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Best Snorkeling Beaches in Puerto Rico - Beach Guide

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.  When most reefs are dying across the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is still blessed with healthy coral reefs with colorful and abundant sea life.

Enjoy & Protect our Reefs

Puerto Rico welcomes you to enjoy its coral reefs, when you visit, help us keep them healthy for future generations.  Please follow these very important guidelines.  It takes many years for coral to grow, a simple touch or scrape can damage them and put them at risk.

+ Please read, and help us protect our coral reefs
  • Never step, kneel on, or stand on any part of the reefs.
  • Never take, move or take away from the reef, alive or dead.  However, if you see trash, remove it carefully.  Each part of the reef contributes to its health.
  • Before getting in the water, put your face down into the water and look for a place that’s sandy to walk in. Try to walk carefully, in a way that doesn’t disturb the sand or bottom.
  • Do not feed fish.
  • Swim horizontally.
  • Wear a floatation device if you’re not a good swimmer.
  • Be careful when you kick with your fins, you may create too much movement in the water or kick the coral by accident.

Bring your own snorkeling gear and get ready for some fun and memorable experiences under the sea.  Following we are listing the best snorkeling beaches around the island of Puerto Rico.

Note: All the beaches mentioned on this snorkeling guide do not have lifeguards, you use the beaches at your own risk.  Never go snorkeling alone, practice safety first.

Please watch the following video. Have your children join you so when they get here, they’re ready to enjoy and protect our reefs. 

+ See Video - How to Protect Puerto Rico's Reef

Culebra

One of the Islands of Puerto Rico

The offshore island of Culebra has been on lists of the “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.  Culebra offers beaches with shallow waters great for smaller children to snorkel and join the magical experience.

+ Best Snorkeling Beaches in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Carlos Rosario is the best snorkeling beach in Culebra, among others are Tamarindo Grande Beach, popular for sea turtles; Flamenco Beach, Melones Beach, and Punta de Soldado Beach.  

If you’re traveling with children, Punta Soldado is among the best snorkeling beaches in Culebra, also a great diving site, a great beach for beginners to intermediate snorkelers, the waters are typically calm. This beach is very quiet, it is a bit of a hike but worth the effort and you won’t find tour groups, you’ll have it most likely to yourself.  The landscape is rugged and that’s why we love it; cliffs line the shore, the sand is a mix of ivory sand, covered with tiny polished black and white pebbles.  At one end, there is no sand, the shore is covered with bleached dead coral contrasting with black boulders and the blue shades of the sea.  We hate to include this beach here because we really enjoy having this “secret” beach to ourselves when we go to Culebra. 

Top Rated Snorkeling Tours to Culebra

Vieques

One of the Islands of Puerto Rico

Best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico

Best Snorkeling Beaches in Vieques, Puerto Rico

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 in Vieques 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 Mosquito Bay Pier (see the video on page) Punta Arenas (Green Beach)Pata Prieta, and Gringo Beach among others.

Top Rated Vieques Beach Tours

San Juan

Capital City of Puerto Rico

Balneario El Escambron, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico

We have to include this spot on our top list since 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 and it surprisingly offers a nice snorkeling experience.  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.  You can also book a snorkeling tour with a professional guide to take you to the best spots.  Following is a video of a great spot, they’re scuba diving, but you’ll be able to enjoy snorkeling as well. 

Top Rated Escambron Beach Tours - San Juan

Best Snorkeling Beaches on the West Coast

Puerto Rico

Steps Beach – Rincon, Puerto Rico (west coast)

Steps / Tres Palmas - Best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico

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 more.  Please Note: Do not attempt to snorkel in the winter, the waters are actually known worldwide for surfing in the winter months. The best time to snorkel at Steps is during the month of July.

Top Rated Tours to Steps Beach, Rincon, Puerto Rico

La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico (Southwest coast)

La Parguera - Puerto Rico Snorkeling Beaches

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.  You can book a water taxi or tour when you get there, you’ll find various staff offering you a tour or boat ride to the offshore keys.  The popular mangrove cays are Caracoles and Mata La Gata, they’re right next to each other you can visit both on the same morning.  Tour guides will take you to other snorkeling sites in La Parguera.  The fishing village has a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy eating fresh fish and traditional Puerto Rican fritters after a day of snorkeling, swimming, and exploring. 

Gilligan’s Island (Cayo Aurora), Guanica (west coast)

Gilligan's Island, Guanica, Puerto Rico - Best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico

Cayo Aurora also is known as Gilligan’s Island on the town of Guanica makes it 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 give him a sense of “safety” in the water. There are mangrove channels with easy access for additional snorkeling spots.

Popular Tours to Islands of Puerto Rico

Caja de Muertos Island

Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico

Caja de Muertos Island - Puerto Rico Snorkeling beaches

Head to Ponce and make reservations for a fun catamaran cruise to Caja de Muertos.  Once you’re on the island offers scenic vistas, and hiking trails leading to sweeping vistas and lighthouse ruins.

Top Rated Tours to Caja de Muertos Island

Isla de Mona / Mona Island

Isla de Mona (Mona Island), Puerto Rico

“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.

Map - Best Snorkeling Beaches & Destinations

Puerto Rico and offshore islands of Vieques & Culebra

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