Las Cabezas de San Juan

sights / Parks & gardens

Las Cabezas de San Juan information

Fajardo & Around , Puerto Rico
Street Hwy 987 at Las Croabas
+1 860 2560
Telephone 2
+1 787 722 5882
More information
adult/child $8/5
Opening hours
9am-4pm Wed-Sun, Spanish tours 9:30am, 10am, 10:30am & 2pm, English tours 2pm, night tours 2hr tours adult/student & senior $20/10
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Lonely Planet review

A 316-acre nodule of land on Puerto Rico’s extreme northeast tip, the Las Cabezas de San Juan Reserva Natural ‘El Faro’ protects a bioluminescent bay, rare flora and fauna, lush rainforest, various trails and boardwalks, and an important scientific research center. Despite its diminutive size, the reserve shelters seven – yes seven – different ecological systems, including beaches, lagoons, dry forest, coral reefs and mangroves. Animal species that forage here include big iguanas, fiddler crabs, myriad insects and all kinds of birds. Such condensed biodiversity is typical of Puerto Rico’s compact island status and ‘Las Cabezas’ is highlighted as an integral part of the commonwealth’s vital – but dangerously threatened – Northeast Ecological Corridor (see for more information).

Adding historical value to a potent natural brew is the splendidly restored 1882 Faro de Las Cabezas de San Juan , Puerto Rico’s oldest lighthouse. Adorned with rich neoclassical detail and topped by a distinctive Spanish colonial tower, it overlooks the peninsula’s steep, craggy cliffs where the stormy Atlantic meets the Sonda de Vieques (Vieques Sound). Situated in the eponymous natural reserve on a craggy headland, it today houses an information center and an observation deck, open the same hours as the reserve, which offers spectacular views of El Yunque.

There are about 2 miles of trails and boardwalks that lead through the park, but you can’t follow them on your own: you must take a guided tour. This lasts more than two hours, including the short tram ride through the dry forest section. New night tours explore the grounds, lighthouse and bioluminescent lagoon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7pm. Reservations are required for all tours, and can be made on the reserve’s website.

You can get a glimpse of some of the reserve by simply walking east down the narrow beach from the Playa Seven Seas. Better yet, take a kayak tour at sunset, and head into Laguna Grande after dark for the green-glowing, underwater ‘fireworks’ of bioluminescent micro-organisms. Make sure you go in a kayak or sailboat; engine pollution is slowly killing the very microorganisms that create the bioluminescence. Check that you’re not doing anything to harm the environment before making deals with local boat owners.