeling works intend to make the necessary physical changes to adequately respond to the change from a parish church to a cathedral church. Among these changes are the remodeling of the front façade, the construction of a dome over the High Altar, improvements to the roof of the central nave, and other interior arrangements.

The current works are in charge of the Architect Carlos Juan Ralat and it is expected that they will conclude at the beginning of the year 2002.”

Source: Translated from the official cathedral website

Go Shopping at Mayaguez Mall

Pack light and go shopping at the Mayaguez Mall.  The mall offers a nice variety of shops, both US brands, and locally-owned shops.  The Mayaguez Mall is a great place to dine, there are many restaurants both inside and outside the mall from traditional Puerto Rican food to All-American restaurants such as Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, and more…. Check out their website for store listings and hours.

During holidays you can enjoy live music and artisan events, check here for listings.

Content to Help you Plan your Visit to Mayaguez

Watch a Show at Teatro Yaguez

Teatro Yaguez - Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Teatro Yaguez (Yaguez Theatre), is one of the most beloved landmarks in Mayaguez. Originally constructed in 1909, it was destroyed in 1919 by fire, and rebuilt in 1921.  Teatro Yaguez is owned by the municipality of Mayaguez, the administration led the restoration to its original glory in 1984.  Teatro Yaguez is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  Today the stage and auditorium continue to be used.  Check out upcoming shows here.

Take a Romantic Walk on the Gardens of Tropical Agriculture Research Station

Temporarily Closed –  The Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS ) is beautiful place with gardens for a relaxing, romanitc with great educational value for plant lovers.  This place is one of the three tropical/subtropical research centers of the United States Department of Agriculture.  The grounds are very attractive where visitors can enjoy a walk to admire native plants and trees as well as many other interesting species worldwide.

+ Info & Hours

Sadly, after Hurricane Maria and the most recent Hurricane Fiona the station is currently closed until further notice.

“The USDA-ARS Southeast Area’s (SEA) number one priority is the safety and health of our personnel and visitors. As a result of damages caused by hurricanes Maria and Fiona, there are multiple repair, maintenance, and construction projects running at the location. Therefore, at the present time, we are restricting visitors and meetings at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS) to strictly essential purposes and emergencies.”

  • Tel: 787-831-3435
  • Address: 2200 P.A. Campos Ave., Ste. 201, Mayaguez, PR 00680

Map - Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

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