Puerto Ferro Lighthouse Ruins in Vieques
When I was looking for non-beach things to do during a recent trip to Vieques, I came across the Puerto Ferro Lighthouse ruins or Faro Berdiales. The descriptions included old ruins, dramatic cliffs, great views and a hike … you know that I was hooked!
The ruins are located on the south coast, in the old Camp Garcia Naval Training area, which is now a US Fish and Wildlife Reserve.
There is one small catch … it is in a "restricted area" — which means that you can’t technically go there. Of course, I would never suggest that anyone break the rules.
Some Background Info
The Puerto Ferro Lighthouse (Faro de Puerto Ferro in Spanish) began operation in 1896. Its role was to guide mariners along the southern coast, during the heyday of shipping sugar and cattle. The lighthouse was abandoned in 1926. Since then, time, weather and nature have wreaked havoc on the building. Today, though still under the management of the US Coast Guard, it is in ruins.
These ruins couldn’t have been easier to find. We started out by taking the gravel road to the right just inside the gate to the US Fish and Wildlife Reserve (that’s the same gate you use to get to Red Beach, Blue Beach, etc.). It’s a narrow road, and we probably picked up a few scratches on the sides of our rental Jeep. We followed that road until we got to a locked gate, where we parked in the small "parking area" on the left.
>There’s a sign on the gate that says "do not pass beyond this point" … which we avoided by taking the small footpath into the brush to the left of the gate. Maybe we didn’t even see the sign until after our walk
The walk is just under 1 mile, and takes about 30 minutes. It is all on a slightly overgrown, gravel road, which leads right to the lighthouse. Don’t believe Google Maps — there are no other roads past this gate. It is an easy, gradual climb, though it is hot and humid, and sometimes in the sun.
The lighthouse is in ruins, but it still retains its beautiful architecture and majestic position on the rugged cliff. To get to the front door, you pass some wells/cisterns. The doors/windows are closed up, though holes have been made to provide access to the inside of the building.
It is in a serious state of ruins, so we were very careful. Inside, vandals have made their mark, but elements of the original structure can still be seen — the pretty, colored floor tile work, the kitchen tile and cooking chimney, and even the bathroom. The circular staircase that leads to the roof and lighthouse tower are still mostly intact. Though, with the roof caving in, we did not venture out onto the roof.
Outside, the cliffs are lovely — they reminded us of a smaller version of the area around the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. There are great views of the beaches and southern coast line.
There are no guard rails, and the rock here is very crumbly, so we didn’t get too close to the edge. There are paths through the shrubbery that lead out to other rocky outcrops and even down to the beach cove below.
For the best photos, and to avoid the hottest time of the day, go in the early morning. Take a hat, sunglasses, bug spray (though we didn’t encounter any bugs), and plenty of drinking water.
The US Fish and Wildlife Reserve is located at KM 3.2 on Route 997. Inside the gate, take the first gravel road immediately on the right, which runs parallel to Route 997. This is a one lane road, with acacia thorn bushes on both sides, so I would hate to meet anyone coming the other way on this road. You will get scratches on the sides/top of the vehicle. There is a gate at the end, and a parking area on the left.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.