Puerto Ferro Berdiales 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. But it is a great place to walk or bike.
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 gate, where we parked in the small "parking area" on the left.
When we went, there was a sign on the gate that says "do not pass beyond this point" but it is now an open gate with free access.
The walk from this first lot is just under 1 mile, and takes about 30 minutes. It is all on a 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. Starting March 2015- you can now drive up a bit more, to a second parking area and gate and have a much shorter walk (about 150 yards) to the lighthouse.
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 now closed up, though when we went, holes had been made to provide access to the inside of the building.
It is in a serious state of ruins, so we were very careful. Just for reference, on the 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 (Berdiales beach ).
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 F&W National Wildlife Refuge is open 7 days/week, from 7am – dark ( 6:30pm Sept – Feb, 7:30p rest of year
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.
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 ...
- Puerto Ferro Lighthouse Ruins: (18.096327, -65.423821)
- Puerto Ferro Lighthouse Ruins, parking: (18.105036, -65.437031)
- US Fish and Wildlife Reserve: (18.121423, -65.438023)
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!