Stone church Ernest Kiplinger

Stone church Ernest Kiplinger

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, the cave 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.

Old casino

Old casino

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.

Modern City Hall

Modern City Hall

1804 – 1811 Félix de Matos
1812 Joaquín Martínez Matos
1813 Diego Hernández del Río
1815 Felix de Matos
1817 Antonio Valentín Torres
1818 Pedro Correa
1820 Diego Hernández del Río
1821 Pablo Hernández
1822 Gabriel González
1823 Jacinto Martínez
1823 Jayme Esteves
1826 Pedro Correa
1829 Diego Hernández del Río
1829 Juan Vélez del Rosario
1832 – 1835 Joaquín de Arimón
1838 Francisco Vélez del Rosario
1840 Diego Hernández del Río
1842 Joaquín de Arimón
1844 José A. Rivera
1845 Mateo de la Torre
1846 Juan Machado
1850 Hilarión Pérez Guerra
1851 José J. Larrauri
1857 José de la O Ruiz
1859 Diego de Arteaga
1860 José Disdier
1862 José Ignacio Irizarry
1863 José Felix Camuñas
1864 Everardo Cebollero
1866 José A. García
1867 Pedro Marrero
1867 Francisco Alcázar
1868 Pablo Rivera García
1868 – 1869 Clemente Fernández
1869 Guillermo Jiménez
1870 Fernando Bouvier Gramaje
1870 – 1871 Jaime Collel
1871 Francisco Alcázar
1871 – 1872 Mateo de Jesús
1872 Agustín González
1872 Mateo de Jesús
1873 José Fernández Brignoni
1873 Jesús Gregorio Colmenero
1874 Juan A. González
1874 – 1875 Miguel Nolla
1875 Froylán Santana
1877 Guillermo Jiménez Baños
1880 José T. Echeandía
1885 Juan de Jesús
1888 José C. Vales
1888 – 1891 José T. Echeandía
1891 José C. Martínez
1892 Miguel Arrieta
1893 Dionisio Monroig
1894 Francisco Badía
1895 Domingo Andreu
1895 Agustín Torres
1896 Francisco Badía
1896 Eduardo Quintana
1897 Ignacio Rodríguez
1897 Juan R. Rivera
1898 Francisco Camacho
1898 Julio de Jesús
1898 Juan Plá
1899 Laurentino Estrella
1900 Juan A. Vélez
1901 Laurentino Estrella
1905 Pedro G. Amador
1907 Manuel Román Adames
1915 Manuel Estrella
1916 José A. Vales
1916 Felipe A. García
1917 Adolfo Jiménez
1920 Francisco de Jesús Cabrera
1924 Luis Rodríguez Rodríguez
1932 Francisco de Jesús Cabrera
1944 Gerardo Vega
1948 Santiago Rivera Morell
1952 Justo Concepción Moreno
1964 Francisco Morell Toledo
1972 Baltasar Jiménez Méndez
1984 José Irizarry
1988 William Rosales Pérez
2002 – currently Edwin García Feliciano

Peñón Brussi

Peñón Brussi

Honorable Edwin García Feliciano

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

Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: June 03, 2015.

Images Gallery of Camuy

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