Executive Order EO-2021-075 (updated 15 Nov 2021)
📄 EO-2021-075 was issued on 15 Nov 2021, and is effective immediately
😷 Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in public, indoor spaces, and outdoor spaces where there are 50 or more people.
🆔 The requirement to show proof of vaccination, or negative test results for lodging, restaurants, etc (as detailed below) will apply to kids aged 5 to 11 years beginning 15 January 2022.
🏟️ All attendees at large events must show proof of vaccination. If the event venue chooses to admit people who are not fully vaccinated (but show a negative test result instead), then the capacity of the venue will be limited to 50%. Kids aged 5 to 11 must provide negative test results (until 01 Feb 2022, at which point they will need to be vaccinated).
Current COVID-19 Mandates, with no end date (updated 15 Nov 2021)
😷 Masks covering mouth & nose are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in public, indoor spaces, and outdoor spaces where there are 50 or more people.
🏨 In order to check-in to any lodging facility (short-term rentals, AirBNB, hotels, resorts, etc), all members of your party are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. This applies to all people 2 (two) years old and older. If you are unvaccinated and staying more than a week, you are required to show new negative test results weekly. Effective 16 Aug 2021, per executive order EO-2021-062.
🍔 In order to be admitted to a bunch of different places (restaurants, bars, theaters, tours, excursions, casinos, etc) you are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (c) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. Other types of businesses may, at their option, require this documentation to access their facility. This applies to all people 12 (twelve) years old and older. Effective 23 Aug 2021, per executive order EO-2021-063.
✈️ All domestic travelers arriving in Puerto Rico are are required to show either (a) vaccination card showing that you are "fully vaccinated", (b) Vacu-ID issued by the Government of Puerto Rico in the CESCO app on your mobile device, (c) negative test results of test administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival, or (d) evidence of positive test in last 3 months along with documentation proving your recovery. This applies to all people 2 (two) years old and older.If you are un-vaccinated and do not have negative results when you arrive to PR, you have 48 hours to produce those results. Otherwise you will be fined $300 per person. See the PR Government Travel Safe site for details, and to submit your contact tracing information

Mona Island 101 – A Primer

Mona Island may open for camping summer 2021. Contact the tour companies for info on their next trip.

Mona Island, or Isla de Mona, is often referred to as the Galápagos of the Caribbean. It is a natural, uninhabited island, surrounded by crystal clear water, coral reefs, soaring cliffs, ample marine life, and the occasional white-sand beach. Top-side, the island is filled with caves, historically significant artifacts, and endemic plants and animals, some of which are endangered.

Due to the difficulty in logistics of getting there, very few people have ever actually visited Mona Island. All in all, the island is shrouded in mystery. It was difficult to find the information that we needed in order to plan a visit to Mona Island, but we persevered and eventually were able to make the trip. We’ll be writing a series of articles about Mona Island so that more people might have the opportunity to experience this amazing place firsthand.

Playa Mujeres @ Mona Island

An Inhospitable Paradise

Let’s start off by saying that a visit to Mona Island is not for the average person. Let me say that again … not for the average person. And a trip to Mona Island is definitely not a day trip.

This is a serious adventure that requires lots forethought, government permits, and weeks (if not months) of planning. There is no lodging, nothing to eat, no potable water, no medical care, and no cellular service on the island. You need to plan for every imaginable situation, and pack in and pack out everything you will need during your visit. The only way to get to Mona Island is via a 3-4 hour boat ride through potentially rough seas.

The island seems designed to fight back against human intrusion. There are four types of poisonous trees/plants, which will cause a whole bunch of nasty reactions. There are cactus and other plants around every corner, with spines or thorns just dying to jump on you. The ground is primarily limestone, with sharp rocks and holes to trip you up everywhere. There are all sorts of biting insects and animals on land and in the water. Mona has an arid climate with ever-present sun and heat. Daytime temperatures are in the high-80s to mid-90s in the shade. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sun-stroke are constant dangers.

