Caja de Muertos – An Island Alone at Sea

Caja de Muertos is located 5 miles south of Ponce and is approximately 2.75 km wide and 1.85 km long, with a total area of 202 hectares. The island has no permanent inhabitants. On a clear day it is possible to see the mile-long Caja de Muertos Island offshore. Caja de Muertos is also known as Coffin Island. It may be named for its coffin-like shape or after the legend of a Portuguese named Jose Almeida, who fell in love with a married woman. He returned after being a pirate, to visit her after her husband had died of a stroke. They got married, but his wife died shortly after the marriage due to an attack. He had her body embalmed and placed her into a cedar coffin with a glass lid. He hid her in a cave on the Island and visited her regularly; he then got caught and was hanged. His crew returned to the site and took the coffin to St. Thomas for burial.

A few years later a Spanish engineer visited the island to survey the body. When he found the copper planks of the coffin, he was told about the legend and then he gave the Island its present name. Coffin Island is home to four indigenous, endangered plant species and several endangered lizard species as well. The Island has an abundance of Cacti and small thorny bushes and a very vibrant bird life.

The whole Island is surrounded by coral reefs which make scuba-diving and snorkeling a beautiful and unforgettable experience. You should also pay a visit to the 19th century Caja de Muertos Lighthouse, which is restored by the Department of Natural Resources and also has a lookout point and an interesting museum.

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