Modern Manatí, which was named for the endangered manatee (sea cow) that once prospered in these waters, is an industrial hub for workers in local pharmaceutical factories and a nearby pineapple-canning plant. But skirt the industrial eyesores and you’ll uncover some little-heralded beaches, along with two inland forest reserves among the sinkholes and limestone mogotes of karst country.
The beaches and Laguna Tortuguero lie on a thin coastal strip to the north of Expressway 22 which skirts Manatí. The Bosque Estatal de Cambalache is situated 5 miles west of Manatí. Another rarely explored reserve is the Bosque Estatal de Vega, approximately 6 miles to the east.