Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve Travel Guide

Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve Travel Guide
Overlooking the sea from a trio of promontories in the in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico are the seven ecosystems of the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. Here you'll find not only beaches and coral reefs, but also a mangrove forest and bioluminescent lagoon.
These ecosystems are home to at least 350 plants and nearly 100 bird species. The Nature Reserve also has a late1800s lighthouse, complete with operating light and observation platform.

Arranging a Tour

The only way to see the mostly undeveloped Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is with a guided tour. These tours fill quickly, so make your reservations well in advance. Bus tours take place Wednesday through Sunday at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Only the 2:00 p.m. tours, however, are in English. Tour admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students (as of 2009).
Saturday morning Birding Tours begin at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Dry Forest Tours are scheduled from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., and are best left to those who can handle hiking over rough terrain. The Birding Tour is $20 for everyone, while the Dry Forest Tour is $7 for adults, and $4 for seniors and students (as of 2009).
The most magical of the tours is the Night Tour, scheduled Tuesday through Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. You'll get firsthand looks at the lighthouse in action and the Laguna Grande eerily aglow from the bioluminescent organisms that call it home. The price, as of 2009, is $20 for adults and seniors and $10 for students.

Reserve your tour online at the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico website or by phone. If you don't get through immediately, keep trying.

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico
Casa Ramon Para y Giralt
155 Calle Tetuan
San Juan Antiguo PR
(787) 722-5834
(787) 722-5872 (Reference 2)

Reception Center and Bus Tour

Meet for your tour at the Reception Center, opened in 1991. There's a covered wooden walkway leading to the shore and a view of Ensenada Yegua Beach in the nearby town of Fajardo. This extremely popular beach is usually crowded with sunbathers and swimmers. It's a great place to rent a kayak and do some shore exploring when you've finished your tour.
Your bus tour will begin at the Reception Center, with stops at the mangrove forest, where you'll walk along the boardwalk past Laguna Grande; the Lirios Beach, where you can enjoy an ocean breeze at the foot of two of the promontories; and the Lighthouse. Along the way, your guide will provide lessons about the Reserve's natural history, botany and animal life.


Situated on Cape San Juan's highest elevation, the castle-like lighthouse is Puerto Rico's second oldest lighthouse. It began operating in May of 1882. Its most distinctive architectural feature is the intricate stone and cast iron stairway leading to the main light.
The first light in the Lighthouse, or Faro, was used for 16 years, emitting a white beam of light that flashed red at three-minute intervals and was visible for 18 miles.
It was at the Lighthouse that American forces landed in Puerto Rico in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, occupying it and its surroundings. The Lighthouse was officially transferred to the United States the following year.

Article Written By Judy Wolfe

Judy Wolfe has owned her own writing business since 2006. She is a professional florist, holds a certificate in advanced floral design and had her Valentine's Day floral design published in "Super Floral Retailing." She spent her college summers tending her family's Santa Barbara avocado orchards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from California State Polytechnic Univeristy in Pomona.

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