There very few directional signs on the island, so it is easy to get disoriented in a cave or if hiking without a guide. If you venture away from the camping area, you are required to wear a day-glow orange shirt so that so that the authorities can find you if you get lost (which has happened).

But if you are up for the challenge, Mona Island is an amazing, uncharted island paradise that is well worth the trouble and effort to visit.

Cueva Espinal @ Mona Island

Some Background

Mona is a small (7 miles by 4 miles), uninhabited island, located in the Mona Passage, about mid-way between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It is about 43 miles west of Cabo Rojo, and about 41 miles east of the Dominican Republic. In fact, the current name Mona is derived from the Taíno name for the island Amona, which means “that which is in the middle”.

Mona is a coral island that raised up out of the ocean many millions of years ago. It is mostly sheer rock cliffs (some 300 feet high), with a huge flat plateau area on top. There are a few beaches around the base. Since the island is mainly dolomite and limestone, there are loads of caves throughout the island. It has a hot and harsh tropical environment, and a number of different types of ecosystems to explore. There is also a tiny sister island, Monita, just a few miles to the west of Mona that is off-limits to to the public.

Mona Island is a nature reserve, managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales or DRNA). Though the island has an official population of zero, there is always at least one person from the DRNA there. On and off throughout the year, there may be a number of other people from US and PR agencies (DRNA, NOAA, USDA, Coast Guard, etc) doing research or patrols. These people reside for short periods of time, usually on the west side of the island, at Playa Sardinera. Additionally, the DRNA issues permits for short visits by campers, hunters (in season), and day-trip visitors.

Pictographs in Cueva Espinal @ Mona Island

A Brief History

The island has a long and interesting history, with original inhabitants, conquering cultures, pirates, and mining. But to give a very brief history …

The written history starts with the Taínos who inhabited Mona Island for many hundreds (possibly thousands) of years. They had a settlement in the Playa Sardinera area on the west side. They had fresh water and rich soil on the coastal area where they grew food.

When the Spanish arrived in 1493, they took advantage of the resources on the island until 1578, when the Taíno culture on Mona was all but wiped-out. Then for nearly three hundred years (from the mid-1500s until 1800) the islands were abandoned to pirates, who used this island as a rest spot to get provisions, and also as a point to attack other passing ships.

From 1848 to 1927, the Spanish and then others (including the US) mined many of the caves for bat guano (phosphate to use in fertilizer) and other minerals, and cut the trees for lumber.

The islands of Mona and Monita were under control and use by US military in the early to mid-1900s, when much of the infrastructure and existing buildings were constructed. In 1962 the islands of Mona and Monito were returned to control the government of Puerto Rico.

Finally, in the mid 1970s strict usage controls of the island were implemented, in order to maintain it as a natural paradise. Those controls are still in place today, and the island is currently used for research, camping, hunting (of non-indigenous goats and pigs), fishing, hiking, exploring, etc.

Mona Island Ground Iguana

Logistics of Visiting Mona Island

As previously mentioned, the only way to get to Mona Island is by boat. If you are lucky, you’ll go on a powerful boat when the seas are calm (which is typically in the summer), and the trip crossing should take about 3 hours. The trip from Mona Island back to the big island of Puerto Rico might take a little bit longer. If you are unlucky, and the seas are rough, you can go ahead and add a couple more hours onto the duration of the boat ride.

Mona Island

If you have your own boat, you are allowed to visit the island and use the mooring balls that are near some of the beaches. But to venture onto the beach past the high-tide line requires a 1-day visitor’s permit from the DRNA.

Most people don’t have their own powerboat. If you fall into that category, you will have charter a boat to take you to Mona Island. There are a few companies that provide that service, but they are expensive.

The most reasonable option is to go with an excursion operator that schedules a trip, arranges the boat, and then gets a group of adventurous folks together to share the expense. There are a few companies that provide this service. We have used Mona Island Tours or MonteAdentro for our trips to the island. Other companies include Acampa, and occasionally the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Camping is allowed from May through November and hunting (to control the population on non-indigenous goats and pigs) is allowed from December through April. Permits are required to set foot onto the island above the high-tide mark — either a camping permit (maximum of 3 days), a 1-day visitor’s permit, or a hunting/camping permit. Permits must be obtained before arriving on Mona from the DRNA (you can get more info by calling 787-999-2200 ext 2100, Spanish only).

