Camuy, Puerto Rico

Camuy is in the northern central area of Puerto Rico. It is known as the «Romantic City», the «Sandwalkers» City» and the «City of the Taino Sun.» The municipality has an area of 119 square kilometers (46 square miles), divided into thirteen wards: Abra Honda, Camuy Arriba, Camuy Pueblo, Cibao, Ciénagas, Membrillo, Piedra Gorda, Puente, Puertos, Quebrada, Santiago, Yeguada, and Zanja. According to the 2000 census, there are 35,244 camuyanos. The patron saint is Saint Joseph and the patron saint’s festival is celebrated in March.


Historically the economy of Camuy has depended on agriculture, notably sugar cane. At one time there were three large sugar mills: Central Alianza, Central Soller, and Central Riollano. Other crops included tobacco, coffee, and fruits and vegetables. Today, one of the most important sectors in the economy is the dairy industry, including cheese making, with cheeses sold under the brands of «Queso Tridas» and «Quesos Martínez.» Other manufacturers include Hanes Men’s Wear, Inc., Ebanistería Trujillo, Queen Foot Wear, Pan Am Shoe Co, Inc., and P. R. Buttery MFG. The town also has a very particular tourist attraction, thecave park, which has an area of 268 acres and features underground caves where the Camuy River flows. This park is the third largest cave system in the world and has 16 entrances and 11 kilometers (7 miles) of caves. The guided tours allow visitors to enjoy this natural resource as part of an ecotourism program.

Camuy is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Lares and San Sebastián, on the east by the municipality of Hatillo, and on the west by Quebradillas. It is located in the northern coastal plain, but comprises undulations known as the «llano de Quebradillas».

The Cibao hollows comprise haystacks and sinkholes that divide the municipal territory into two parts; the northern band is known as the Los Puertos hills, while the Guarionex mountains are on the south. The municipality is located in the subhumid area of the northern region of the island.

The Cibao River, on the east, and the Camuy River, as well as the Pozo Brujo, Pozo Masa, Quebrada de Agua, Muela de Vaca, Riachuelo de Cibao, Mata Plátanos, Emajagual, Canela, Asta and Ojo de Agua brooks enrich the soil. In spite of these resources, Camuy is one of the driest regions of the island since the eastern sea breezes make this a very hot area.

The limestone formations in the area are quite useful for the construction industry. Other minerals that are found in the area are granodiorite, a rock of volcanic origin, and magnetite or black iron, found in the sand along the beach.


The municipality owes its name to the Camuy River. It is thought that the name is of Antillean Indian origin and means «sun», although this has not been corroborated. The earliest description of the settlement of Camuy dates from 1776 and was transcribed by Cayetano Coll and Toste in his Boletín Histórico. The description mentions the Río Camuy and the plantation belonging to Antonio Matos, whose land was located along the coast. The workers houses that were built around the plantation gave rise to the village that would become the town of Camuy.

At the end of the 18th century, Camuy was still part of the jurisdictions of Arecibo and San Antonio de la Tuna (today the municipality of Isabela), from which it was demarcated by the Camuy River. In 1797, on the occasion of a visit by Bishop Juan Bautista Zengotita, orders were given to create a parish, which opened the way to official recognition of the town by the Spanish government. In 1807, a group of residents of Camuy gathered at what was known as the Juan Brussi Font square (now Luis Muñoz Marín square), along with the Vicar of the diocese of Arecibo, the Reverend Father Escalera, for the purpose of delimiting land for the church. The new town was to bear the name of San José de Camuy. Félix de Matos was appointed Lieutenant and Judge to govern the newly founded town, whose territory ran from the Carrizal River, in Arecibo, to the Guajataca River.

By 1812, the town had 232 residents. Three years later, the population had increased to 2,196 due to the influx of settlers lured by the benefits provided under the royal decree of grace in 1815. In view of this growth, it was necessary to reorganize the territory, and in 1821, the boundaries of the town were redrawn. In the mid-19th century the town comprised Pueblo, Puente, Yeguadas, Membrillo, Camuy Arriba, Ciénaga de Agua, Piedra Gorda, Zanja de Agua, Puertos, Quebrada de Agua, and Cibao wards.

In 1868, Camuy was one of the sites of the anti-Spanish uprising called the Grito de Lares. In the Palomar sector of Ciénaga ward a separatist group was organized under the name of «Lanzador del Norte No. 1,» presided by the Venezuelan Manuel María González. On February 15, 1873, another incident known as «La Estrellada» took place. Apparently some of the conspirators informed the civil guard that a separatist uprising was being planned at the plantation owned by the Dominican Cayetano Estrella, while Estrella was also being threatened with attacks by bandits. When the civil guard went to the plantation to investigate, the authorities were fired on. Estrella and the remaining survivors were arrested and accused of sedition.

