Snorkeling in San Juan, Puerto Rico | Where to Snorkel, Tips & FAQs
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by Kristin Young | Updated On: August 27, 2021 | Puerto Rico
While the best Puerto Rican snorkeling beaches for experienced explorers are found in places like Culebra, Vieques, and Fajardo, snorkeling in San Juan is wonderful for beginners!
Thanks to the capital’s location in the north of Puerto Rico, its Atlantic coastline is dotted with incredible beaches boasting sparkling blue waters suited for swimmers.
If you’re hoping to see the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, where the water glows at night due to agitated dinoflagellate and phytoplankton, head to the east to Fajardo or Vieques for the best spots.
This article covers everything you need to know about snorkeling in San Juan, including what you can expect to see, beach facilities, and access to the shores.
SNORKELING SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO MAP
Find the most suitable spots to snorkel in San Juan using our map and click through for more details.
ESCAMBRON BEACH SNORKELING
Escambrón Beach has several rock formations bolstering a small area free from the rough waves formed in the Atlantic Ocean. As a Blue Flag beach, you can expect great water quality, environmental management, conservation education, and safety.
Entry: East side of the beach near the rocks
Experience: Little to no experience
Access: Free – Around $6 USD per car
Facilities: Bathroom, change room, food and drinks, outdoor shower
Look out for: Super friendly fish
Entering over the soft golden sand and embracing the warm waters will bring a smile to your face. Beneath the surface, you are likely to see small fish, which are accustomed to masked visitors and make little effort to disperse.
Escambron beach is not only beautiful, but it’s also known for the best snorkeling in San Juan. Now, keep in mind that the snorkeling in this area isn’t the best, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places to see a bit of underwater life while enjoying the beach and city.
Enter the water on the left side of the rock jetty(closest to the city), and you’ll quickly find TONS of very friendly and curious fish. We discovered that they are often fed here so they don’t shy away. Then make your way all along the jetty rocks to see a few more fish and a bit of coral.
Escambrón beach is located alongside a recreational park with family-friendly activities. The beach feels like it’s a world away from the hustle of the city.
Escambrón Marine Park
Entry: Sand beach entry
Experience: Little to no experience
Facilities: Restrooms, outdoor showers, dive shop
Escambrón Marine Park offers a shallow dive with public facilities and is located a short distance from Escambrón beach. You can feel confident while swimming with rocky promontories protecting the beach from high-energy waves, resulting in great snorkeling conditions.
Head down to the Escabrón Marine Park from Old San Juan to explore the battery built in 1771, before dipping into the large natural pool. In the 1930s, the Beach Club closed off the bay with a rock wall to create this pool. Today it is maintained by a scuba diving company who offer snorkeling adventures and work to help the coral and marine flourish.
The underwater area is filled with statues and structures to explore with fish and turtles often hiding among them. Manatees are even frequently spotted here. However, the water can often be a bit murky.
Note: The visibility is best in the morning. When the water gets crowded or after rain as it tends to be murkier.
PLAYITA DEL CONDADO SNORKELING
Entry: From the beach
Experience: Beginner to intermediate
Access: Ashford Ave and Puente Dos Hermanos bridge
Facilities: Food kiosk and sun loungers for rent
Known as San Juan’s little gem, Playita del Condado is perfect for a peaceful day snorkeling at the beach. You’ll enjoy the views of the city, blue waters, and spots of shade from palm and almond trees.
Interested in the history of the island? On your way to Playita del Condado, you can visit the Fortin San Geronimo, located between Escambron Beach and Playita Del Condado, to learn about San Juan’s successful defense against a 60-ship-strong British attack in 1797.
Protected by its position in a cove, the waters are calmer than on the nearby Condado beach. This makes it suitable for your family to comfortably explore Puerto Rico’s spectacular marine life together. Move quietly in the water for a chance to see blue tang fish. Your children may recognize the species as the character Dory in the animated film ‘Finding Nemo’.
ISLA VERDE SNORKELING
Entry: From the beach
Access: Access via the walkways on Avenida Isla Verde main street
Facilities: Beach chairs for rent, parking, and outdoor shower facilities
Isla Verde is one of the best and busiest beaches near San Juan. While busy, a stunning reef system is located 80-100 yards from the shore and is best experienced with a local guide. Having a local tour guide can help in identifying the brightly colored fish or in spotting the more camouflage species. Consider taking an underwater camera with you to capture the moment.
