Resembling a fishing village, downtown Aguadilla has narrow streets lined with small wooden homes. Weathered but lovely, the faded facades recall the city's long and turbulent past. Officially incorporated as a town in 1775, Aguadilla subsequently suffered a series of catastrophes, including a devastating earthquake in 1918 and strong hurricanes in 1928 and 1932. Determined to survive, the town rebuilt after each disaster, and, by World War II, it had become known for the sprawling Ramey Air Force Base—an important link in the U.S. defense system throughout the Cold War. Ramey was decommissioned in 1973, and today this area has small businesses, a golf course, a university, and the region's most important airport. As a result of tourism, the north end of town is budding with international restaurants, surf shops, and even an outdoor mall.

Perhaps the town's greatest draw is its surfing at local spots like Playa Wilderness, Playa Crashboat, and Playa Gas Chamber. Famous for their right-hand barrels, these beaches have hosted a variety of amateur and professional surfing events, including the 1968 and 1988 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Championships and the 2010 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour.

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