Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge and Salt Flats Interpretive Centre
If you travel to Puerto Rico’s west coast you will find a number of natural wonders that are well worth visiting. One of these is the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge and Salt Flats Interpretive Centre. The protected area features some rather unusual plant diversity and is absolutely filled with birds.
Locals call the salt flats near Cabo Rojo ‘las salinas’. This rather unique wonder is a rare sight in the Caribbean. Essentially the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats are a series of saline estuaries – some of which adjoin the sea. Each estuary is a little different from its neighbor, with some being more salty and others being less salty. They occur naturally here due to the combination of high solar radiation and minimal rainfall that the area experiences.
In the past this impressive natural environment was farmed intensively for salt. The area was at threat from human encroachment and development, and something needed to be done about this. The answer was the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats Interpretive Centre – an education center with the primary role of educating the general public about the threat this sort of destructive behaviour can pose to the island’s ecosystems. The Salt Flats Interpretive Centre in Puerto Rico presently forms part of the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, a 1,836 acre area of land that has been set aside for the preservation of this unusual wilderness. Today visitors can visit this refuge and explore the incredibly diverse flora and fauna found here. There are as many as six different ecosystems in the Refuge, including more common mangrove forests and very uncommon hyper-saline ponds. There are also numerous hiking trails snaking their way through the various kinds of vegetation in the area, exposing walkers to as much of the diversity as possible. Bird lovers will be happy to know that as many as 118 bird species can be found in the area. The Cabo Rojo Lighthouse isn’t too far away and a visit to this landmark usually adds to your adventure.
You’ll find the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge and Salt Flats Interpretive Centre by driving on Route 2 from Mayaguez. You can turn onto Route 100 near Cabo Rojo then turn left onto Route 101 at the end of the route. After about 8 miles you’ll find a turn to your right onto Route 310 which will take you right to the Refuge. Remember to pack in sunblock, water, a hat and comfortable walking shoes for your trip to this beautiful and unusual natural destination.