Experience the pleasures of an uninhabited island with aquamarine waters, rugged hiking trails with celestial views, a pirate’s cave and underwater treasures…
Caja de Muertos, one of the islands of Puerto Rico just 4.8 miles off the central southern coast of the island and 1.5 hour drive from the capital city of San Juan. Caja de Muertos is one of Puerto Rico’s Nature Reserves, a municipality of Ponce. The island is a wonderful destination for beach and nature lovers seeking to experience the pleasures of an uninhabited island free of development. The island was voted as as one of the “The Ten Enchanting Natural Attractions of Puerto Rico”, (Los Diez Encantos Naturales de Puerto Rico). Caja de Muerto is 1.5 long and 1.2 miles wide, 412.22 acres of dry arid land. The reserve also include the cays of Cayo Morrillito and Cayo Berberia.
Caja de Muerto was designated a nature reserve in 1980, managed by DNRA (Department of Natural Resources). Caja de Muertos is a haven for endangered turtles, birds and sea life. The reserve possesses fauna and flora only found here. High season is in the summer months, weekends and holidays with a local crowd. During the regular “high season” for tourists from Dec. – April, you may be enjoying the island without crowds.
Attractions & Things to Do in Caja de Muertos Island
For visitors staying in San Juan, Ponce and the rest of the south coast, Caja de Muertos is the perfect day trip sure to be one of the highlights of your visit to Puerto Rico. On this island you won’t find any restaurants or stores, nature is king at Caja de Muertos. Nature lovers will enjoy activities such as birding, snorkeling, hiking and relaxation on a secluded nature reserve.
The Beaches of Isla Caja de Muertos
The island of Caja de Muertos offers a unique beach experience, the water has a gorgeous turquoise color unlike any other beach in Puerto Rico.
- Playa Pelicano in Caja de Muertos was awarded the first Blue Flag Award located at a Nature Reserve in the Caribbean. A beautiful beach with clear calm waters perfect for swimming. Playa Pelicano is the most popular and accessible beach on the island and located on the west side between the dock and Cerro Morrillo.
- Playa Blanca – also known as Playa Coast Guard
- Playa Larga – not accessible
- Playa Ensenadita also known as pocitas
- Playa Chica also known as Playa Carrucho
Hiking in Caja de Muertos Island
Caja de Muertos Island offers an educational hiking trail with very rewarding views when you reach the top as well as ruins from a lighthouse.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
In Playa Larga there’s a unique submarine trail (Vereda Submarina), created a few years ago. There are 25 educational stations along the trail indicating the species that abound in the area as well as other endangered species. There you’ll find a map with a route to follow on the submarine trail. Various scuba diving charters can take you to explore the world beneath.
Caja de Muertos Lighthouse / Faro de la Isla de Caja de Muertos
Nestled on the highest point of the island you can visit a historic 1887 lighthouse. Two trails lead to the lighthouse which sadly is in very poor condition. You are not allowed to enter for your safety, however you may walk around the perimeter of the lighthouse to admire it’s unique architecture. The real reward are the majestic views from the observation tower on the south side of the lighthouse.
Birding in Isla Caja de Muertos
Caja de Muertos is a protected bird nesting site. Playa Pelicano was named after the pelicans that hang out by the beach on the boulders and the stilts that remain from an old pier.
Other birds you’ll be able to observe:
- Boba prieta (Sula leucogaster) – these birds are the most prevalent on the island.
- Boba Pardo (Sula leucogaster) – these seabirds nest in Cayo Morillito.
- Zorzal Pardo (Margorops fuscatus) – the most abundant land bird.
- Chirre de Pico Colorado (Phaethon aethereus) – this bird nests in Cerrillo Morillitos.
Facilities & Getting to Caja de Muertos Island
Facilities in Isla Caja de Muertos
The island offers a visitor’s center, gazebos, DNRA office, an educational center, composting bathrooms and changing rooms.
Everything you need for the day, you must bring;
- pack a cooler with food and drinks
- hand sanitiser and wipes / toilet paper in case you need to use the restrooms.
- any medications you may need, etc.
- beach chairs and umbrellas (you may also rent them from Island Ventures)
Getting to Caja de Muertos Island
If you want to enjoy the island on your own for the day, book a ferry ride from La Guancha in Ponce. Ferry is offered through Island Ventures, it leaves the dock at 8:30am and returns at 3:30pm. They mostly offer trips on weekends and only 1 trip per day. The ride to Caja de Muertos takes 30 – 40 minutes depending on weather conditions.
Island Ventures offers two options, you can book your ticket or choose an all-inclusive package with food and drinks. They also rent umbrellas and chairs. They sell water and soft drinks on the ferry boat.