The Mysterious Islands of Mona and Monita
Near Puerto Rico, the mysterious and enduring beauty of uninhabited Monita Island lies north-northwest just five kilometers from her sister island, Mona. Within the sixteen hectares of this limestone island, a limited range of flora and fauna exists – a fraction of land that is found on Isle of Mona. This distinct difference between the two islands is due mainly to their size: Monita is less then 0.3% of the area of its sister – Mona.
This inconspicuous land comprising these islands is home to the Capparis flexuosa, a small shrub and well as developing trees such as Ficus citrifolia, Guapira discolor and the Pithecellobium unguis-cati. Biologists have concluded that the island’s lack of botanical diversity is due to the shortage of beach habitation and depressions which are visibly seen on Island of Mona. Influxes of sea birds such as the Brown Booby provide sufficient nutrients in their droppings to encourage the existing growth to thrive within this limited existence.
The topographical features of Mona and Monita Islands however have other contrasting landscapes with the highest altitude reaching a point of sixty-three meters on the northeastern corner. This change in topography rapidly changes on both the southern and western sides which are comparatively flat.
The rugged Spanish Isla of Mona lies within the Mona Passage, a channel which separates the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico. Her characteristics, unlike her solitary sister, are one of more intense beauty which was discovered in 1493 by Columbus. Since 1975 the U.S. Department of National Resources has overseen the preservation of the natural ecology through a Protective Program that requires that four of the residential rangers and a single biologist be on call at all times to monitor the delicate and fragile ecosystem on the islands.
Mona’s semi-arid climate has preserved the remains of graves, ruins and relics of the Taino tribe that have been laying in dormant peace for hundreds of years. Her beauty extends into 200 foot cliffs, hidden caves, coral reefs, mangrove forests and snow white beaches. The surrounding waters are home to the some of the rarest and most endangered and diverse marine life. Interestingly, in the 1900’s the United States Government located in Puerto Rico built the first lighthouse on the Northern side of Mona.
Visitors to the Mona Island can make their way by private transport such as yachts or through public excursions. A FAA certified airport is also available for light aircrafts for emergency purposes. Private and commercialized flights however require a permit for use of the landing strip which can only be acquired through Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources.
A trip to Mona will reward even the most ardent and experienced travelers. After a visit to these spectacular islands, visitors will keep lasting memories of breathtaking sunsets and starry galaxies which opens up. If you plan a visit to Puerto Rico, we recommend that you avail yourself of the unique experience of seeing such an amazing and beautiful snapshot of nature in the Caribbean.