Aibonito is a small mountain town and municipality of Puerto Rico located in the Cordillera Central, the central mountain range of the island. Aibonito is most famous for its relatively cold temperatures, its flower industry and yearly festival, its food and its beautiful nature.
Aibonito is located in the Sierra de Cayey, a subrange of the Cordillera Central. At 2,400 feet (731 m) in elevation, Aibonito's main town square is the highest in Puerto Rico. The San Cristobal Canyon, one of the largest and deepest canyons in the Caribbean, separates Aibonito from Barranquitas in the north. The area was originally settled by the Taino people, and the town's name comes from the Taino word "Jatibon" (from Jatibonicu, the name of the local tribe), meaning "black river" or "high river" (similar to Haiti's name origin). A local legend says the name comes from a Spanish settler who exclaimed "ay que bonito!" ("oh, how pretty!") at the natural scenery in the area.
- San Juan: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
- Aguadilla: Rafael Hernández Airport
- Ponce: Mercedita Airport
Aibonito is connected to Cayey in the east through road PR-14, to Coamo in the west also through PR-14, and to Cidra in the east through PR-173. The Carretera Central and PR-1 also connect the municipality to Cayey in the east and Salinas in the south, although the road itself does not lead to the Pueblo (downtown).
As with most towns in Puerto Rico, Aibonito is very car-centric and driving is the easiest way to get around.
A word of caution: if driving you are sharing the road with trucks, and locals. The mountain roads have steep descents and ascents, hairpin turns, and steep cliff drops are not always protected by railing. The roads may look like one-lane highways but are made to handle two-lane traffic.
- 1 Aibonito Pueblo (downtown Aibonito). See the historic Roman Catholic church, Spanish-style recreational plaza, and the municipal buildings surrounded by streets and shops.
You can drive around the pueblo or park your car and walk around the square and into the plaza. The Spanish law, which regulated life in Puerto Rico in the early 19th century, stated the plaza's purpose was for celebrations and festivities. The historic downtown and administrative center of Aibonito is home to several historic buildings, such as the colonial-style Church San José, the city hall and the main town square. Some historic sites and tourist attractions in the downtown area are:
- Church of San José of Aibonito (Parroquia San José), 55 Geronimo Martinez Street, ☏ . The main church and Catholic parish in town. The current building dates to 1897 and it was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
- Encanto Theater (Antiguo Teatro Encanto), Calle San José, ☏ . Historic theater dating to the early 20th century.
- Federico Degetau House and Museum (Casa Museo Federico Degetau), Cll Degetau, ☏ . F Sa 10AM-3PM. Historic residence (now museum) of Federico Degetau, a German-Puerto Rican writer and lawyer who went on to become the first Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in the US Capitol.
- Moscoso Pharmacy (Farmacia Moscoso), 49 PR-14. Century-old historical pharmacy that still preserves its early 20th-century architecture and interiors.
- Asomante Battlefield and Trench (Las Trincheras de Asomante), Carr. 14, Asomante. Site of one of the most important battles in the Puerto Rico campaign of the 1898 Spanish-American War. Although the site hasn't been developed for tourism or visitors, the area is considered one of the most beautiful in Aibonito due to its views of the Caribbean and the southern coastal plains. A plaque in Aibonito's main town square commemorates this battle and the 100th anniversary of the American occupation of Puerto Rico.
- Mirador La Plata (along PR-14). 24 hours. Scenic overview overlooking a high valley of the La Plata River, the longest in Puerto Rico. Free.
- Piedra Degetau (Mirador y Parque de la Piedra de Degetau), PR-7718 (Ruta Panorámica). Daily 11AM-11PM. Park and vista point located at one of the highest points in Aibonito. Piedra de Degetau is the name of the mountain summit located in the park where according to tradition Federico Degetau, famous author and the first representative of Puerto Rico in Washington D.C., often found inspiration to write. The park has a watchtower providing breathtaking views of Aibonito. A pizzeria, food kiosks, parking and bathrooms are also available.
- San Cristobal Canyon (Cañón de San Cristóbal). One of the largest and deepest canyons in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The nine-kilometers-long gorge section found between Aibonito and Barranquitas is the most visited part of it due to its narrow gorges and beautiful waterfalls.
