Punta Tuna Lighthouse and Beach in Maunabo
On a recent, sunny Sunday, we decided to take a drive down the east coast of Puerto Rico. It is a nice drive if you go along the coast, with some great views along the way.
At the south-east corner if the island is the town of Maunabo, in which you can find the Punta Tuna Lighthouse (Faro Punta Tuna) and beach. While you can’t enter the lighthouse itself, the park and beach area are worth a stop.
The Faro Punta Tuna de Maunabo
This lovely lighthouse stands on top of a small prometary that sticks out into the sea at the south-eastern point of the island. The lighthouse was built in 1890 by the Spanish government to alert mariners of the coast. It was commissioned in 1892, and continues to be in service today.
The lighthouse has a small, one-story light-keeper’s house (similar to many others on the island), with 2 identical living quarters on each side, and a 49-foot octagonal tower in the center.
It had a third order Fresnel lens that was able to project light 18 nautial miles out to sea. This lens was used until the end of the 1970s, at which time it was replaced by solar lamps. The Fresnel lens remains in the tower today, though it is damaged.
Originally, a hand-wound clock mechanism was used to rotate the lights (using weights that hung from the top of the central column), but this was changed over to electric in 1939.
The lighthouse is still owned by the US Coast guard, but had fallen into disrepair. The town of Maunabo has been managing and restoring it since 2006. They would like to take ownership of it soon. They understand the historical significance and tourist potential of the lighthouse and the surrounding area. Currently, the town has volenteers at the park, so visitors can stop in to see the lighthouse. It is located in a pretty little park that has great views of the water and beaches on either side of the point.
A Visit to the Lighthouse
Once you arrive at the lighthouse, they ask you stop into the visitor office and sign their visitor log. There, you can pick up a bilingual leaflet with information about the lighthouse. Upstairs, above the office, they have a small museum with bilingual exhibits.
The museum is maintained by a local volunteer (and splunker) named Andres. Andres has explored some local caves and discovered many pre-Columbian artifacts, which he proudly displays in this museum. He’ll be happy to tell you about his explorations and discoveries.
After spending some time in the museum, we walked around outside the lighthouse, taking photos and enjoying the views and breezes.
A Visit to the Beach
The Punta Tuna Beach is accessable from just outside the gate of the lighthouse. There is a small fence-lined path that leads to the beach. This beach is natural — there are no facilities, lifeguards, nor maintenance done to the beach. Even so, it’s a very pretty beach, with a wide sandy area.
The beach is posted as a no swimming beach because the swift currents make the water unsafe. But it is great for sun bathing and long walks. You can also get some great photos of the lighthouse and rock formations from the beach.
After our picnic lunch on the beach, we were ready for more adventures along the south east corner of Puerto Rico.
There is no cost to access the lighthouse park nor the beach.
The lighthouse park is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
You can call the visitor office at the lighthouse for more information at 787-861-0301.
There are clean restrooms in the museum at the lighthouse park.
There’s really no easy, direct way to get to the lighthouse. From San Juan, you can take Route 52 down to Ponce and then take Route 53 to Maunabo, where you can pick up Road 760. Alternately, you can head east from San Juan and take Route 3 to Route 53 to Road 760. Look at the map for specific roads to take. When you finally get to the lighthouse, there is limited parking along the road and the end of Road 7760.
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