Exploring the Town of Coamo – Part 1
We have had a lot of time on our hands lately, which has given us a chance to do more “internal tourism”, and return to places we have visited in the past to explore them more thoroughly. The town of Coamo is best known for its thermal springs, but it has so much more to offer than that. You can spend a whole day just checking out all the nice things in this town. And that is what we did!
Coamo is a small town in the south of Puerto Rico. It was founded in 1579, making it the third-oldest “Spanish” settlement on the island. Of course, they have found evidence that there were Taino and other native peoples that lived there pre-Columbus. This town is is very pretty — the main area is in a valley, surrounded by lots of little mountains. It has natural beauty and preserved historical sites to see. I was pleasantly surprised by our visit. This town seems very active and alive.
Some Sights to See
We’re setting this up as a road-trip, based on our drive around the town. If you are approaching Coamo from Route 52 from the south, one way to get into town is to take Road 153 from Route 52, through Santa Isabel, and into Coamo. That’s what we did.
We came into town by heading north on Road 153. So our first stop was the Flag Silo (Hector PR) at Carnaval Restaurant. This is technically in Santa Isabel, but it is so close to the town border, I will include it! It is located right on the roadside, so pull over, hop out, snap a photo, and then stop into the restaurant for a meal or refreshment!
Continuing north on Road 153, you will come to Road 546. If you turn left onto Road 546, and drive to the end, you will get to the Hot Springs (Baños de Coamo). If you have never been, they are worth a visit! The hotel at the springs has closed, as has the Coamo Springs Golf Course that used to be located along this road.
Continuing north on Road 153, you will get to the part of town known as Los Flores. This little neighborhood has a cute walking bridge (Puente Los Flores) over a small stream, that connects the two sides of the neighborhood. The bridge is covered in greenery. It is open, and you can reach it from either end by walking on a small cement path (which could be slippery or muddy on wet days). It is a nice spot for photos.
On Road 153, just before the bridge there is a cute “I ♥ Coamo” sign, and a yummy pincho stand.
Continuing north on Road 153, you’ll come to an intersection with Road 138 (turn right), and continue until left turn onto Road 702. At the end (on the corner with Route 14), you will see a beautiful old Ceiba tree. The house right next to that is one of the 3 old Casa Camineros (road worker houses) in Coamo, and on the other corner there are some colorful murals. You can park off to the side of Road 702 if you want to stop for photos.
Next, turn left onto Route 14, then make a quick left to see the Old Spanish Bridge (Puente Padre Iñigo). This old iron bridge over Río Coamo was built in 1879, and was used until the current bridge was completed in 1983! It is on the National Register of Historic Places. They have now painted a Puerto Rico flag up the steps on the one end (Hector PR) and added an art piece.
Once done here, you need to continue on Route 14 into the center of town. We found street parking right on the public square. You can see a bunch of stuff right within walking distance of the square.
You will find a number of historical buildings around the main plaza. The largest is the San Blas Church (Parroquia San Blas de Illescas Coamo). The original church for this parish was much smaller and more humble than the current church. The first phase of the current church was completed in 1661. Then in 1784, the church building had a major reconstruction to make it grand, as it appears today. This church is very pretty, well-maintained, and still in use. Inside there are many paintings by famous artists and various other religious art. It is in the National Register of Historic Places. For more info on the church, such as Mass times, check their Facebook page.
Also in this plaza (next to the church) is a pretty art work called El Piraguero. A piragua is like a snow cone, which is handmade by the piraguero. This whimsical statue of the snow cone man will make you smile.
All around the town plaza, you will find all sorts of old homes, in various states of repair. Casa Blanca (white house) on one corner is from 1865.
On another corner is the Historical Museum (Museo Historico). This beautiful old home (the Picó Pomar Residence) dates from 1840. It has been restored, furnished, maintained, and is used as the town’s tourism office. They offer free tours of the house and also of the plaza area. Our tour was shortened and limited to outside areas during COVID times, and when we went was offered only in Spanish. But in the future, it would be interesting to see inside the house. Both old houses are listed in National Register of Historic Places.
After a visit to the museum, continue walking a few blocks on Route 14, and you can see a flag mural by muralist Vives, to the left on Bobby Capo Street. In another block, there is the Ermita Nuestra Señora de la Valvanera, which is an old chapel from 1688, also to the left on Carrion Maduro Street. It is in the courtyard of the larger school. This chapel is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, turn right on Carrion Maduro Street and walk a block, then turn right again onto Calle Baldorioty, or better known as the Paso de las Banderas. As you walk back to the main plaza, you will see all the flags from all the towns strung above the street (this display is called Las Banderas de Coamo).
Now that you are back at the town plaza, get into your car and head up to Road 155 (note that many streets in the center of town are one way – so check the map and signage). On Road 155, you will get to the Mirador Cerro Pico. Here you will find parking and a nice walkway that leads up to a look out area where you get 360° views of Coamo. Very pretty!
We will continue more stuff to do in Coamo in Part 2!
From the San Juan area, take Route 18 south to Route 52 south. After you get on the south coast, look for Road 153 north into Santa Isabel and Coamo.
It takes about 1 hour to drive from the San Juan area to Coamo.
Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Coamo Flag Silo
- Coamo Mirador Cerro Pico
- Coamo Old Spanish Bridge
- Coamo Puente las Flores
- Coamo San Blas Church
- Coamo Sign – I ? Coamo
- Coamo Thermal Springs
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