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I’ve written about our little burg as well as what it’s like to live here on several occasions. This post is aimed at filling in a few of the ‘blanks’.
I think it’s worth mentioning, Coamo is one of the few towns in PR that has actually experienced growth in the midst of all the negative economic reporting. It does not hurt that our current governor is from here or that the mayor is his brother. I have no issue with any of that, but some might.
I feature 4 venues of Coamo, 3 of which are maintained by the municipio (city), the fourth is a most favorite restaurant.
Piscinas Aguas Termales-
Hot Springs for the Public
In a previous post, I featured Banos de Coamo
. At that time it was under ‘new construction’. Since then, the City of Coamo
took over its operation and I wanted to see what it looked like. Funny thing is, we never went in (the main entrance is still under reconstruction). Instead, we drove around the back where there used to be public access to the river and the adjacent hot springs. That area had been closed for several years so we had to check it out.
Me First Mate remembers going on picnics with friends before they closed it off. Hanging out, cooking, drinking, eating and having a great time.
Things have changed since then…
Now they have created a dedicated space, separate from the more formal hotel and spa/pool area. In fact, you cannot simply walk from one to the other. It’s all sealed off now. It has its own dedicated parking area with a few vendors set up nearby.
The good news is, the new space is truly a work of beauty. Much effort has gone into converting this area into something everyone can enjoy.
What they have created is something for the locals, though it is open to all, but it is clear the focus is on the citizens of Coamo. The entire facility is wheelchair capable. I like that.
We were there mid-afternoon on a Friday.
The sun was hot and mostly clear.
As can be seen in the photos, there are two dedicated ‘sitting’ pools and lots of small covered areas to get out of the sun. These mineral waters are hot enough that you do not want to sit in them for more than a few minutes at a time. There are plenty of signs stating that.
In fact, I was impressed with the fact that the new signs out front were in both Spanish and English. Thank you.
At the top, there are small private spas for a small fee to access. There is also a small store inside selling cold drinks, water and popsicles.
There was a posted fee to enter the facility, but there was no one there collecting it. So I’m not sure when it’s enforced, if at all. That said, prices were very reasonable. No coolers, alcohol or smoking is allowed, but I’ve never seen that stop anyone from trying to bring in a cooler.
Access to Piscnas Aguas Termales
is from Highway 153 off Expressway 52 at the Santa Isabel / Coamo exit. Simply head for the hills instead of the coast.
The turn off from 153 is for Highway 546, but there are huge signs for Banos de Coamo and the golf course so you can’t miss it.
All in all, I was very impressed. My only complaint is, the metal handrails get quite hot from the sun. I have no clue if that can be addressed or not. A minor concern.
The hot springs at Piscnas Aguas Termales
definitely rates 5 skulls in my book. ARRG!
At some point, I will get around to checking out Banos de Coamo
again and the updates to it, but not for now.
Aquaventura ‘Vive la Diversion’ Kiddy Waterpark-
On our way up the hill to check out El Mirador de Coamo
overlook, we stumbled onto another new place. A brand new waterpark for kids. We did a quick detour to do some photos and find out what it costs.
As mentioned earlier, we were there on a Friday afternoon and though the place was open, there was absolutely no one there, other than staff. They kindly let me in long enough to get a few key shots. It’s a well designed facility with 5 covered picnic areas surrounding the colorful ‘Waterworks’. There are two large restroom (Banos) areas on opposite sides of the park and a small concessions area too. After a few years, the new trees will grow in and provide some additional cover.
Food and drink, smoking and alcohol are not allowed inside. The menu covered the basics and the prices seemed fair. The cost to enter also seemed reasonable.
I sympathize with those who would want to bring their own food and drink. You are allowed to do that from the parking lot. Basically, ‘tail-gaiting’ is permitted. Sounds like a workable solution to me.
It would still be way cheaper than going to the movies. Have you been to the movies lately?
I may not be coming back as we don’t have any children, but I can see where this water park could become quite popular with the locals.
I rate it 5 skulls based on my 1st impressions. ARRG!
El Mirador de Coamo Overlook-
I’ve known about this spot since my first trip to Puerto Rico. In fact, I tried to find it once before and missed it. There is a genuine lack of signs, pointing you in the right direction. Friday was my lucky day!
This is an older facility. Overall, it’s in pretty good shape.
A long series of steel guardrails with wooden plank steps takes you most of the way up.
The last couple of dozen steps are made of steel as is the platform at the top. The wooden planks are in need of some paint, but still plenty safe for the slog up. The grounds around the stairs were beautifully landscaped. There is a series of bronze plaques denoting a few historical facts about Coamo, but they are all in Spanish. Also, they try to paint a rather ‘rosy’ picture of life in Puerto Rico before the American ‘Invaders’ showed up.
On the contrary, the Spanish Crown was particularly brutal during this time, but I’ve covered all that in a previous post.
Near the top is a restaurant, but it was not open when we were there so I cannot say much about it. It might only be open on the weekends which is pretty common for venues like this.
At the top, the view over Coamo IS spectacular.
It is worth the hike. My wide shot over the valley does not do the view justice.
Be warned, the deck at the top is a kind of steel waffle plate. My cane went through one of the slots so high-heels would also be a problem.
There is no cost to check out the view. But it is in need of a little attention. Because of that, I give it only 4 Skulls.
Hacienda Don Juan-
This little restaurant review is WAY over due. We have eaten there at least 3 times and we NEVER eat out. The first time it was dark and I did not like the food shots. The 2nd time, I did not get good outside shots. So the 3rd time’s a charm.
Their place sits back from the road some with a big sign out front. There is lots of parking so that is never an issue.
They are located on highway 545 which connects with highway 150 on one end and highway 14 at the other, depending on where you are coming from.
Highway 545 does connect to Tollway 52 at the Gabia Exit, which is right next to the Santa Isabel/Coamo Exit. Just head toward the mountains instead of to the coast. If you get all the way to Highway 150, you missed it.
Hacienda Don Juan
is a family run enterprise serving all of the classic Puerto Rican dishes. Homestyle food at it’s very best. I had the great privilege to meet their chef, a son who runs the kitchen and his father who oversees the operation.
They are very dedicated to their work and it shows. The food has always been superb as well as the service. The place is always busy.
The skirt steak is a particular favorite as well as Sangria by the pitcher.
The tostones were a real treat too. Nothing like the frozen ones you get at the grocery store. Everything is homemade. They have a full bar so you can get anything you want.
The prices are quite reasonable considering the generous portions and the quality of food served. Of course we will be back. Hacienda Don Juan
may be a little out of the way, but it is well worth the trip, no matter what part of the island you are coming from.
I would give them 6 Skulls if I could.
We had fun running around checking on things in Coamo. The Plaza is under a ‘State of Siege’ right now while major construction is going on downtown. I’ll feature that work at some point too.
I’m always looking for ideas for stories. Hit me up if you have one.
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