Snorkeling Around Puerto Rico

Photo Credit: © Joe King CC BY

From placid gin-colored lagoons to shockingly blue bays to beaches that are so rough that surfing is world-famous, the waters that surround Puerto Rico vary greatly.  This means that snorkelers have a lot of planning to do to make sure they find the best spot for them to explore when the visit the island.

The temperature of the ocean waters surrounding Puerto Rico is warm, staying fairly consistent almost year-round at approximately 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Underwater visibility is quite clear at about 60 to 75 feet just off shore, and if you go farther out into the ocean, you can see up to 100 feet or more into the depths of Puerto Rico's crystalline waters.  

Along the east and south shores where the best snorkeling conditions are consistently reported.  Calm, almost glass-like waters invite snorkelers in to enjoy the peaceful calm of the underwater world that surrounds the island without having to worry about waves, rip-tides, and other hazards.  If you're planning your vacation around snorkeling, you should consider Fajardo, Humacao, Vieques, or Culebra.  

Elsewhere, you may find that snorkeling is great at any beach and you can bring your snorkeling kit with you whenever you hit the sand, or you may find the waves are so rugged that it is near impossible to snorkel without planning an excursion to another location.  Even if you stay in area not particularly known for snorkeling you can usually find a dive shop or tour guide to take you to somewhere that has both pleasing conditions and sights to see. 

Speaking of sights, what you see in these waters will vary by location as well.  Some destinations feature shallow waters with elaborate reef systems, while other spots are known more for them mangroves.  If you can plan a trip to one of the cays or islets of Puerto Rico, you'll be in snorkeling heaving with sea life like sea turtles, octopus, eels, rays, puffers, clownfish, and dozens upon dozens of other types of reef fish to be spotted.  

Snorkeling Sites

If you'd like to explore below the water's surface you might want to visit Cordillera Keys. A chain of uninhabited islets, there is an amazing world of underwater life to be seen when you snorkel here. It is part of a nature reserve that is a habitat for sea turtles to start, and you can't discount the vibrant coral and friendly fish. This snorkeling site is located on Cayo Lobos, in the eastern part of Puerto Rico.

Shacks Beach is another place you might enjoy. If you visit between May and November you'll find this beach to have calm waters that make it great for snorkeling. Here, in about five to 30 feet of water, you'll swim with goatfish, blue tangs, ad grunts among many other fish.

A third location to consider is Tamarindo Beach. Part of a nature reserve, this site is home to an amazing collection of sea life in the small reef that is currently growing thanks to the University of Puerto Rico students that are planting coral. Sea life here includes sea turtles and stingrays among others. The beach is very rocky, so water shoes are a must.

A fourth place where you can go snorkeling is La Parguera Nature Reserve. This area within a nature reserve is a collection of mangrove islands, salt marshes, natural pools, and small cays protected by coral reefs. Not only is the snorkeling great for these reasons alone, but this is also the location of many dolphin sightings. If you want to experience it for yourself, you'll find this site located in the southwestern part of Puerto Rico.

Green Beach is a fifth location to consider. This beach is heralded as a great beginner beach thanks to the extremely calm waters and the numerous reef systems. Even though it is a popular spot, the coral beds are so plentiful and shallow that you never feel like you're being crowded.

The table below enables you to learn more details regarding 26 of the best locations to go snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near Puerto Rico
Site Location Island
Cordillera Keys 6.2 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo Cayo Lobos
Shacks Beach 0.9 mi. North of Central Isabela Puerto Rico
Tamarindo Beach 5.8 mi. South of Central Yauco Puerto Rico
La Parguera Nature Reserve 5.6 mi. West of Central Guánica Puerto Rico
Green Beach 9.2 mi. West of Central Isabel Segunda Vieques
Cayo Icacos 5.0 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo Cayo Icacos
Palomino Beach 5.1 mi. East of Central Fajardo Isla Palominos
Isla Caja de Muertos Beach 10.6 mi. Southeast of Central Ponce Puerto Rico
Cana Gorda State Park 2.9 mi. Southeast of Central Guánica Puerto Rico
Tres Palmas Marine Reserve 1.2 mi. Northwest of Central Rincón Puerto Rico
Blue Hole 6.7 mi. North-Northeast of Central Aguadilla Puerto Rico
Cayos De La Cordillera Nature Reserve 2.0 mi. East of Central Fajardo Puerto Rico
Crash Boat Beach 1.9 mi. North-Northwest of Central downtown Aguadilla Puerto Rico
Escambrion Beach 1.8 mi. East of Central Old San Juan Puerto Rico
El Natural 2.5 mi. North-Northwest of Central Aguadilla Puerto Rico
Cayo Lobos 5.8 mi. East-Northeast of Central Fajardo Cayo Lobos
Cayo Santiago 6.3 mi. East of Central Humacao Puerto Rico
Bahia Sucia Beach 3.6 mi. South of Central El Combate Puerto Rico
Pesquera Beach 2.7 mi. Southeast of Central Patillas Puerto Rico
Peñón Brusi 1.6 mi. Northwest of Central Camuy Puerto Rico
Rosado Beach 3.8 mi. South West of Central Guánica Puerto Rico
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve 3.7 mi. North-Northeast of Central Fajardo Puerto Rico
Playa Escondida 3.1 mi. North of Central Fajardo Puerto Rico
Playa Convento 2.8 mi. North of Central Fajardo Puerto Rico
Palominito's Wall 5.3 mi. East of Central Fajardo Isla Palominos
Cayo Caracoles 1.1 mi. Southeast of Central La Parguera Puerto Rico

Snorkeling Boat Trips

For some people, the best snorkeling is accessed away from the shore.

