No Passport Necessary: The Best Snorkeling Spots in Puerto Rico

by Eileen Strauss on July 25, 2022



 Snorkeling in San Juan



Some of the best snorkeling spots in the world can be found on the island of Puerto Rico, with its crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and abundance of marine life. A territory of the United States, US citizens don’t need a passport to travel there, making it one of the simplest islands to hop to for amazing underwater adventures.


An archipelago between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, consisting of the main island, four small islands, and hundreds of cays and islets.  Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, but the array of snorkeling opportunities, from the Black Sand Beaches of Vieques to the Pink Beach of Las Salinas, are endless. 







Whether you’d rather stay close to San Juan or venture out to one of the lesser-known smaller islands, the beaches are all equally magnificent, but extremely diverse, with opportunities ranging from the resort to remote. So, simply grab a mask, some flippers, and of course, a great underwater camera, and you’ll be all set to dive into the shimmering blue world that awaits beneath the surface of the Caribbean. 



San Juan      


Snorkeling in Puerto Rico

Castillo San Cristóbal


There’s no way to talk about Puerto Rico without shedding light on the capital city of San Juan,  the ultimate Two-For vacation destination.  The festive city of San Juan is the perfect place to experience Puerto Rican culture. 


Get to know its roots by exploring the vibrant neighborhood of Old San Juan, filled with colorful Spanish colonial buildings, artisans, and amazing Spanish-inspired cuisine.  Historic must-see spots include Castillo San Cristóbal, the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World, a fortress built by the Spanish to protect against land-based attacks on the city of San Juan. 


But when you’re ready to hit the beach, there’s no limit to the places you’ll be able to explore right off the beaches of San Juan.



  Snorkeling Puerto Rico


Escambron Beach


You don’t have to stray far from  San Juan to enjoy the world-class snorkeling on Escambron Beach, conveniently located near the popular Caribe Hilton Hotel. Surrounding rock formations protect this beach from the otherwise rough surf of the Atlantic, making it a family-friendly location with calm waters.


Within walking distance from Old San Juan, once you immerse yourself in the blue waters teeming with turtles and tropical fish that greet you as you peacefully swim at this picturesque beach. 


Marine life is so abundant just off the coast of this picturesque beach, perfect for kids because the large sea creatures are so accustomed to people that they’ll swim right up to your snorkel to say hello. 



Sn Juan Snorkeling 



Condado Beach


The urbanesque  Condado district of San Juan offers an array of beachside dining, high-end shopping, casinos, and one of San Juan’s most popular snorkeling beaches, Condado Beach. 

With a funky Miami vibe, complete with high-rise hotels and bars lining the shore, this is an excellent snorkeling spot for experienced swimmers. Not as protected as Escambron,  stronger tides make it unsuitable for novice or littler snorkelers. 



Ocean Park Beach


Ocean Park Beach stretches along the coastline of Condado, offering plenty of spots to lay out your beach towel, plant your toes in the sand and relax in the sun. This beach is known for its crystal clear waters, and colorful reefs located about a half mile offshore. 


To snorkel at these reefs, rent a kayak or paddleboard to get out past the waves. Not a beginner spot, more experienced snorkelers will love the adventure of Ocean Park. 


Not as popular as Playa El Escambrón, (which is a huge perk!)  any beach in Puerto Rico is a great snorkeling spot if you pack a mask and snorkel in your beach bag (and don’t forget your underwater camera, of course!) 





Cayo Icacos


This small deserted, uninhabited island boasts one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Puerto Rico and the clearest waters on the east coast–the perfect snorkeling day trip. 


Naturally warm waters, vibrant coral reefs, dozens of species of colorful tropical fish, and amazing manta rays, you won’t notice the lack of creature comforts when you spend the day on this piece of island paradise.  


Reachable by chartered boat, tours will provide you with all the safety measures and provisions you’ll need to experience a totally chill day on a Gilligan-level deserted island. 







Located off the east coast of the main island, Culebra is considered one of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico, if not the world. Its healthy, well-preserved coral reefs, abundant marine life, clear waters that offer great visibility, and many spectacular beaches make it an unparalleled destination for water adventurists of all ages and stages. 


Culebra’s Top Snorkeling Beaches:

  • Tamarindo: A hot spot for sea turtles
  • Carlos Rosario Beach: Crystal clear waters
  • Flamenco Beach: Drop-dead gorgeous sandy shore
  • Punta de Soldado: Calm waters and lots of wildlife
  • Datiles: Shallow water, perfect for kids



        Black Sand Beach Puerto Rico





The island’s biodiversity, clear waters, black sandy beaches, and Navy history make Vieques a fascinating snorkeling destination. Located off the east coast of the main island, this small island is home to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Because the island was occupied by the U.S. For decades, the coral reefs were protected from human damage.


Today, Vieques offers unforgettable snorkeling experiences, with abundant marine life like green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, spotted eagle rays, and nurse sharks. You can also encounter artifacts left behind by the Navy, making for unique underwater photos


One of the most dramatic and beautiful beaches on the island of  Vieques is Playa Negrita, where you can dig your toes in black sand. Because some areas on the island are volcanic, volcanic material is washed down to this beach during heavy rains. 


Parts of the Playa Negrita beach look like sand art, with black and honey-colored sand sweeping around among the bubbly waves that come to the shore. Other beaches are black all over–an amazing sight. 


More hot snorkeling beaches on Vieques Island:


  • La Chiva (Blue Beach): Clear waters and seagrass beds full of fish
  • Punta Arenas: Remote feel and stunning views
  • Mosquito Pier: For experienced swimmers and divers



Seven Seas Beach, Fajardo   

A haven for water sport junkies and close to Fajardo, Seven Seas Beach has a less touristy vibe, making it a favorite with the locals. 


Because it’s not usually crowded, you can take your time and explore the beach, warm, shallow waters,  beautiful reefs,  and an abundance of marine life. Equipment rentals are up and down the marina, so you can gear up and jump right in!  






La Parguera, Lajas


Located on the southwest coast of the main island,  La Parguera Nature Reserve in Lajas offers a unique snorkeling experience. Turquoise waters are full of surprises to discover, like mangroves, coves, salt marshes, and natural pools. 

Looking to spot some island wildlife? This is the spot! Home to fascinating creatures like barracudas, turtles, and friendly manatees,  La Parguera is also home to a bioluminescent bay.

Seven Steps Beach


Steps Beach, Rincón



The Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, spanning  0.75 miles on the west coast of the main island, is home to Steps Beach where you can spot wildlife like turtles, whales, dolphins, and lobsters all year-’round.   

A popular surfing spot with large swells in the winter months,   when the waters calm in the summer, it’s a perfect spot to snorkel right from the shore.  


Pack your snorkel, a bathing suit, a beach towel, and a camera, (if you’re a US citizen, leave your passport at home) and hop over to one of the best snorkeling spots in the Northern Hemisphere.  Once you visit this U.S. territory, a gem in the Caribbean,  just  2.5 hours from Miami, wild horses won’t be able to drag you away. 

 Wild Horses Puerto Rico