Best snorkeling in Puerto Rico?
August 31, 2009 2:17 PM   Subscribe

What are the best beaches for snorkeling in Puerto Rico and Vieques? I visited this amazing beach in PR two years ago and am looking for something similar...

When I visited Puerto Rico back in 2007, I stood in waist-deep water at the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve at Steps Beach in Rincón and watched tropical fish swim around my legs. I'm looking for other snorkel spots in PR that are equally accessible and family-friendly: they don't require a boat or even good swimming ability.

Bonus points for the eastern side of Puerto Rico and especially Vieques!
posted by exhilaration to Travel & Transportation around Puerto Rico (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Since I've posted this, what is this snorkeling in the mangroves mentioned before? It sounds intriguing.
posted by exhilaration at 2:22 PM on August 31, 2009

I've been to Vieques three times (a family member lives there), and have snorkeled a bit around Esperanza Bay in Vieques, particularly between the pier and the Caya De Afuera island, where the current takes a lot of ocean-dwellers and channels them between the island and the bay. There, I saw tons of starfish, brightly colored this-or-that fishes, and a manta-ray. My son saw barracudas. There are living sea fans, etc. It was amazing. I have also snorkeled at Media Luna Beach, and saw some really cool coral formations, and tons more fishies. Unfortunately, I wasn't seeking out the cool snorkeling places, so I can't tell you if those are the really awesome places, but I was wowed.

I'll ask mi abuela, and other friends that know Isla Nena if they have any clues. Have fun!! (I was last there a month ago, and am so looking forward to going back again. Make sure you bring earplugs for the nightly 1AM-Rooster-and-Dog Orchestra!)
posted by not_on_display at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2009

Seconding Vieques. My wife's family has had a vacation place there for 50 years and it's a-frickin'-mazing. Plus, you got the bioluminescent bay.
posted by paanta at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2009

Another extended-family member seconds snorkeling around Caya de Afuera off Esperanza. She adds that Blue Beach and around any of the piers are great, too.
posted by not_on_display at 6:10 PM on August 31, 2009

Not-on-display gives a very good account of the family-friendly snorkling here on Vieques at Esperanza. Actually, it would be hard to find a beach here that isn't drop-dead gorgeous and replete with lovely little fishies. In addition to Esperanza between the big pier and the cayo. Media Luna has shallow waters especially nice for youngsters. On the north side, there is Mosquito pier where you might see a sea turtle or a dolphin in the mix.

I don't use a snorkel and have no trouble seeing the fish, but naturally, one's view is improved with goggles and a snorkel. Frequently, when I go to the beach, I am the only person on it! A disposable waterproof camera is a handy thing to have along. The children will enjoy taking pictures of each other underwater as well as of the fish.

There are mangrove forests here, fun to kayak through the tunnels the mangroves make. And everyone loves the bioluminescent bay, where little creatures, dinoflagylates, light up when disturbed. Our bioluminescent bay is said to be the brightest in the world.

It might be worth mentioning that if there is a hurricane in the vicinity, it stirs up the water and it is not so beautiful and clear for a week or so while the storm gets by and the sea settles down. The official hurricane season is Aug-November. That being said, this year there have been three of five predicted already, and our island has not been affected at all thus far.
posted by Yimji at 6:11 PM on August 31, 2009

...also seconding the Bioluminescent Bay. My son helped one of the local kayak tourguides this summer, and he took me on a night of a new moon; it was brilliant. Not quite snorkeling, but you do get to see billions of glowing dinoflagellates.
posted by not_on_display at 6:13 PM on August 31, 2009

Oh, hey, I came in here to tell you to go snorkeling there, thanks for asking. Where I liked snorkeling was just off Parguera, on the southwest corner. I haven't been there in six or seven years, and at the time they were building up the waterfront with so much light pollution that you couldn't much see the phosphorescence. If you go during the day, the baby fish in the mangroves are awesome. It's my second favorite snorkeling place, so far, but I haven't been everywhere yet. It's like what you describe at Rincon - the fish are shy, but not terribly shy.

The only problem is that I don't remember if you can get there without a boat. We went by boat but it's worth it - there are gorgeous beaches on these little islands and the shell hunting is great. If I went back, I'd walk around the docks and the waterfront and try to find someone to be a driver for the day. Alternately, unless they've been cut down, the mangroves might be reachable by kayak.
posted by arabelladragon at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2009

Thanks guys! I can't wait to go!
posted by exhilaration at 11:59 AM on September 1, 2009


At the BioBay in Vieques, also known as Mosquito Bay (there is another BioBay on the mainland in La Parguera; and they're rare in the rest of the world), the mangrove trees are abundant, and those are what give off the nutrients, in the form of B-vitamins, that sustain the dinoflagellates that sparkle at night. [ARTICLE]

I believe some tour companies will offer extended afternoon/evening tours, if you want to walk through the mangrove forest before you kayak/swim at night.
posted by not_on_display at 12:27 PM on September 1, 2009

...did you go yet? How was it? :)
posted by not_on_display at 3:50 PM on October 8, 2009

Just wanted to follow up, the Bio Bay in Vieques was amazing, my fiance' LOVED it. We went with Abe's and would recommend them.

We spent some time snorkeling on the beaches in Vieques and around the pier but saw very few fish. If anyone else goes, people told us we should have taken a kayak tour (with Abe's) out to the little island off Vieques - the snorkeling is great there according to a woman that had been there that morning. Then at night, you can go to the Bio Bay.

Anyway, Vieques was wonderful, we loved it!
posted by exhilaration at 2:09 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

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