Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

Laz Cabezas de San Juan

The Conservation Trust of PR owns this nature reserve in Fajardo, at the north eastern-most tip of the island. Encompassing hundreds of acres, the Conservation Trust offers tours to explain the different eco-systems that are in the reserve.

On our most recent visit (we have taken the tour a number of times with family and friends), we went with my in-laws. Here is a run down of our tour: We made our reservations ahead of time (this is a must – they don’t allow drop-ins), and arrived a little early. You need to tell the guard at the entrance your name, and if you made a reservation, he will let you in to park. Then you head up to the open-air visitor center to pay and wait for the tour to start. This is a beautiful veranda, with rockers to sit in while you wait. It also has a nice gazebo right at the waters edge, so you can enjoy the view while you wait. They tell you to get there 30 minutes early, which gives you time to relax and enjoy the breezes.

They call the names for the tour – usually they limit it to the number of people you can fit on their tour trams (about 25, I think). The guide explains the eco-systems as you drive by – the sea grass, coral reefs, mangrove forest, lagoons etc.

The guide will stop briefly so you can get a good look at, and maybe a good photo of, interesting things along the way – such as huge termite nests, crabs, and iguanas. We also stopped briefly at the lagoon that is bioluminescent (at night only!).

The first real stop (where you get off the tram) is at the mangrove forest. Here you walk around the mangrove swamp on a boardwalk. The guide explains the different types of mangrove bushes and other plants and animals that grow around in the mangrove and explains the importance of a mangrove forest. It is about a 30 minute walk, but much of it is in the sun, so be forewarned – it can get hot. They have a water fountain at the tram stop.

The next stop is to a rocky beach, that is just beautiful – with the waves crashing on the shore. Lots of neat rocks and coral are there to look at. The guide will explain and answer questions about this area and the things you find on the beach.

The last stop is to a nice lighthouse. It has been restored to its former glory and still works! It contains many exhibits – with iguanas and crabs in glass cages for easy viewing, and fish in aquariums. We also got to touch sea cucumbers. They have bones of manatees and whales and turtles and lots of shells to look at. It also has some displays on the history of the lighthouse.

A new exhibit is the bioluminescence room. (This part is not always available). They have you go into a little room (it is air-conditioned), They then explain about the dinoflagellates that live in the lagoon. They give you bags filled with these creatures and turn off the lights. Then you shake the bags and you can see the glow. It is very neat.

You then can go up to the lighthouse roof – the views are beautiful. You can see many of the out-islands, sometimes even St. Thomas and beyond. We all felt it was well worth going up the narrow spiral steps to get there and the whole tour was really nice.

Cost: Adults $12, Seniors and Children $9. Reservations are needed, use their website to make reservations for the next week or call for later reservations.

Hours: Tours are offered 8:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm in Spanish, from Wed – Sun only. Reservations are required.

Tours last about 2 hours each.

Note- only the 1:30pm tour is English.

Wear comfortable clothes & shoes. Food & drinks other than water are prohibited.

For reservations , use their online reservation system. Go to their website Conservation Trust. The offical name of the tour is “Meet Las Cabezas de San Juan”. For more info, call 787-722-5882.

Website: Conservation Trust

Directions: The Reserve is located in Fajardo on road 987 near Las Croabas.

It takes about 45 minutes to get to the Reserve from our house in Rio Grande.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place. 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 10 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

I cannot seem to make reservations via e-mail - any suggestions. When I call for reservations, I cannot connect with an English speaking person.

Comment by Carole Kopp on 15 Jul 2013

Yes, now the best way is to reserving online. Go to their site directly and they have a great online reservation system. I will update article with the new info.

Comment by Gwenn on 16 Jul 2013

Hello Gwenn, This sounds like a great tour. However, can you tell me the exact name of the tour that would be listed on the website? When I go to the website they have all kinds of tours up and it's unclear which is the one you wrote about. (Although the walking tour of the Bio Bay is now listed!)

Comment by Vonalda on 01 Oct 2013

When I looked at their site, it is called "Meet Las Cabezas de San Juan" but I think that may change on occasion.

Comment by Gwenn on 02 Oct 2013

Thanks for such a thoroughly detailed review. Can you provide information about the parking at the reserve?

Comment by Aakash on 12 Jan 2014

Once the guard gets your name/reservation, he lets you in the gate and they have free parking inside on an outdoor gravel lot.

Comment by Gwenn on 12 Jan 2014

I don't see this tour on the website and I know it's been a while since you went. Do you know if they still run it? Thanks for the wonderful write-ups! ps- After writing to you I found it on the website. How silly of me. Thank you again!!

Comment by Emily on 15 Dec 2014

No problem, you got it! Yes, this tour is still going on. Enjoy !

Comment by Gwenn on 16 Dec 2014

Hi, thank you for your article. It has a lot of information. I am taking my family to Puerto Rico towards the end of July. I was wondering if you have any recommendations on where to stay. I am thinking of staying four of five nights in Fajardo at Penamar condos and a few nights in San Juan, maybe the Isle Verde area. I am hoping everyone has a great time-and to pick a place everyone will enjoy. We have me and my husband-we are 49, my son who is 27, his wife, a 9year old, a 15 and 13 year old. I don't really want to be in the busy city of San Juan the entire time. (we are staying eight nights). This is going to be the biggest and most exotic vacation we have ever been on. (We live in the middle of the US and have never been anywhere outside of the states.) If you have any advice I would really appreciate it. I have not booked anything other than flights.

Comment by Tonya Bolter on 13 Oct 2015

Well, I think it depends on what you want to do while you are in PR. Before deciding on a place to stay, check to see what activities are most important to you. Then decide how much driving you want to do. If you are mostly beach and want real tropical looking, maybe a few nights on Culebra/Vieques would be best. Fajardo is ok, but it is on a the NE tip of PR- most everything is elsewhere. But of course things like the ferries and El Yunque are not far. But if you want to do the caves or Ponce etc- that would add lots of time driving. San Juan is ok if you like city- it is convenient for restaurants/clubs etc. Isla Verde has a nice beach and of course, it is not far from Old San Juan. With the highway, it is really only a little over an hour to Fajardo from San Juan.

Comment by Gwenn on 24 Oct 2015

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