--the Galapagos of Puerto Rico...
In the Mona Canal, off Mayaguez in the west of Puerto Rico lies the unique island of Mona. It teems with giant iguanas, three species of endangered sea turtles, red-footed bobbies and countless other sea birds.Thousands of goats, along with wild pigs, cats and roosters now threaten fragile flora and fauna. Mona features a tabletop plateau with mangrove forrests and cacti, giving way to dramatic 200 ft. high limestone cliffs which rise 200 feet above the water and encircle much of Mona.
A pristine island, somewhat bean-shaped, Mona is uninhabited today but it was for centuries the scene of considerable human activity.The pre-Colombian Taino indians were the first to establish themselves here.One of the island's caves, Cueva Negra is known to have contained pictographs and petroglyphs etched on its soft limestone surface by the Tainos who called the island Amoná, using it as a link in their Caribbean canoeing journeys, possibly up to 2,000 years before Columbus arrival on the island in 1494. Juan Ponce de León spent various days there en route of becoming governor of Puerto Rico in 1508.They remained in Mona until 1578 when the few survivors of pirate raids were transported to Puerto Rico.There are still the ruins of two ceremonial ball courts, a faint trail near Playa Uvero leading to one of them. Later, pirates used it as base for their raids for almost 300 years.The notorious pirate Captain Kidd, used Mona as a temporary hideout, supposedly stashing booty, possibly 60,000 pounds sterling on Mona before sailing to the U.S.(and his hanging in 1701).This conjecture has lured many treasure seekers to Mona and produced many tales of suicide, insanity, wrecks and empty pockets.
Later the island was inhabited by guano miners who stripped the island of the mineral. Below the desolate junction of Hell and Lighthouse roads are the guano mining ruins of Cueva Pájaro, as well as a slender beach.From 1848 to 1927 mining removed some 160.000 metric tons of guano from Mona's caves.
Surrounded by some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean, Mona island has the most pristine, extensive and well-developed reefs in Puerto Rican waters.They are now part of a US National Marine Sanctuary. The tropical marine ecosystem around Mona includes patch reefs, black coral,, spore and groove systems, underwater caverns, deep-water sponges, fringing reefs and algal reefs. The lush environment attracts octopuses, lobster, queen conch, rays, barracuda, snapper, jack, angelfish, dolphin, parrot fish, tuna, flying fish and more. The crystal waters afford exceptional horizontal vision fron 150 to 200 feet as well as good views down to the shipwrecks that mark the site-including some Hispanic galleons. Five different species of whales visit the island's offshore waters.
La Presencia Taina en Isla de Mona
Mona Island Puerto Rico anchorage
Mona Island 1998
Island Connoisseur - Puerto Rico - The Interior - Mona Island
Mona Passage Crossing