Punta Guaniquilla Nature Reserve
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Punta Guaniquilla Nature Reserve (PGNR) is located in the Municipality of Cabo Rojo, on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico’s South Region. It protects a total of 450.39 acres of subtropical dry forest that includes upland and wetland wildlife habitats, unique limestone formations, two cave systems and one of the most important examples of a subtropical dry forest over limestone rock in all of Puerto Rico. Three locations throughout the Reserve share the same name of “Guaniquilla:” the highest hill in the protected area, Cerro Guaniquilla; the largest lagoon, Laguna Guaniquilla; and the Reserve’s southwestern peninsula, Punta Guaniquilla.
The area features two coastal lagoons of variable size that are considered key wildlife habitats for aquatic avian species in Puerto Rico. The largest (Laguna Guaniquilla) covers an estimated 23.5 acres, while the smallest lagoon covers an estimated 11.4 acres.
Both can experience long, dry periods throughout the year and also represent a critical wildlife area for both migratory bird species and for numerous resident aquatic species, some of them threatened and endangered.
Impressive limestone formations emerging from Laguna Guaniquilla, along with dramatic promontories, constitute a landscape of unique aesthetic value for Puerto Rico. The ruins of a 19th Century hacienda can also be found near the hilltop of Cerro Guaniquilla, form which panoramic views of Desecheo Island, the Boquerón State Forest, and the island of Mona can also be appreciated on clear days.
The Reserve’s coastal fringe connects Punta Guaniquilla and Punta Pitahaya with the Boquerón State Forest, the Boquerón Wildlife Refuge, and Laguna Rincón (Caño Boquerón).
A land acquisition process was begun by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico in 1977 to protect these lands of extraordinary ecological assets from
developmental pressures. Most notable among these was the Punta Guaniquilla Resort, originally proposed for the area’s peninsula in 1970.
On November 15, 2002, the Puerto Rico Planning Board designated part of the lands managed by the Conservation Trust as an official Nature Reserve. Although the PGNR as a whole has suffered from past human disturbances and degradation, the area still retains an immense value to many rare and endangered species or plants and wildlife.