This was originally posted on the Local Guest Medium Profile.

The eastern coast of Puerto Rico has always been one of the most underrated areas in the island. While the west is known for being a surf paradise, most people that go to the east tend to think that is better because of their proximity of Vieques and Culebra island. In Local Guest we have the mission to show you that, no matter where you go, there is always something to do, to support local economy and that will enrich you profoundly. This time, we went down all the way to the town of Humacao to show you a bit of the wonders of the east coast.

Explore Humacao Nature Reserve

At the Humacao Nature Reserve or Punta Santiago Reserve you will find a variety of things to do. There you can find trails to walk, bike, light hike, also beaches and panoramic coastal views, places to fish and you can also rent kayaks and bikes. You might also be able to see some species such as sea turtles, iguanas and also Carey and Tinglar species, which uses this reserve as a nesting location. Water Sports and Ecotours offer different kayak and paddleboard tours around the reserve. You can find them on their Facebook page or calling 787-397-1900.

One of the most remarkable things about the Reserve is the role that its community has played in order to preserve it. The neighbors of the Villa Palmira community resisted against stakeholders who were looking to make the reserve — that was totally polluted in the 70’s — to transform it into a resort complex. The community fought to preserve it and clean it and persevered. In the end, the community was able to get the area designated as a reserve, which is still a major victory for a community on an environmental issue.

Knowing its history, makes the Nature Reserve even a most desirable place to visit and explore.

The Beaches and Water Sports

Even though the beaches in Humacao are not the most known in the island, they have many beautiful beaches in its progress of recovery that you should visit. Punta Santiago is definitely the major one and the one you must go, considering the fact that is part of the Nature Reserve. The other famous beach which is the favorite among locals is the one in Palmas del Mar.

Being the closest point in the island close to Vieques Island, there are plenty of places around the town where you can go Scuba diving and snorkeling. These is one of the favorite spots in the island to practice both sports. Its proximity to the islands definitely makes the waters in Humacao worth seeing due to its biomarine life.

Granos de Humacao

The “granos” (grains) of Humacao are one of the most traditional treats in town. The granos are fried rice filled with cheese. At the town square, you’ll find different kiosks where they prepare them. Take note that vendors arrive around 5:00am and they ran out of granos pretty early. Make getting granos your stop before watching the sunrise.

Visit la Loma de la Niña Mariana

Ivonne Lozada/

La Loma de la Niña Mariana is a community right in the border between the towns of Humacao and Yabucoa. The view from “la loma” (the hill) is definitely breathtaking. From up there, you can have a glimpse from the heights of the towns where the neighborhood is located at.

During the emergency that was Hurricane María, Yabucoa was one of the places hit worse by the storm. Most of their communities after 9 months of the hurricane, still don’t have power or water. In La Loma de la Niña Mariana, the situation has been even worse because: they haven’t had any water supply for the last 35 years.

For all these reasons, this community started to develop their own project years ago to offer services to the neighbors. They were able to get solar panels to provide power, developed a system to obtain rain water and installed filters so the residents can use water from the river, among many other initiatives that include local farmers market and sustainable tourism. This association founded by the own residents of the communities, serve food daily in their soup kitchen to over 300 residents.

What makes this community amazing and worth visiting is the energy and resilience of its people. You can help their fundraising efforts by joining them for lunch. For additional info:

Daniel’s Seafood

Daniel’s Seafood Facebook

Daniel’s Seafood is one of the most famous restaurants in the area. Known for their creative outtakes on seafood, Daniel’s Seafood is a must visit restaurant place since its famous for their conch and lobsters. When you eat at this restaurant, since most of the products are fresh, you are helping the local fishermen of the region. These are the businesses that are helping Humacao’s local economy. We definitely encourage you to support this restaurant and other businesses like this, because is definitely helping them to bloom after what Hurricane María has represented in the region.