A Birthday Weekend in Mayagüez

Plaza Colón is the main plaza in the city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

With my birthday soon approaching, I find myself reminiscing about last year’s birthday weekend in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. I have fond memories of Mayagüez as it is one of the places my husband and I visited during our Honeymoon thirteen years ago.

Back then, in 2009, Mayagüez was one of the places that impressed me the most out of the whole island. It looks like a Spanish colonial town with a beautiful Spanish-style plaza full of energy and life. As soon as we arrived, we visited the Mayagüez Office of Tourism. The staff there was very friendly, sharing with us all about the things we could do in their city. They even offered us a tour of the plaza (Main Square), which we gladly accepted. That’s how I learned about the history of this interesting city for the first time.

Mayagüez is located in the western coast of Puerto Rico. It is well known for its beautiful beaches and their Universidad de Mayagüez. Mayagüez is also the cradle of well-known intellectual, advocate leaders such as Eugenio María de Hostos. He fought against colonialism and slavery, endeavored gain for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and became a vigorous advocate for the creation of an Antillean Confederation.

Eugenio María de Hostos was a Puerto Rican educator, philosopher, intellectual, lawyer, sociologist, novelist, and Puerto Rican independence advocate.

Mayagüez is also known for its seafood. I found that the western coast of Puerto Rico has more eateries that offer dishes made with freshly caught seafood prepared with local ingredients. The best seafood dishes I’ve enjoy in Puerto Rico have been from the western side of the island; cities like Mayagüez and Cabo Rojo.

Last year for Spring Break, my family and I visited Puerto Rico to spend time with my husband’s family while also taking a break from the recent pandemic. We usually stay in the eastern side of Puerto Rico whenever we visit. However, this time around, we wanted to spend a bit of time visiting different parts of the island. We wanted to visit Mayagüez, a place we had visited before in our younger years and re-live some memories. At the same time, celebrate my birthday there.

It was Saturday; the day of my birthday. Our plan was to start our tour of Mayagüez by visiting Plaza Colón, the Main Square of the municipality. We wanted to take a look at all the historic landmarks, take some pictures, and close the day enjoying some local ice cream. We planned on following that by making our way to Cabo Rojo to enjoy some delicious dinner. However, it turned out that since we visited Puerto Rico during the Spring time, Mayagüez was very rainy and filled with overcast weather. It wasn’t a great day to take pictures.

We began our tour of Mayagüez by visiting Teatro Yagüez, known for presenting grand opera, international dance and chamber orchestra music in Mayagüez. The Yagüez Theater was inaugurated in 1909 in the urban center of the town of Mayagüez. The Teatro Yagüez is an elegant neo-baroque style theater. It was built by Mr. Francisco Maymon Palmer who was a local pioneer of the silent film industry. Even before silent films became popular in Puerto Rico, Mr. Maymon would bring them from across the world and distributed them throughout the island. In Mayagüez, he and his partners exhibited silent films in the old municipal theater until they built the Yagüez.

Eugenio María de Hostos y de Bonilla, known as El Gran Ciudadano de las Américas.

In 1919, a terrible fire destroyed much of the Yagüez and took the lives of 150 people. However, the theater was rebuilt to its former beauty in the baroque style. In 1976 the theater was declared a historic landmark and the following year it was acquired by the municipal government of Mayagüez. The theater stands today as a performing arts center and the municipality’s main performing arts venue.

We made our way to the Plaza Colón or the Main Square in Mayagüez; it’s a nice short walk where you can admire the colonial architecture and take pictures. There you can find the Catedral of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Our Lady of the Candelaria Cathedral. This is the cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mayagüez located in the eastern end of the Plaza Colón facing the town hall in Mayagüez.

Our Lady of the Candelaria Cathedral.

El Pueblo de Mayagüez or the City of Mayagüez.

La Alcaldia de Mayagüez, is the city hall for the Municipality of Mayagüez.

Street Art displayed at Plaza Colón, this ad is promoting weekly meetings to share coffee, music and art.

Many buildings surrounding Plaza Colón are worth visiting and photographing. I recommend Mayagüez City Hall, the Antigüo Casino de Mayagüez and the Logia Adelphia.

Next, we visited a local ice cream shop called Rex Cream and savored some delicious ice cream while we waited for the rain to stop, or at least slow down, so we could start heading back to our car.

Once the rain turned into a slow drizzle for a bit, we made our way back to our car so we could start heading to a restaurant in Cabo Rojo for an early dinner. It continued drizzling on the drive there and we encountered some floodings in some of the streets of Mayagüez. Some of the streets of downtown Mayagüez tend to get flooded during rainy seasons because they are old streets built during Spanish colonial times and there hasn’t been a lot of upgrading.

