Mona Island Lighthouse

The Mona Passage is located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. To make the passage safer for boats, it was decided to construct a lighthouse on Mona Island. The lighthouse is located on the eastern side of the island and the Spanish Government had two sets of plans commissioned in 1885 and 1886. Since its construction it has become a historical monument and attraction for the Puerto Rican tourism industry.

The island of Mona was being used for guano harvesting as it is blanketed in caves, which were home to thousands of bats. The guano was used as fertilizer and in the production of gunpowder. With approximately four hundred workers on the island at one time, and boats being used to transport the workers, the need for a lighthouse became vital. The one plan that the Spanish Government had was for a masonry structure and could house three lighthouse keepers and their families, but the sandstone that Mona Island is constructed from is very brittle. It is therefore assumed that the second set of plans were accepted for this very reason, and an iron tower was constructed that could house one lighthouse keeper and his family. The designer of this lighthouse was the same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower, Gustav Eiffel. Construction began in the 1890s and was completed by the United States government after the 1898 Spanish-American War.

In 1900 the Mona Island Lighthouse shed its first light and in 1973 the lighthouse was automated. It consists of an iron shaft that is cylindrical, with a spiral staircase that leads to the lantern room. The housing for the lighthouse keeper was build out of wood and steel, with seven rooms. It is the only lighthouse in Puerto Rico that is constructed from iron. After being de-activated in the year 1976, the lighthouse began to deteriorate. The tropical climate and its location has speeded up the rusting process of the structure, and it therefore finds itself on the Frommers 500 Places To See Before They Disappear listing. In 1981 the Mona Island Lighthouse, or Faro de la Isla la Mona, made its way onto the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. With its uniqueness and historical value, it is a recommended attraction in Puerto Rico.