Tuesday, 28 August 2018

PUERTO RICO: Visit Aguadilla, The Garden of the Atlantic

Aguadilla Garden of the Atlantic is a city on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, a protectorate of the United States of America.

Aguadilla founded in 1775 by Luis de Cordova, is a city and municipality located in the northwestern tip of Puerto Rico, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, north of Aguada, and Moca and west of Isabela.

Aguadilla is spread over 15 wards and Aguadilla Pueblo, the administrative center of the city. It is a principal city of Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastian Metropolitan Statistical Area.

According to the 2010 Census, there were 60,949 people in the city. This represents a decrease of more than 3,000 from the 2000 Census.

The population density was 1,668.5 inhabitants per square mile (644.2/km2). There were 20,821 housing units. 23.7% of residents were under the age of 18 and 15.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender make up was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.

As a whole, Puerto Rico is populated mainly by people from a Creole born on the Island of European descent or Spanish and European descent, with small groups of African and Asian people.

Statistics taken from the 2000 census shows that 83.6% of Aguadillanos have Spanish or white origin, 5.0% are black, 0.2% are Amerindian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 8.2% were Some other race, 2.8% Two or more races.

Aguadilla was the site of the U.S. military's Ramey Air Force Base for almost five decades. During this period, Aguadilla was home to the Strategic Air Command 72d Bombardment Wing, Heavy equipped with B-52s, an important strategic facility during the Cold War.

Though the infrastructure still exists, the airport was handed over to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1973. The aerial facilities are now controlled by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and comprise the Rafael Hernandez International Airport.

The barracks now host the Faro Inn Suites, a 79-room hotel. The Officer's Club now hosts the Faro Conference Center, a 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) meeting facility.

The hospital is now the Courtyard by Marriott Punta Borinquen Resort & Casino, a 150-room hotel with a casino and the first Marriott in Puerto Rico out of the San Juan Metropolitan Area.

Ramey also hosts the University of Puerto Rico – Aguadilla Campus and the Friedrich Froebel Bilingual School (K-9). The High School became Ramey Job Corps Campus and the elementary school became the Esther Feliciano Mendoza Middle School.

Centro de Adiestramiento y Bellas Artes (CABA) since 1979 has been the only public school of arts in Puerto Rico (7–12). Ramey is also the site of the new Ramey Skating Park and a new mariposario or butterfly farm and the Ramey Shopping Center.

There is still an active part of the base that hosts the Coast Guard Borinquen Air Station. There are also other government agencies based at Ramey.

They include the United States Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs & Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine and Office of Border Patrol, the Fuerzas Unidas de Rapida Accion - United Forces for Rapid Action of the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Puerto Rico National Guard.

There is also a post office, the Centro de Servicios al Conductor - Driver's Services Center, a bakery, and a Banco Popular de Puerto Rico location.

The beginning of San Antonio Village was back in the mid-19th century. It was composed by 60 families. Originally the place where these families were located was known as Bajura de Vadi, place later to be known as San Antonio.

In 1918, as a consequence of the 1918 San Fermín earthquake, the village was totally destroyed by a tsunami. The families suffered the struggles cause by this natural disaster, due by the proximity of the village to the shore.

The residents of the village decided re-localize the village in a higher area further from shore. The new location was what today is known as Ramey.

At this new location prosperity was not to be delayed. Various leaders and commercial owners of the time, took a step to carry the village forward. Most of the poor houses disappeared.

The village's infrastructure started its evolution. Luis R. Esteves and Juan Garcia established the first two theaters in the area. A new was social club form, known as Luz del Porvenir or Light of the Future.

A new school system was the pride of the village because it offered them the opportunity to give their children an education without having to go 9 miles (14 km) south downtown. There was also a new bakery and a post office, among other facilities. At this time, the village also began its Patron Festival.

The clothing industry was a major source of employment.

