Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cerro Gordo: A New Favorite

**Written a week ago...being posted now.**

Luck brought Rachel and Heisha and I to Cerro Gordo, a balneario (public beach) in Vega Alta.  We were looking for a beach we hadn't been to, on the north coast, preferably close to San Juan.  We found an article about Cerro Gordo, and it sounded great. 

And it was!
It’s too bad I’m leaving PR in 5 days, really, because Cerro Gordo could easily become my favorite beach on the island.

This beach has everything.

What do you want when you think of a good beach?
Soft sand?  Check.
Clear water?  Go ahead and study your toenails.
A bit of shade for when the sun gets too hot?  It’s got just enough. 
Picnic tables?  Plenty.
A lifeguard on duty?  He’s right there waving his green flag to let you know it’s safe.
Bathrooms?  Got ‘em!  Just have to bring your own toilet paper, or buy some there for $0.50 for a roll.
Showers?  They had some, though we didn’t test to see whether they worked. 
Somewhere to eat?  There’s a snack shop and also a restaurant across the street.
Great views and cliffs to explore?  YUP!
I don’t know, a place to camp?  It’s got that too!! 

Seriously, this beach was great.  It cost $3 to park, which was definitely worth it in this case.   The parking lot is nice and close to the beach, and the day we were there, it was nowhere near full, so we had a short walk from our car to the little tree where we set up for the day.  And like I said, the sand was soft (and groomed, so no annoying weeds poking up at you), and the water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature.  Since it’s a balneario, there’s a roped off swimming area, and lifeguards on duty.  It’s pretty comforting to know someone’s watching out for you. 

After a few hours of bobbing in the water and then laying in the sun, we went across the street to a little restaurant call Sol y Mar for a pina colada and some food.  Delicious on both counts!  Then we came back, laced up our tennis shoes, and set off towards the east side of the beach to go on a hike up the cliffs there.  We had to cross one little brownish stream.  It wasn’t very deep, but I decided to jump it rather than get my shoes wet.  I didn’t QUITE make it across the first time, but on the way back, I landed with no problems! 

At the top of the hiking path, there’s a camping area.  A few tents were set up the day we went, but not many.  Still, I can see how it’d be a beautiful place to camp.  Our destination, though, was the cliffs and the awesome views from up there.  We spent a good amount of time taking it in, climbing around on the rocks, and taking pictures.  (It’s good to have Rachel back in PR stopping to make us pose for pictures every 30 seconds.  I didn’t realize how much I’d missed that.) 

When we clambered down, it was nearly 4pm, so we packed up our things and set off.  We had a schedule to keep—we had to get to Heisha’s home to shower while it was still light (if we wanted to be able to enjoy the scenic views of mountains and rainforest where she lives), and then head back into San Juan in order to pick up my parents from the airport when their flight came in later that night.  I would have loved another hour or two to play in the water and relax on the sand.  If (when) I come back to the island, Cerro Gordo will definitely be on my list of places to go.  After all, it combines the best aspects of Playa Sucia and Crashboat Beach, and for us it’s a shorter drive than either of the other two!  

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