Mask Requirement (updated 18 Apr 2022)
😷 Masks are not required, neither indoors (with some execptions) nor outdoors. Masks are recommended in indoor situations where you cannot be certain of the vaccination status of other people
😷 Masks are required inside airports, per Federal/CDC mandates
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
😷 Masks are required indoors in places like hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing homes, medical offices, health centers, clinics, labs, pharmacies, and on public transportation (including taxis and buses). The Department of Health may make masks mandetory in other situations where their use is deemed necessary.
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks.
πŸ“„ These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Restaurants, Bars & other Food Establishments (updated 08 Mar 2022)
πŸ‘ͺ The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
πŸ“„ These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Hotels, Resorts & other Lodging (updated 08 Mar 2022)
πŸ‘ͺ The requirment to check for vaccination card or negative test result has been eliminated
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
πŸ“„ These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Tours & Excursions (updated 08 Mar 2022)
β›΅ Tour operators may require proof of vaccination or negative test results to participate. Check with the operator to make sure you have what they require.
Events, Stadiums & Theaters (updated 18 Apr 2022)
πŸ‘ͺ The capacity limit has been removed, as has the requirement to wear a mask (if less than 1000 people are gathered)
😷 Masks are required at events/activities where 1000 or more people are gathered, effective 18 Apr 2022
🏟️ All attendees at group activities of 1000 or more people at facilities that encourage crowding — indoor or outdoor — must show proof of vaccination with booster (if eligible), OR negative test (molecular or antigen) results of test administered by an authorized health provider no more than 72 hours prior to arrival at the event. Facilities include theaters, amphitheaters, stadiums, conference and activity centers, and any other place where events are held. Effective 10 Mar 2022, per executive order EO-2022-019 and administrative order OA-2022-533
😷 Owners and operators of public and private establishments may, at their discretion, implement health measures that they deem necessary - including requiring the use of masks, and screening for vaccination status or negative test results
πŸ“„ These changes go into effect 10 Mar 2022, per Executive Order EO-2022-019
Cruise Ship Passengers (updated 08 Mar 2022)
🚒 All cruise ship passengers and crew who wish to disembark in Puerto Rico must be fully vaccinated, OR must have a negative molecular or antigen COVID test performed within 48 hours before disembarking in PR. All passengers and crew who test positive, or have been in close contact to someone who has tested positive, will not be permitted to disembark in Puerto Rico, regarless of vaccination status.
Air Travelers Arriving in Puerto Rico (updated 08 Mar 2022)
πŸ“„ The requirement to complete the travel declaration has been eliminated for ALL travelers arriving in Puerto Rico
✈️ DOMESTIC TRAVELERS (effective 10 Mar 2022, per EO-2022-019)
β€’ The requirement to present a vaccination card or negative test results has been eliminated for DOMESTIC travelers
✈️ INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS (effective 06 Dec 2021, per CDC)
β€’ All INTERNATIONAL air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show (before boarding flight to the US) a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the US. This applies to all travelers, 2 years old and up, flying from INTERNATIONAL (outside of the US) destinations. Flights between Puerto Rico and the States are domestic flights, so this does not apply to travelers arriving in Puerto Rico from the States.

History and Nature Combine at Aguirre Sugar Mill

As with many islands in the Caribbean, sugar was once the primary cash crop here in Puerto Rico. The Aguirre Central Sugar Mill, located in the town of Salinas, had a thriving “company town” around it to support the employees of the mill. But when the sugar industry declined — they stopped growing sugar cane commercially in Puerto Rico and the mill closed — the town and large tracts of waterfront property was left to waste away. Luckily, The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research reserve has acquired much of this area and made a nice nature reserve there. Today, you can enjoy nature and check out what is left of the sugar town.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

The Aguirre Central Sugar Mill & Company Town

The Aguirre Central Sugar Mill opened as a small plantation in the mid 1800s. In 1899, it and surrounding lands were acquired by a US company and the center grew and modernized. In it’s peak period, the complex included sugar plantations, train system, the sugar mill to process and refine the sugar, as well as administrative, commercial, institutional, recreational and residential areas/buildings. As time went on, the owners had modernized and upgraded machinery and systems so much, they could increase production and profit and limit personnel. It was one of the most efficient centers around. It continued to grow and modernize and improved it’s production.

