CABO ROJO NATURE RESERVE
To many people Cabo Rojo is known for sunshine, sunsets and parties but other find a better reason to visit Cabo Rojo is the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. It is not only a refuge for migratory birds—scores of species visit in the winter months looking for warm wonderful weather just like us- but it is also a refuge for humans looking for a unique place to hike, bike, kayak, learn about the environment, take photos or watch birds.
This is back to nature at its best. The trails are wide, clearly marked and dotted with observation towers, wooden bridges and signs to let you know what to look for. The 5.2 mile bike trail has 53 markers—there is a smartphone app. You don’t even need to bring a bike because the award winning Parador Combate Beach- located near the parking lot at the refuge’s north entrance)can rent you any equipment you will need.
You don’t have to hike or bike at all because an hour or so at the visitor center located in the administration building at the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the region through films, exhibits, maps and an aquarium.
If you want to hike you have several options but check in at the Visitor Center before you head out. The short and sweet (1.42 mile)Observation Tower Hiking Trail is best taken early in the morning when the birds are most active. It meanders to a wooden tower near the eastern border of the 1,856 acre refuge.
The Troupial Hiking Trail is an easy 1.45 mile loop that skirts the ponds where birds vastly outnumber humans. A longer loop stretches the walk out to a still comfortable 2.21 mile hike. The excitement of this trail is the chance to spot the orange, black, and white Troupial—one of the world’s largest Orioles. Also found here are the endangered Yellow-Shouldered Blackbird and the yellow Adelaide’s Warbler.
Perhaps the most fascinating and historical attractions in the refuge are the salt flats. An interpretive trail goes right through the area where salt has been mined since 1511. The procedure has changed little since the colonial times- the evaporation of large pools of seawater also provides a habitat to shorebirds. Many- especially kids- are amazed to see the mountains of salt. A Salt Flats Interpretive Center at the trail entrance houses exhibitions highlighting the importance of migratory birds.
The objective of the National Wildlife Refuge in addition to teaching people about the environment is to restore endangered native wildlife and plants. Plants are grown on the property and used in reforestation projects. The refuge also participates in programs to rescue the Puerto Rican parrot, fight plant diseases and shorebird habitats on the island and throughout the Caribbean.
Cabo Rojo Reserve Information:
- Open Monday-Saturday from 9am-4pm except on Federal holidays.
- Hiking trails are open Monday-Friday 7am-4pm and Saturday 9am-4pm
- For information call 787-851-7258
- Open Thursday-Sunday 8:30am-4:30pm
- 787-851-2999 or 787-254-0115
GPS COORDINATES: 17.956616, -67.199384