Puerto Rico’s Desecheo Island, The Most Dangerous Destination in the Caribbean
Uncommon travelers don’t so much laugh at danger as we’re cautious and respectful of the perils one might encounter while adventuring around the Caribbean. Hurricanes, massive surf, bush rum, crime, machete wielding hiking guides in the dark – all can be managed with a little common sense.
Desecheo Island, however, is different. It must be avoided altogether.
Tiny (.6 square miles), uninhabited, and remote, Desecheo lies in the Mona Passage about 13 miles west of mainland Puerto Rico. Together with neighboring Mona and Monito, the area is known as the Galapagoes of the Caribbean owing to the wide variety of rare and endangered flora and fauna found in these delicate and now protected ecosystems.
Things weren’t always so calm and nature-focused on Desecheo, however.
Between the Second World War and 1964, various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces held sway over the island, practicing bombing and survival training techniques.
Everything changed in 1976, though, when administration of Desecheo was transferred to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. By 1983, the island was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge in hopes that its rare endemic plant and animal species would make a comeback.
So, why is Desecheo still so dangerous today?
Well, the U.S. Military isn’t exactly known for employing the most thorough clean-up methods when it moves out of anywhere. In Desecheo that means you’d be liable to find unexploded ordinance laying about – a real buzzkill for any hiking or birdwatching expeditions.
To keep everyone on the safe side, the island is closed to the public. So much so, in fact, that anyone caught ashore here is subject to arrest and Federal prosecution.
Why, then, would you want to risk venturing anywhere even close to Desecheo?
Two words: scuba diving.
The U.S. Military may have beaten up the land portion of Desecheo pretty good back in the day, but the surrounding reefs have remained untouched, benefiting from the island’s remote location to thrive like few other undersea playgrounds around the region.
Distinctive undersea canyons, caverns, and arches combine with vibrant coral reefs teeming with life to offer some truly memorable dive and snorkel experiences.
To check out the undersea wonders of Desecheo Island for yourself, contact the pros at Taino Divers in Rincon. Their motto of “Safety, Style and Dependability” suggests they won’t lead you astray… or in the case of Desecheo, ashore.
*Lead photo credit: Island Conservation via Flickr.