The mill was so prosperous at one time that an entire town grew up around it. The Aguirre company town was almost autonomous, having a train system, schools, a hospital, hotel, pool, golf course, a Post Office, stores, and housing for workers right around the mill.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

In the late 1950s, the sugar industry began to decline as the island started to promote industrialization (moving people from farming areas to city areas), and as the sugar market declined (sugar was now available cheaper from other islands). The Aquirre Central still operated for years, but wasn’t profitable. In the 1970s the Puerto Rican government stepped in to try and save the market, but it was a lost cause.

In 1981, some of the land from the Aguirre Central was incorporated into what is known as the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The current Jobos Reserve’s Visitor Center/Office/Museum is in what used to be the old town club house, next to the vacant hotel.

When the mill closed in 1990, the town’s prosperity had also declined. Most of the buildings were either demolished, left to ruin, or restored/converted into houses or historic sites. In 2002, Aguirre Historic District was included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve comprises 2,800 acres of coastal land and the Jobos Bay area, and has recently acquired additional land and water shed areas. It is run by the PR DNRA in cooperation with the Federal NOAA. Here, they do research, education, monitoring and preservation of the land and animals/plants that call that area home.

The Reserve covers diverse habitats including salt flats, sea grass beds, mudflats, shallow lagoons, coral reefs, offshore cays, and mangrove islets and forests. The Reserve is home to many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, marine invertebrates, and land and marine plants. It is especially important because it is home to some endangered species like the yellow-shouldered blackbird, hawksbill sea turtle, brown pelican, and West Indian manatee. The area is also enjoyed by people for marine recreation, fishing, and ecotourism (bird watching, hiking, photography, biking).

Aguirre Sugar Mill

Our Visit

The old Aguirre Sugar company town, and the current Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are located between the municipalities of Salinas and Guayama, on the south east coast of the island. As you drive down Route 705, you will notice train tracks, and then other houses and buildings, some restored, some in disrepair.

We parked and stopped in to the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Welcome center/museum. The facilities that are available in the Jobos Bay Reserve include an educational exhibit area, a visitors’ center filled with information, a research library, conference facilities, and a laboratory. It is air-conditioned and has a restroom.

We checked out the displays, talked to the friendly people inside, and got an idea of the trails (they big map on wall, and some of the trail maps are available online). There are interpretive trails located in various places of the Reserve and surrounding waters – on Cayos Caribe, Jagueyes Forest, and Mar Negro Lagoons.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

We did the Salt Flat trails, which starts right in the parking lot of the visitor center. You can walk or bike. There is one trail that goes to the restored Aguirre Train Station building, and some that go around the salt flats and mangroves, and to the dock. The trails are open even when the visitor center is closed.

Note that the trails are through brush, so there is no shade, and it is HOT. Bring water, apply sunscreen, wear hats and closed-toe shoes (sneakers are good) as these are dirt trails and there are rocks and other sharp objects on the ground. You can do as much or as little as you want. There are the main trails, some side trails, and dirt roads.

We walked a few of the trails, to the dock, around a lagoon. It was pretty and peaceful. Lots of birds, plants, and flowers to see.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

Once we were done exploring the nature areas, we took one of the paths over to the Aquirre Sugar Mill ruins. Be careful here. This is not a place for kids! There are open pits all over the ground (from the cane conveyor belt), and rusted metal and broken glass everywhere.

If you choose to wander around, you will find some really cool things. But it is a bit unnerving, with all the creaks and moans of the rusting metal blowing in the wind. It is dangerous, but interesting. I wish someone would try to preserve some of it, and provide some education about the sugar industry, the mill, and the history of this area.

Aguirre Sugar Mill

You can also walk up the road past the visitor center and see if the hotel ruins are accessible. We checked that out, too. It was neat but be warned, when we went, the graffiti inside was a bit “graphic”!

Aguirre Sugar Mill

Details

There is no charge for the visitor center, nor the trails.

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve visitor center is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 3:30pm, and Saturday from 7:30am to 3:00pm. Closed noon to 1pm for lunch. Closed on Sunday.

You can call the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve visitor center at 787-853-3569 or 787-853-4617 for more information.

You can get more information on their Facebook page, the DRNA web site, and you can refer to their management plan (PDF).

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve visitor center and Aguirre Sugar Mill ruins are located on Route 703 at KM 2.3 in Salinas.

Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...

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 →

Ads & Sponsors

Other Puerto Rico Resources …

Coqui's Hideaway Rainforest Villa in Rio Grande Located in the Foothills of El Yunque