Maunabo, Puerto Rico

Maunabo is located on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico and measures 53.58 square kilometers (20.69 square miles). It is known as the «land crab town«, «the town of the land crab eaters», and «the quiet town». According to the 2000 census, there are 12,471 maunabeños. There are nine wards: Calzada, Emajagua, Lizas, Matuyas Alto, Matuyas Bajo, Palo Seco, Pueblo de Maunabo, Quebrada Arenas and Talante wards. The patron saint is Saint Isidore the Farmer, whose festival is celebrated on May 15.

The town`s economy is based on truck farming, cattle, fishing, and some manufacturing. A tunnel is currently being built to make the town more accessible.


Maunabo is located on the southeast corner of the island. It is bordered on the north and northeast by Yabucoa, on the southeast by Patillas, and on the east south east by the Caribbean Sea. There are three regions in the municipality: the Maunabo valley in the south central area, the semiarid hills to the south, and the mountainous region to the east. The town is part of the semiarid hills of the South. The Pandura ridge, and extension of the Cayey ridge runs along the north. The Guardarraya ridge can be seen to the southwest. Elevations in Maunabo include Hutton peak 1,779 feet (542.23) Mount La Pandura 1692 feet (515.72)and Mount Santa Elena 1,722 feet (524.86), known as El Sombrerito.

The town is irrigated by the Maunabo River, which springs from Matuyas Alto ward near the border with Yabucoa and Patillas. The river runs along the Maunabo valley southeast until it empties into the Caribbean Sea (9.3 miles). Another major water body is Arenas brook.

The Maunabo coast runs from Point Toro on the northeast near Yabucoa to the southwest at Cape Cabo Mala Pascua on the border with Patillas. The old Spanish lighthouse is located midway along the coast at Point Tuna.

The name of this municipality is derived from the Taíno word Manatuabón, the name of the river. Others believe the name to be related to the name of the cacique of the region. It is practically certain that the first settlers were residents of Guayama who spread out along the east coast. Cayetano Coll y Toste states that Maunabo was founded in 1779, while other historians such as Pedro Tomás de Córdova and Manuel Ubeda Delgado, suggest that it was founded in 1799. The parish church was erected about that time, devoted to Saint Isidore the Farmer.

Several public works were constructed during the first decades of the 19th century. The government house was completed in 1825. By 1828, Maunabo was comprised of Majagua, Palo Seco, Quebrada Arenas, and Talante wards. At that time economic activity was centered on coffee, tobacco, rice, produce, and sugar cane. The population was about 1,500. The town port was located in Emajagua ward. Municipal administration was in the hands of a lieutenant and a sergeant major. Towards the end of the 19th century the population grew and new wards were added: Calzada, Lizas, Matuyas Abajo, and Matuyas Arriba. Eventually, because of the maritime traffic in the area, a lighthouse was erected at Point Tuna in 1892. In spite of these developments, in 1899 the town was badly hurt by Hurricane San Ciriaco, which destroyed almost all of the dwellings and the La Bordaleza sugar mill. The sugar cane mill Batey Columbia was founded two years later.

In 1902, Maunabo was incorporated in to the municipality of Yabucoa under a law passed by the Puerto Rico legislature to consolidate certain municipalities. The law was repealed three years later and Maunabo was restored to its status as a municipality, with the wards that it had had up to 1902. The town`s infrastructure was improved with the building a road between Maunabo and Yabucoa, an aqueduct, and electric power facilities. In 1928, Hurricane San Felipe devastated the area and its economy. After the town recovered, in the 1930s, the urban area was divided into Pueblo Este and Pueblo Oeste, a sign the town was growing. In 1948, as the urban area grew, the city planning board expanded the town proper to include the rural wards of Talante, Quebrada Arenas, and Emajagua.


The Maunabo flag  has a green field crossed by a diagonal white stripe, which creates two juxtaposed triangles. A yellow yoke is located on each triangle, a symbol of agriculture, alluding to Saint Isidore, the Farmer, the patron of Maunabo.

Coat of Arms
The Maunabo coat of arms  is divided into two sections. The upper part is green and has a lighthouse flanked by two yokes. The lighthouse depicts the structure at Point Tuna –the oldest building in the municipality— as an example of the Spanish presence. The yokes, on the other hand, symbolize agriculture and allude to the patron Saint Isidore, the Farmer. The silver and green colors symbolize the sugarcane flower, sugar having been the economic mainstay of Maunabo since it was founded. The lower part has a white field and the superimposed inverted green V symbolizes the two mountain chains, the Pandura and Guardarraya Ridges, that surround the town.

Places of Interest
• Maunabo Cultural Center
• Indian Cave
• La Cantera Caves
• Point Tuna Lighthouse
• Saint Isidore, the Farmer Labrador
• The Written Rock
• Bohíos Beach
• Point Tuna Wetlands Beach
• Larga Beach
• Pinos Beach
• Town square
• Central Columbia ruins

Illustrious Citizens

Luis Riefkhol – administrator of Hacienda La Bordaleza

Benjamín Ortiz Ortiz – attorney, House Representative at large and for districts 5 and 6 (1945 – 1952 and 1961 – 1968) ; professor.

Cruz Ortiz Stella – attorney, poet, House Representative for District 31 (1941 – 1944), and senator for Districts 7 and 8 (1945 – 1969).


  • Gifts on the eve of Three Kings’ Day – January
  • Patron Saint`s Festival – May
  • Isidore, the Farmer Community Festival – May
  • Town Festival – June/July
  • Festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – July
  • Night Out – August
  • Land Crab Festival and Carnival – September
  • Christmas party at Calle 3 (Palo Seco) – December
  • Aníbal Arroyo Cup (basketball event) – December
  • End of Year Marathon – December



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