We wanted to go visit a restaurant called Tino’s Restaurant located in Cabo Rojo, which is about 25 minutes from Mayagüez. Back in 2009, during our honeymoon, we visited this restaurant and we wanted to relive that experience. My husband and I remembered eating a delicious seafood dinner there and the quality of the fish and the food was excellent. Once at Tino’s, I ordered a chillo fillet in passion fruit sauce. Chillo is the local name for red snapper fish, caught locally in Puerto Rico; it is one of my favorites.

Chillo fillet (red snapper) in passion fruit sauce, tostones, rice and beans on the side.

Piqué or Puerto Rican style hot sauce. Most eateries in Puerto Rico will have this condiment on every table or in their households.

I wanted to try a martini for my birthday, just like in the James Bond movies. Of course, I made sure I asked for it, “Shaken, not stirred.”

Celebrating my birthday with a James Bond martini!

Finished dinner with a nice cup of Puerto Rican coffee.

As far as my James Bond martini, I wasn’t impressed. I think I’m more of a wine person. Nonetheless, I was glad to finally be able to try a martini for the first time. I enjoy James Bond movies and I was curious about martinis, but that itch has now been scratched.

I also noticed that Cabo Rojo has more seafood restaurants than when we visited in 2009. From gourmet restaurants to street food vendors, Cabo Rojo is the perfect place to enjoy fresh, local fish and shellfish.

The next day, we decided to visit Isabela; a city about 55 minutes from Mayagüez. We wanted to see the famous Cara del Indio or the Taíno Face. I have been wanting to go see this sculpture for years and finally got the opportunity to see it.

There was a particular seafood restaurant I wanted to visit in Isabella and we planned to go there after our trip to Cara del Indio. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found out the wait time was two hours! We were really hungry and didn’t want to wait that long, so we decided to drive back to Mayagüez and check out the restaurants downtown.

Once there, I found a restaurant that caught my eye. It looked more informal than the restaurants we had visited so far, but I wanted to try something different. It was a restaurant called La Jibarita. The menu looked interesting: it offered a variety of pizzas with unique combinations I hadn’t tried before. For example, La Jibarita pizza had Puerto Rican style beef, purple onion and ripe plantains. Another combination was La Carnosa, a pizza with chicken, chorizo, and Puerto Rican style hog’s leg. There are other main dishes on the menu such as steaks, hamburgers, and pastas, but the pizzas were the highlight of this place, not to mention they also had a good selection of artisanal beers made in Puerto Rico.

My birthday weekend was coming to an end and we decided to close it by visiting Playa Buyé or Buyé Beach in Cabo Rojo. Playa Buyé, a public beach, is one of the best beaches in Cabo Rojo. The atmosphere there is very laid back and the water is calm and clear, perfect for those who just want to relax and enjoy the view or even for families with small kids. It’s not a crowded, touristy beach like the ones in San Juan, Puerto Rico, full of franchised hotels and restaurants. Playa Buyé is a calm, relaxing beach where one can really decompress from the stresses of life.

Buyé Beach in Cabo Rojo is a calm, relaxing beach.

I Love Puerto Rico.

There is a restaurant nearby, bathrooms, and changing stations. There are also bungalows available to rent in the spring and summer. We went there on a Monday, when there were just a few people enjoying the beach. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy were the mosquitos. Since it’s a tropical island there are mosquitos everywhere. Fortunately, we made sure we took repellent. We loved Playa Buyé and can’t wait to go back again!

I really enjoyed spending my birthday in Mayagüez. The city has definitely changed after the pandemic and Hurricane Maria; nevertheless, if given the choice to live anywhere in Puerto Rico, I would pick the western side of the island without hesitation.

There are 11 comments

  1. Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers

    Hi Liz, and happy birthday. This is a great post. We have a huge list for our trip to PR next month. We will be spending 5 nights in Old San Juan renting a car and stopping in Rincon for 4 nights and then on to Ponce for 4 nights and fly to both Culebra and Vieques.
    The northwest part of PR looks like a lot of great beaches. Mayaquez is on our list and will now add Playa Buye, Isabela, and Cara del Indio. We just hope this big sargassum bloom stays away or goes away quickly.

    John and Susan

    1. La Potosina

      Hi John and Susan, I’m glad you enjoyed my post, I wasn’t aware of the big sargassum bloom until now. I hope this sargassum doesn’t ruin your plans going to the beaches in Puerto Rico. I’m so excited you’re going to Culebra and Vieques, I still haven’t gone there! It’s on my list of places to visit in PR. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences in Puerto Rico. Make sure you visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan!

  2. Bama

    Happy birthday, Liz! I wouldn’t have known about Mayagüez had you not written about it. With its history and historical architecture, this is such an interesting corner of Puerto Rico!

  3. Klausbernd

    Hi Liz
    We wish you happy birthday, even if it’s a bit late.
    Thank you to introduce us to Mayagüez. We had never heard about this place before.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. La Potosina

      Thank you so much for the best wishes! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my post on Mayagüez. It is a beautiful city. By the way, I really love your photography!

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