10 Best Snorkeling Spots in Puerto Rico

snorkel puerto rico

If you are visiting Puerto Rico, then you may be searching for something fun and exciting to do while you are here. With the beautiful beaches and sparkling water the island has to offer, it is easy to see why snorkeling is so popular here. There are a few spots you should know about when looking for a great snorkeling spot. So grab your snorkeling mask and head out to one of these top spots for snorklers in Puerto Rico.

Mona Island

This is a small island just off the west coast of Puerto Rico where many people believe the best snorkeling is found. There reef here is easily seen through the pristine waters. There is also a wide array of fish in every color imaginable. You can also spot turtles, octopi, eels, sting rays, and much more here. The one thing to keep in mind is that the island does not have any rental equipment for snorkeling so make sure you come prepared.

Carlos Rosario

Located on the offshore island of Culebra, Carlos Rosario has been touted by many as the best snorkeling beach in the world. This beach is known for having a large amount of sea turtles. It is also known for its shallower waters, which means it is the ideal place to bring children for snorkeling.

Caja de Muertos

This small island is located just off the coast of Ponce is also known by its English name- Coffin Island. Don’t let the name of this island scare you. The name was derived from an 18th century writer who was convinced the shape of the island looked like a body in a coffin. There is a lot of lore that surrounds the island due to the name. This means that you can have a day full of outings such as a hiking trail and a lighthouse while also enjoying snorkeling here. The island is remote so there is no equipment to rent here, though you will find healthy reefs full of fish and turtles. You can even follow the signs for the underwater trail to find the best views in this area.

La Parguera Nature Preserve

This nature preserve is unique in the way that it is just a group of small mangrove islands nestled just off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. The area is full of beautifully colored fish, dolphins, barracudas, rays, and more. There are several charter boats you can hire to take you out on a guided snorkeling tour. Just about anyone who has been out on these says they are worth the cost as they will help you find the best spots in this nature preserve.

Steps Beach

This is located in Rincon, on the west coast of Puerto Rico. While this is a gorgeous beach, it is really only good for swimming in the summer months as this is when the surf is down, making the water calmer. This beach is also known as The Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. Here you will find the largest Elk Horn coral garden in the Carribbean. They also have beautiful live rocks  and live reefs you can enjoy here. There are many fish you can spot here such as Angelfish, Blue Tang, barracudas, sea turtles, and much more. According to people who come here often the best month of the year to snorkel in this location is July.

Fajardo

On the east side of Puerto Rico, within walking distance of the Seven Seas public beach you will find this snorkeling spot. Here you will find Las Cabezas de San Juan nature refuge, which is a gorgeous place to snorkel due to its protected status. There are gorgeous reefs and a wide assortment of fish to be found here. However, this is right next to Playa Escondida which some may say is good for snorkeling, though you should not swim, snorkel or surf here. The tidal activity is too great to accommodate this and makes it dangerous.

Gilligan’s Island

This may sound like a made up name based on the TV show but this gorgeous spot is a beauty to behold. It is found in the town of Guanica. The water is clear blue and there are shallow sections that are only two feet deep, making it perfect for children. There is not many reefs here, but there are a good amount of fish traveling in schools, including barracudas.

Isla de Mona

Mona Island is a secluded island just off the west coast of Puerto Rico. It is referred to as the “Galapagos of the Carribbean.” To get there you will need to travel by by charter boat out to the island. Keep in mind that the waves are quite choppy getting to the island. The island itself is known for its local inhabitants of iguanas that make their home all over the beach. The crystal clear waters allows you to see the reefs and beautiful fish and sea turtles here. Due to the need for a charter boat to reach the island, chances are you will be alone on your snorkeling, which can be nice.

Balneario El Escambron

You will find this gorgeous spot in San Juan and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all Puerto Rico. If you want to see a better selection of fish, then it is recommended to swim to the left side of this beach as it is near a nature preserve so you will see more fish on this side than the rest of the beach.

Vieques

This is another destination in Puerto Rico that is known just for it’s snorkeling. This is the sister island to Culebra, so it is no surprise that you will find amazing snorkeling opportunities here. This is a 21 mile long beach that has beautifully clear water with diverse fish and beautiful reefs. You can even spot eagle rays and hawksbill turtles.  At night you can even visit bioluminescent bay for a spectacular sight.

A Few Safety Tips

When you are out snorkeling it is important to keep safety in mind for both you and the local environment. Here are a few things you can do to help keep safe while snorkeling:

  • Do not feed fish. They only need to eat the food they get from their natural habitat
  • To not kneel or stand on any part of the reef. Not only will this injure you, it will also damage the reef which takes years to regrow.
  • Never take a fish or reef out of its habitat. The purpose of snorkeling is to explore and see, not take. If you want a keepsake remember to bring an underwater camera so you can take pictures.
  • If you are not confident with your swimming skills, then make sure you wear a floatation device.
  • Make sure you swim horizontally
  • Before you start get your face into the water to determine where the sand path is so you do not accidently step on a reef
  • If you are near a reef be careful when kicking your feet that you do not hit a reef
  • Make sure you are with someone or that someone knows where you are
  • Be sure to wear sun block to keep you from burning while you are out

These are just a few of the things to consider when looking for the best places to snorkel on your trip to Puerto Rico. If you want to make sure you find the best sites, then you should hire a guide to help you. There are several charter tours for snorkeling that you can find in the area. These are sure to help you get the experience you are looking for. San Juan Snorkel and Picnic Cruise is a great option. This includes a full day on the water with stops at amazing locations. They include lunch, beverages including alcoholic drinks, snorkeling equipment, and even cover local taxes.

Creative Commons image by Thomas Shahan, on Flickr

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