Beach in Mona Island next to huge cave system on the left side. Edge of Pajaros beach.
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Mona Island Exploration in 2019 -- Galapagos of the Caribbean - Puerto Rico:
Between PR and DR.
There is no reliable source of water, electricity or any communications in the remote Island.
Mona Island today:
The island presently serves as a retreat for Puerto Ricans and nature enthusiasts from all around the world,
and has also become a popular destination for Puerto Rican Boy and Girl Scouts, hikers and cave explorers.
Due to the islands' unique topography, ecology and location, Mona, Desecheo and Monito have been nicknamed "The Galápagos Islands of the Caribbean".
Scientists, ecologists, and students have visited Mona Island to explore its distinct ecosystem, which includes the endemic Mona Ground Iguana.
The island is also home to many cave drawings that were left behind by the island's original inhabitants. Remains of the guano mining industry can also be seen.
The most common form of transportation is by private yacht, though commercial excursions are available from Cabo Rojo (usually Puerto Real)
for small groups of up to twelve people traveling together.
Hunting is permitted in season in order to control the population growth of non-indigenous species (goats, pigs and wild cats)
because they can represent a threat to various endangered species.
The hunting season usually commences in December and ends in April.
CAMPING IN MONA - AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE:
Permits must be obtained before arriving on Mona from the DRNA
(you can get more info by calling 787-999-2200 ext 2100, Spanish only).
The DRNA enforces a strict maximum number of people allowed to camp (110) at any given time,
so people need to get their permits as early as possible (usually at least 1-2 months before they plan to come).
Camping is allowed from May through November. Best season are the colder seasons!
Usually the landing place selected is Playa Pajaros - a uniquely beautiful location.
The alternative is Sardinera, were the rangers are located (about 2-6) and has more facilities.
Hunters have built many facilities in Mona for all to use.
When there is no moon and no clouds the full Milky Way is visible clearly.
There is no reliable water sources in Mona,
so campers must bring plenty of water for each person and for cooking.
Hiking must be on designated trails, there is considerable danger of getting lost and dehydration outside of the main trails. To organize a trip to Mona by oneself is a complex operation.
To start you need permission for each person, and find a reliable boat operator.
Expenses will usually run about $300-$500 per person for 4-5 days at the least.
Boats take about 3-4 hrs to reach the Island.
Boating from Mona can be a painful (vomiting etc) experience if bad weather (waves) occur.
Caving in Mona can be easy since most caves are tall enough.
But the old guano holes are tricky to maneuver, you will want
an experienced leader to go thru these extensive caves. There are many spectacular
views of the ocean from many of them. No sleeping is allowed in the caves.
CAVES - about 100, many connected or next to another system of caves.
Some are in the interior and most along the wall of the 17 km island.
The Island is about 7x4 km in size, mostly flat limestone.
The limestone reflects the sun and heat and makes it a very hot location 10am-4pm every day.
1) Cactus (4.35 square miles) (11.27 km square)
2) Highland Forest (15.55 square miles) (40.28 km square)
3) Central Depression Forest (0.57 square miles) (1.47 km square)
4) Coastal Forest (1.46 square miles) (3.77 km square)
There are narrow palm forests in some locations in the beaches, close to cave entrances.
The type of vegetation, cactus or trees depends on how close its to the sea humidity
and type of soil. Close to the coast above there can be a lot of cactus.
Never leave a trail without marking well and with plenty of water, but this is now allowed.
Mona is mainly a flat plateau surrounded by sea cliffs. It is composed of dolomite
and limestone with many caves found throughout.
With an arid climate and untouched
by human development, many endemic species inhabit the island,
such as the Mona ground iguana (Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri).
The island is managed as the ‘Reserva Natural Isla de Mona’ (English: Mona Island Nature Reserve).
There are no native inhabitants; only rangers and biologists from Puerto Rico's Department of Natural
and Environmental Resources (DRNA) reside on the island, to manage visitors and take part in research projects.
There are also personnel from the coast guard since it can be a site of landing from the Dominican Republic.
If plan to wander away from the beach - long shirts and pants, hat, backpack, good hikng shoes are essential.
Must leave at sunrise to avoid the noon hours and extreme heat. 4 liters of water per person.
Limestone is a very sharp stone - so all need to be well dressed if hiking around.
Some groups that may offer trips to Mona:
Note: Mona camping can be dangerous - we do not
specifically support or condone any excursion provider.