In the early 1890s, Camuy benefited from the construction of the first part of the train route from Martín Peña in San Juan to Manatí, and the municipal government laid track up to the center of town. Railway workers increased the population, so that by 1894, there were 11,000 residents in Camuy. Businesses were set up in the area between the railway and the back road between Hatillo and Quebradillas.

After the arrival of the Americans in 1898, construction was begun on additional public works: an electric power plant (1917), rural and urban public schools, an aqueduct that served the municipalities of Camuy and Hatillo, and a sewer system in 1920.

In the 1920s, the economy of Camuy was based on sugar cane. The most important mills were the Central Alianza (Corporación Central Alianza Incorporada) and Central Soller (which belonged to the Soller Sugar Company). The Central Riollano was built on the site of the earlier Central Camuy, whose machinery had been disassembled and taken to Venezuela. In the 1970s, sugar cane, as well as tobacco and produce, was still being cultivated. In 1974, there were 26 dairy farms that produced 10,578,658 quarts of milk. Although a few factories have been established under the government manufacturing development program, there has not been significant industrial development in Camuy.


The flag  of Camuy has a green field, an allusion to its green fields located along the northern coastal plain. The wavy white band at the center bears a yellow Taino sun. The band symbolizes the Camuy River, which is partially submerged. The Taino sun is a symbol of the Taino meaning of the word «camuy.»

Coat of Arms
The coat of arms  has a wavy silver band, broken at the center, on a green field, above which is a gold Taino sun. The green symbolizes the fertile land along the northern coastal plain and the Taino sun represents the name of the town, Camuy, which in the Taino language means «sun.» The band symbolizes the Camuy River, which is partially submerged. The turreted castle that crowns the coat of arms is a heraldic symbol for towns.


Places of Interest

• Brusilandia Resort
• Villa Brusi Resort
• Camuy History and Culture Circle
• Camuy Cave
• Hacienda La Sabana
• Hacienda Morell
• Lake Guajataca
• Stone Church
• Monte Calvario
• Monument to Camuy Veterans
• History and Culture Museum
• Camuy Cave Park
• José A. Méndez Passive Recreation Park
• Camuy River boardwalk
• Peñón Amador Beach
• Brisas del Mar Stable
• Our Lady of Miracles Sanctuary
• Former Social club
• Peñón Brusi Public Beach
• Camuy Social club
Illustrious Citizens

Amalia Arroyo Quijano – poet and writer.

Pablo Avila González – teacher, musician, and poet.

Pedro Avila Torres – teacher, poet and musician.

Manuel Acevedo Rosario – businessman and political figure, House Representative (1949 – 1960 and 1965 – 1972) and member of the constitutional assembly.

Juan Brussi Font – notary, first novelist from Camuy. His travels included a trip with his family in the traditional Puerto Rican fishermen’s boat, the yola, to Mona Island.

Florencio Cabán Hernández – artisan, folksinger, musician, and renowned carver of wood saints, a santero. In 1967, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture recognized his work by organizing an exhibition and showing a film on his creative work.

María Asunción Curbelo Mercado – teacher and poet. Her favorite themes were her homeland, religion, and customs.

Soldoína Domenech Ríos – prominent teacher and an adopted daughter of Camuy.

José D. Hernández – teacher and civic leader; grand scout master of Troop 70 in Camuy.

Rafael Hernández Reyes – musician, singer, artisan, and athlete (baseball player)

Adolfo Jiménez Hernández – teacher and poet.

José Manuel Lacomba Nolla – surveyor, poet, musician, singer, arranger, and composer.

Manuel Portalatín Santiago – teacher and public servant; an exceptional civic leader who made extraordinary efforts in his work with the government industrialization program.

José Joaquín Rivera Firpi – teacher. Leadership positions in education including auxiliary superintendent of schools and president of the Teachers Retirement Board.

Juan de Capadocia Rodríguez Lozada – composer and musician.

Arsisclo Rosa Salas – artisan (mason).

Germán Rosario Rivera – composer, musician, and folksinger.

José A. Sierra Martínez – teacher and writer


• Three Kings Wake – January
• Río Camuy Carnival– February
• Río Camuy River rafting event- March
• Camuy Patron Saint`s day– May
• Saint John`s Festival – June
• Peñón Brusi Beach Festival – July
• Cultural Festival – September
• Salute to the Grito de Lares – September





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