Puerto Rico // El Yunque and the east coast //

Monkey Island (Cayo Santiago)

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The main reason to visit Playa Naguabo is to take a trip out to Monkey Island, just offshore. In 1938, the University of Puerto Rico established a colony of 409 Indian rhesus monkeys on the 39-acre cay (now thought to number at least 1000) to study their behaviour. It’s the oldest monkey colony in the world.

Trips (2hr 30min) on La Paseodora, the motorboat captained by the sprightly Frank (Paco) Lopez (787/316-0441 or 787/850-7881), cost just $35–40 per person, a real bargain (the boat can take up to twenty people, but he prefers to take groups of between six and ten; groups smaller than six will pay more per head). Though it’s forbidden to actually go ashore, Lopez regales his passengers with facts and amusing yarns about the island throughout the voyage, summoning the monkeys on the beach by blowing a conch shell. Trips also include snorkelling nearby, spiced up by the wreck of a cargo ship that sank in 1944 and is now a haven for tropical fish; you might see anything from a manatee to huge starfish and small octopus out here. Lopez goes out every day, but make sure you call in advance to reserve a space

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