Photo of Mariel, owner and tour guide: Mariex Adventures
In Puerto Rico, to be a registered and licensed tour guide with the territories government, one must go through something like college. It takes quite some time, with a series of tests, ending with the government agency auditing the business website. Let’s just say, the journey isn’t an easy or short one, but those with passion stick with it; Like Mariel Barreto.
Mariel went through this process, it took her a little over a year to become a registered and licensed tour guide, recognized by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a public corporation responsible for stimulating, promoting, and regulating the development of Puerto Rico’s tourism industry.
I met Mariel in January and since then, Mariex Adventures has been my Puerto Rico tour company of choice. It took one ride and I knew that I wanted Mariel to show me the rest of the island. Here’s why.
About Mariel and Mariex Adventures
Photo of me at Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, taken by Mariex Adventures
Puerto Rican woman owned Mariex Adventures, is a tour and experience company based in Aguada, PR; but offers tours/services all over the island. Taking a look at their website, you won’t see pages and pages of tour offerings, and this is because Mariel wants to know what YOU want to see and experience, and customizes the tour and experience for each person’s/groups needs and desires.
Her passion for this beautiful island is energizing and exciting. She absolutely loves this island and it’s genuine, so the time spent with her seeing all of Puerto Rico’s magic is like icing on the cake. The Mariex Adventures van can take 1 person around, or 14 people around; no matter what, the experience is so high vibrational. One day with Mariex Adventures and you’ll be ready to pack your bags to relocate to paradise.
Hear from Mariel, Owner and Tour Guide of Mariex Aventures
Photo of me at Punta Borinquen Beach in Aguadilla, taking in what’s left of the original lighthouse. Photo taken by Mariex Adventures.
Where were you born and raised?
“I was born in Aguadilla, PR and grew up in Moca, PR.”
Tell me a little about life after high school, through college, and into adulthood.
“I got pregnant at 16 and my mom sent me to NJ to live with my aunt. After a few years and 3 children I was able to take the GED test to obtain my high school diploma. I know what it is to be a single mom, live on food stamps, and live in a low income community like section 8. With a lot of sacrifice I was able to go to community college and become a certified Pharmacy Technician. I have worked in Pharmacy for 23 years. After living 32 years in the states, I moved back to PR in 2021 to look after my dad who was diagnosed with colon cancer and my mom who had major health issues. I got a part-time job while going to school at night to get certified as a tour guide.
What did 10 year old Mariel want to be when she grew up?
“10 year old Mariel wanted to be a tourist when she grew up, LOL.”
What was the inspiration behind the launch of Mariex Adventures?
“After I started posting photos of me enjoying different parts of the island on social media, people started reaching out, telling me that PR is so beautiful and that they would love to visit.
I knew that there was a great need for tour guides on the west side of the island. My passion is to take visitors on adventures, so that they can make everlasting memories. I want to make sure that they will fall in love with the island, with the people, the food, and everything else that Puerto Rico has to offer. I love making visitors feel that they are hanging out with a friend.”
Tell me about some of the tours/experiences Mariex Adventures offer.
“I like customizing experiences. I ask what visitors enjoy doing. For example going to the beach, rivers, history, culture, hiking, eating. I can take 1 person or big groups. I’ll pick them up from their hotel or Airbnb and that is when the adventure begins. I am nationally certified and my company is endorsed by La Compañía de Turismo de Puerto Rico. I can travel anywhere on the island and help you have the best vacation.”
My Tours/Experiences with Mariex Adventures
My first time seeing La Cara del Indio, in Isabela. Photo taken by Mariex Adventures
In December, I boarded a one way flight to Puerto Rico. I wanted to spend winter time in the heat and got a pull from my ancestors to come and spend time on the island. I started my journey in Fajardo, then visited Caguas, then Santurce, then Carolina. One morning I woke up and the name “Aguadilla” was in my head.
My family is from Puerto Rico, most born here, many raised here, but never have they talked about Aguadilla. I looked at Google Maps to see where this place was on the island and discovered it’s on the northwestern tip of the island, an area I’ve never visited or heard of.
I read a little about it, looked at lodging accommodations in the area, and found a place that was affordable, cute, right on the water, and 420 friendly. I booked it that morning! The owner introduced me to Mariex Adventures because I needed to get from Carolina/ San Juan, over to the opposite end of the island.
That’s when my journey started with Mariex Adventures; and what a journey it has been! I felt Mariel’s light, love, and good energy instantly. With her I’ve seen the full islands outer perimeter- Atlantic Ocean and around to the Caribbean Sea. This started for me a few years ago when I started visiting, but on this fully immersed in Puerto Rico experience, Mariex Adventures took me from the east end, to the west end, and around to the Caribbean Sea.
Photo of me standing right where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet, Rincon. Photo taken by Mariex Adventures.
With Mariex Adventures I saw: La Cara del Indio, Maunabo’s Black Sand Beach, lighthouses, ruins, and sunset in Rincon, cotton plants in Ponce, water tanks painted as the Puerto Rican flag in Guayama, oceanfront lunches from the top of mountains, enjoyed freshly pressed sugarcane juice, experienced the clear waters at Crashboat Beach, had lion’s mane granola for the first time, drove on the road to happiness (route 413), had cauliflower wings after months of not having them, stood right at the point that the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet, and so much more.
Photo of me kissing the Puerto Rican flag at Playa Los Bohios (a black sand beach), Maunabo. Photo taken by Mariex Adventures
Many people travel to: party, let loose, escape the matrix, unplug, and disconnect. Mariex Adventures can certainly help with that. But the most magical thing about this tour company is all the fun you’ll have while learning some really amazing things about the history of this island.
For those that travel to learn, to experience the day to day life of a place, to see the different cultures and people, to learn about the original people of a place, and to hear it all from pride, passion, and pure love; book your entire island experience with Mariex Adventures.
Photo of me and Mariel in Maunabo’s Playa Los Bohios celebrating me having traveled the whole island.
Written by: Veronica Castillo, the Traveling Cannabis Writer
Huge thank you to my journey to and stay in Puerto Rico sponsor December and January:
- Sky High PEO. a woman owned, California based full-service employment organization that services the entire United States. Sky High PEO helps companies manage everything from employee benefits, to payroll processing, to workers compensation.