Laguna Guaniquilla Reflections
When I first saw a photo of Laguna Guaniquilla in a Que Pasa Magazine, I knew that I had to find it myself. Huge, jagged rocks that look like they came from the moon in the middle of a lagoon … you don’t see that every day! It was so unusual looking — hauntingly beautiful and roughed. A photographer’s and hiker’s dream, but with just one catch …
Laguna Guaniquilla is located in Cabo Rojo, on the south western point of Puerto Rico. A local, that lives in Cabo Rojo, gave us the info on how to go in to see this … “if you are into adventure”. Well, we are. So we did!
I was expecting a rough trail, but it was amazingly easy. Beautiful, cleared paths; even a boardwalk in one spot. Ruins from 19th century hacienda. Supposedly, even caves (though we didn’t find them).
And the catch? Well, it turns out this whole area is a nature reserve — “Punta Guaniquilla Nature Reserve” — maintained by the Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Conservation Trust).
You need permission from the Fideicomiso to visit this site. You can call or write to them and ask. I assume they don’t want people trashing the place or bothering the wildlife, but it did look like they must do tours (evidenced by all the well-maintained trails).
But we did not know this at the time, so we just did the local thing … and went! Update 2021- now, they seem more open to people hiking in. The trails are wider and maintained and they have put up signs of the route to the lake and the caves and the ruins etc! Enjoy but keep it clean!
Our Morning of Adventure
We visited Laguna Guaniquilla the same day we that we went to Playa Buyé. At the tee at the end of Calle Buyé, we turned left (turning right leads to the beach), and followed the dirt road until we got to a locked gate. Walking along the shoreline, we found a number of paths in, so we took one, got back onto the “road”, and continued along the road.
We went during rainy season, so it was a bit muddy. Luckily, we remembered to bring insect repellent, otherwise we would have donated a lot of blood to the mosquitoes!
It is a nice walk, maybe about 20 minutes until we got to the ruins of the 19th century sugar hacienda. The ruins are beautiful, and the view behind them is amazing. From this vantage point up on the hill, we could see the limestone rocks in the lagoon below.
After taking about 100 photos here, we continued down the road to the field, took a left at the end of the road, and crossed the field. After walking across the field to the forest, we chose the path into the woods on the left. There is also a path to the right … as it turns out, it is a big circle.
Now, we had no idea where the paths lead (they are not marked at all), but our Google Maps on our iPhone worked well, and we made sure we kept the (distant) lagoon to our right. As it turns out, we went all the way around the lagoon.
There are a few paths that merged into the path we were on, so we chose the path to the right any time we had a choice. Again, having a maps app / GPS was extremely helpful.
The path was really muddy, but mostly flat and easy walking, until we got to the limestone rocks. I thought they looked like giant dinosaur bones — stark white with jagged edges. The path leads through the rocky area, but there were times where the path was just across the rocks, so it was a bit more difficult. Note — sturdy shoes are required, no flip-flops nor water shoes.
After a while, we got to a “cave area” that was also neat, with huge rocks leaning against each other — as if some giant had knocked over a bunch of dominoes.
Finally, we got to a place where the path led through an opening and to the edge of the water. This was a great spot to see the lagoon and the rocks. The day was ideal for photos … the water was perfectly flat, and the sun wasn’t too high in the sky yet. The only disturbances on the surface of the water were the water fowl that call this beautiful place “home”.
After about another 100 photos, we got back to the main path, and continued in the same direction. The path lead away from the lagoon, through the mangroves, and along the beach. It was all just beautiful.
There were salt marshes, and loads of crabs scurrying about.
We came to another V in the road, where we took it to the right. The left branch seemed to continue along the beach. Eventually, we emerged from the forest into the field where we started our loop.
We walked back across the field toward the ruins, where we stopped to take a bunch more photos.
At the ruins (to the left if you are facing the lagoon), there is a trail that leads down to the main path we were on. If you were to take this path, you would turn to the left when it joins the main path.
Laguna Guaniquilla is on private property. You should get permission from the Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Conservation Trust) before entering this area. The Fideicomiso sometimes offers tours of Laguana Guaniquilla – check the schedule on their web site.
Make sure to protect the environment. Take only photos. Leave only footprints. Stay on the trails. Bring plenty of drinking water, and insect repellent. Sturdy-soled shoes are required, no flip-flops.
It took us about 2 hours from start to finish.
To get to Buyé Beach, once in Cabo Rojo, take Road 307 to KM 4.8. That’s where you’ll find Calle Buyé. Park along the street or in one of the lots. Walk to the left at the T at the end of Calle Buyé.
We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Laguna Guaniquilla, Gate on Path: (18.045820, -67.200278)
- Laguna Guaniquilla, photo spot: (18.035779, -67.201281)
- Laguna Guaniquilla, trailhead by ruins: (18.041042, -67.203300)
- Laguna Guaniquilla, trailhead in field: (18.039135, -67.204453)
- parking, Buyé Beach: (18.048810, -67.197107)
- Playa Buyé: (18.050327, -67.198917)
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!