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

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: June 2, 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

AREAS FOR SNORKELING, 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 hit list. You’ll have a variety of beaches to choose from, and a lot of equipment to rent. 

Although there are spots for great snorkeling all around Puerto Rico, if you’re looking for the very best, you’ll want to hit up the northeast coast in Fajardo and the islands of Culebra and Vieques just off the coast, as well as the many other small islands and cays in the area.

Culebra Beaches

rusted tank on Flamenco Beach on Culebra, Puerto Rico
  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner to advanced 
  • Access: Charter, ferry, or flight is needed to access Culebra from Puerto Rico mainland
  • Facilities: Snorkel gear rentals, food and drink stands, restrooms at some beaches
  • Look out for: Be aware that only Flamenco Beach has lifeguards on duty
  • Where to Stay: Culebra Beach Rentals or Club Seabourne Hotel

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 done at Flamenco Beach, Carlos Rosario, and Tamarindo Beach. If you’re traveling as a family, then you’ll be pleased to know that the waters are shallow in several places. Making it the perfect place for kiddies to safely adventure in the water.

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). 

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

Snorkeling Beaches In Vieques

blue beach on Vieques, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Gaddis Graphics
  • Entry: Beach entry in most places
  • Experience: Beginner to advanced
  • Access: A ferry or plane is needed to get from Puerto Rico mainland to Vieques and its beaches 
  • Facilities: Different beaches have varied facilities but most are remote and only accessible by car and without any facilities
  • Look out for: Appearing as seagrass, young coral is at risk when you’re walking in the shallow water on some beaches such as Blue Beach, so be careful where you place your feet
  • Where to Stay: El Blok

Another island off the coast of Puerto Rico mainland, Vieques offers some of the clearest snorkeling experiences in the area. 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. Puerto Rico has many spots to boast, 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.

San Juan Snorkeling

aerial view of Escambron Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Brandi Lyon Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access: Parking lot (with a fee of $6 per car) or free to walk
  • Facilities: Food and drink, showers, restrooms
  • Look out for: Snorkeling equipment is not noticeably available on the beaches, so you may need to bring your own gear
  • Where to Stay: Caribe Hilton

As the capital city of Puerto Rico, many travelers will find themselves spending a few days in San Juan. 

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 a top spot to go snorkeling when spending time in the city. 

In fact, Balneario El Escambron is made up of three different beaches, namely Playa 8 (which has lifeguards), Playa 9, and Playa 10. The first two beaches, in particular, are popular for snorkeling ventures.  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.

The waters are protected by a coral reef which is full of marine life, including turtles and a wide variety of fish. The area is also popular for those on a scuba diving holiday. 

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

BEST SNORKELING BEACHES IN PUERTO RICO

If you want to narrow down the options a little bit and head directly to one spot, then try out one of these best Puerto Rico snorkeling beaches.

Steps Beach

steps beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico
  • Location: Rincon/ Reserva Marina Tres Palmas
  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner to advanced
  • Access: Dirt path from the main road
  • Facilities: Snorkel gear for rent, food truck
  • Look out for: Don’t attempt to snorkel Steps Beach during winter, as the swell is large and dangerous
  • Where to Stay: Rincon of the Seas Grand Caribbean Hotel

Located on the west coast of Puerto Rico, Steps Beach is a fantastic spot to go snorkeling in the summer months. During this time, the water is calmer and marine life easier to enjoy safely. Be advised that it is also a popular surfing spot, which is evident when the swell gets quite large.

Officially known as The Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, the Caribbean waters are home to beautiful rocks, Elkhorn coral, tropical fish, and sea turtles. 

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
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access: Boat from the mainland
  • Facilities: Nothing
  • Look out for: The risk of not wanting to return

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.

La Parguera Nature Reserve

ocean view of water and rocks in La Parguera National Park, Puerto Rico
  • Location: La Parguera/ Lajas
  • Entry: Boat
  • Experience: Beginner to advanced
  • 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. 

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.

Mona Island

  • Location: 3 hour boat trip off the West Coast of Puerto Rico
  • Entry: Boat
  • Experience: Beginner to advanced
  • 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

view of rocks from beach at Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico
  • Location: off the coast of Ponce
  • Entry: Boat (ferry)
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access: Beach entry after arriving by ferry
  • Facilities: There are no facilities on the island
  • Look out for: The submarine trail that features 25 educational stations

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. 

 Seven Seas Beach

view from water of the beach at seven seas near Fajardo, Puerto Rico
  • Location: Fajardo
  • Entry: Beach
  • Experience: Beginner
  • Access: For the best snorkeling spots, follow the beach half a mile down
  • 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 

Seven Seas Beach is popular for a variety of water sports – snorkeling included. 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 a lot more comfortable. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST SNORKELING BEACHES IN PUERTO RICO

If visiting the areas surrounding Puerto Rico (as far as the US Virgin Islands) 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!

Check out all of our Puerto Rico Guides here.

Hi!  We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical.  We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!