- Camping and hiking at San Cristobal Canyon. There other natural sites for outdoors activities such as: La Cuchilla and Finca Don Felix.
Aibonito is most famous in Puerto Rico for its floral industry. The constantly cool temperatures in the area allow for the growth of native and foreign flowers making Aibonito the flower capital of Puerto Rico. During the month of July the town hosts the yearly Festival of Flowers (Festival de las Flores de Aibonito) where visitors can learn about the floral industry and buy rare and exotic plants. A number of roads running through the municipality's flower crop areas is popularly known as Ruta de Las Flores ("The Flower Route"). There are numerous plant nurseries and gardens open to the public where visitors can buy all kinds of flowers:
- El Coquí - Aibonito Garden (Jardín El Coquí), Carr. 723 KM 1.2 interior, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-4PM.
- Jardín Emanuelli, PR-723 (Ruta Panorámica), ☏ . Daily 8AM-4PM. Wide variety of bromeliads, orchids, anturios, heliconias.
- Jardín Luriam, PR-162, ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-4PM.
- Jardines Asomante (Asomante Gardens and Nursery), Rd 14 Km 46.5 (next to the Trincheras de Asomante battlefield area), ☏ .
- Meyers Nursery, Bo. Pasto Carr. 718 km 2.5, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Weekdays 8AM-4PM. Considered the largest orchid and bromeliad farm in the Caribbean.
- Aibonito Beer Garden and Restaurant, 5 Degetau Street (Esq. Geronimo Martinez), email@example.com. M W Th 10AM-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, closed on Tuesdays. Beer garden also serving Puerto Rican and American meals.
- Claudio Pizza, Cll Federico Degetau, ☏ . Daily 11AM-9PM.
- El Balconcíto Criollo, PR-7718, ☏ . M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-midnight.
- El Cantinflas, PR-722 Int 162 (Ruta Panorámica), ☏ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 11AM-10PM.
- El Italiano Xpress, 49 PR-14, ☏ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 11AM-10PM. Pizza, pasta and Puerto Rican fares.
- El Rincón Familiar, PR-162, Esq. Miguel Suarez Street, ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM.
- Fiore-Trattoria, 54 Rius Rivera Street, ☏ . Sa Su noon-11PM. Italian cuisine.
- La Canasta Fried Chicken, Cll Geronimo Martinez (downtown Aibonito), ☏ . Daily 7:30AM-4PM. BBQ, fried chicken and chicken meals such as milanesas.
- Picadera Fine Food (downtown Aibonito), ☏ . Wed-Sun 2-11:30PM. Typical Puerto Rican fare and cocktails.
- Rock & Birra, 51 Padial Street (downtown Aibonito), ☏ . Th-Su 1-10PM. Tacos, Mexican and Puerto Rican fare.
- Sushibonito (downtown Aibonito), ☏ . W 4-10PM, Th-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-8:30PM. Sushi and Japanese cuisine.
- Tio Pepe, PR-723 (Ruta Panoramica), ☏ . Th-Su 11AM-midnight. Popular spot serving traditional Puerto Rican fares and "antojitos".
- Doble 3 Sport Bar, Cll Degetau (downtown Aibonito), ☏ . M-F 1-10PM, Sa Su 12:30PM-12:30AM.
- La Finca Mojito Bar, Carr 162 km 12.8, ☏ . Sa Su noon-9PM.
- Panoramic Liquor, PR-14 / PR-7718 (Ruta Panorámica), ☏ . M-F 8AM-7PM, Sa Su 8AM-midnight.
- Veseo Lounge, 1 Degetau Street (downtown Aibonito), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. F Sa 6PM-1AM, Su 6PM-midnight. Gay bar located in downtown close to the main town square. Often hosts special events such as drag shows and themed-nights.
- Aibonito Hotel, ☏ .
- Casita de Campo Aibonito, off PR-14, ☏ . Campground and cabins.
- Finca Bee Happy, PR-14 Km 42.7 (municipal boundary between Aibonito and Coamo), ☏ .