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Introducing Isla Mona

Few wilderness adventures in the Caribbean can compare with a trip to Isla Mona, a wild, deserted speck in the ocean some 50 miles to the west of the main island. And although few people ever visit Mona, the 14,000-acre island looms large in the imagination. It’s a place where the beauty of limestone caves and turquoise water coexists with the dangers of a rugged environment. Then there’s the island’s long, romantic history, told in Taíno petroglyphs and swashbuckling stories about sunken galleons, treasures of gold and skeletons of 18th-century pirates.

A nature reserve since 1919 and uninhabited for more than 50 years, Mona is very difficult to visit. Concerns about safety caused the DRNA to close the island to visitors for months, so if you are even considering a trip here, start your inquiries as soon as possible – it can take about four months of planning to secure permits and transportation.

While the DRNA provides toilets and saltwater showers at Playa Sardinera, Mona is a backcountry camping experience. You’re required to pack everything in and out – including bringing your own water and hauling out your garbage. The rangers and police detachment (in an occasionally manned station at Playa Sardinera) can provide basic first aid and have radio contact with the main island, but beyond that, you are on your own in a beautiful – if hostile – environment.