The DRNA enforces a strict maximum number of people allowed to camp (110) at any given time, so people need to get their permits as early as possible (usually at least 1-2 months before they plan to come). You can get the permit paperwork online in the Uso de Terrenos y Permisos Forestales section of the DRNA web site.

So What Is There to DO There?

We went to hike, see the caves, pictographs and petroglyphs, snorkel and swim, watch for sea turtles, take 1000s of photos, and camp (because there is not even a 1-star hotel there). But I guess you could do as much or as little as you wanted.

Things that attract people to Mona Island include gin-clear blue water loaded with sealife and perfect for snorkeling and SCUBA, sunbathing on white sand beaches, photography, hiking, camping, getting back to nature, caving, historic sites (both pre and post-Columbus), animal studies, bird watching, star gazing, fishing, and hunting.

El Capitán @ Mona Island

OK, So Why Are We Telling You About This?

We’ve already said that visiting Mona Island is not a day trip, and it’s not for your average person. But it is a remarkable place that is worth visiting if you are able.

We’ve been wanting to go to Mona Island for a number of years, but information on making the trip was hard to come by. We were finally able to visit the island in mid-August 2015, and will be returning to the island in early-November 2015. In our effort spread the word about the wonders of Puerto Rico, we want to document our experience, both by sharing our photos and by sharing the information we’ve come to possess about Mona Island.

Possible future articles may include details on camping, hiking, caves, and beaches of Mona Island. We hope that you enjoy the beauty of Mona Island, if only from the comfort of your living room.

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 ...

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 →

Comments & Discussion

There are 20 comments on this article.

In early 70's I would fly the department of natural resources to mona. I was entranced. At the time the entire island had a cleared grid at 20 foot spacing. I understood that it was surveys for an underground SAC base for nuclear weapons aircraft that was never constructed. Also there was a very disintegrated out line of a beach NAZI minutature sub abandon at end of WW2.

Comment by greg burrowes on 18 Apr 2021

In the 90’s I went twice to Isla de Mona on a scuba diving/camping excursion. We spent about 3 days and it took us about hours to get there.The diving there is amazing, and the wildlife on the island as well. We went exploring through the caves and it was quite an experience. It’s definitely for the adventurous traveler. Mona is known as the “Galápagos of the Caribbean”.

Comment by Lida Rivas on 14 Feb 2021

In the 90s I went to Mona over 50 times. I would fly DRNA rangers, hunters and researchers to the grass landing strip on the island. Since I often dropped off in the morning I would spend the rest of the day exploring the island. Often I would scope out from island from the air before landing to plan my next adventure or cave to explore. A few times I brought my mountain bike to ride to the lighthouse.

Comment by Zane Cheek on 03 Feb 2021

I made 3 trips to Mona 1972-3 sailed from Cabo Rojo and explored and spear fished. I will never forget the experience and will treasure that time until the day I die.

Comment by Charles Ambrogio on 29 Jan 2020

In the 70s and 80s we traveled over 10 times to Mona and never stayed less than a week. One to three days is not enough for what the island offers. Our last visit we saw a full lunar eclipse from Playa Pájaros. One thing for sure, the magic of the island calls you back. If not prepared, don’t venture into areas without well-defined trails and in Pájaros you’ll never get lost in Cueva del Caballo, a huge cave system mined for guano. So walk it freely and enjoy the magic. Caves in el Faro area are beautiful and the boobies past Cabo Norte are very interesting. Enjoy.

Comment by Ivan Garcia on 26 Sep 2019

No company is cheap. If you go with the tour, they are responsible for you, I don't think they can let you go on your own. I believe Mona Island Tours is the least expensive. I think you can bring your own water/food for less, but you have to go on the tours. Can't leave you alone.

