Watersports & Other Outdoor pursuits

While Rincón has wider name recognition, Aguadilla and Isabela have equally good surf spots. In fact, the Puerto Rican Pipeline is actually composed of beaches in the three towns. Gas Chambers, Crash Boat, Surfer's, and Wilderness rule in Aguadilla, while the preferred spots in Isabela include Jobos, Middles and Shacks. The best time to surf is from November through March, but summer storms can also kick up the surf. In the summer season, however, when the waves diminish, these northwest beaches double as perfect spots for windsurfing and snorkeling, with calm waters filled with coral reefs and marine life. The towns are quite close together, and the string of beaches through both really forms a single destination.

Shacks draws both snorkelers and scuba divers, who converge on one section of the large beach filled with reefs and coral caverns that teem with rainbow-hued fish. It's also the best spot in the area for kite-boarding and windsurfing.

The good surfing extends east from Isabela to Arecibo, and beyond out to Barceloneta and Manatí, and really all the way into San Juan.

Aquatic Dive and Surf (Rte. 110, Km 10, outside gate 5 of Rafael Hernández Airport; tel. 787/890-6071; www.aquaticapr.com) is a full-service dive and surf shop that also rents equipment and gives lessons in scuba and surfing. The outfit also runs mountain-bike excursions to the Guajataca Forest. Prices depend on season and group size, but surf lessons cost from $50 to $65 for 1[bf]1/2 hours, and a two-tank scuba dive is from $75 to $125. Bicycle tours cost around $65 per person and last up to 3 hours. Surf and scuba equipment rentals run from $20 to $45 per day, while bicycles are $25 per day.

The Hang Loose Surf Shop (Rte. 4466, Km 1.2, Jobos Beach, Isabela; tel. 787/872-2490; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm) is well stocked with equipment. It gives surf lessons ($60 per hour for a private lesson) and rents boards for $25 daily. The shop is owned by Werner Vega, a great big-wave rider, who is one of Puerto Rico’s premier board shapers.

Tropical Trail Rides (Rte. 4466, Km 1.9, Isabela; tel. 787/872-9256; www.tropicaltrailrides.com) has excellent horseback riding tours along the undeveloped Isabela coast. The basic 2-hour tour ($50 per person) brings you through an almond forest, along deserted beaches, and explores an area of coastal caves. This is the place to fulfill that horseback-riding-on-the-beach fantasy.

The Northwest has more going for it than its beaches, however. That’s especially so with Aguadilla, which has converted many of the old facilities of the former Ramey Air Force Base and put them to good public use (such as developing an international airport on a portion of it). Punta Borinquén Golf Club, Rte. 107 (tel. 787/890-2987), 2 miles (3.2km) north of Aquadilla’s center, across the highway from the city’s airport, was originally built by the U.S. government as part of Ramey Air Force Base. Today it is a public 18-hole golf course, with coastal views, open daily from 7am to 7pm. Greens fees are a bargain at $20 to $22 per round; golf carts rent for $34; clubs for $15. The clubhouse has a bar and a simple restaurant. Parque Aquatico las Cascadas (Hwy. 2, Km 126.5, Aguadilla; tel. 787/819-0950 or 819-1030) is a water park run by the municipality that kids love. There are giant slides and tubes and the Río Loco rapids pool. From May through September, it’s open 10am to 5pm daily. It opens again in winter on weekends from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for kids ages 4 to 12, free for 3 and under. Parking is $3 and lockers $5.

You probably did not come to Puerto Rico to go ice skating, but you can do it at the Aguadilla Ice Skating Rink (Hwy. 442; tel. 787/819-5555, ext. 221). This is another city-run facility open from 10am to 6:30pm, and then from 7 to 11:30pm. It’s popular with kids and is a training facility for island figure skaters. Cost is $13 per hour including skate rentals. The rink runs 1-hour sessions spread out across the day from 10am to 10pm.

Isabela enjoys a reputation for horse breeding. This activity is centered on Arenales, south of the town, where a number of horse stables are located.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.