Explore or Relax on Beautiful Isla Caja de Muertos

April, 2018 The Island Ventures boat was destroyed in Hurricane Maria. But now they are using a smaller but faster catamaran for the trip to the island! New cost $70 pp (plus tax and fees) for the deluxe service that includes trip plus the 12 tickets for food/drinks (water/soda or beer, Hot Dogs and chicken Pinchos). Reservations required.

Caja de Muertos

I had heard that Isla Caja de Muertos (or Coffin Island) was lovely, but I think it has been kept a secret just how fantastic it is! Visiting the island has been on my "to do" list for 6 years, but we never really made the effort to go.

We finally made it out there, and I can kick myself for waiting so long. It is a beautiful island and it is too nice to be missed, especially since it is an easy day trip.

The Island

Isla Caja de Muertos is an island located 8 miles off the coast, south of Ponce (which in turn is located on the south coast of Puerto Rico). It is a small island, just about 1½ miles long and about ½ mile wide at its widest point.

Caja de Muertos

It is a nature reserve, with beautiful beaches, hiking trails, a light house and a cave.

In fact, one of the beaches on the island, Pelican Beach, has been designated as a Blue Flag Beach, which means that the ocean water quality is monitored, there are facilities (composting toilets) and paramedics/guards watching the beach.

The island also boasts hiking trails that lead to an old lighthouse, a cave, and a longer trail that goes to the other end of the island. There are some reefs off the north-eastern side of the island, but you need a boat to get to them. There are other beaches on the east side of the island, but they are roped off during turtle-nesting season. Besides, it looks like it may be too rough to swim on the east side due to sea conditions.

Getting There by Ferry/Boat

Being an island, the only way to get there is via boat. Island Ventures has a boat that runs between Ponce and the island on weekends and holidays. They make 1 trip per day — departing from La Guancha Marina at 8:30am sharp and departing from the island at 3:30pm. The boat trip takes 30 minutes.

Caja de Muertos

New-info: 1/16/18- I see they no longer allow you to bring beach chairs, umbrellas or coolers on the boat. They have chairs, umbrellas, kayaks and SUP’s for rent now also. And food/drinks to purchase. You also need to be prepared to "pack out" the trash you make during the day, so bring a big plastic garbage bag, too.

Our Trip

We took the Island Ventures ferry on a windy Sunday in February and, though the seas were pretty high, the ride over was relatively smooth. Once we got close enough to see the color of the water, we knew that it would be a great day.

There were only about 40 people on the island that day, so there was plenty of room everywhere. We claimed a covered picnic pavilion (there are about 12 of them) and then went exploring.

Caja de Muertos

There is a great map of the island, and some informational signs placed throughout the park explaining the island, its history, and some of the flora that you will see.

We checked out Pelican Beach and then went for a walk on the trails. It is a dry island, so it has some trees, bushes, and lots of cactus. If you head out for a walk, bring at least a bottle of water per person — it is a hot walk.

The trail from the picnic pavilions to the lighthouse is just less than 1 mile, with an uphill hike to the lighthouse. The trails are packed dirt with limestone rocks sticking up everywhere, so make sure you wear sturdy shoes.

Caja de Muertos

On the trail up to the lighthouse, you pass a small path, off to the left, that leads to a platform at the top of Almeida Cave. Legend has it the pirate Almeida hid his treasure in this cave. I didn’t see any treasure. ☹

The lighthouse, built in 1887, is still in use today. You can’t go inside the lighthouse, but there is a observation platform on the south side of the lighthouse that has fantastic views toward Pelican Beach.

After the lighthouse, we decided to continue on the trail to the north end of the island. That part of the trail was, also, just less than 1 mile. The trail just kinda ends — there’s no pay off or no big thing to see. But you do pass Carrucho Point, which is a grave yard for conch shells.

Caja de Muertos

Once we got back to Pelican Beach, we ate our lunch at a picnic table and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. The water was calm and cool. Ray took about 200 pictures throughout the day — it was so beautiful.

We went in February, and it was not crowded. I am sure that it is a different story in the summertime — like in July, when I would expect crowds. This island is very popular with locals and the boating crowd.

Some Tips

There is no fresh water available on the island. That means no showers, no sinks to wash your hands, and no potable drinking water. You MUST bring EVERYTHING you need for the day — towels, shoes, hat, sunscreen etc. For food/drinks, preorder your food/drinks on the boat). No coolers allowed on board, so they are limiting what you can bring…maybe special snacks or beverages you want. And, you need to be prepared to pack out any trash you generate throughout the day. Remember- no BBQ and no glass.

