Las Cabezas de San Juan
Playa Seven Seas
On the southwestern shore of the peninsula of Las Cabezas, Playa Seven Seas is a sheltered, coconut-shaded horseshoe- shaped public...
La Casa del Mar
Set inside the grounds of El Conquistador resort, this PADI-certified outfit is great for all levels. A ‘bubblemaker’ appeals to the...
Uses clear kayaks on its tours of the bioluminescent bay, enabling paddlers to see the aquatic fireworks from all angles.
On a bend in the road near Playa Seven Seas, Calizo produces seafood, steaks and paella with a gourmet flourish. Dine in the outdoor...
Las Cabezas de San Juan information
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 www.sierraclub.org/corridor 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.