Best Snorkeling In Puerto Rico: A Guide To The Top Places
This page may contain compensated links. For more information read our disclaimer here.
by Kristin Young | Updated On: September 16, 2021 | Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico can easily be described as snorkel heaven. The tropical paradise boasts more than 300 miles of breathtaking coastline, sandy beaches, and clear blue waters. Beneath these waters are some of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean.
The selection of Puerto Rico snorkeling beaches is varied, giving everyone an opportunity to discover the colorful marine life below the surface. Whether you’re a snorkeling pro or a fresh-finned beginner, there’s bound to be a beach to make you feel comfortable.
Here’s a list of the 10 of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Puerto Rico.
PUERTO RICO SNORKELING MAP
Click on our best snorkeling in Puerto Rico map for more details.
BEST SNORKELING BEACHES IN PUERTO RICO
If you’re looking for the best places to snorkel in Puerto Rico, then these areas should be at the top of your list. They are home to the best Puerto Rico snorkeling beaches as well as many off shore spots.
Although there are many great spots, if you’re wondering where is the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico, look no further than the northeast coast in Fajardo and the islands of Culebra and Vieques, as well as the many other small islands and cays in the area.
Entry: Beach or Boat
Access: Charter, ferry, or flight is needed to access Culebra from Puerto Rico mainland
Facilities: Flamenco beach is the only one with amenities like food or restrooms
Look out for: Be aware that only Flamenco Beach has lifeguards on duty
Arguably the best snorkeling spot in Puerto Rico is Culebra. The offshore island is located approximately 17 miles from the mainland and boasts an impressive coral underwater wildlife.
Some of the best snorkeling in Culebra can be found right off several of the amazing beaches in Culebra. The best spots are Carlos Rosario, Tamarindo Beach, Melones Beach, Punta Soldado, and Flamenco Beach, along with off shore spots like Culebrita. In addition to the best beaches for snorkeling in Puerto Rico, there are several offshore spots to explore with a boat tour.
Keep in mind that Culebra is another island, and so you’ll need to get there via plane or by boat. Depending on your departing point, a trip to Culebra could be a 45-minute and $4.50 ferry (from Fajardo) or a 10-minute, $40 one-way flight (from Ceiba Airport).
Another island off the coast of Puerto Rico mainland, Vieques offers some of the best snorkeling beaches Puerto Rico has to offer. The island is home to Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, which is 20,000 acres of land that prioritizes conservation, keeping the rich biodiversity thriving.
Vieques has near-transparent waters that are home to a wide variety of marine life and vibrant corals. The area is also popular for sightings of green sea turtles and spotted eagle rays.
Many of the snorkeling beaches are family-friendly, so your little ones can explore the beauty of life under the sea with you. Blue Beach, locally known as Bahia de la Chiva, is a top choice for snorkeling. There are many gorgeous beaches on Vieques, but this is one of the best.
Other popular spots include Mosquito Pier on the north side of the island, as well as Red Beach/Playa Caracas on the East and Green Beach/Punta Arenas to the west.
Location: Off the coast of Fajardo
Access: Boat from the mainland
Icacos Island is a bit of special mention on this list as it’s unconventional and quite exclusive. Choosing to snorkel the lively reefs on the island needs a bit of planning since it’s only accessible by boat, and there is nothing to buy on the island at all.
The best spot to depart from is Fajardo (which is a great snorkeling area in its own right). If you book a catamaran and snorkel tour from Fajardo, then all of the logistics are sorted out for you. Including snorkel gear, food, and a wonderfully relaxing catamaran ride.
BEST SNORKELING IN PUERTO RICO MAINLAND
For the truly best places to snorkel in Puerto Rico, you’ll have to get to one of the Islands and Cays on the Eastern side of the island. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of fantastic spots on the mainland to explore.
San Juan Snorkeling
Access: Parking lot (with a fee of $6 per car) or free to walk
Facilities: Beach showers, restrooms, occasional food and drink vendors
Look out for: Snorkeling equipment is not noticeably available on the beaches, so you may need to bring your own gear
Although a bustling city with lots of urban activities going on, there is also the opportunity to go snorkeling. San Juan boasts a picturesque beach, Balneario El Escambron, which is one of the best Puerto Rico snorkeling beaches when spending time in the city.
Escambron beach feels like it’s a world away from the city, but still has beautiful views of Old San Juan. There’s no reef here, but the large rock jetty surrounding the beach is a great spot to find many curious fish. The area near the left of the beach is nearly always full of tons of small and friendly fish that are obviously used to people(and probably people feeding them). It’s an easy spot for beginners and kids to see many bright fish without much effort.
