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Mona, Puerto Rico

Location of Mona

Some 47 miles southwest from Mayagüez and 37 miles southeast of Punta Espada, Dominican Republic floats rugged Mona Island, situated in the center of the Mona Passage. Although located closer to the Dominican Republic, Mona's history has been attached to Puerto Rico. It was discovered by Columbus in 1493, and in 1508 Ponce de León stopped in there. In 1511 the island was ceded to Columbus's younger brother Bartolomé by Columbus's son Diego.

Evidence of a long history can be found on this small island. Remains from the Taino village visited by both Columbus and Ponce de León are still to be found, among these remains you will find what appear to be Taino inscriptions, petroglyphs, pictographs, skeletons, bottles, and other relics. The ruins of historic cabins, stone walls, graves, and old trails, also are to be found.

The island is about 7 miles long and 4 miles wide, with an approximate area of 13,638 acres (twice as large as Culebra); its shape roughly that of a lima bean with the concavity toward the north. Its climate is classified as semi-arid, sub-tropical climate, with temperatures fluctuating 80 to 90 all year long. The island has 200-foot cliffs riddled with caves. The highest peak is about 300 feet above sea level. There is little vegetation, although there has been some reforestation. The island has no permanent inhabitants, except by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources (DNR) personnel (resident biologist and rangers).

Mona is often compared to Galápagos, the island teems with giant iguanas, among them the Mona Iguana (certified as threatened by the Endangered Species Act of 1973) and the "Geco Oriundo", three species of endangered sea turtles (the Hawksbill and the Leatherback sea turtle), red-footed boobies and countless other sea birds. The waters surrounding the island is home of over 270 species of fish and endangered sea turtles. Some species are so rare or endangered elsewhere on Puerto Rico that these islands can be considered their last significant refuge. During the winter humpback whales, usually several at a time with their young, are regular visitors.

The Mona Iguana found nowhere else in the world, is considered the most spectacular single form of life on the island. It attains four feet in length but is harmless. Their nests, consisting of a tunnel burrowed into the soil, are commonly on the coastal plain. Their food is vegetable matter.

Unspoiled Mona also offers mangrove forest, coral reefs, 200-foot high cliffs and the world's largest marine-originated cave system. The beaches, some 5 miles in total length, are whiter than those of Puerto Rico.

Mona has a lighthouse, built 1900 was one of the first two lighthouses built by the U.S Government in Puerto Rico.

The island is managed by the Department of National Resources since 1975. Camping is allowed at Sardinera Beach. For information call: (787) 722-1726. Other activities such as: hiking, bird watching, snorkeling or scuba are allowed and coordinated by the resident biologist. Visitors are welcome, but no more than a hundred visitors can be on the island at any time.

Map References

Land Area: 10.9 sq km (6.7 sq mi)

Coordinates: Latitude: 18.10° N   Longitude: 67.90° W

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Did You Know?

Puerto Rico has never been an independent country.