On the southeast corner of the island, Arroyo seems to have dozed off shortly after the reign of ‘King Sugar’ and never quite awakened. It’s the first town on the south coast you’ll hit heading clockwise along the island from San Juan and typical of many of the seaside burgs in the area, with economies that hobble along through a trickle of tourism and small commercial fishing ventures. The dusty main drag, Calle Morse, passes 19th-century structures and salt-weathered wooden homes with drooping tin roofs and shuttered windows, eventually ending at the still, blue Caribbean.
Like Ponce, Arroyo was a rough-and-tumble smugglers’ port during colonial days, when New England sea captains built many of the slouching wooden houses. Arroyo’s five minutes of fame came when Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, installed lines here in 1848. Citizens named the main street after Morse and praise him in the town’s anthem.
Entering the village from Hwy 3 to Calle Morse, you’ll notice that the upside of Arroyo’s isolation is a lack of commercial development – there’s not a Burger King in sight. But, despite its relative charms, the sleepy town is of little interest for travelers and only worth the detour for those with time to spare.
Hwy 3, the old southern coastal road, skirts the edge of town but Hwy 753 becomes the main street, which has a smattering of eateries and watering holes.