The island of Puerto Rico, like the rest of the Caribbean, was no stranger to piracy during the Spanish colonization. Today, the most common association with them is the northwestern town of Quebradillas, nicknamed La Guarida del Pirata (“The Pirate’s Hideout”). Along the Quebradillas coastline lie the remains of an old port that locals believe was once a popular place for contraband and piracy.
The ruins of Puerto Hermina (also known as Puerto Mina) are best known for a small 18th-century masonry fortification near the coast. In the past, the structure had a wooden roof, door, and windows, which were lost through time. The structure’s purpose is somewhat debatable. Popular belief claims that it was a former military post, but its location suggests that it may have been used as a storage site, a wave break, or a customs office.
Some historians suggest that Puerto Hermina was a smuggling site due to its remote location and difficult access, attracting many ships to conduct illegal businesses with the locals. This means the port most likely attracted pirates as well. It is believed that the cliffs surrounding the port were an ideal place to hide their stolen goods. According to a local legend, Puerto Rico’s most famous pirate, Cofresí, used Puerto Hermina as a hideout. Since he was very charitable to the local people in need, the locals supported and protected him from the law.
The small fort was abandoned and forgotten by the end of the 19th century. It was rediscovered in 1952, and today Puerto Hermina is one of the top attractions in Quebradillas. Besides the small fort, the area offers a beautiful view of the coast and the beach is a popular fishing and surfing spot. Another curiosity is the Indian head carved in stone, by the cliffs surrounding the area.
Know Before You Go
The road leading to Puerto Hermina is a narrow and steep curve, so drive carefully. You may want to visit during the week as it can get crowded on weekends (especially Sundays), and there is limited parking space.