Luquillo, Puerto Rico

The municipality of Luquillo is known as the «City of Eternal Summer,» the «Sunshine Capital» and the «Puerto Rico Riviera.» The nicknames for residents are «the tourists» and «the coconut eaters.» The population of Luquillo is 19,817 (2000 Census). The residents are called luquillenses. The municipality is divided into the sectors of Mameyes, Pueblo, Mata de Plátano, Pitahaya, Juan Martín and Sabana.

The main economic activities are manufacturing, tourism, livestock and agriculture. Factories producing articles of clothing, electrical equipment, industrial machinery, and metal and leather products do business in Luquillo. The construction industry has also developed notably in this coastal municipality.


Luquillo is located in the northeast of the island. It is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south and the east by Fajardo and on the west by Río Grande. It covers 67 square kilometers (26 square miles) in area.

The municipality is part of the northern coastal plains region. It is a very fertile alluvial plain. Although the majority of the territory is flat, there are some lower elevation mountains in the south and southeast that are part of the Luquillo Range and rise to about 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. Along the coast, between the sectors of Juan Martín de Luquillo and Quebrada Fajardo of Fajardo, are the Barros and Zalduondo peaks. These do not surpass 227 meters (748 feet) in elevation.

The Caribbean National Forest, also known as El Yunque, forms part of the mountainous zone of the Luquillo Range. It is 11,330 hectares (28,000 acres) in size and lies in the municipalities of Luquillo, Río Grande, Naguabo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Canóvanas and Las Piedras. The highest point in the forest is El Toro or Guzmán Arriba peak, which rises 1,074 meters (3,523 feet) above sea level. The forest was declared a reserve in 1876 by the Spanish government.

Rivers in Luquillo include the Mameyes; Sabana and its tributaries, the Pitahaya, Cristal and Camándulas; Juan Martín; and the Mata de Plátano stream. The Sabana and Juan Martín rivers originate in Luquillo and measure approximately 12.6 kilometers (7.6 miles) and 5.7 kilometers (3.4 miles) respectively. The Mameyes River originates in Río Grande.

The municipality is also known for the beautiful Luquillo Beach and the Embarcadero and La Bandera points. It also has 20 hectares of mangroves, both swamps and rivers. Additionally, almost double that amount of mangroves are located in the mouth of the Mameyes River, between Río Grande and Luquillo. Gold and other associated minerals have been found in Luquillo, along with a limited quantity of copper.

The first settlement in Luquillo dates to the early 16th century. A group of Spanish settlers, led by Cristóbal Guzmán, from the Caparra Ranch (1509), created a hamlet in a valley near the Mameyes River and erected a chapel devoted to San José Obrero. Between 1511 and 1514, this area, as well as the adjacent areas ofHumacao, Fajardo and Loiza, among others, suffered multiple attacks by the indigenous people against the Spanish settlements established to exploit deposits of gold.

There is more than one version of the origin of the name of the municipality. Some historians say that the name Luquillo comes from the Taino word Lucuo or Loukuo, a Taino god. According to another version, Luquillo originated from an alteration of Yukiyú or Yocahú, the beneficent god that dwelled in the Luquillo Mountains. Also, during the early years of the 16th century, an indigenous chief named Loquillo lived in the region, where he led guerrillas against the Spanish. Some argue that his name was made to sound more like Spanish.

It was not until 1775 that efforts began to found a town. Fray Iñigo Abbad described this region in 1776 «as covered with eminent cedar, mahogany, coral tree, dragon tree, palms, ceiba and other trees with excellent wood.» He added that livestock and mules were raised there, and there were plantations of coffee, cotton, plantains, sugar cane, beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and other vegetables and fruits. Luquillo was founded in 1797, the year it attained the necessary requirements for founding a town. The population was divided into the sectors of Pitahaya, Juan Martín, Sabana and Mata de Plátano; it was part of the district of Humacao.

By 1847, Luquillo had one street and 41 residences. During the second half of the 19th century, sugar cane was grown in the fields. Among the cane plantations of the era were La Margarita, La Unión, San Miguel, La Monserrate, La Fortuna and La Carmelita, some of which later became central sugar mills. In 1878, three new sectors were created: Mameyes I, Mameyes II and Hato Viejo. Mameyes II was annexed to Río Grande in 1897.

