The Salt Flats, also known as Las Salinas or ‘Pink Beach’, is yet another mesmerizing feature that Puerto Rico has to offer. You will definitely be enthralled by pink, pale rose, and sometimes snowy white waters that will surely be a feature point in your holiday photos.
The Salt Flats is located in Cabo Rojo, close to major cities like Mayaguez, Ponce, and Aguadilla. It is noted as a place with high educational value for all ages. The best way to access this scenic delight is to rent a car as there is little to no means of public transportation outside the metro areas. Be sure to drive very carefully on your way there as the roads are quite narrow and other drivers may be driving relatively quickly. Luckily the main roads leading to this destination are in mint condition. The hike will most likely begin at the Visitor’s Centre which is near the observation tower.
The History of the Salt Flats
The Spaniards took control of salt extraction when they first came to Puerto Rico in the 16th century and used the local residents for slave labour. Presently, the landscape is still a site for commercial salt extraction by a private operator. The main difference is that the property is owned and operated by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The Salt Flats became a part of the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge in 1999 upon community efforts to protect and conserve them.
It might interest you to know that the colour of the water is dependent on the concentration of salt. The area was once part of the neighbouring town Lajas when it was submerged underwater. Salt extractions on this premises can be dated as far back as 700 AD.
If you have ever wondered why the Salt Flats have their gorgeous colour, wonder no more. The hue is a result of combinations of algae, bacteria, salt and water. The main algae responsible for this is known as Dunaliella salina. It is loaded with carotenoids- a pigment that is known for providing many fruits and vegetables with their colour.
What to Expect at the Salt Flats
There are a number of lagoons, salt marshes, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, coral reefs, etc spread across about 1,856 acres of land. Cabo Rojo, otherwise known as the red cape, got its name from the rusty red coloured limestone cliffs onlooking the white beaches and sparkly waters. The coastal ecosystems here are crucial places of habitation for native shorebirds and migratory birds.
As of now, there are barely any regulations in place when you visit the Salt Flats. Be sure not to litter and do not tread on areas that are designated as out of bounds or restricted. A tour guide will not be necessary and there is no requisite entry fee to be paid.
Some of the best times to visit are November to April, when the dry weather is more rampant.
Be sure to come along with your various picture taking devices, and some comfy clothes and shoes.
Activities at the Salt Flats
You will never be short of things to do when you visit the Salt Flats. For starters, you can go bird watching. The Salt Flats are well known for being one of the most important stops for migratory shorebirds. Approximately 40,000 migrating birds from North and South America come to the Salt Flats to spend their Winter. Much like you on holiday. A large variety of endemic birds can also be observed here.
Alternatively, you can get a thrill from hiking. You will surely have a lovely time on the nature trails as you are engrossed in the flora, fauna and various ecosystems present.
In addition to the above, you can visit the Observation Tower and take in the views on offer. You will be able to see the mountains, the colour of the Salt Flats, the Carribean Sea, and Los Morrillos Lighthouse all from its peak.
Other Attractions in the Area
The hidden treasure in the form of La Playuela Beach is a fantastic place to visit if you are looking for something to do other than visiting the Salt Flats. The Combate Beach also offers calm, scenic views that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. You can opt to swim in a paradisiacal beach called Playa Buye or snorkel in the shallow, clear waters of Isla de Ratones
If you are looking for somewhere to stay while you visit the Salt Flats in Puerto Rico, here are a few options that might tickle your fancy: Combate Beach Resort, Posada Hotel Colonial, Turtle Bay Inn, Aquarius Vacation Club, and many others.
Some great places to eat are: Tres Cero Siete, Quarto’s Pizza Bar and Restaurant, Brujula, Lupitos Comida Mexican, El Pirata, Libras Steak House and Seafood, and more. You will receive quality service, delicious food, and enjoy scenic views.
It is greatly encouraged that you visit the Salt Flats and fall in love with the coloured waters, the scenery and even the birds that are found there. You definitely will not regret your decision. Listen to your inner voice, and come on down now!