Guajataca Lake – Quebradillas, Puerto Rico - Atlas Obscura

Guajataca Lake

An unnatural lake in a naturally beautiful setting. 


Puerto Rico is, of course, completely surrounded by water. A splash of land in the Caribbean Sea, the island has beautiful beaches along each of its salty coastlines; only on the interior of the country do you find an oasis of freshwater. On the northwest coast of Puerto Rico—sometimes characterized as “karst country” for the density of natural limestone caverns and tunnels, perfect for spelunking—is Guajataca Lake, a body of water whipped up out of thin air, though you wouldn’t know it at first glance.

Created in 1929, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam on the Guajataca River, the lake is also a reservoir—rendering it unusable to would-be swimmers. Fishing, however, is allowed, and the Guajataca is stocked with bass, catfish and perch. Kayaks are available for rental, for visitors who want to paddle through the waters. The lake region can be quite cool, even 10 degrees chillier than the rest of the island.

A number of restaurants surround the lake, too, offering an appetizing follow-up to any activities taken around the water body. The wind off the water offers a reprieve from the heavy, humid heat of the island. All thanks to a fake lake.

Know Before You Go

The lake is about an hour drive west of San Juan. Travelers can take Highway 2 to Route 119, from which one can turn onto a forest road leading to a Dept. of Natural and Environmental Resources office. There's no need for bathing suits, but bring plenty of sunscreen for sun exposure and fishing poles if you're interested in the lake's catch! Loaner bamboo poles are also available, and kayaks are available for rent.

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