The overgrown coffee fields and lovely, rusting historic buildings of Hacienda Buena Vista make up one of the best-preserved 19th-century coffee plantations in Puerto Rico. Wandering its grounds while listening to the song of the coquí frogs is a tranquil, historical half-day's trip. Now, as in its heyday, the ingenuity of the irrigation and growing techniques are impressive, captured in the diverted waterway from the nearby Río Canas that still slowly turns the enormous water wheel and industrial-era kitchen.
For a historical insight into life on a traditional coffee plantation, the tour on offer here is recommended. But there are relatively few coffee plants now here, and for a look at the realities of growing coffee today, you must go elsewhere to a plantation found further up in the Central Mountains.
You must call in advance to make a reservation. There are several tours daily, including one in English, and a small gift shop where you can purchase locally grown beans, or slurp a Puerto Rican coffee. The hacienda does not produce sufficient quantities to sell its own beans.
Hacienda Buena Vista is 14km north of the city center off Rte 123. This is despite being marked by brown signs very near Ponce city center and by almost no signs further out. The winding route through the countryside takes 45 minutes to drive. You will likely need to stop and ask for directions. Alternatively, top hotels in Ponce and San Juan can arrange taxi service to the site, as well as tours.