If you plan to hike, wear shoes with sturdy soles to avoid the thorns and rocks. Water shoes may be helpful at the beach because there is a row of rocks at the shore that you have to walk on to enter the water.

Transportation Options

Caja de Muertos

You can visit Isla Caja de Muertos on your own via boat(like we did) or you can hook up with a tour operator for a more organized trip that would include snorkeling on the reef to the north of the island. If your goal is to hike, explore or enjoy the beach, the ferry will be sufficient. If your goal is to snorkel, there isn’t much to see in the beach area.

Island Ventures Boat

The cost of the trip for adults is $70 plus tax and $3 DRNA fee per round trip boat transportation plus 12 food/drink tickets. The food is Hot Dogs or Pinchos, drinks are water, soda and beer. No coolers allowed. Also, no beach chairs or umbrellas on board… they are available for rent on the island.

The boat runs on weekends and holidays during year. They may offer trips during the week in the summer (mid-May to mid-August). It departs from La Guancha at 8:30 am and departs from Isla Caja de Muertos at 3:30pm, but you need to be on-board earlier. Reservations are required. You can do that online on their webpage.

Call 787-842-8546 (office) for more information (they take calls Monday to Saturday 9am-6pm) or to make a reservation. Or use their website for info and a calendar to see what dates are available and to make reservations .

Trips to Isla Caja de Muertos depart from Ponce’s La Guancha waterfront park/marina. This area has bars and restaurants, and is popular year-round on the weekends.

Driving directions from the San Juan area: Take Route 52 south to exit 104B (Ponce Playa/Portuaria) to Route 12 south. Follow Route 12 south for about 1½ miles — it leads right to the marina. The road ends and you are forced to take a left (due to construction at the port). After that, take your second right and park in the lot closest to the water. The boat is right there.

The drive from the San Juan area takes about 1½ hours.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 20 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

Ok, I feel like I should let people know something about this island wherever I can. When I was child I visited Caja de Muerto with my family, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my childhood, I always remember it because it was so beautiful and breathtaking, and it was only 15$ per person. As an adult I found out that the price had gone up to 30$ p/p and after hurricane Maria it went up to 70$ p/p, I still went beacuse I wanted that beautiful experience from my childhood, only to find out that, the beach is not the same since the hurricane, the water may seem blue but you cannot see anything in it, the shore is full of rocks and the waves can crash you into them, it's just like any other beach, most of the trails are closed to the public until they say otherwise, and they put the music so loud in the boat and on the beach that you cannot enjoy the sounds of nature unless you are very far away from them, the staff was very nice and they offer snacks, drinks, kayaks and snorkeling equipment but it's still such a waste of money. I think people still go because they think it's worth it, it is not! Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful place but I could've done something much more fun, in an amazing place for a lot less than 140$ for 2 people! That's just stealing money!

Comment by Anonymous on 16 Jun 2018

There are no active volcanos on PR or close. I believe the one on the island Montserrat is the closest active volcano.

Comment by Gwenn on 15 Nov 2017

Pregunto si hay algun volcano en caja de, muerto activo

Comment by Rafael Garcia on 20 Sep 2017

Bought the pkg deal with food included was an extra 32.00 per person. With that each ticket cost $3.00 ea. A coke was 1 ticket, chips 1 ticket, hotdog 2 tickets, and chicken Kebob 2 tickets. What a rip off!! Beach is small for 120 people, muddy, rough pathes to all areas but main beach and, nothing is marked so plan on not knowing where anything is.Totally not worth visiting, when there are so many beautiful beach areas around Puerto Rico.

Comment by Donna Wesner on 26 Mar 2017

I messaged them through Facebook and got a reply in hours. I think they are operating, just having phone issues. They are updating their Facebook page all the time. Try contacting them through that. They will probably call me, if so , I will see if they have a new phone number or contact info. But their Facebook page says to reserve through their webpage and people are saying it worked for them today (though their phone is still broken). They told me they were in dry dock last weekend for Coast Guard inspection, so maybe there was a miscommunication with the officer you spoke with, since they had no trips that weekend. But they assure me they are up and running and busy!

Comment by Gwenn on 17 Mar 2016

Hi! We went to la guancha this past Sat (March 12) and the boat was gone and the policeman nearby said it was no longer operating. We had tried the website and the phones with no luck and just drove down assuming normal PR stuff not working efficiently. Please let me know if the info I received was wrong- we really want to make it to Caja!