In September 1939, some 3,796 acres (15.4 km2) covered by sugar cane, was expropriated for the military at the cost of $1,215,000, in order to build an air base that came to be known as Ramey Air Force Base.

Since the foundation, the village has suffered three expropriations as a result of expansions to Ramey Air Force Base. This expropriations delayed and ended the plans to turn San Antonio into a town.

Today, the population of San Antonio consists of approximately ten thousand people. It has a modern square, a Puerto Rico State Police Station, a coliseum, an industrial park, public housing, a baseball park, a public school system, shops, and many other, charasteristics of a small town.

Also, as a characteristic of a town, has a flag and an emblem. The creation of the flag and emblem was done by Roberto Roman Acevedo.

Aguadilla is located in the northwest coast of the island of Puerto Rico, in the Western Coastal Plains. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, the municipalities of Isabela on the east, and Moca and Aguada in the south.

The area of the municipality is 35.5 square miles. It is mostly plain, with some notable hills being Jiménez (728 feet) and Viñet (689 feet). It has only one river, the Culebrinas, which separates Aguadilla from Aguada. Also Cedro Creek which separates Aguadilla from Isabela in the north.

Aguadilla is part of the Porta del Sol touristic region in Puerto Rico. The Porta del Sol website highlights Aguadilla's beaches for surfing.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, Aguadilla has the most beaches in the island, with nineteen. Some of the beaches are considered among the best for surfing, like Surfer's Beach, Gas Chambers, Crash Boat, Wilderness, among others.
Because of this, Aguadilla has served as host to surfing competitions, like the ISA World Championship in 1988.

Other attractions of the town are Las Cascadas Water Park and the Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena, which is the only ice skating complex in the Caribbean.

Tourist Landmarks and places in Aguadilla

- Aguadilla City Hall .Originally built in 1918. Reconstructed after the 1918 earthquake.

- Banyan Treehouse. Wooden House around a banyan tree. Any of its parts touches the tree.

- Campanitas de Cristal Fountain

- Cathedral San Carlos Barromeo

- Christopher Columbus Monument. Consists of a cross originally made of marble. It also had to be rebuilt after the earthquake.

- Cristobal Colon Park

- El Merendero

- El Parterre Jose de Jesus Esteves or Ojo de Agua

- Fisherman's Monument

- Jardin del Atlántico Square

- Las Cascadas (The Waterfalls) Water Park

- Old Sugar Pier

- Paseo Miguel Garcia Mendez

- Punta Borinquen Golf Course. Is an 18-hole golf course, originally built for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

- Punta Borinquen Lighthouse

- Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins

- Rafael Hernandez Monument

- Rafael Hernandez Square

- Ramey Skate Park New

- Tribunal Supremo (Old Courthouse)

- Youth Fountain Juan Pon

Tourist Beaches in Aguadilla

- Crash Boat Beach

- Mix

- Tamarindo

- Survival Beach

- Surfer's Beach

- Wilderness Beach (Las Ruinas)

- Rompeolas Beach

- Columbus Beach

- El Canto de Las Piedras Beach

- Crash Point Beach

- Gas Chambers Beach

- Wishing Well Beach

Aguadilla has several annual celebrations and festivals

- Velorio de Reyes. Celebrated mostly in January, they are a religious ceremony held as gratitude to the Three Kings for some answered prayer. They usually consist of hymns, prayers, and other religious expressions.

- Kite Festival. Held in April, it includes kiosks, music, and kite flying.

- Fiestas San Antonio held in April

- Verbena de Corrales held in May.

- Beach Festival held in June.

- Festival del Atun. Celebrated in July, it is a festival dedicated to the fishing of the tuna.

- Festival de la Musica held in July

- Fiestas Patronales San Carlos held in October

Aguadilla is home to several professional and amateur sports teams. The most notable are the Aguadilla Divas of the Female Superior Volleyball League, and the Aguadilla Sharks of the Superior Baseball League (Double-A).

