Mayaguez

"Me encanta" is what most people from Puerto Rico say when you ask them about Mayagüez. But you are likely to be less than enchanted by the grungy city, home to 12,000 university students and several casinos. With more charming communities in every direction, there's no real reason to stop in this traffic-clogged area. But if you have some spare time, the city known as the "Sultan of the West" has some worthwhile attractions. Its tree-lined main square, called Plaza Colón, is dominated by a large statue of Christopher Columbus. On the surrounding streets you'll find the domed Teatro Yagüez, which dates from 1902, and a mishmash of buildings that run the gamut from neoclassical to baroque to art deco. You’ll also find the largest shopping mall on the west coast.

Mayagüez isn't famous for its beaches—you'll find better stretches in Rincón, about 25 minutes north—but Balneario de Añasco, also called Tres Hermanos Beach, is 10 minutes north of town via Highway 2 and Routes 115 and 401. Dotted with palm trees, it's good for swimming and has changing facilities and restrooms.

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