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Feb 2019

What is the cheapest tour company for visiting Mona Island? Even better, is there someone who can charge a reasonable price for getting me to Mona Island without a tour package included? I'm really only interested in getting to the island, not the tour packages.

Comment by Jorge on 18 Feb 2019

I spent 6 months on Mona Island in 1962 with two other Gringos looking for buried treasure. It turned out, that the trip was the "treasure".

Comment by Ken Mackey on 18 Jul 2018

Yes, there are tours going over now for camping/hiking. Unless you have your own boat, you have to go with a tour group on their boat. There are a few companies going over that I know: https://www.acampapr.com/us/isla-de-mona-expedition.html or https://www.facebook.com/Mona-Island-Tours-Puerto-Rico-1596318683986422/ They will tell you what they need - copies of license, some info for permit, and money , and all the supplies they will supply and what you need to supply. Ornage shirts are a must. Contact the tour companies.

Comment by Gwenn on 28 Apr 2018


Comment by ARTIE MONTALVO on 26 Apr 2018

You will need to contact a tour company. We use Mona Island Tours (https://www.facebook.com/Mona-Island-Tours-Puerto-Rico-1596318683986422/). The calendar is on his Facebook page. The rate is $388 which includes the boat trip and camping permits and food/water and tours.

Comment by Gwenn on 13 Feb 2017

Interested in a tour (1-3 days) of Mona Island, P.R. in Nov or Dec 2017. Please provide cost and other info.

Comment by will young on 11 Feb 2017

I suggest you contact Jaime at Mona Island Tours. He will know more how to help. https://www.facebook.com/Mona-Island-Tours-Puerto-Rico-1596318683986422/ 787-501-7333 or 787-344-2903

Comment by Gwenn on 30 Sep 2016

I'm a TV documentary producer looking to locate an "avenue of anchors" off the west coast of Mona. We wanted to dive there on Oct. 11 to see them. We're also looking for a caving expert as a guide for one day, Oct 12 for a show we are shooting. If there is any interest, please contact me ASAP at: 323-363-6216 (Los Angeles). Many thanks! (We are already in contact with the Dept. of Natural Resources.)

Comment by Thomas Quinn on 30 Sep 2016

My grandfather was born in the lighthouse there in 1927. A point of interest that is never mentioned by anyone that writes about this island is that the lighthouse tower was designed by Eiffel, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris...

Comment by Wilfredo Banchs on 18 Jul 2016

They drink the rainwater that remains in the rock crevices and caves. And they eat the plants, which contain some water too. They manage to survive very well (too well!).

Comment by Gwenn on 19 May 2016

If there is no potable water on the island, what do the pigs and goats drink?? Don't they need fresh water?

Comment by Robin Thornburg on 18 May 2016

The last frontier of our lifetime....it is now or ever...! Check this link for a historical review written by Frank Wadsworth for the 1972 repor for the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, http://geology.uprm.edu/Morelock/monhist.htm enjoy... ;-)

Comment by lewiz menz on 26 Jan 2016

History is important.. My first visit to Mona Island was 1965. Jamie Rameriz operated his Mona airline from Mayaguez (non-stop) to Mona. There was the ""Mona Hilton" to sleep shelter overnight.. I paid him $50 for the round trip plus a bottle of rum (gift) for the authorities that worked there. There were no permits necessary. The flight took about 45 minutes. The plane was a piper cub and for safe passage we circled the airport until gaining altitude of 5,000 feet. We put on the life jackets before take-off. I made hundreds of trips to Mona over the next 5 years, and could write a book about this island that is larger than Culebra but smaller than Vieques.

Comment by Thomas Nicholson on 12 Nov 2015

I'm thankful that you get to visit all of these amazing places in PR and tell us about it. Even though I was born and raised there, in the small town of Naranjito, I haven't experience all there is to see and do in that beautiful island of ours. We live in TX. I would love to see more pictures of the places you visit. I'm looking forward to see the pictures of Mona. Thank you for taking the time to visit, show us photos, and write about all the places. I wish the tourism improve in PR. I think your website contributes to it. Regards, Flor

Comment by Flor D Nieves on 03 Sep 2015

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