The Divas play their home games in the Luis T. Diaz Coliseum in Downtown Aguadilla from January to March, while the Sharks play their home games at Luis A. Canera Marquez Stadium from February to May.

Aguadilla also had a professional basketball team called the Aguadilla Sharks, that played for the BSN league. This team was merged into the Cangrejeros de Santurce in 1998.

Aguadilla is also a place where many famous baseball players originate from. There are plans for a future ECHL Minor League Hockey franchise for the city.

The city is currently home to a variety of industrial and pharmaceutical plants like LifeScan, Symmetricom, Honeywell, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Most of them are located at San Antonio Technological Park, the airport as Lufthansa Technik, while others like Suiza Dairy, Lockheed Martin and Productos La Aguadillana are located in Camaseyes Industrial Park.

Other industries that are based in Aguadilla are rubber, plastics, leather, textiles, steel, wood, machinery, and food processing.

The retail sector is also another source of economy in Aguadilla. Shopping malls like Aguadilla Mall, Aguadilla Shopping Center, Aguadilla Town Center, and others are some of the main commercial and retail centers of the city

Rafael Hernández Airport is located in the city of Aguadilla. In recent years, it has seen a resurgence as an international airport in the island, with several airlines planning flights to the US from Aguadilla.

You can fly directly from Newark via United Airlines, from Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando via Spirit Airlines, from New York-JFK and Orlando via jetBlue Airways, Rafael Hernandez International Airport.

Be aware, that these are major airlines which serve hundreds of destinations and as much one-stop flights to this Caribbean paradise.

JetBlue studied expansion for the 3 main airports in Puerto Rico, Aguadilla, Ponce, and San Juan and is the Airline that operates in all three airports. In the past American Airlines offered service to their hub in Miami from Rafael Hernandez Airport.

Miami, as well as other popular routes, currently lacks service from the airport. These markets include but are not limited to Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford, and Baltimore.

These cities are home to some of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the United States, many of whom have ties to Aguadilla and the surrounding region.

From the airport take State-Road 107 South to Interstate PR-2. Exit towards SR-2R/Aguadilla Centro.

Blue Line offers service to and from all municipalities to the Public Transportation Terminal.

Interstate PR-2 at Rafael Henández Highway. Plans are underway for a new expressway, an expansion to existing Puerto Rico Highway 22 Jose de Diego Expressway from Hatillo and it will probably end at Puerto Rico Highway 111.

Walking along the roads of the city center, will offer you a great experience. This way you get to stop and try different foods, shop, and enjoy the beautiful bay views and beaches.

Publicos depart from the Public Transportation Terminal to all wards. There are different routes. These include Aguadilla-Borinquen, Aguadilla-Ramey, and Aguadilla-San Antonio. Price is $1.25 per trip.

Taxi service is available from the airport, hotels, and all wards.

Aguadilla is service by Interstate PR-2. I-PR-2 to the East connects it with Isabela, Quebradillas, Camuy, Hatillo, and eventually to San Juan via Arecibo.

To the South, it connects it with Aguada and Anasco. Other roads include State-Road 110 and 107 to Ramey. It is also connected by State-Road 111 to Moca, San Sebastian, Lares, and Utuado and State-Road 115 to Aguada and Rincon.

- Aguadilla City Hall or Alcaldia. Originally built in 1918. Reconstructed after the 1918 earthquake.

- Banyan Treehouse or Casa del Arbol. Wooden House around a Banyan tree. Any of its parts touch the tree.

- Campanitas de Cristal Fountain

- San Carlos Barromeo Cathedral

- Christopher Columbus Monument - This monument was built to commemorate Columbus' entrance to Puerto Rico through Aguadilla Bay. It consists of a cross originally made of marble. It also had to be rebuilt after the earthquake.

- El Crashboat. A beautiful beach with white sand and crystal waters along with a ship wreck at the far corner of the beach.