If you're hoping to go snorkeling during a boat trip, you can check with East Island Excursions Sailing. East Island Excursions will take you out on the breathtaking waters of Puerto Rico for a one of a kind adventure aboard one of their many well-maintained boats.

Another option to consider is Fondo de Cristal. Fondo de Cristal offers tours of Puerto Rico's Southwestern coast and excursions to La Parguera, Caracoles, Cayo Enrique, and Isla Mata la Gata. They're located in La Parguera, in western Puerto Rico.

A third good option is Erin Go Bragh. Erin Go Bragh hosts day charters, sunset cruises, private charters, and overnight charters. The destinations are flexible, and the crew will help you customize your day.

Take some time to look through the following table to learn more about day sails and boat trips that provide snorkeling opportunities.

Day Sails and Boat Trips On Puerto Rico
Name Phone Location
Capital Water Sports Sailing Charters (787) 823-2789 Rincón, Western part of Puerto Rico
Castillo Tours (787) 791-6195 2.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central San Juan
Catamaran Getaway (787) 550-3138 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo
Coastal Marine Boat Tours (787) 310-8458 0.3 mi. West-Southwest of Central La Parguera
East Island Excursions Sailing (787) 860-3434 1.8 mi. North-Northeast of Central Ceiba
Erin Go Bragh (787) 860-4401 1.7 mi. North-Northeast of Central Ceiba
Fondo de Cristal (787) 899-5891 La Parguera, Western part of Puerto Rico
Katarina Sail Charters (787) 823-7245 Rincón, Western part of Puerto Rico
Maragata Yacht Charter (787) 850-7548 1.0 mi. South-Southeast of Central Palmas Del Mar
Salty Dog (787) 717-6378 0.9 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo
Serenity Sea Tours (787) 435-1358 1.2 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo
Spread Eagle II (787) 887-8821 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central Fajardo

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for a place offering snorkeling excursions, rentals, or other services, you should check out Desecheo Dive Shop. Everything you need for your Rincon snorkeling experience is available here, and at great rental prices. They are found in Rincón, in the western part of Puerto Rico.

Another company worth knowing about is Rincon Diving. Snorkeling in this area is fun and safe for everyone. Not only do they offer snorkeling excursions, but PADI training so you can master the sport.

A third company worth contacting is East Island Excursions Snorkeling. The East Island Excursions company invites customers to take a snorkeling adventure around one of the many beautiful reefs in Puerto Rico. Each trip is unique in where the company takes you and what they offer, so finding a trip that fits everyone's needs is only a few clicks away. They're located in the vicinity of Fajardo, in the eastern part of Puerto Rico.

Be sure to look at the table below to learn more about 13 firms that offer services of interest to snorkelers.

Snorkeling Services On Puerto Rico
Name Type Phone Location
Aqua Adventure Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 729-2626 1.7 mi. Northwest of Central San Juan
Blue Water Scuba Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (787) 288-0707 Bayamon
Casa del Mar Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 860-3483 Central Fajardo, Eastern part of Puerto Rico
Desecheo Dive Shop Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (787) 823-0390 0.7 mi. Northwest of Central Rincón
East Island Excursions Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 860-3434 1.8 mi. North-Northeast of Central Ceiba
Elenas Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator -- Central Fajardo, Eastern part of Puerto Rico
Island Scuba Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 309-6556 Guánica, Southwestern part of Puerto Rico
Paradise Scuba Puerto Rico Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (787) 899-7611 0.1 mi. West of Central La Parguera
Pure Adventure Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 202-6551 Ceiba, Eastern part of Puerto Rico
Rincon Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 506-3483 0.4 mi. South-Southeast of Central Rincón
Scuba Dogs San Juan Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 977-0000 1.7 mi. East of Central Old San Juan
Taino Divers Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (787) 823-6429 1.0 mi. Northwest of Central Rincón
West Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (787) 899-3223 6.7 mi. East-Southeast of Central Cabo Rojo

To learn more about snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for beginners and "pros" check out our detailed Caribbean snorkeling article.

There are a lot of options when it comes to snorkeling in Puerto Rico.  You can plan a vacation that revolves around the sport by choosing a destination known for its great conditions, you can incorporate snorkeling into your getaway with an excursion that brings you to the best sites, or you can play it by ear on a day-to-day basis and just make sure you have your kit with you at all times.  Whatever works or you, there is definitely a world of gorgeous underwater scenery to explore surrounding this already beautiful island. 


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