It was 8:30 in the morning when the breeze was still cool and sparrows were yet chirping. Under the clear blue skies, I thought of going out of my room and have breakfast in the open air La Terraza restaurant of the Ponce Hilton hotel. The weather was yet cool in spite of the shining sun and that it simply added to my fascination. This small island close to San Juan definitely deserves the attention of all tourists as it has all the possible features to be on the favorite list of the tourist circuit.
The small Mercedita Airport in this region of Puerto Rico has just two gates and runs only two flights that arrive before sunrise and depart a bit late in the morning. So, it is evident that not much tourists have explored this great destination. But believe me; attractions in Ponce Puerto Rico are really interesting.
Among all the attractions in Ponce Puerto Rico, the most unique one is the wooden edifice in black and red stripes – Parque de Bombas Fire Station. Located on the central Plaza de las Delicias, this Ponce fire station is the symbol of this island. It was constructed in 1882 and just after a year, it had to show its valor when the city faced a huge fire. Fortunately, the firemen overcame the fire. The most famous was the fire of Jan 1899 when the most revered heroes went against the order of not to fight with the fire and saved the city. Until 1990, it was the headquarters for the fire fighters, but then also housed a museum boasting a collection of antique fire trucks and tourism information center. This is where tourists and locals liked to be photographed.
The Ponce Art Museum or ‘Museo de Arte de Ponce’ is known for its largest art collection in the Caribbean. Holding seven interrelated hexagons capped with glass cupolas, the edifice itself is quite interesting. For the tourists, there are over 1,000 paintings and 400 sculptures of classical, old, and modern works. You can also see some award-winning collection by Velasquez, Rubens, and Rodin. The museum is opened daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrance fees are US$5 for adults, US$2.50 for children under 12, US$1.25 for students with ID, and free for members and handicapped. For groups of 20 and above, the rates are adults at US$4 and children at US$1.25.
On Saturdays and Sundays, catch a scheduled ferry from the pier at La Guancha between 9 am to 4 pm on the Ponce waterfront to have fun at Coffin Island. Located at a distance of five miles, this small isolated island offers unspoiled beaches for relaxing and a marked snorkeling route. Further, you can also visit its 19th century Caja de Muerto Lighthouse that boasts a museum.
The Museum of Puerto Rico Music is dedicated to the music history of the island. Honoring the Puerto Rico musicians and different forms of music, the museum reveals the importance of the ‘danza’ music and the African-influenced forms of ‘bomba’ and ‘plenza’. You can also see of Indian, Spanish, and African musical instruments and memorabilia of local composers. There is no charge to visit the museum and it is opened from Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
The Castillo Serralles is a beautiful edifice that is a surviving piece of great architecture of 1920s and 30s. Standing above the city on El Vigia Hill, this is the restored home of the Serralles family. Surrounding the house is a pleasing courtyard with fountains, which is known for its beautiful dining-room ceiling. Not only this, but also the location on which the building is set is full of terraced gardens. The visiting hours are from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm daily, except Mondays. The admission fee is US$6 for adults and US$3 for children under 16.
The Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center is a still being excavated ancient Indian site at a distance of 2 miles. The experts have found an ancient burial ground, remains of seven courts utilized by the Igneri (pre-Taino) people, two dance grounds, and standing stones as an ancient astronomical observatory. This is among the top attractions in Ponce Puerto Rico. Currently, you will find a restored Taino village, a museum, exhibition hall, cafe, and souvenir shop. Take up a guided tour for this. The admission fee is US$2 for adults.