Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The municipality of Fajardo is located on the east coast of the island. Measuring 80.6 square kilometers (31.12 square miles), Fajardo has beautiful beaches and ports. The town is the transportation center between the main island of Puerto Rico and the island municipalities of Culebra and Vieques. It is known as the «Town of the Tough Faces,» because of how the residents fought off enemies during Spanish colonial times. Due to its location, it is also known as «The City of the Rising Sun» since it is the town on the main island of Puerto Rico where the sun first rises. According to the 2000 census, Fajardo has a population of 40,712, living in Cabezas, Demajagua, Fajardo Pueblo, Florencio, Naranjo, Quebrada Fajardo, Quebrada Vueltas, Río Arriba, and Sardinera wards.

This municipality is a well-known tourist venue, because of its marinas, beaches, hotels, and natural resources. As well as being the location for the El Conquistador Hotel, Fajardo is known for the Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve. The Reserve comprises about 325 acres (331 cuerdas) located road 987, which runs from the town to Croabas. The area includes sea and coastal ecosystems, a rocky coast, beaches, a dry forest, mangroves, the Thalassia prairies, and a bioluminescent lagoon. There is a broad variety of trees, plants, and species such as the brown pelican and the sea turtle.

Another landmark is the lighthouse located at the Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve, which was part of the lighthouse system constructed by the Spanish government. Construction was begun in 1880, making it the second oldest on the island. The Fajardo Lighthouse was built in a classical revival style and has been in operation continuously since 1882. The lighthouse was restored in the early 1990s by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, the organization that owns the land where the lighthouse is located.

Fajardo is also the main travel center for the island municipalities of Vieques y Culebra. Access is also provided to other nearby islets and keys, such as Icacos, Palominos, Palominitos, and Diablo. The municipality has a small airport and a ferry terminal.

Today, Fajardo’s economy is based on manufacturing, including medical equipment and instruments, as well as the various offerings of the tourist industry.


Fajardo is located on the far eastern tip of Puerto Rico. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the east, by Ceiba on the south, and by Luquillo to the west. The highest elevations in its territory are located in the southwestern part of the municipality in Río Arriba wards, which are foothills of the Luquillo Ridge. The highest elevations vary between 200 and 500 meters (656 and 1,640 feet), although at some points there are slightly higher elevations. The remainder of the territory is low-lying and flat, as are the municipalities that are located on the eastern coastal plains.

The municipality is irrigated by the Fajardo River, which runs from south to east, and the Demajagua River, which comprise the limit with Ceiba and the Fajardo Brook. The tributaries of the Fajardo are Juan Diego, Aguas Buenas, and Mata Redonda brooks; it is 24 kilometers (15 miles) long, and springs from Río Abajo ward in the municipality of Ceiba, at an elevation of 800 meters (2,624 feet). The Aguas Prietas and Grande lagoons are located on the northeastern end of Fajardo.

There is an inlet called Ensenada Yeguas or Bahía Las Cabezas on the north coast between Cabeza Chiquita and Cabezas de San Juan promontories. To the east of Cabezas de San Juan, separated by the San Juan Passage, there is a group of keys including La Cordillera, Las Cucarachas, Los Farallones, Icacos, Ratones, Lobos, La Blanquilla, and Diablo; several reefs; and Isla de Aves (Bird Island). On the east coast, running from Cabezas de San Juan southward, there is Ensenada Las Croabas and points Gorda, Batería, Fajardo, Barrancas, and Mata Redonda, as well as several keys, including: Palominos, Palominitos, Obispo, Zancudo, Ahogado, Largo, and Isla de Ramos.

Parts of El Yunque National Forest (Sierra de Luquillo) and Ceiba National Forest, the latter being on the coast, are within the territory of Fajardo. In addition, there are 150 hectares of mangroves, distributed among the surroundings of El Convento, the Aguas Prietas and Grande lagoons, and the Fajardo river basin.