The area is protected as a marine reserve and is home to endangered species of manatees, sea turtles, anemones, rays, lobsters, crabs, and coral.
The coast around Isla Verde gently slopes down to a fringing reef. It is decorated with hard and soft corals and bushy sea fans. While the reefs are intact and beautiful, a drawback of diving in the area is that the visibility tends to be a limiting 10 to 20 feet.
Isla Verde consists of three beaches: El Alambique, Pine Grove Beach, and Balneario de Carolina. You’ll want to visit Pine Grove for the best snorkeling. As an exposed beach, the waves here can hinder your swimming experience.
Tip: If the swell is particularly strong during your visit, consider hiring a surfboard or booking a surf lesson.
SNORKELING TOUR IN SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Experience everything the area has to offer with a snorkeling tour. Guides ensure that you visit the beach with the best conditions on the day.
Price: Around $59 USD
Duration: 1.5 hours
Meet your snorkeling guide for an introduction to the area, followed by a safety briefing. You’ll feel comfortable from the get-go. First, you’ll get familiar with the equipment in waist-deep water before setting off in search of aquatic life.
The guides make this tour the perfect family-friendly activity. It is suitable for kids as young as eight years old. As an added bonus, you’ll go home with photos of your underwater adventure.
The capital of Puerto Rico enjoys picture-perfect vacation weather with warm, humid temperatures for two-thirds of the year. While rain is a possibility, it is not likely to interfere with your plans to snorkel.
Travel to Puerto Rico in early winter, from January to March, for the lowest levels of precipitation. With temperatures reaching highs of 90°F (32°C) between June and October, you will find your swim in the 80°F (27°C) water to be a welcoming embrace. Consider visiting in the shoulder months leading up to and after summer if you are not accustomed to sweltering heat.
November typically experiences 19 wet days and receives on average 194 mm of rain. The silver lining during your visit in the wettest month of the year will be the sunny days, with high temperatures averaging 87°F (30.5°C).
Will you need a second skin or wetsuit? No, there is no need unless you are susceptible to sunburn or feel more comfortable with a protective layer. The water temperature is warm enough for swimming all year round with the coolest temperature of 79°F (26°C) experienced between January and March.
FAQ – QUESTIONS ABOUT SNORKELING IN SAN JUAN
The following are common questions about snorkeling in San Juan. If you are busy planning your trip, the answers may be of interest to you.
Is Snorkeling Safe in Puerto Rico?
Snorkeling is safe in Puerto Rico, you will feel comfortable exploring the many bays, mangroves, and rockpools. Thanks to the remote nature of the island, the water quality is great.
There is no need to be nervous about snorkeling in San Juan. The protected waters of Playita del Condado, Escambron Beach, and Escambrón Marine Park are the ideal locations to build your confidence. When visiting Isla Verde, check the forecasted ocean conditions to ensure you avoid swimming during rough waves, but go with a guide if possible.
How Much Does it Cost to Go Snorkeling in Puerto Rico?
Snorkeling is free in Puerto Rico, if you have your own gear, that is. Buying a pair of goggles and a snorkel will cost between $40-110 USD. Alternatively, you can rent basic snorkeling gear for a week in San Juan for $18-40 USD.
Snorkeling tours typically include gear and cost between $38-160 USD per person for a half-day excursion.
Can You Swim With Sea Turtles in Puerto Rico?
You have a chance to see three turtle species that visit the shores of Puerto Rico: the leatherback, green sea, and hawksbill. The first two species favor the beaches of Culebra and other more isolated waters.
Visit Puerto Rico between February and August for a chance to see groups of turtles nesting on the beaches and outlying islands.
VISIT OTHER DESTINATIONS FOR THE BEST SNORKELING IN PUERTO RICO
Having built up your confidence snorkeling in San Juan, you may find yourself itching for crystal clear waters. Consider extending your trip to explore the northeast coast in Fajardo and the islands of Culebra and Vieques – some of the best places to snorkel in Puerto Rico.
Loved your snorkel in San Juan, Puerto Rico? Share the highlight of your experience in the comments below