Manati, Puerto Rico

Manatí, Puerto Rico

Metropolitan City

manatí 1941
Manatí 1941 – Photo by Jack Delano

Manatí (mah-nah-TEE) is known as the “Athens of Puerto Rico,” an appellation that arose from the development of the town as a cultural center during the first decades of the 20th century.

Manatí is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico. Is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Ciales and Morovis; on the east by Vega Baja; and on the west by Barceloneta and Florida.

The town is in the northern coastal plain and the karst area, the latter including may caves, haystack and sinkhole formations.

Manatí has many beaches, the most famous of which are Mar Chiquita and Los Tubos. There is a beach festival in July, and the festival in honor of the town’s patron saint, Our Lady of Candlemas, is held in February.

The principal industry of the town is pharmaceutical manufacturing. Other factories include electronics, electrical equipment, scientific instrumentation, footwear, and clothing. Manatí has fertile land irrigated by several aquifers, which has allowed for agricultural development, especially pineapples, coconuts, and other fruit. Other sectors of the economy include commerce, Manatí being the urban center of the North Central region, services, and tourism.


Manatí was officially founded by Don Pedro Menéndez Valdés in 1738. It was the ninth town in receiving the blessing of the Spanish Crown in Puerto Rico. The first Spanish town was established in Manatí by Juan Ponce of Leon attracted by the wealth of the valley and the promises of gold in the Manatuabón River. After constructing the first structures in the borders of the river and as a result of the violent swells of the waters, he left and founded Villa Caparra.

It is said that Manatí was baptized with this name because of the abundance of manatees in its waters. Others assure that the name has indigenous origin, derivative of the name of the river that the first inhabitants called Manatuabón River. As a result of its great cultural development during the first decades of the XX century it was baptized as “La Atenas De Puerto Rico” (Puerto Rico’s Athens). It is a fertile area bathed by springs, lagoons, beaches and the impressive and mighty Grande de Manatí River.

The Manatí

Manatees and dugongs ( trichechus manatus manatus ) are marine mammals of the order Sirenia. They originated in the middle Eocene period around 45 to 50 million years ago. They are gentle, plant-eating herbivores sometimes nicknamed “sea cows”. The name manatee comes from the Haitian word manati. Today, their closest living relatives are elephants [Proboscideans], hyraxes [Hyracoidea] and aardvarks [Tubulidentata]. Manatees are classified as [sub-]ungulates, even though they live in the water. Their thick-skinned, streamlined, almost hairless bodies have forelimbs modified into flippers. The tail is enlarged and horizontally-flattened.

Manatees are now quite rare. In ancient times, sailors mistook them for mermaids or sirens on account of their long tails. Today, they often bear scars on account of their collisions with boats, a major hazard. Their only natural enemy is “man”.

Manatí became a city July, 1994 due to its economic and industrial development. Because of this fact the Coat Of Arms used by Manatí has a five-tower crown instead of three, characteristic of cities. Now Manatí is known as “Metropolitan City”.


mapa manati It’s located in the northern coast, it borders north with the Atlantic Ocean, south with Morovis and Ciales, west with Florida and Barceloneta and east with Vega Baja.


120.0 sq km / 46.0 sq mi


45,409 (census 2000)

Population Density:

378.4 per sq km / 987.1 per sq mi

People are known as

Manatieños / Atenienses

Manatí is also known as:

Ciudad Metropolitana (Metropolitan City)
La Atenas de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico’s Athens)

Wards:Manati, Puerto Rico

barrios manati

Census 2000:
Population by Wards – Manatí
Bajura Adentro 2,382
Bajura Afuera 737
Coto Norte 11,311
Coto Sur 9,045
Manatí Town 7,162
Río Arriba Poniente 1,769
Río Arriba Saliente 3,119
Tierras Nuevas Poniente 4,098
Tierras Nuevas Saliente 5,786
Total 45,409

Información: Negociado del Censo de los EE.UU. Censo 2000


Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Parish
Calle Betances-Padial
Manatí, Puerto Rico 00674
(787) 854-2013
Mass Schedule
Dairy: 6:30am & 7:00pm
Saturdays: 6:30am & 7:00pm
Sundays: 7:00am, 9:00am, 10:30am & 7:00pm

manati iglesia
Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Parish


Manatí is in the Northern Coastal Valley region and in the karst zone in which we find several caves, wooded hills and water holes.


It counts with the Grande de Manatí river that ends at the Atlantic Ocean with a length of 73 kilometers (45 miles) and the Tortuguero Lagoon.


Its annual precipitation is around 61.81 inches and its average temperature is 77.8°F.


Manufacture (pharmaceutics) and agriculture (pineapple).

Average Salary:

$388.57 weekly (1998)


manati bandera The flag has the following description: a wide white stripe, a wide blue united by a smaller red one in the center. These colors are representative of Don Pedro Meléndez Valdés, founder of the municipality.

Coat Of Arms:

manati escudoShield divided in quarters: in the blue fields, a silver Greek temple, in the silver fields a black curved manatee and covering the four quarters in the center a small red shield with five flames in gold, forming a vane. To the top, a three tower silver crown and below the shield a white banner with the inscription “Puerto Rico’s Athens” in black letters. The Greek temple represents the city of Athens, whose characteristic building, the Parthenon was one of the main temples dedicated to goddess of wisdom Athens, to which, according to the legend, her name was given to the city.

