Best Snorkeling In Puerto Rico: A Guide To The Top Places

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. 

We are often asked, “Is there good snorkeling in Puerto Rico?” The quick answer is yes we love snorkeling in Puerto Rico, and it came in at #9 on our Top 10 Snorkeling Spots in the Caribbean. We consider the snorkeling to be a great add on to an island that is already a nature lover’s paradise.

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.

In this post:

Here’s a list of the 10 of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Puerto Rico.


PUERTO RICO SNORKELING MAP

best snorkeling puerto rico 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.

Culebra Snorkeling Beaches

rusted tank on Flamenco Beach on Culebra, Puerto Rico
  • 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
  • Where to Stay: Culebra Beach Rentals or Villa Flamenco Beach

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. 

If you’re looking for the best snorkeling beach in Puerto Rico, our pick is Carlos Rosario Beach on Culebra. 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 Beach
  • Tamarindo Beach
  • Melones Beach
  • Punta Soldado
  • Flamenco Beach
  • Culebrita(off shore island via boat)

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/ $2.25 ferry (from Ceiba) or a 15-minute/ $40 one-way flight (from Ceiba Airport). 

Given all of the fantastic options, Culebra is often considered the best place to snorkel in Puerto Rico, and we would agree. But, Vieques comes in a close second.

Check out this catamaran day trip from Fajardo to Culebra, which includes a snorkeling adventure – equipment included!

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Culebra


Snorkeling Beaches In Vieques

blue beach on Vieques, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Gaddis Graphics
  • Entry: Beach entry in most places
  • Access: A ferry or plane is needed to get from Puerto Rico mainland to Vieques and its beaches 
  • Facilities: Beaches are remote and only accessible by car on rough roads(Jeep Recommended); no facilities
  • Where to Stay: El Blok

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 crystal clear 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. 

Vieques is one of our favorite spots in the world! We chose to honeymoon there, and it has had our hearts ever since. You won’t regret spending a week on this secluded little slice of paradise.

Many of the best snorkeling beaches have incredibly calm water making them perfect spots for beginners as well. Blue Beach, locally known as Bahia de la Chiva, is one of our favorite beaches on Vieques, with nice snorkeling around the island and complete seclusion.

But, if you’re looking for the best snorkeling on Vieques, Punta Arenas, also known as Green Beach, is the place to go.

Other popular spots include Mosquito Pier on the north side of the island, as well as Red Beach/Playa Caracas on the East.

Read More: Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Vieques


Icacos Island

Drone shot of yachts, catamarans, and sail boats just off the beach at Cayo Icacos
  • Location: Off the coast of Fajardo
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Boat from the mainland
  • Facilities: None

Icacos Island is truly a world of it’s own and one of the prettiest places in Puerto Rico. 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 decent snorkeling area in its own right). If you book one of the catamaran and snorkel tours from Fajardo, then all of the logistics are sorted out for you, including snorkel gear, food, and a wonderfully relaxing catamaran ride. From the beach to the snorkeling to the boat, it will be a truly unforgettable day.


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

aerial view of Escambron Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Brandi Lyon Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Parking lot (with a fee of $6 per car) or free to walk
  • Facilities: Beach showers, restrooms, occasional food and drink vendors
  • Where to Stay: Caribe Hilton

If you’re wondering where to snorkel in Puerto Rico near San Juan, Escambron Beach is a great choice. As the capital city of Puerto Rico, many travelers will find themselves spending a few days here. 

Although it’s 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 tropical 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). The calm shallow waters offer 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.

Check out our San Juan Beach Hotel Guide HERE, including info on our favorite snorkeling hotel in San Juan, the Caribe Hilton.

Read More: San Juan Snorkeling Guide


Steps Beach Rincon Snorkeling

concrete steps at waters edge at Steps Beach Tres Palmas Marine Reserve Rincon Puerto Rico
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Parking along a dirt road
  • Facilities: No facilities
  • Where to Stay: Tres Palmas Inn and Villas: Beachfront Villa and Beachfront Cottage(4 additional houses as well on VRBO)

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.

One important thing to remember is that this is a SUMMER ONLY snorkeling spot. In the winter, the waves are too large and it’s a surf spot.

Although quite a popular beach in the area, it’s still pretty secluded in Puerto Rico beach terms. Don’t expect any lifeguards or beach facilities, and make sure to have fins or water shoes as it is quite rocky in many places underwater.


 Fajardo Snorkeling

view from water of the beach at seven seas near Fajardo, Puerto Rico
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: $5 public parking at Seven Seas Beach
  • Facilities: Bathrooms and food vendors  

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 while very popular on the weekends, tends to be a bit calmer during the week 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. The beach feels much more local than many of the more popular beaches closer to San Juan, making it one of the most low key best beaches for snorkeling in Puerto Rico.  Fajardo is also a great jumping off point for exploring El Yunque Rainforest or one of the biobays in the area.

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.


 Crash Boat Beach Snorkeling

Fish at Crash Boat Beach Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Frank Carlo Jr
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Free and Paid Parking
  • Facilities: Bathrooms and Food Vendors  

Located just outside the West Coast town of Aguadilla, Crash Boat Beach doesn’t have a traditional coral reef but offers colorful coral formations growing along the piers of the dock. The pier also serves as an oasis for plenty of small and friendly fish making this a great spot for kid and beginners to see fish and coral up close.

Beyond its captivating marine life, Crash Boat Beach offers a lively atmosphere with restroom facilities, a paved parking lot, and food kiosks. If you’re heading to the West Coast of Puerto Rico, you need to add Crash Boat Beach to your list.


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

ocean view of water and rocks in La Parguera National Park, Puerto Rico
  • Location: La Parguera/ Lajas
  • Entry: Boat
  • Access: Charter, water taxi, or tour

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. 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. A great option here is to book a tour that includes snorkeling during the day and the bio bay in the evening.


Mona Island

  • Location: 3 hour boat trip off the West Coast of Puerto Rico
  • Access: Permits and Multi Day Tour Required

This one will take a lot of planning and a very adventurous spirit requiring permits and a much long trip than any of the other locations. The logistics and time required to get to Mona Island mean that very few people actually make it there. However, Mona Island is home to pristine waters with unforgettable snorkeling memories just waiting to be made.

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. 

You will need to work with an outfitter to secure permits and plan the logistics. This is NOT a DIY daytrip.


Caja de Muertos

view of rocks from beach at Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico
  • Location: off the coast of Ponce
  • Entry: Boat
  • Access: Boat Charter

Caja de Muertos, also known as Coffin Island, is an area surrounded by both beautiful bright blue water and white sand beaches. Off the coast of Ponce, the island is uninhabited and makes for a fantastic day out for snorkeling and hiking. 

This remote spot is great for those who love the outdoors with a calm beach, several hiking trails, and a lighthouse to visit. I wouldn’t come here looking for out of this world snorkeling, but it’s a fun day trip with a bit of snorkeling on the side.

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.  If you are short on time, head straight for Culebra, Vieques and the Northeast coast of the Island.

Not only is the Northeast of the island where you will find the best snorkeling that Puerto Rico has to offer, but it makes for a great combination hiking trip with El Yunque National Forest.

Check out all of our Puerto Rico Guides here.

 

 

About the author
Kristin Young
Kristin is a hiker, triathlete, and avid snorkeler who spends her free time traveling around the Caribbean in search of all of the best snorkeling, hiking, and unique adventures.