The municipality of Luquillo was annexed to other municipalities with the change of sovereignty in 1898 and its territory was divided. The sectors of Juan Martín, Pitahaya and Sabana were annexed to Fajardo, and Hato Viejo, Mameyes I and Mata de Plátano were annexed to Río Grande. In 1914, the Puerto Rico Legislature approved a law restoring Luquillo with the same sectors it had in 1897, except for Hato Viejo, which disappeared in 1910, and Mameyes II, which remained part of Río Grande.

In 1940, the economy relied mainly on sugar cane and fruit. Some of the residents made their living by fishing. In the decade of the 1970s, 400 cuerdas (389 acres) of land was dedicated to sugar cane and produced 13,500 tons of cane per year. The cane was pressed in the Fajardo Central Sugar Mill. There were also 21 fruit orchards. Plantains, tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruits were also grown on the fertile plains. At that time there were 12 cattle farms with a total of 1,800 head of cattle, producing 16,000 liters of milk per day.

By the late 20th century, there were nine factories operating in Luquillo that employed 835 workers. They produced fuses and other electric devices, parts for calculators, uniforms, women’s underwear, gloves, and other products.

The municipality is known for tourism, because of its beaches and because it is part of the region of El Yunque.


The flag  consists of three horizontal bands. The upper and lower bands are twice as wide as the central band. The blue band represents the sky and the sea; the yellow represents the sand of its beaches; the green, the vegetation of its mountains. In the center is the coat of arms, surrounded by two coconut palm leaves crossed at the bottom.

Coat of Arms
The coat of arms  has a field of gold with a ridge of three mountains above the midpoint, accompanied by part of a bay with waves of silver and blue. The blue part above contains three iris flowers with leaves. At the top is a crowned wall of gold with three towers, outlined in green. Two coconut palms flank the seal and cross at the bottom. The mountains allude to the Luquillo Range, and the inlet on the field of gold -with the mountains behind it -represents Luquillo Beach. The iris branches symbolize the patron saint San José, who is popular in the town and municipality. The crowned wall is the sign of the municipalities. The coconut palms that surround the seal represent Luquillo Beach.

Places of Interest

Luquillo Public Beach
La Pared Beach
La Bandera Beach
La Monserrate Beach
Las Pailas Beach
Mameyes Beach
Chief Luquillo Monument
Peace Plaza
Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón Plaza
Joaquín Robles baseball park
Ocean View Boulevard
Luquillo Range

Illustrious Citizens

Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón – Lawyer, politician, orator, philosopher and essayist. He was a pro-independence leader and a founder of the Union Party of Puerto Rico. In 1912, he founded the first pro-independence political party in Puerto Rico, the Independence Party.

Benigno Fernández García – Lawyer and politician born in Luquillo and an adopted son of Cayey, where he lived from 1911 on. He was a member of the Puerto Rico Union Party, the Puerto Rican Alliance Party and the Liberal Party, which he represented as a delegate in the House of Representatives, a mayor, and resident commissioner, respectively. He was the attorney general for Puerto Rico and was named secretary of labor by Governor Tugwell.

Tomás Batista Encarnación –Sculptor and painter. Winner of awards from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and the Guggenheim Foundation (1962), he studied in Puerto Rico under the direction of the Spanish artist Compostela. He has created sculptures and busts of distinguished Puerto Ricans, as well as the Monument to the Puerto Rican Jíbaro. He has been director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture’s Sculpture and Restoration Workshop and the School of Plastic Arts. In 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas and Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican Fifth Centenary Committee commissioned him to create a monument to the indigenous chief Loquillo. He is the creator of some of the most important sculptures of Puerto Rico.

Carmelo Román – Educator, painter and writer.

Zoilo López – Painter and muralist.

Camilo Valle Matienzo – Musician and educator.

Eugenio Fernández García – Politician and prominent physician. He was a senior professor in the Philosophy Department of the University of Puerto Rico, president of the Puerto Rico Medical Association (1923-1927), representative for the Puerto Rican Alliance Party (1928) and founder and director of a clinic for the treatment of tuberculosis in San Juan, which was named for him. Beginning in 1923, he edited El libro de Puerto Rico, a volume of biographies and historical information about Puerto Rico.


San José Patron Saint Festival- March
Coconut Festival- September
Traditional Cooking Festival- December


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