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The 16 Best Places to Go Snorkeling in Puerto Rico

Flannels or FlipFlops logo: MainLogo Flannels or FlipFlops 2/1/2023 Chantelle Kincy

Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise, renowned for its pristine beaches and clear waters. For those looking to explore the underwater world, it’s one of the world’s top snorkeling destinations.

From secluded coves with abundant coral reefs to vibrant marine life-filled bays, there are plenty of places to get a glimpse of the island’s incredible marine life.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, these are some of the best places to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico!

Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico: Culebra

1. Flamenco Beach

Snorkeling in Puerto Rico- Flamenco Beach © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Snorkeling in Puerto Rico- Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach is said to be one of the prettiest beaches in the world but it also has some of the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico.

With soft white sand, palm trees, and turquoise water, this beach on the island of Culebra is stunning and the marine life is abundant.

You can see colorful fish, sea turtles, and stingrays while snorkeling.

To reach the island, you’ll need to take a charter boat or ferry and, once on the island, you can walk to the beach, take a taxi or rent a car.

There are several other beaches and snorkeling spots on Culebra, but Flamenco Beach is the only one with amenities, such as lifeguards, change rooms, showers, and bathrooms, as well as a parking area and kiosks with authentic Puerto Rican food.

2. Carlos Rosario Beach

Also on the island of Culebra, Carlos Rosario Beach is another of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico.

It’s one of the quieter places to snorkel on the island, with plenty of fish and coral reefs, as well as a chance to spot some sea turtles. Some of the best snorkeling opportunities are found about 15-25 meters from shore.

To get to the beach, you’ll need to take a ferry to the island and then from the parking lot at Flamenco Beach, it’s about 20-30 minutes along the hiking trail.

3. Tamarindo Beach

Sea Turtle © Flannels or FlipFlops Travel Sea Turtle

Another of Culebra’s great beaches, Tamarindo is also a great spot to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico.

With a pebbly shore and a floor full of seagrass, it’s also a great spot to snorkel with green sea turtles.

The water is generally shallow and calm, making it ideal for beginners and you don’t have to go too far offshore to spot a sea turtle or stingray.

Tamarindo Beach is accessed along a hiking trail from the parking lot at Flamenco Beach.

4. Punta Soldado

Punta Soldado is located on the southern point of Culebra and is a great spot for beginners and kids.

It’s one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and the clear, shallow waters are perfect for snorkeling.

The beach isn’t usually crowded, and the shallow waters make it a great spot for kids and beginners to snorkel in Puerto Rico.

The reef, where you’ll find plenty of colorful fish, coral, and sea turtles, is located to the left of the beach.

To get to Punto Soldado, take a ferry or charter boat to Culebra and then you can either rent a car or take a taxi to the beach.

Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico: Vieques

5. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Another of the best snorkeling sites in Puerto Rico, Vieques National Wildlife Refuge also boasts some amazing pristine beaches.

There are plenty of great spots to go snorkeling here, where you can spot lots of different types of marine life, including green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and pools of fish swimming in the shallow waters.

Many of the snorkeling beaches on Vieques are family-friendly, but they are isolated and don’t offer rentals, so be sure to bring your own.

To get to Vieques, take a ferry from the mainland or take a tour from San Juan.

6. Blue Beach (La Chiva)

Blue Beach Vieques Puerto Rico © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Blue Beach Vieques Puerto Rico

Ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Blue Beach is another great place to go snorkeling on Vieques.

With clear waters and seagrass beds full of fish, this is a great spot to explore marine life. It’s also a great beach for families, with plenty of shallow areas and

calm waters, even over the winter months, making it perfect for kids and beginners.

To get to Blue Beach, take the ferry to Vieques and the beach is on the south side of the island.

Some facilities are available at the beach, including gazebos and restrooms.

Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico: San Juan

7. Escambron Beach

Right next to the Caribe Hilton Hotel, Escambron Beach is at the entrance of Old San Juan’s islet. It’s a great place to snorkel, especially for families and beginners, and it’s the closest place to San Juan for snorkeling.

While there’s no reef here, the jetty surrounding the beach is an excellent place to spot fish. The jetty protects the beach from the Atlantic surf, making it a great spot for families to snorkel in calm water.

It’s a popular spot with snorkelers and divers, and the fish are used to people, so will swim close to you. It’s also common to see manatees and turtles, in addition to tropical fish.

Escambron Beach is within walking distance from Old San Juan. There are showers and restrooms, as well as parking with a fee. There is no rental gear on the beach though, so be sure to bring your own or rent in town.

8. Seven Seas Beach

Seven Seas Beach © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Seven Seas Beach

Located only an hour away from San Juan on the east coast of Puerto Rico, Seven Seas Beach is another popular place to snorkel.

The water is warm, shallow, and usually calm, making it a great beach for beginners.

The reefs here are full of colorful fish, and in the seagrass bed, you’ll also find a variety of marine life, including sea cucumbers and conch.

Snorkel gear can be rented on the beach, and lessons are also available.