- El Merendero - A beautiful view of Aguadilla Bay and site of beautiful sunsets.

- El Parterre Jose de Jesus Esteves or Ojo de Agua. Historic plaza where a natural spring and former source of water for Spanish soldiers is located.

- Fisherman's Monument

- Jardin del Atlantico Square .A beautiful square with fountains and gathering spot of local merchants

- Old Sugar Pier

- Parque Colon. A public park with an enourmous tree house, fountain, swings, playgrounds, street vendors, and a typical Puerto Rican atmosphere. It is located across the street from the beach were the first Spanish ships landed in Puerto Rico and the park is were Christopher Columbus and the Taino were said to have first met.

- Paseo Miguel Garcia Mendez

- Punta Borinquen Lighthouse - Built by the United States Armed Forces in 1920 to substitute the one built by spain and destroyed by the earthquake.

- Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins - Site of the old lighthouse built by Spain in 1889 and site of beautiful pictures.

- Rafael Hernandez Monument. A monument honoring world-famous composer Rafael Hernandez-Marin.

- Rafael Hernandez Square .This is the Main Square.

- Tribunal Supremo (Old Courthouse)

- Wilderness Beach. A beautiful beach with amazing Cliffs. It was once part of the Ramey Militry base. Here you can see the old Spanish ruins. And it's secluded location is great to escpe hge crowds. This beach is only accessibly on rainy days by 4X4 Vehicles.

- Youth Fountain Juan Ponce de Leon Park

Activities to engage in while in Aguadilla

- Aquatica Dive & Surf. A scuba diving, surfing, and stand up paddle boarding shop. You can sign up for lessons, certifications, and tours here as well as rent or buy equipment. Located on PR-110 at km 10.0, Gate 5 Maleza alta.

- Aguadilla Bowling Center. A bowling alley that features 18 computerized lanes, with a bar, cafeteria, and games-room. It is located off Interstate PR-2, at Plaza Victoria.

- Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena. The only ice skating facility in the Caribbean.

- Aguadilla Skating Park. Is a skateboarding facility located in Downtown Aguadilla.

- Caribbean Cinemas 6 - Aguadilla Mall

- Cristobal Colon Park - Family Park with kiosks, a boardwalk with a beautiful view of the city, playground, and a beach.
Las Cascadas or The Waterfalls Water Park - Many water attractions.

Among them the Crazy River, Wave Pool, and lots of slides. It is the largest water park in the Caribbean.

- Pro Bowl Recreation Center. A bowling alley featuring 8 computerized lanes, with a cafeteria and games-room. It is in Ramey Village.

- Punta Borinquen Golf Course. Is an 18 hole golf course, originally built for President Eisenhower.

- Ramey Skating Park this is the only concrete skateboarding facility in Puerto Rico located in Ramey Village a former Military Base.

- Zazones Creole Cuisine Restaurant/Lounge. Is the only restaurant in Puerto Rico that servers authentic creole dishes and to top, has a touch screen bar top.

Aguadilla is the commercial district of the region. It has four strategically located commercial centers along Interstate PR-2.

- Aguadilla Mall

- Aguadilla Shopping Center

- Plaza Ferram

- Plaza Victoria

There are also stores along the highway, in the downtown area, and along State-Road 107 including Plaza Borinquen.

Where to have meals in Aguadilla

- Amanda's Restaurant.

- Chris Restaurant.

- Cocina Creativa, Carr.110 km 9.8, Aguadilla,

- Dario’s Gourmet Restaurant.

- El Contrabando.

- El Pomodoro Restaurant.

- Faro Suites Bar & Grill.

- Golden Crown.

- Molina's Restaurant, Carr. #2 Km. 117.6 Bo. Ceiba Baja. Cozy atmosphere, good service. Extensive wine list.

- Mr. Mofongo Restaurant.

- Molina Restaurant, Carr.2 km.17.6, Aguadilla.

