Exploring Wuanikí Bawá in Ceiba
We have been wanting to see the Wuanikí Bawá or Piedra del Indio petroglyphs for many years. They are drawings of three figures, etched a monolith at the water’s edge, that are accessible only from the water. Now that the old Roosevelt Roads US Navel base is open to the public, there are operators there that can make this a reality. We recently rented kayaks from Blackbeard Sports and spent a couple hours exploring the petroglyphs and nearby mangrove lagoon.
Roosevelt Roads was once a very active US Naval base, that was closed in 2004. The navy base occupied roughly 8700 acres of prime coastal land in Ceiba on the eastern end of Puerto Rico. The Roosevelt Roads area has everything any nature lover could want — bird watching, beaches, reefs for snorkeling, and potential areas for water sports. In addition to the “fun & games”, there are significant pre-Columbian archaeological sites.
As an ex-navy base, the majority of the area had been off limits for years. Recently (2015), much of the old base area has been opened for public enjoyment. There some businesses available to help you make the most of the area. We recently rented kayaks and spent a couple hours exploring.
Wuanikí Bawá Petroglyphs
The Wuanikí Bawá or Piedra del Indio petroglyphs are drawings of three figures, etched on a monolith at the water’s edge, in a bay in the old Roosevelt Roads Naval base. Since the area was off limits, we never found a way get there.
In 2015, the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA, or Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources) was given “ownership” of about 70 acres of land around, and including, the Wuanikí Bawá archaeological site. They have future plans to possibly make a boardwalk around it, so it will be accessible for everyone. As of now, no one is permitted on the land around the rock so that it remains protected. Until the proposed boardwalk is completed, the only was to see this historic site is by a short boat ride or an invigorating kayak trip.
Our Trip to Wuanikí Bawá
Blackbeard Sports is one of the businesses operating in the Roosevelt Roads facility, so we gave them a call. They have a store and rental facility just across the Ensenada Honda Bay from the Wuanikí Bawá site. We rented a double kayak from them, they gave us some info about the bay, told us the rules for accessing the petroglyphs, and pointed us in the right direction.
The kayak trip across the bay is about 1 mile, as the crow flies. The site is almost directly across the bay from the end of the long pier.
The stone stands right at water’s edge, with the carvings facing the sea. The exact reason why the native peoples made this site, and what the carvings mean, is unknown. All I know is that they are really neat!
The main carvings are two “bundled babies”, which look like figures swaddled in blankets with a couple X’s on their chests. There is also a smaller carving of a third figure toward the bottom of the stone … which could be another person or a pet of some type.
There are two theories as to what or who these figures might represent. The first theory is that these figures represent two chiefs who welcomed visitors (or fellow tribesmen) arriving by sea, or wished them “safe travels” upon their departure. The second theory is that these figures represent the gods of the seas, similar to Poseidon (of Greek mythology) or Neptune (of Roman mythology).
After we took pictures of the petroglyphs, we continued kayaking into a nice mangrove area. I was amazed at how quiet it was there … just us and nature. There were birds coming and going, and fish jumping out of the water. Very nice. After floating around for a while, we paddled back across the bay to where we started.
If you are pretty good at kayaking, it will take maybe 1 hour to visit the petroglyph rock, and then get back to your starting point. Add maybe another 20-30 minutes if you want to explore the mangrove lagoon. On the trip back, you’ll be paddling against the wind, so that trip is more difficult. There is less wind if you hug the coast on the way back.If you do go to the petroglyph area, please take care to just look from the water so as to preserve this historic treasure. Don’t walk or climb on the rocks, or the area surrounding the rocks.
If you are not kayakers, you can see the rocks if you drive or walk to the end of the long pier. You’ll need binoculars or a strong zoom on your camera. But you won’t be able to see the drawings from the pier — the drawings face eastward, looking toward Vieques and the open sea.
Blackbeard Sports in Roosevelt Roads
As mentioned above, we rented our kayak from Blackbeard Sports. They have kayak, bicycle, and “zodiac” boat rentals. They can offer a guide to lead you on your adventure.
Blackbeard Sports rents double kayaks for $15 for one hour, then $10 for each additional hour. Reservations are recommended.
Blackbeard Sports is Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Allow 2 hours minimum, start to finish.
You can call Blackbeard Sports at 787-741-6207 for more information or to make a reservation.
You can visit the Blackbeard Sports web site for more information.
Blackbeard Sports is located in Building 2036 at Finger Pier, Forestal Drive Bulkhead Alpha in the former Roosevelt Roads Naval base in Ceiba. It is the blue building on the waterfront near the base of the long pier.
To get to Roosevelt Roads, follow signs to the Ceiba Airport. Once through the first gate, follow the signs. Go left at the V (away from the airport), then stop at the next guard gate and tell them where you are going. Continue past the marina and yellow building. Turn right after the blue building.
The drive time from San Juan is about 1½ hours.
Other Operators in Roosevelt Roads
Pure Adventure has kayak rentals, and biobay tours (operating out of Fajardo). web site
The Oasis Bar & Grill has kayak rentals, bike rentals, and boat tours.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.
- All Hands Beach: (18.222065, -65.605926)
- Blackbeard Sports, Ceiba office: (18.230019, -65.619606)
- Oasis Bar and Grill: (18.217890, -65.604618)
- Pure Adventure office: (18.234931, -65.624564)
- Wuanikí Bawá / Piedra del Indio Petroglyphs: (18.221912, -65.636894)
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!