Places To Visit:

  • Old Market
  • Old municipal cemetery
  • Río Encantado
  • Los Tubos beach and recreational area
  • Francisco Alvarez Marrero municipal library
  • City Hall
  • La Monserrate Sugar Mill
  • Acrópolis Sports Complex
  • Pedro Román Meléndez Municipal Stadium
  • Our Lady of Candlemas and Saint Matthew Apostle Church
  • Paseo de la Atenas (Athens Walkway)
  • History Square
  • Hacienda La Esperanza nature reserve
  • Laguna Tortuguero Lagoon nature reserve
  • Manuel Joglar Cacho Poets Hall
  • Christ of Miracles and Mount Calvary Sanctuary
  • Taboas Theater


  • Festival of Our Lady of Candlemas – February
  • Los Tubos beach festival – June/July
  • Mar Chiquita festival – June
  • Christmas festival – December


Distinguished Citizens:

  • Francisco Alvarez and Marrero – Poet and journalist. Alvarez founded La Voz del Norte, and his poems include one called “Los recuerdos de mi pueblo”, ( “Memories of the town where I was born”).
  • José Miguel Class, “Gallito de Manatí” – A popular singer who has had a brilliant career in Puerto Rico and abroad.
  • Epifanio Fernández Vanga – Essayist and defender of the teaching of the Spanish language in the Puerto Rican school system. He is the author of El idioma de Puerto Rico and El idioma escolar de Puerto Rico.
  • Miguelito Miranda – A famous trumpet player.
  • Juan Ramón Ramos Vélez – An attorney and political figure, he was mayor of Manatí in 1887.
  • Clemente Ramírez de Arellano – Poet and political figure.
  • Néstor Rodríguez Escudero – A writer of stories and essays, whose works include Jaicoa, cuentos y leyendas and El mar en la literatura puertorriqueña and other essays.

Public Schools sorted by educational levels.

Arecibo Region
Manatí District

Name Level Telephone Address
ANTONIO VÉLEZ ALVARADO K-6 (787) 854-4160 PO Box 30160 Suite 282, P.R. 00674-0000
AUGUSTO COHEN K-5 (787) 884-6519 PO Box 1014, P.R. 00674-0000
CLEMENTE RAMÍREZ DE ARELLANO K-6 (787) 884-3031 Suite 339, P.R. 00674-0000
CRUZ ROSA RIVAS K-6 (787) 854-4900 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0000
EVARISTO CAMACHO K-6 (787) 854-6315 PO Box 30160, P.R. 00674-0000
FÉLIX CÓRDOVA DÁVILA K-6 (787) 854-4255 PO Box 30160 Suite 173, P.R. 00674-0000
FRANCISCO MENÉNDEZ BALBAÑE K-6 (787) 854-3063 PMB 106, P.R. 00674-0000
JOSÉ DE DIEGO PK-6 (787) 854-2272 PO Box 174, P.R. 00674-0000
JOSÉ MELÉNDEZ AYALA I K-6 (787) 854-6788 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0000
JOSEFA RIVERA MIRANDA K-6 (787) 854-7227 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0000
JUAN A. SÁNCHEZ DÁVILA K-6 (787) 854-7747 PO Box 1397, P.R. 00674-0000
MICAELA ESCUDERO K-6 (787) 889-3106 PO Box 3081, P.R. 00674-0000
TEODOMIRO TABOAS K-6 (787) 854-2255 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0000
JESÚS T PIÑERO 7-9 (787) 854-2259 PO Box 3158, P.R. 00674-0000
NUEVA JUAN S. MARCHAND 7-9 (787) 854-4541 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0506
INSTITUTO TECN. RECINTO DE MANATÍ 13-14 (787) 854-2050 715 PO Box 506, P.R. 00674-0000
SU FEDERICO FREYTES RODRÍGUEZ K-9 (787) 854-9672 PO Box 1844, P.R. 00674-0000
High School
FERNANDO CALLEJO 10-12 (787) 854-2629 PO Box 3355, P.R. 00674-3355
JOSÉ A. MONTAÑEZ GENARO (VOC. AREA) 10-12 (787) 854-2250 PO Box 1091, P.R. 00674-0000
PETRA CORRETJER DE O’NEILL 10-12 (787) 854-6601 PO Box 30160 Suite 335, P.R. 00674-0000


Atenas de Borinquen – By Wilfredo Pagán

Que bonito ver la grandezas
de la tierra en que nací.
Ver su florrecer y sus playas
como brillan al dormir.

Orgulloso estoy de mi pueblo
y precioso Manati.
Que grtandioso es conocer
cómos se ha llamdo así.

En la Atena de Borinquen
en su cuna meció
todos esos próceres que allí cultivaron
todos los talentos que un pueblo nació,
y a su nombre proclamó.

Es la Atenas de Borinquen
de gracias y esplendor
de hermosas paisajes que serán recordados
si en tus bellas tierras no llegase a morir
te prometo que nunca serán olvidados.

En mi corazón llevar grabado
el nombre de Manati:
y será mi honor
porque ha sido la razón de mi existir.

How to get to Manatí from San Juan.

direction manati


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