Playa Pastillo and Cueva Golondrinas in Isabela
If you are looking for a beautiful beach to enjoy long walks, Playa Pastillo is perfect. It is a really long, decently wide beach, with nice sand. And usually, it is empty. To the far west side, there is a large rock wall. The cave (Cueva las Golondrinas) is located at the base of this wall, but it is only occasionally accessible, depending on the tides and waves. It is a really great place for photos and private walks, but no swimming!
The town of Isabela is a located on the north-west coast of Puerto Rico. We recommend visiting Isabela for its pretty beaches and neat rock formations. Playa Pastillo is one of the nicest beaches, but it is secluded, so there are no facilities there. It is on the north coast, so the waves can be rough, even in the summer. And due to the underwater rock formations, many riptides can develop. So it is a beach for walking or sunbathing, not for swimming. It is a long beach, and it is usually clean. We have seen some black sand at points on the beach, so that is neat.
On the west end of the beach (maybe a 20-30 minute walk), you will get to the rock wall and the Cueva las Golondrinas. This cave (really a large opening in the rock wall), is a wonderful photo location if you can get to it. And its namesake birds (golondrinas) can be seen flying at the top of the opening. You can’t see it from the beach (there is a wall that blocks the view).
The cave is only sometimes accessible. If you are lucky — when the tide is very low and waves are small — you’ll be able to get around the rock wall to the cave. We have tried to visit it 3 times, and we were only able to get to the cave once. It is more accessible in the summer months, but not always.
Do not try to get to the cave when the tide is high or there is rough surf. You will get hurt, or worse!
When it is accessible, the beach and cave are more popular. If you are lucky, you will get there when you have enough sand that will let you walk around the first rock wall and then you can continue to the cave. You can’t miss it, it is right there. After the cave, there are some neat rock ledges, but I have never seen the next opening accessible.
The Royal Isabela Resort is located above this beach. There is a trail from the resort down to the beach. I hear that you can walk up the trail from the beach (to a point) and there is a nice view.
You can access the cave and its adjacent beach when the tide is low, and the surf is calm. That is usually in the summer, and almost never in the winter.
There are no facilities (and no lifeguards) at this beach. The ocean here is usually too rough for swimming.
Get yourself to Route 113 in Isabela. Then turn off of Route 113 at KM 5.1 onto Calle El Pastillo. Take that northward to the end at the beach. Park on the sides of the road, but this can be crowded and turning around can be tricky if people are parked on both sides. The cave is to the west (to the left when facing the ocean).
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- Playa Pastillo and Cueva Golondrinas: (18.491460, -66.979540)
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