Birth of the New World Statue

Top choice statue in Arecibo

Undeniably Puerto Rico's biggest, most bizarre attraction, the 362ft likeness of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) navigating toward the Americas is the work of Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. Still not entirely completed in 2019, it's become Arecibo's top attraction since it first appeared on the skyline in 2012.

The statue, the tallest in North America and Puerto Rico's highest structure, stands astride a green rise overlooking an alluring expanse of beaches and mangroves: a wild area that may one day become the TerraVista Park, a future adventure complex in which the statue will take center stage. Development was halted by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

You can ascend to a viewing gallery about halfway up and imagine the crowds-to-be descending on this peaceful place.

The irony surrounding the statue is as much a talking point as the structure itself. First, that it should be raised within sight of an important ceremonial site for the Taíno, whose culture was decimated following the explorer's arrival on these shores; and second, that it should be raised at all with construction costs of millions of dollars on a heavily debt-saddled island. Many are also concerned about the statue's environmental impact in an ecologically sensitive area.

Love it or hate it, the statue exhibits some splendid workmanship and has launched a revival of this entire stretch of coast.