The Punta Santiago Natural Reserve, more popularly known as the Humacao Wildlife Refuge, is a must-see on any trip to Puerto Rico. A plethora of trails for hiking, biking, and walking, panoramic coastal views, deep sea fishing, and languorous stretches of pristine sandy beaches await those who visit the place.
There’s more: picnic pavilions, old bunkers reminiscent of past wars and battles, rental bikes and kayaks, kiosks with crafts for sale, and ruins from the history of the place when it was a sugar plantation can all be found here.
A variety of animal and bird species call this wildlife reserve home. Bird watchers should be mindful of the relative seclusion of the place sans the crowd, of course, for undisturbed avian sightseeing.
Humacao Nature Reserve is a natural habitat for sea turtles, iguanas, mangrove forests, and migratory waterfowl. In fact, the reserve is one of the major nesting locations for the Carey and Tinglar species of sea turtles. Located south of Punto Santiago Beach on Route 3, the reserve has free parking and is marked with a sign that says “Reserva Natural de Humacao.”
There is no admission fee to enter the reserve and there are guided walking tours available for $3.50 per visitor. The reserve is currently open seven days a week, albeit concessionaires are open only from Wednesday to Sunday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Water Sports and Eco-Tours are the operators for pedal boat, kayak, and bicycle rentals here.
You can rent kayaks for $12 per person while a dollar for two persons is the charge for renting pedal boats. And for $7 an hour, you can rent a bike. It may take from two hours to one day to engage in light walking, biking, kayaking, and fishing. The staff members are friendly and can tell you which trails are best to explore.
Scenic and Educational Exploration
Your curiosity will be piqued at Humacao Nature Reserve and you will benefit from both the scenic as well as the educational exploration of the place, especially when you see several interpretative signs explaining both the lagoon and reserve’s history, ecology, and wildlife. There’s also a shop for artisan crafts, restrooms, and a coffee and snack shop.
One tour package consists of an hour each of biking and kayaking, a craft, and some snacks, all for $20 per person. Considering that some places offer $20 for just an hour of kayaking per person, this is already a good deal. There are different types of bikes for different types of renters such as a couple or a couple with a small child but all of these bike types comes with safety helmets.
Puerto Rico’s First
When sugar cane was still grown in this part of the country, the grounds on which they were cultivated were maintained and kept dry by levees, pumps, and canals for water to be drawn. Some of these remain undisturbed along that route which leads to the beach.
This natural resource almost went into obscurity in the aftermath of two hurricanes: Frederick and David. These natural disasters caused the breakage of levees and the return of water to form lagoons once more. Surrounding communities have joined in the conservation advocacy to help prevent the waters from drying out again. This effort has led to the eco-system’s comeback and created what was to become Puerto Rico’s very first eco-tourism nature and wildlife reserve.