This beautiful series of islands is lucky to have beaches with some of the healthiest and least spoiled coral life in the world, making for truly exceptional snorkelling. While the main island of Puerto Rico itself has lots of snorkeling to do, the best snorkel sites are on the beaches of its offshore islands.
It seems like other Caribbean are reefs are slowly losing their vibrance, but Puerto Rico is still home to a colourful healthy reef, crystal clear waters, and excellent visibility for snorkeling. If you find yourself in Puerto Rico, here are the best places to go snorkelling.
Fish in Puerto Rico:
Barracuda, Black Margate’s, Blue Chromis, Blue-Striped Grunts, Blue Tangs, Doctorfish, French Grunts, Jacks, Mahogany Snappers, Porkfish, Schoolmasters, Smallmouth Grunts, Snappers, Southern Sennets, and more.
Corals in Puerto Rico:
Bent Sea Rods, Black Sea Rods, Blade Fire Corals, Branching Fire Corals, Encrusting Gorgonians, Fire Corals, Elkhorn Corals, Groove-Bladed Sea Whips, Lace Corals, Pillar Corals, Porous Sea Rods, Sea Fans, Sea Fingers, Sea Plumes, and more.
Best places to snorkel in Puerto Rico
Bahia de la Chiva
Where: Vieques Details: One of the Spanish Virgin Islands prime snorkel destinations, the water on Vieques is much clearer and calmer than in Culebra. Bahia de la Chiva is the best snorkel site on this island, with excellent visibility and a diverse range of fish life to explore. The tropical reef is bustling with spotted eagle rays, hawksbill turtles, parrot fish, angelfish, brain coral, gorgonian coral forests, and more, and you can snorkel to the reef from any spot on the beach.
The best snorkel spot here is La Chiva, a small island bursting with sea and marine life around a tropical reef. Access is at the end of the road through the shallow waters,
The water here is very shallow, making a great snorkel spot for children and novices. You can easily float and swim along with the current for a relaxing swim and snorkel adventure,
Beware to not walk over the shallow waters to reach the sea itself. What looks like seagrass may well be housing coral and sea urchins, so for the benefit of yourself and the health of the reef, just go for that 5 minute swim.
Balneario El Escambron
Where: San Juan Details: Not the most outstanding snorkeling spot, but definitely one of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches of Puerto Rico. We thought this spot should be pointed out since most travellers will be sure to spend some time in San Juan, and if you fancy snorkeling while there then this is where to go. A sprawling and stunning beach lined with coconut palms, you’ll have the chance to swim with turtles and diverse populations of fish life.
For the best snorkeling you’ll want to swim towards the left side of the protected waters across the Caribe Hilton. There’s so much to see and explore at this beach, so give yourself time beyond snorkeling!
Bathrooms and showers on-site.
Carlos Rosario Beach
Where: Culebra Details: Culebra is one of the world’s best snorkeling islands, and Carlos Rosario is one of its most heavenly snorkel sites. Less developed than other islands, Culebra is preserved and protected with a huge healthy reef that can be explored for days on end. The reefs at Carlos Rosario are the standout selection in Culebra, with snorkeling right off the beach, and some of the most beautiful formations and marine life to explore. The waters here are calm and clear and you’ll be swimming with a variety of fish life, small and large!
Access to this beach is through the popular Flamenco Beach. From the car park you will find a forest trail leading to Carlos Rosario, which is about a 20-minute walk to this stunning secluded spot,
There are no facilities on this beach.
Where: Culebra Details: Consistently on the list of the world’s best beaches, this spot is perfect for more than just snorkeling. Sparkling waters, soft white sands, and an untouched vibe that makes you feel as though you’ve stumbled upon a piece of paradise, this spot is made better only by the fact that there’s snorkeling to be done! The coral reefs are just below the surface of the shallow waters next to the stone bridge, letting you get up close and personal with barracuda, manta rays, turtles, and lots of other tropical fish and sea life.
The calm, clear, and shallow waters of Flamenco are perfect for novice snorkelers and children. Toddlers can play in the natural tide pools on the far right end of the beach, where swimming is completely safe and waters protected,
Look out for the iconic old US Navy tank along the beach, a remnant from the Culebra’s history as an old gunnery range.
Bathrooms and showers on-site.
Isla de Mona
Where: Mayagüez Details: One for the adventurous who are willing to travel far and wide for the best snorkel spots, this secluded island is known as the Galapagos of the Caribbean. You’ll find untouched beauty home to iguanas and unspoiled coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life to discover. This island paradise has crystal clear warm waters, complete privacy away from the tourist bustle, and rich underwater scenery to explore. A truly unique experience for more than just snorkeling.
This is a very mysterious and difficult island to reach – and that’s why it’s so well-preserved and untouched. It’s completely uninhabitable, meaning you’ll need to plan and pack everything you need.
For information on how to get there, permits required, and more fascinating history on the island, read here.
La Parguera Nature Reserve
Where: La Parguera Details: If you love snorkeling off the beaten track, this is your spot. The Nature Reserve makes up a group of mangrove islands, coral reefs, natural pools, salt marshes, and an underwater playground of dolphins, turtles, barracuda, manatees, and scores of other fish and sea life. Best of all, La Parguera itself is a small fishing village where you can enjoy freshly caught fish (after you’ve just enjoyed swimming with them!)
The best way to explore La Parguera Nature Reserve is with a snorkeling tour from a boat charter. As the spot can be very busy amongst snorkelers and holidayers, it’s always advised to book ahead.
Bathrooms, showers, picnic areas, and BBQs available on-site.
Where: Rincon Details: This is one of the best snorkeling spots on the west coast of Rincon and part of the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. Only accessible throughout the summer months when surf is less and water is calmer, you have the chance to snorkel above one of the largest Elk Horn coral gardens of the Caribbean, amongst other live coral, sea turtles, huge schools of tropical fish, and more.
When we say go in the summer months only, we mean it. This spot is actually a world-famous surfing destination throughout the winter, meaning it’s definitely not the time for snorkeling.
Bathrooms, showers, and parking available.
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