My ride up to Maunabo 2
Here is a view of a the parking area with a path to La Lucia Sugar Mill. El Antiguo Ingenio Azucarero, La Lucia off of route 901 in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.
Once you finish your ride on the elevated highway, you reach a dead end and you must either turn left and go to the Yabucoa beach, or turn right and head into town. So you make a right and at the next light you turn into route 901. This route will take you on one of the loveliest scenic routes in Puerto Rico. Not with standing, you will go by some areas which though picturesque, they are also very humble. As you go towards Maunabo there is still much of Yabucoa to be seen first. Down the road you will see a new parking area that was just cleared for tourists to stop and view what is left of La Lucia Sugar Mill. The metal wheels and gears are quite impressive and represent part of the not so recent history of this area, la Industria Azucarera. This place was once bustling with life and activity. That huge valley which now holds plantains and cattle once saw a sea of sugar cane and when it was time for harvest, the sugar cane sported a large long ivory plume that waved in the wind. It was a sight to behold. Then the reapers came in with their machetes and cut the cane down and for years they loaded it on teams of oxen that would take it to the mill. Later, trucks with sugar cane sticking out everywhere would slowly like molasses carry their cargo to the mill for processing. In some parts of the island trains would pick up the sugar cane and transport it to the larger mills. It was a golden industry. I hope they open a museum there because it will honor our past.
You continue going up the hill and you can see a sign to an inn or Parador called el El Parador Palmas de Lucia in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. You can check it out at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g652397-d249831-Reviews-Parador_Palmas_De_Lucia-Yabucoa_Puerto_Rico.html It is right next to the beach and is reasonably priced.
You continue your ascent of the mountain taking numerous curves as you go. In Puerto Rico it was the custom to honk the horn before entering a curve. After a couple of close calls today, I did just that. Well, guess what? No one was coming, so I had a graceful descent. But what I must tell you before I reach the bottom is that there are some spectacular views on the way down. Just before coming down there is a breathtaking view of Punta Tuna Lighthouse with it gorgeous beach. You are so tempted to stop and breath it all in, and you can. There are two nice stops on the way. First at the very top of the mountain, you can stop at El Nuevo Horizonte Restaurant, which has a view of the ocean and a partial view of the valley below. If you do not feel like you want formal dining they have a kiosk with typical Puerto Rican fritters such as Bacalaitos, Pastelillos, and Alcapurrias. You can wash them down with a freshly made Piña Colada with a stick of pineapple and a cherry on top. A great stop.
Around the next curve you are no longer in Yabucoa. You are now in Maunabo territory. Then as you continue down the mountain there is a small restaurant, called Bella Vista, or beautiful view and it is. This is where you can relax and enjoy the view of Punta Tuna Lighthouse and the palm tree lined beach, below. Though I have not eaten there my daughters have and they really enjoyed the food. I can imagine the view from inside the restaurant. What I have done is stop there on my way back to town in the morning and taken dozens of pictures from outside. I never tire of it and I am sure you won't either.
Once you are down the hill, you can either take the tunnel or the beach route. The beach route has many restaurants and a beach view. A public beach and government owned villas are only steps from the water. Taking this road also gives you a better sense of the community while the tunnel gives you a quick route into town and is perfectly paved. The views from the road leading into and out of the tunnel are stunning themselves. One offers an elevated view of the ocean with a Flamboyan as a backdrop and the exit has an open view of the surrounding mountains. Either way has it attractions.
Finally, there you are on you last lap to Villas del Faro. The road leads to El Barrio Emajaguas. This narrow little road lined with colorful bougainvilleas, hibiscus, amapolas, canarios, adorning neighborhood yards, takes you through a Tsunami zone and skirts a preservation area. This preservation area has a path that leads to the beach and you can actually drive your car to the entrance of the beach where you walk this terracotta colored shore at your leisure. Well at least till five o'clock PM when they close the gaates. While walking the beach you might find some yellow plastic tape marking off an area to protect Leatherback turtle eggs, or you might discover some zebra butterflies, fresh sand dollars, pelicans flying overhead, or make some new friends. It has all happened to me on my ride to Maunabo.
It can happen to you, too. Just take a ride to Maunabo!