Puerto Rico is blessed to still have beaches with healthy coral reefs. The main island offers good snorkeling spots, but in case you didn’t know Puerto Rico possesses offshore islands with some of the best snorkeling beaches in the Caribbean.
Whether you’re an advanced snorkeler or beginner traveling with children, there’s a snorkeling beach for you in Puerto Rico. Glide over crystal clear waters from shallow to deeper water with excellent visibility and get lost in the magic of exploring healthy coral reefs with a colorful and abundant sea life.
Bring your own snorkeling gear and get ready for some fun and memorable experiences under the sea.
Vieques and Culebra also known as the Spanish Virgin Islands, are the best snorkeling destinations in Puerto Rico, for those seeking to vacation in a place where snorkeling is the focus, Culebra is number one and Vieques is second. If we were to list the best beaches in a list, Culebra would most likely take up the first 3 spots.
Following we are listing the best snorkeling beaches around the island of Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra.
Culebra – The Best Snorkeling Destination in Puerto Rico
The offshore island of Culebra has been included on “best snorkeling islands in the world”. Between the Navy possessing parts of the island for decades, low development and protection laws, it has helped preserve the coral reefs in great condition. Both the main island of Culebra, Culebrita and the offshore cays will give you weeks worth of excellent snorkeling experiences on the clearest waters Puerto Rico possesses. Culebra is a world class destination, this tiny island is home to Flamenco Beach, one of the top beaches in the world; and some of the healthiest coral reefs left in the Caribbean. Carlos Rosario is the best snorkeling beach in Culebra, among others are Tamarindo Beach, popular for sea turtles; Flamenco Beach, Melones Beach Beach, and Punta de Soldado Beach. If you’re traveling with children, Culebra offers beaches with shallow waters great for smaller children to snorkel and join the magical experience. More about Culebra, Puerto Rico beaches.
Vieques – Great Snorkeling and Magical Nights at the Bioluminescent Bay
Following Culebra, we’ll send you over to it’s sister island of Vieques. There are no rivers flowing into the waters of Vieques, so the waters are very clear and the visibility is great even on a cloudy day. One of the best snorkeling beaches is Bahia de la Chiva (also known as Blue Beach) right off the rocky point of Punta Conejo. You’ll see a nice variety of fish, coral, spotted eagle rays and hawksbill turtles and more. Other popular beaches for snorkeling are Punta Arenas (Green Beach), Cayo Blanco, Cayo de Afuera, Mosquito Pier, Pata Prieta, and Gringo among others. More about snorkeling in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.
Balneario El Escambron, San Juan, Puerto Rico
We have to include this spot on our top list because most visitors end up spending at least a few days in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico, the most popular destination on the island. Perhaps you’re only in the city for a few days, you don’t want to venture out too far from the city, no worries, there a place right in the city. Located on the most beautiful beach in San Juan, Balneario El Escambron, swim towards the left side of the protected waters facing the Caribe Hilton, you’ll see tons of fish. Following is a video of a great spot, they’re scuba diving, but you’ll be able to enjoy it snorkeling as well.
Steps Beach – Rincon, Puerto Rico (west coast)
During the summer months when the surf is down and the water is calmer, head to The Tres Palmas Marine Reserve (Steps Beach), one of the top snorkeling spots on the west coast of the island. The beach offers easy access to the marine reserve where you can float above one of the largest Elk Horn Coral gardens in the Caribbean. Explore a reef with beautiful rocks, live coral, sea turtles, gorgeous schools of Blue Tang, colorful Angelfish and much more. Do not attempt to snorkel in the winter, the waters are actually known world wide for surfing in the winter months. The best time to snorkel at Steps is during the month of July.
La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico (Southwest coast)
La Parguera Nature Reserve is a group of mangrove islands, coral reefs, natural pools, salt marshes and small cays offering clear waters with underwater playgrounds where you may encounter dolphins, turtles, barracudas, manatees and much more. We recommend you book a snorkeling tour with a charter. Most snorkeling charters leave from the marina right at La Parguera, a fishing village right on the water where you can enjoy eating fresh fish and traditional delicious fried foods.
The cays around La Parguera get very crowded with boats over the summer months and holidays, making it nearly impossible to enjoy the waters. If you’re here in the summer months, be sure to book a charter / tour so you can have a better experience.
Isla de Mona (Mona Island), Offshore secluded island on the west coast
“The Galapagos of the Caribbean”, a nature reserve uninhabited by humans but home to iguanas, healthy coral reefs with the riches underwater world. Getting here is a fun expedition not for the faint of heart, you may face pretty high waves on the way there, you must book a charter boat to get you there. Once you get there, you can snorkel crystal waters, swim with turtles and most likely be the only ones there. Book a tour with Adventours Marine, experienced responsible charter out of Cabo Rojo.
Gilligan’s Island (Cayo Aurora), Guanica (west coast)
Cayo Aurora also known as Gilligan’s Island on the town of Guanica makes it to one of our top snorkeling spots for being kid friendly. Gilligan’s Island is like a giant clear pool with clear shallow waters perfect for children to snorkel. Your children can sit in 2 feet of water and have schools of tiny fish circle their feet. We have not seen a variety of fish, not much coral, but we’ve often seen many barracudas and schools of fish. Our son loves to snorkel here because the surrounding mangroves gives him a sense of “safety” on the water. There are mangrove channels with easy access for additional snorkeling spots.
Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island), Ponce, Puerto Rico (South coast)
Head to Ponce and make reservations for a ferry ride to Caja de Muertos which offers good snorkeling along “Vereda Submarina” (Underwater Trail) with interpretative signs telling you what you’re seeing as you snorkel through the trail, be sure to say hi to the dolphin. The island offers scenic vistas, hiking trails and a lighthouse.
Map of Snorkeling Beaches & Destinations in Puerto Rico
Again, the following are not the only snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico, the best snorkeling destinations are Culebra & Vieques.