The Humacao Nature Reserve is a hidden gem on the eastern side of Puerto Rico. Beautiful lagoons, mangroves, hiking and biking trails and historic sites are among the amenities available in this protected area in the Municipality of Humacao.
Christina Vázquez is one of the main advocates for the conservation of the Humacao Nature Reserve. Her love and passion for nature and tourism service led her to found along with her husband, Benny González, Water Sports and Ecotours, in 1999. This local community-based microenterprise, certified as an Ecotouristic Operation by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, rents kayaks, paddleboards and paddleboats, and offers guided hiking tours in the nature reserve.
As a main supporter and local guide of the Humacao Nature Reserve, Christina has also joined Sierra Club’s efforts to promote this natural resource. As Sierra Club’s outing leader, Christina guides nature reserve’s visitors during interpretive kayaking tours on the lagoons.
According to Christina, locals and travelers have the option of participating in Sierra Club’s daytime or night guided kayaking tours available every four months. Kayakers may benefit from an environmental-and-history interpretation while exploring Mandri III Lagoon at daytime or three lagoons (Mandri I, Mandri II and Mandri III) at night. Christina emphasized that the night tour is special and adventurous as a full moon accompanies kayakers, and the spectators experience adjustment to darkness conditions for a better night vision and focus more on listening to nature’s sounds.
Considering that Christina has served as an interpretive local guide in the Humacao Nature Reserve during the last 19 years, you may like reading about her insights and opinions with respect to this ecotreasure, the kayaking tour and nature per se as follows:
1) What attracts you the most about your function as an interpretive local guide during the kayaking tour in the Humacao Nature Reserve?
“What we most enjoy during aquatic tours is to observe visitors’ facial expressions of astonishment and excitement as they witness what is beyond the hiking route.” (translation ours)
2) What do you find to be most interesting about the lagoon areas in the Humacao Nature Reserve, considering nature and other aspects?
“The most interesting thing about these lagoons is the history behind these. The way these lagoons emerged, and that everything, including flora and fauna, perfectly connects, giving us what we enjoy and wish to leave for the future generation.” (translation ours).
3) What do you find to be distinctive about these lagoon areas, considering nature and other aspects?
“We work in a place that is very different than others due to the lagoons, estuaries, mangroves, wetland, swamp and beach, resulting in a sense of belonging and protection during the last 19 years.” (translation ours)
4) Which environmental conservation practices you tend to perform during the kayaking tour in the Humacao Nature Reserve?
“During the aquatic tour, we collect waste in channels and their surroundings.” (translation ours)
5) What message you wish to communicate young and adults in relation to nature’s role and benefit in Planet Earth, and human beings’ role towards nature?
“Natural resources and all its ecosystems play a major role in our daily living. These supply us food, shade, ecological balance, improved air quality, means of support and tranquility, and we must appreciate it. We owe these resources to be alive for a longer time. We must nurture, love and protect these.” (translation ours)
Sierra Club, Puerto Rico Chapter, offers guided kayaking tours in Humacao Nature Reserve every four months. Those interested to schedule this type of tour may contact Christina, Sierra Club’s outing leader, at 787-397-1900, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sierra Club’s tour offer may also include a guided hiking tour in the Humacao Nature Reserve. For more information, you may contact Christina or browse Sierra Club’s website (puertorico.sierraclub.org). The Humacao Nature Reserve is managed by the Puerto Rico Natural and Environmental Resources Department.