See World War II Defense Ruins in Aguada

Sometimes, you head to the beach for more than sand and water. At Playa Cañones (Cannon Beach) in Aguada, you can see the Panama gun mounts that were part of the Harbor Defense of Puerto Rico during WWII. While not a “must-see”, they are interesting to see, especially for history buffs, and worth a stop if you are in the area.

Also known as Punta Boquerón de Guaniquilla, this beach is located on the west coast of Puerto Rico, in the Carrizales sector of Aguada (about 2.5 hrs from the San Juan area). It is a nice beach, though not great for swimming (due to frequent dangerous currents).

Cannon Beach

You will find some black sand here at times, so that was cool to see. The pretty fishing boats rest here during the days, too. But the most significant thing about this beach is its importance during the 1940s for the security of the the coasts and the Air Station in Aguadilla.

Cannon Beach

From what I found while researching for this article, these remains were what is left of the “Battery Aguada”. It was a Harbor Defense Command, which was part of the United States Army Coast Artillery Corp. It was a four-gun, 155mm “cannon” battery on Panama mounts. This battery was used from 1941-1946 to defend the Borinquen Army Airfield and Punta Boriquen area (the area of the old Ramey Air Forse base), and the maritime routes of the Caribbean from enemy vessels both in the air and in/on the water. There were a number of these batteries set up around Puerto Rico for such defense.

Cannon Beach

The Panama gun mount is a full cirlce of concrete with steele rails. There is inner solid platform, where the gun and its carriage stood, and it had rod “arms” that rode on the outer steel rails to turn the gun. When you go to this area today, obviously the artillery guns are gone, and all that remains of this important defense system are the round concrete rings of the Panama mounts. When we went, we only saw three gun mounts. One of them is in the intertidal zone – this one is damaged and occasionally completely covered with sand. The other two are set farther back from the water, up on the sand dune – one of those is covered with brush, while the other one more visible.

Cannon Beach

You can see similar mounts in other places around Puerto Rico, such as on the grounds of Fort San Cristobal in Old San Juan. While researching this, I came across this historical photo of the guns on this beach during WWII.


Some references for further reading and more information: The Harbor Defenses of San Juan, Puerto Rico, American Forts in Puerto Rico, Casa Museo de Aguada, and various Wikipedia entries.

We parked at the end of the road by Playa Table Rock (on Google Maps) and walked north on the beach. It also looks like you can park at the end of the next road.

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