- Novecento Italian Bistro (Pizza, Pasta, Trendy Bar), Calle Agustan Stahl #61, Aguadilla. Hip and trendy pizzeria and a bar where the locals meets.

- One Ten Thai, Road 110 Outside Gate 5, Ramey Base. Wednesday-Sunday, 5pm-10pm. A small restaurant with a large client base, started out as an experimental take out from a private residence on weekends.

The popularity grew and so did the concept. They serve mostly thai and southeast asian food, with lots of veggies, fresh herbs and vibrant flavors.

- Restaurant Verde Luz.

- Rosalinda’s Restaurant.

- Santiago's Pizzaria.

- Ta-Buren Restaurant.

- Tasca de Guillo.

- Terramar.

- The Garden Restaurant.

- Tres Amigos, IHP Hotel El Faro

- Woodhaven Restaurant & Grill.

- Zazones Creole Cuisine Restaurant/Lounge it is the only restaurant in Puerto Rico that serves authentic creole dishes and to top, has a touch screen bar top.), ((2066.5 Avenida Pedro Albizu Campos Suite 6.

- Desecheo Restaurant (Local Food), PR 107 Pedro Albizu Campos Road. 11:00 am-11:00 pm. Authentic local food, fresh seafood and steaks in a cozy athmosphere. Open daily.

- Boca Loca Restaurant, serving Latin american Cuisine, 51 Stahl Street, Aguadilla Downtown. 11:00 am-11:00 pm. Specialists in Peruvian, Argentinian, Cuban, Puertorrican and Mexican cuisine. Cocktail lounge.

There are numorous bars and clubs all over the area.

- Black & White Lounge: 110 street, outside the Gate 5 of the Ramey Base.

- Novecento Italian Bistro a Trendy Bar & Cocktail lounge, 57 Sthal Street, Aguadilla Downtown. 11:00 am - 2:00 am. Live music Fridays and Saturdays until 2:00 am. Happy Hours on Thursdays. Open daily from 11 am.

- Desecheo (Restaurant and Bar), PR 107 Pedro Albizu Campos Street. Best mojitos and margaritas in town. Local food, appetizers, beers and a full bar. Live music on Fridays from 7 pm.

Accommodations in Aguadilla

- Courtyard by Marriot Aguadilla - Now Open - Located in historical Ramey, is a hotel with on-site casino, water park, restaurants and shopping ammenities

- Faro Inn Suites. Located in historical Ramey, is a prominent hotel with beautiful beach views.

- Hotel Cielomar. Located in historical Cuesta Nueva Street, is a hotel with beautiful views of Aguadilla Harbor and the historic Old Sugar Pier.

- Hotel Hacienda El Pedregal

- La Cima Hotel

- Parador El Faro

- Hotel Las Cascadas

Other places to visit

- Aguada

- Anasco

- Camuy

- Haillo

- Isabela

- Lares

- Las Marias

- Maricao

- Mayaguez

- Moca

- Quebradillas

- Rincon

- San Sebastian

Aguadilla has its own police department, Policía Municipal Aguadilla (Aguadilla City Police Department), located in Aguadilla Pueblo. The A.C.P.D. only has jurisdiction in the municipality of Aguadilla and provide service and protection to local citizens and travelers alike.

Aguadilla also hosts the Puerto Rico Police Department Command for its Region. This region covers Aguada, Aguadilla, Isabela, Moca, Rincon and San Sebastian.

It also hosts the PRPD Highway Patrol Division for its region, the FURA Division of the PRPD, the US Army Reserve Center, PR National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Border Patrol. It is also served by another PRPD station in San Antonio Village (Precinct 203 Ramey-San Antonio).

The city has a single correctional facility, Guerrero Correctional Institution, operated by the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

In recent years, Aguadilla has seen an increase in Type I crimes, which include murder, burglary, and theft.

Enjoy Your Visit To Aguadilla

Tourism Observer

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