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Kayaking on Torrecilla Lagoon

Where Nature and African Roots Take Preeminence
Publication of Discovery: March 12, 2016
Issue: March, 2016

Previously, we went on a journey through inland waterways in the San Juan Bay Estuary where we crossed the Corozos Lagoon, San José Lagoon and Suárez Channel in the Municipalities of San Juan and Carolina, Puerto Rico, and disembarked at a dock nearby the Torrecilla Lagoon in the Municipality of Loíza. Be sure to read our article regarding this journey, under the Eco section of ecotreasures magazine’s first edition.

Still, there was more to discover about the Torrecilla Lagoon and the community nearby. So, we decided to embark on another journey to learn about the ecosystem found in Torrecilla Lagoon and the cultural heritage of the community in Loíza. The perfect way to learn about these was by taking the kayaking guided tour on such lagoon, offered by “Corporación Piñones Se Integra" (COPI).

COPI is a nonprofit and community-based organization that fosters community economic development and educates about Puerto Rico’s African cultural heritage and the ecosystem around Torrecilla Lagoon.

The tour’s meeting place was at Piñones Cultural and Ecotouristic Center, where COPI’s tour guide, Mr. Michael Cruz Rodríguez, first described the geographic areas found in the Piñones sector.

Right after, we began the kayaking trip on the Torrecilla Lagoon. Immediately, we admired a group of beautiful Royal terns (Thalasseus maximus) that stood out nearby the kayaking starting line.

Mr. Cruz informed us about the fauna and fishes found in the lagoon. Besides the Royal tern, he stated that one may see brown pelicans (“pelícanos pardo” in Spanish) (Pelecanus occidentalis), hawks (“guaraguaos” in Spanish), moorhens (“gallaretas” in Spanish), and Greater Antillean Grackle black birds (“changos” in Spanish) (Quiscalus niger) around the lagoon, among others. Some of the fishes that are part of this ecosystem are the snapper, known by Puerto Ricans as “pargo”, crab, tarpon, stingray, ballyhoo and mojarras, as indicated by Mr. Cruz.

Kayaking on Torrecilla Lagoon let us admire elegant mangroves, such as the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). The red mangrove predominated in the lagoon. The tour guide emphasized the importance of the mangroves as they produce oxygen which benefits the flora nearby.

The exploration turned intriguing as we crossed a channel that let us appreciate much better the beauty of the mangroves while feeling a deep sense of adventure.

Once we exited the channel and kayaked on the huge lagoon, Mr. Cruz enlightened us about the culture of the people from Loíza, which is mostly based on the Afro-Caribbean heritage of Puerto Rico. For instance, he informed us about the music genre of the “bomba” and its diverse rhythms, the “plena” music, and the San Patricio Patron Festival and Santiago de Apóstol Festival celebrated in Loíza.

Also, Mr. Cruz explained that coconut plays an important role in both Puerto Rico and Loíza’s culture since it is not only a nutritional food source per se, including coconut water, but is also used to elaborate the Puerto Rican coconut sweets, rice with coconut, and the “vejigantes” handcrafted carnival masks. He further informed that the coconut fiber is used to make purses and hats.

As we continued kayaking on Torrecilla Lagoon, we encountered the “Península de Pescadores” (Fishermen’s Peninsula) where we made a stop to visit the community’s recreational area. Mr. Cruz explained that at this place people might go fishing or simply hang out during the day and bring coolers and food. It was very interesting to see diverse signage that promotes environmental conservation, and a mural depicting the lagoon and a fisherman.

While we were heading back towards the starting line, the tour guide pointed out that if you are lucky you might see manatees or dolphins in the lagoon. Even though we didn’t see any of those, we were lucky to see the osprey (“águila pescadora” in Spanish) (Pandion haliaetus).

Kayaking guided tours may take around two to three hours. For guided tours or kayak rentals, you may contact COPI at 787-253-9707.

If you are interested in “bomba” lessons or “bomba” or “plena” workshops, you may contact COPI as well. For fees and other services, read about COPI in or contact COPI by phone.

tour provider: COPI
book here
where the crew ate: La Comay Kiosk
photograph by: N. Michelle Rodríguez and Michael Cruz

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all details with the pertinent businesses before planning your trip. Please be cautious. The company behind this publication assumes no responsibility for your safety when participating in the activities mentioned in this article. You are responsible for confirming whether you are capable of participating in any of these activities or tours, regardless of the effort level or any other information provided in this website.


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Torrecilla Lagoon near COPI

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Torrecilla Lagoon near COPI

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José Miguel Ferrer Tanco, San Juan, PR- “The kayaking guided tour while navigating on Torrecilla Lagoon was one of the best adventure experiences that I ever had. The mix of contact with nature and the anecdotes of the tour guide about the history of Piñones was spectacular.

The area is very rich in terms of the fauna and flora found nearby the mangroves and the lagoon. The channel is beautiful.” (translation ours)


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