Comment by Merrill Hodges on 17 Mar 2016

How/where did you hear this? They were very much in business as of last week, making reservations for next month.I will call when the office opens on Tuesday and check. I just saw on their Facebook page that they were having trouble with their phones...just to use their webpage reservations page/email or Facebook messages.

Comment by Gwenn on 14 Mar 2016

Island Ventures is out of business!!!!!! Admin Edited 3/18/16- they are up and running, just having phone problems.

Comment by Merrill Hodges on 14 Mar 2016

Well I booked a ferry trip on line for June 26, 2015 with Island Venture. Terrible customer service. I tried calling 787-842-8546 several times to request my refund of a ferry trip cancelled due to bad weather. Nobody answers the phone or if you leave a voice massage nobody returns the calls. I spoke to a Charlie in the Guancha and he told me to call him that same day of the trip (6/26/15). I told him nobody picks up or return calls at that number. He told me he will make sure the calls are answered. Nobody pickup and they have lay back attitude. I will dispute the change to get my money back. NO GOOD!!!!

Comment by Diane hernandez on 02 Jul 2015

It is hot and you are "stuck" there until they go back to PR. But you are on a beach, usually a breeze and of course, lots of beautiful cool water to play in! It would be the same as if you were going to any beach...if she is ok with that much time on a beach, I think she will be ok there. I found the hiking to be the hot part.

Comment by Gwenn on 07 Jun 2015

Hi -- Please help! I am planning a trip to Isla Caja de Muertos next weekend with my three year old daughter but have recently gotten some advice that it is super hot and it may not be a good idea to take my daughter. I really was hoping not to miss this opportunity and have heard nothing but great things about the day trip out with island Ventures, but now I am unsure - I dont want my daughter to be uncomfortable. Is the day trip (8a-3p), not recommended for children? Or would she really be okay, especially since I am planning on renting an umbrella...? Thanks in advance!

Comment by IR on 05 Jun 2015

Thank you for the detailed article. I am travelling by myself and this article really helped me to make a decision make a booking in no time.

Comment by Lakshmi on 26 Dec 2014

We had reservations to visit Caja. Muerto island on Aug.2, 2014. Due to the Tropical storm Alberta our trip was cancelled by Island Venture Ferry. We were not able to reschedule because we had no vacation time left, after countless times calling their office they agreed to refund our total cost of our trip in the amount of $175.00 in form of a check. To this date we have not yet received our check despite being told by management that it was on it way . That was back on Aug. 3, 2014. Is there anything we can do or anyone we can call other Island Venture to help us with this problem. We are very disappointed with the customer service from Island Venture and it make us very cautious to re- book any future trips with Island Venture. We don't understand how hard is it to refund our money if it's their policy. Unhappy customer

Comment by Ana Harmon on 01 Sep 2014

Look at the bottom of the article....it says 1/13 FYI- it will have the new directions for the boat. It is pretty close to where is used to be, but to the far west at the large pier.

Comment by Gwenn on 07 Apr 2013

Where is the dock or pier from where the ferry goes to Coffin Island? The usual one is under "re-construction" at La Guancha and is no longer available. Thank you.

Comment by Dewey Lawhon on 07 Apr 2013

I visited PR several times when I was a kid and Coffin Island was on one of our excursions. Thanks for this report, as I was thinking that I had imaged it, it was so long ago. We did snorkel off the side of a private boat, I remember the stunning waters!

Comment by Dave W. on 12 Sep 2011

Definitely on my to-do list for future trips to Puerto Rico. And as always, this site helps you be fully prepared to make the most of the trip.

Comment by Josh on 03 Sep 2011

I visited Coffin Island many times when I lived in Ponce in the 70s. It was a wonderful island, and EVERYONE took their trash home w/them. We dived off a cliff, snorkeled, and just plain swam and dove for conch for lunch, and just had a wonderful time. The flora of the island was beautiful, and the island had a great sea breeze. I sincerely hope that the commercialization of the island does not ruin it. One would think all that fuel from the boats would be terrible for the aquatic life. We sailed there, anchored and swam in; anchor up and sailed back to Ponce. APPLY YOUR SUNSCREEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE PONCE.

Comment by janis on 27 Aug 2011

Well, I called and got in touch with them right away, and even someone speaking English - quite a pleasant surprise for PR

Comment by on 03 Jun 2011

My wife and I visited Ponce and had a really hard time getting in touch with Island Venture. We left lots of phone messages with no calls back. The people with Caribbean Images were really nice and easy to work with.

Comment by Dave on 07 May 2011

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