Puerto Rico is a a wonderful destination with hundreds of beaches to explore. The cays and islets of Puerto Rico offer a different experience, with small cays you may end up having all to yourself during weekdays.
We’ll start our list with the most popular cays and islets with easy access. There are various tour operators that offer excursions to these offshore treasures. Some of them you can rent a small boat or kayak and discover on your own.
Cays off the East Coast of Puerto Rico
Palominito is perhaps one of the most picture perfect cays on the Caribbean. So perfect it was used as a location on the final scene of Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides. It’s here Jack Sparrow leaves Angelica. Need we say more?
If you’re staying on the metro or east coast coast of the island, be sure to book a trip to Icacos Cay. These cays are surrounded by crystalline turquoise waters, perfect for a fun day of swimming and snorkeling.
Cays off the island of Culebra
Cayo Luis Peña
Cayo Luis Peña, is part of the Culebra Archipelago and Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. It is located off the west coast of the Culebra. With so many beaches in Culebra, few visitors make the trip to this wildlife refuge. You can access the island by water taxi or kayak. Once here, you can have a very quiet day swimming, snorkeling pristine coral reefs, hiking on trails and beach combing. More about Culebra
Cays off the island of Vieques
Everywhere you go in Vieques is gorgeous, every beach and every cay. Cayo Afuera is one more place to add to your places to go while in Vieques. Rent a kayak and glide through crystal clear waters or book a tour with a guide to explore the coral reefs surrounding Cayo Afuera.
Cayo de Tierra
After a great lunch in Esperanza on the island of Vieques, take a walk to Cayo de Tierra, a cay connected by sand to Esperanza Beach. You can do a little hiking on the cay and take a long pause to admire the views. From Cayo de Tierra you have unobstructed views of El Malecon and Sun Bay Beach.
Cays off the West Coast of Puerto Rico
Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island)
The little mangrove island is a favorite among locals on the west coast region on the island. We adore this place, we love to share it, and more visitors are heading to this secret little gem. During the regular high tourist season, you can enjoy this place without crowds on weekdays. Gilligan’s Island is like a giant natural pool of shallow clear water. Here you can snorkel, kayak, picnic, read your favorite book or do nothing at all. More about Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora, Guanica, Puerto Rico.
La Parguera Nature Reserve
Popular for locals but still considered one of the unbeaten paths for tourists. La Parguera Nature Reserve is made up of 30 cays and islets. La Parguera is one of the best day trips you offered on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Various charters offer deep sea fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking trips. After a fun day on the water, head back to land and enjoy a delicious authentic Puerto Rican meal at the village. More about the cays of La Parguera Nature Reserve.
Isla Ratones is located right off Joyuda, a fishing village on the town of Cabo Rojo on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The cay covers .99 acres, currently managed and protected by the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources. Book a charter, in just a short 3 minute ride you can enjoy the beach with clear calm waters. Isla Ratones offers visitors an inexpensive activity with easy access. More about Isla Ratones, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
More Cays & Islets in Puerto Rico
- Cayo Berbería – 5.5 km from Caja de Muertos
- Cayo Blanco – This beautiful cay with white sand is just 2.5 miles off the coast of Vieques. Here you can have a great snorkeling experience.
- Cayo Caribe – Part of Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve made up of 15 islets on the southern coast of Puerto Rico between the towns of Guayama and Salinas.
- Cayo Magueyes – Part of La Parguera Nature Reserve – Facilities of University of Puerto Rico Marine Sciences Department
- Cayo Monito – 5 km northwest of Isla de Mona
- Cayo Norte – A privately owned cay / island on the northeast of Culebra. It is the only cay on the Culebra Archipelago that’s not part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. Cayo Norte is about 321 acres covered in semi-arid vegetation. This site is a refuge for two endangered sea turtles (hawksbill sea turtle and the green sea turtle), seabirds and various species of fish.
- Cayo Piñero – Ceiba
- Cayo Santiago – On the east coast of Puerto Rico in the town of Humacao. Land size of about 37 acres. Research site of monkeys by The University of Puerto Rico. Other names used are Santiago Island & Isla de los Monos.
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