Best Snorkeling in Puerto Rico near Rincon

9.Tres Palmas Marine Reserve

On Puerto Rico’s west coast near Rincon, Tres Palmas Marine Reserve was established to protect the area’s biodiversity, which includes unique elkhorn coral.

Along with elkhorn coral, you’ll also see tropical fish, sea turtles, and rays. You may even see dolphins and whales further out. And as this is a marine reserve, there are no boats to worry about either.

It’s best to visit Tres Palmas Marine Reserve in the summer, as the winter brings large waves and excellent surfing.

10. Steps Beach

In the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, Steps Beach is a perfect spot to snorkel in the summer. The reef is surrounded by colorful fish and turtles and has the largest elkhorn coral gardens in the Caribbean.

Parking is limited and while there are no kiosks on the beach, there are restaurants nearby.

11. Crash Boat Beach

Crash Boat Beach © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Crash Boat Beach

One of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico, Crash Boat Beach is on the northwest side of the island, near Rincon.

It’s a great spot for kids and beginners and there are hundreds of tropical fish living under the famous pier.

Summer is the best time to visit, as the current under the bridge can be strong in the autumn and winter months.

12.La Parguera Nature Reserve

One of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico, La Parguera Nature Reserve is on the southwest coast of the island.

With mangrove islands, shallow channels, and clear water, as well as a bioluminescent bay, there’s plenty to explore here.

Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of marine life, including turtles, jellyfish, barracudas, and manatees.

La Parguera Nature Reserve is about an hour’s drive from Rincon.

Other Islands in Puerto Rico with Great Snorkeling

13. Icacos Island

Icacos Island © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Icacos Island

This tiny island on the east coast of Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean.

It’s an uninhabited cay, with white sandy beaches and the clearest waters on the east coast.

The water is warm and has plenty of coral reefs, tropical fish, and manta rays to explore.

Getting to Icacos Island is only possible through boat or catamaran tours, but it’s worth the effort.

Most tours will include snorkel gear and equipment, as well as lunch during the day trip.

14. Gilligan’s Island

Another gorgeous offshore island, Gilligan’s Island is a mangrove island surrounded by shallow water.

There are no reefs here, but the water is shallow and clear and you will see plenty of fish which kids will love.

You can reach Gilligan’s Island by kayaking or on a boat tour.

15. Desecho Island

While you can’t really visit Desecho Island itself, the water surrounding the island is full of coral reefs and plenty of fish, as well as underwater caves and caverns to explore.

Desecho Island is located on the west coast of Puerto Rico and is only accessible on a snorkel tour.

16. Mona Island

Mona Island, located off the west coast of Puerto Rico, is known for its spectacular coral reefs and diverse fish population.

It’s one of the best spots in Puerto Rico for snorkeling and diving, but also one of the hardest to get to, as it’s a four-hour boat ride from the mainland.

The unforgettable snorkeling experience makes it worth the effort though, as the reefs are full of colorful marine life, and you may see octopus, rays, and clownfish swimming around.

Snorkeling in Freeport Bahamas © Provided by Flannels or FlipFlops Snorkeling in Freeport Bahamas

Snorkeling in Puerto Rico Frequently Asked Questions

Is the water in Puerto Rico warm?

Yes, the waters in Puerto Rico are warm year-round, with temperatures ranging from 26-29 degrees Celsius (79-84°F).

Does Puerto Rico have good snorkeling?

Yes, Puerto Rico has some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. With 300 miles of coastline, sandy beaches, and clear water, there are plenty of spots to explore.

Are there any coral reefs in Puerto Rico?

Yes, there are multiple coral reefs in Puerto Rico. Some of the most notable ones are surrounding the islands outside of mainland Puerto Rico, such as the islands of Culebra, Vieques, and Icacos.

Should I bring my own snorkel gear to Puerto Rico?

While you can definitely bring your own snorkeling gear to Puerto Rico, it’s not necessary. There are places around the island to rent snorkel gear and if you take any of the snorkel tours offered on the island, they will provide the gear needed.

Are there sharks near Puerto Rico Beaches?

Yes, there are some species of sharks that live in the waters off the coast of Puerto Rico but the chances of seeing them near the beaches are rare.

Where is the prettiest water in Puerto Rico?

You’ll find gorgeous water all over Puerto Rico, best and clearest water includes the waters around Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Icacos Island and Gilligan’s Island.

What is the best time to snorkel in Puerto Rico?

The best time to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico is between April and August when the water is most calm and clear.

Can you snorkel with turtles in Puerto Rico?

Yes, you can snorkel with turtles in Puerto Rico. The waters off the coast of Culebra and Vieques are home to many different species of turtles, so it’s quite common to see them when snorkeling.

The beaches of Culebra and Mona Island are especially good places to see turtles, as different types of turtles make their way onto the islands to nest during certain times of the year.

Final Thoughts on Snorkeling in Puerto Rico

With its crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and fascinating marine life, there are plenty of amazing places to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico.

Whether you’re exploring the tropical waters of Culebra or enjoying the reefs of Vieques, Puerto Rico has some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean.

And be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen – not only will your skin thank you but you will help protect marine life. Grab your Go-Pro and fins and hit the water!

Happy snorkeling!

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