Geraldo Rivera – Fall/Winter 2015/2016
Welcome to the Fall/Winter ’15 edition of Private Islands Magazine. In 2004, I got word that there was an island for sale on the south coast of Puerto Rico, off the town of Playa Salinas. I always dreamed of owning my own tropical island, and as I come from a family with deep roots in Puerto Rico, it seemed like paradise on earth. I couldn’t wait to see it in person. I bought it before I’d even seen it based on telephone conversations and pictures. And when I got there, I remember saying to myself, ‘Wow, there is nothing here, nothing but mangroves and beaches around this beautiful, untouched tropical island.’
It had an interesting history that I identified with. It had been owned by an eccentric Puerto Rican businessman who defied custom, and said, ‘I want my own island.’ So he got this island, and with machetes, chopped his way through the mangroves, and carved out little beaches, but still the island was totally unimproved. When he passed away, his family said, ‘This island is impractical. We’d rather be in Florida.’ They had moved to Orlando from Puerto Rico. So the children knew they had to find another eccentric like their dad, and they found me, and I was the ideal person.
The island was perfect for me as a sailor. We had roamed the entire planet on board our 70-foot sailboat Voyager and had found in this island, which I call Isla Geraldo or Cayo Geraldo, the perfect place to put our mooring. And what I did was sail up to New York in the springtime, and at the end of summer or in the fall, we would sail down to Puerto Rico and leave the boat on its mooring in Cayo Geraldo.
Now, 12 years later, I’m 72 years old, and I’m in a situation where my own children are saying to me, ‘You know dad, I’d rather be in Florida.’ So I want very much for someone else to enjoy this island the way I have for this decade plus (Cayo Geraldo p.66). It’s a mile around and now it’s been developed in a way that makes it very user friendly. There’s a road around the entire perimeter of the island. There are beautiful bridges over the tidal estuaries and creeks that run through a lagoon. There is an Olympic-sized swimming pool on the island that was manufactured by local craftsmen who brought every bag of cement in a small boat from the mainland three miles away. The house is powered by solar energy, so it’s very environmentally friendly. There is a system of waste disposal and so forth, all environmentally sound. It is a gorgeous setting.
I defy anyone to match the view I have looking south across the Caribbean Sea and envisioning the mainland of South America, looking east toward St. Thomas and the windward and leeward islands, looking north to the great Cordilleras of the main island of Puerto Rico, looking west to the sunsets. You can sit up there and dream that you are alone on earth. It is a fabulous place.