Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean lying between the Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic, offers some excellent locations for snorkelers to view almost 700 species of fish, dolphins, sharks and beautiful coral reefs. While the main island offers decent spots for snorkeling in Puerto Rico, the offshore islands have some of the best snorkeling that the Caribbean has to offer.
Best snorkeling in Puerto Rico
Images in the text are links to the personal pages of the snorkeling spots.
The tiny island of Culebra is located 17 miles east of the mainland. Spared from the urban development and throngs of tourists, Culebra has a laid-back atmosphere with few inhabitants, aside from hordes of sea life. This island offers some of the places to snorkel in Puerto Rico.
Flamenco Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is a great place for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. It is easily accessible and famous for its pristine beach and gorgeous, clear water. Just a short swim from the shore, along the left side of the beach, is where most snorkeling occurs, but on the far right side through some rocks is where the best snorkeling spots are located.
Carlos Rosario Beach and Tamarindo Grande Beach are two other great spots for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. Part of the Luis Pena Channel Nature Reserve, these beaches are accessible only by hiking a trail from the Flamenco Beach parking lot. At the trail’s end, you will find Tamarindo Grande, which has a great reef to the left where snorkelers will find sea turtles and stingrays. Continuing down the trail to the right, you will find Carlos Rosario Beach. This is considered the best snorkeling spot in Culebra.
Located on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, Fajardo offers the best snorkeling on the mainland. Seven Seas Beach, located in Fajardo, is a smaller beach with lush sand. The water here is very calm due to the reef located a distance from shore. There are also lifeguards on duty during normal hours, making this a great location for anyone looking to learn how to snorkel. A small reef to the right of the beach features many different creatures such as sea cucumbers, conch and tropical fish species.
Desecheo Island is a tiny, uninhabited parcel of land located around 45 minutes from the west tip of Puerto Rico. Due to its isolated location, the vibrant reefs here are relatively untouched. You will need to charter a boat or take a tour to the island, but once there, the vibrant, colorful reef located just off the coast will blow snorkelers away.
This island, located 11 kilometers east of the mainland, provides sandy beaches, clear water, coral reefs and the possibility of mingling with sea turtles, rays and even dolphins. While the island offers access to many beaches, three stand out above the rest.
Blue Beach, also known as Playa Chiva, has a large, but relatively shallow reef. Travel to the end of the entrance road, where you will find access to a tiny island named La Chiva. The protected reefs around this island offer great snorkeling for families or novices.
Green Beach, or Punta Arenas, is located along the western end of Vieques. This beach is a bit secluded, but you can begin to snorkel right off the sandy beach. This site offers views of several species of fish, turtles and stingrays. With the shifting winds, it is important to be aware of the current at all times.
Mosquito Pier is a great snorkeling destination for those of all expertise levels. A small, sandy beach to the left of the pier is a great place for novices to begin snorkeling. The water is calm and flat, with starfish just feet from the shore. More advanced snorkelers can make their way to the end of the pier and mingle with schools of fish, starfish and the occasional sea turtle located along the pilings and rocks.
Getting to Puerto Rico
San Juan International Airport (SJU) is the main airport that visitors will use. From SJU, travelers can take a connecting flight to the offshore islands, a taxi to another local airport, such as the Isla Grande Airport (SIG) or Ceiba (RVR), or a shuttle to their accommodation.
Best time for snorkeling Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico experiences the best weather during its winter season, which is when the island sees the largest influx of travelers. Taking this under consideration, the prime time to visit is from mid-April to June, just after busy season, but before the rainy summer approaches. Visitors can expect to see average temperatures around +27 °C and water temperatures that hover around +26 °C. Average water visibility is around 15 meters, but can reach up to 50 meters depending on conditions.
Those looking forward to snorkeling in Puerto Rico will certainly enjoy any of the options listed above. Whether snorkeling from the mainland, or taking a day trip to an outlying island, there are many great places to snorkel in Puerto Rico.