In Puerto Rican historiography, the founding date of Fajardo is somewhat unclear. Historians such as Generoso Morales-Muñoz gives 1760 as the date of founding, while Rafael de Castro gives the date as 1772, and Cayetano Coll y Toste refers to 1774. What is clear is that the town was founded under the name of Santiago de Fajardo, and that for some time there had been the intention to formally found a town in that region with a view to eradicating the contraband that went on between the region and the nearby islands that were dominated by European enemies of the Spanish. The ports of Fajardo, which had always been open to foreign trade, were regulated in 1820 due to this contraband.

According to the Memoria de Melgarejo, since the 16th century, the name Fajardo had been applied to a river, rather than a town. Melgarejo notes: «In the city of Puerto Rico, towards the north, there is another river called Fajardo, discovered by a gentleman of that name, a river which is rich in gold, and is so still.» The name was later used for the entire area. Melgarejo also mentioned that because of its proximity to the Lesser Antilles, especiallyVieques and Saint Croix, the municipality was the object of frequent attacks by rebel Tainos and Caribs, delaying the settlement of the area for years.

In 1817, as a result of the independence movement in Spanish America, a mid-size galleon, a small galleon, and a bilander reached Fajardo, having sailed from Venezuela. The ships were prevented from landing by the residents.

In 1824, Commodore Porter, of the United States Navy, landed armed sailors with the intention of demanding satisfaction for alleged wrongdoing by the Spanish authorities. The people of Fajardo were able to dissuade the commodore from his intentions. Subsequently, Porter was court martialed in the United States. The troops led by General Nelson Miles, which invaded in Puerto Rico in July of 1898 in Guanica, had at first planned to attack the island in August of 1898, entering through Fajardo.

Before the change of sovereignty in 1898, two newspapers had been founded in Fajardo: El Zumbador and La Voz de Oriente. Under the new political situation, in 1899 the American Federal, Puerto Rican Republican, and Socialist Worker parties were founded. Fajardo was largely Federalist territory, while from 1902 to 1917, the Republicans prevailed. Yet it was the Socialist Party, founded in 1915, that converted Fajardo in a socialist stronghold from 1917 until 1944. Fajardo was also the original site of the University of Puerto Rico, transferred subsequently to Río Piedras.

Traditionally, the economy of Fajardo was centered on trade through its port, sugar cane, fishing, and cattle ranching. In 1895, there were ten sugarcane plantations. In 1905, the Fajardo Sugar Co. was founded, and dominated the economy of Fajardo and other surrounding towns for years.

With the decline in the sugar industry in the 1960s, the economic and social activity of the municipality turned towards tourism. With the establishment of the El Conquistador Hotel, tourism has flourished, along with public beaches and marinas.


The flag  has three bands of different colors. The upper red band is the same red as the border of the coat of arms. The lower blue band represents the blue sky and sea of Fajardo. The coat of arms is placed at the center of the flag.

Coat of arms
 The shield is a rounded rectangle crowned with a three-turreted castle. Two dolphins support the shield over a banner that reads «SANTIAGO DE FAJARDO.»

The blue represents the color of the sky and sea of Puerto Rico. In heraldry it symbolizes sapphires and means justice, beauty, nobility, perseverance, vigilance, recreation, zeal, and loyalty of its citizens. The silver is represented also by the white, symbolizing pearls. The color means humility, innocence, happiness, purity, solidness, sincerity, integrity, eloquence, cleanliness of spirit, and bloodless victory over enemies.

The bilander or schooner, a fishing boat, symbolizes recreational sailing in the region. The seagulls in flight in heraldry symbolize providence, assistance, and prudence. The silver waves represent the waves of the sea. The red color signifies bravery, nobility, intrepidness, happiness, victory, generosity, and honor. The shell symbolize those used by Saint James the Apostle, the patron saint of the town since its founding, and the fact that there are eight shells represent the eight wards of Fajardo. The net on the border of the shield symbolizes the fishermen’s nets and the dolphins that support it symbolize the relationship of the residents with the sea and fishing.

Text taken from enciclopediapr.org


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