Next to the main beach is Escambron Marine park with underwater statues and structures. Manatees are even known to be seen here. Although you won’t find the variety of coral and fish that you may see in places like Culebra and Vieques, a stop at Escambron beach is a great break from the city with the best snorkeling in the area.
Rincon is famous for its surfing in the winter, but in the summer those coral reefs that cause the large swells are perfect to explore. Steps beach is probably the most popular snorkeling beach in Rincon. Located within the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, Steps Beach has a huge amount of elkhorn coral to explore. Because it’s located within a marine reserve, you won’t have to worry about boats either.
Rincon is also the jumping off point for exploring Mona Island and Desecheo Island, both uninhabited and home to fantastic reefs. If you’re wanting to explore either of these islands, a boat tour will be required as they are far off shore.
Access: $5 public parking at Seven Seas Beach
Facilities: Snorkel gear for rent and convenience food stands
Look out for: The walk to the more secluded spot is not ideal if you’re wearing flip flops
Although the islands just offshore from Fajardo offer some of Puerto Rico’s best snorkeling, there are spots on the mainland that have access to nice reefs as well.
Seven Seas Beach is the most popular snorkeling beach near Fajardo. On the east coast of Puerto Rico, the beach very rarely gets crowded, making it a nice and quiet spot to explore what lies beneath.
The water is warm and shallow, with reefs surrounding it full of colorful fish. People have commented that the beach feels more like a local hangout than a tourist attraction, making it one of the most low key best beaches for snorkeling in Puerto Rico.
Warning: I’ve seen several places recommending snorkeling at Playa Escondida, just a short hike from Seven Seas beach. While there is a reef there, there are also strong rip currents and dangerous surf. You will see that the government has posted a no swimming sign at the beach. Even if the water looks calm, don’t risk it! But, the beach is secluded and quite nice if you’re just looking to relax on a nearly private beach.
OTHER PUERTO RICO BEST SNORKELING SPOTS
If you’re looking to get out on the water and find some of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico, these places are great options. They will all require a tour or boat trip, but are completely worth it.
La Parguera Nature Reserve
Location: La Parguera/ Lajas
Access: Charter or tour guide
Facilities: There are no rental facilities in the bay
Look out for: The snorkeling spots in the cays can get very crowded, so it’s best to visit during the week or in the early morning
La Parguera Nature Reserve is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. The beautiful area is made up of a collection of coral reefs, mangrove islands, and small cays. Living in these waters is a rich collection of sea life such as dolphins, barracudas, and turtles. One of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico is located here as well, so make sure to add that to the list!
Although there are many places to enjoy a solo snorkeling mission in Puerto Rico, La Parguera is one of the areas that is best explored with a tour. Most of the best places to snorkel in the Marine Reserve are off the coast and only reachable by boat or kayak.
Location: 3 hour boat trip off the West Coast of Puerto Rico
Access: Charter or tour guide
Facilities: There are no facilities available
Look out for: Only 100 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time, so make sure that you organize in advance
This one will take more planning requiring permits and a much long trip than any of the other locations. However, Mona Island is home to pristine waters with unforgettable snorkeling memories just waiting to be made. When exploring the waters, you can expect to come across rainbow-hued fish, octopus, rays, and clownfish.
Locally known as Isla de Mona, the secluded islands are a nature reserve that is uninhabited by humans, but inhabited by a large concentration of reef fish. Getting there in itself is quite an experience, as the waters can get quite rough.
Make sure that you bring your own snorkeling equipment as there are no rentals available on the island. But, it’s a nature lover’s paradise with not only great snorkeling, but plenty of hiking, caves, and a perfect spot for star gazing.
Caja de Muertos
Location: off the coast of Ponce
Access: Ferry or Boat Charter
Facilities: Primitive Restroom Facilities
Caja de Muertos, also known as Coffin Island, is an area surrounded by both beautiful fish and extravagant legends. Off the coast of Ponce, the island is uninhabited and makes for a fantastic day out snorkeling.
In addition to inspiring snorkeling experience, the island also has stunning views, several hiking trails, and a lighthouse to visit.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST SNORKELING BEACHES IN PUERTO RICO
If visiting the areas surrounding Puerto Rico then you’re in for a treat. There are so many breathtaking snorkeling spots that are suited to a variety of skill levels and offering various accessibility.
Regardless of where you choose to enjoy a snorkeling adventure, make sure that you pack your underwater camera – because these are sights that you don’t want to miss!