Lying a few miles inland, in the centre of Puerto Rico's south coast, the attractive city of Ponce is rich in Spanish colonial heritage and architecture, with a well-preserved 17th-century historic heart. Pretty colonial homes and majestic churches surround the lovely city plazas where fountains dance in radiant sunshine.
The preservation of its neoclassical architectural heritage along with several interesting attractions make Ponce a worthy port of call for Caribbean cruisers and holidaymakers. The nearby barrio of Playa de Ponce is home to Puerto Rico's principal and busiest trade port. Tobacco, coffee, rum and sugar cane from all over the Caribbean are loaded aboard vessels here, and floods of sightseers disembark regularly from an increasing number of cruise liners that have added Ponce to their itineraries.
The city, dubbed the 'Pearl of the South', also offers some interesting excursions, and a short drive out of town will take you to the lovely silver beach of Playa de Ponce, whose clear waters make for ideal snorkelling excursions.
The city's built-up beachfront promenade area, a few miles south of the centre, is called La Guancha. The boardwalks, bars, souvenir shops, restaurants and eateries surround hundreds of yachts and small boats moored in a saltwater estuary, and the area becomes very crowded with locals and visitors at weekends and holiday periods. Despite this, Ponce is laid back and fairly quiet in the evenings, making it a great Caribbean holiday destination for visitors of all ages.