Scuba Diving in Puerto Rico
Clear waters and warm temperatures combined with an abundance of coral reefs, sea walls, caves and marine life make Puerto Rico a thrilling destination for divers of all experience levels. But this Caribbean island has plenty of entertainment to offer non-divers as well, including golden beaches, bioluminescent waters and an exciting food scene. Whether you’re a scuba freak or traveling with family, Puerto Rico is an adventurer’s paradise.
- Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, meaning that there is no passport required for U.S. citizens to travel there. See TSA requirements for the most up to date information.
- Puerto Rico’s main airport is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), located approximately 5 km from downtown San Juan. A fixed price taxi to downtown costs $19 (not including $1 per luggage item).
- Shared ride apps such as Uber are also available on the island, but not directly from the airport.
Good to know
- Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.
- Time zone: Daylight Savings Time isn't observed in Puerto Rico, so in Spring/Summer it's Eastern Standard time, while in Fall/Winter it's Atlantic Time.
- Primary languages: Spanish, English
- Currency: U.S. dollar. Credit cards are readily accepted.
- Phone and internet: Phone service is available from any U.S. phone carrier. Internet is readily available including Wi-Fi at hotels. The international calling code is +1.
- Voltage: 110–120 (The same as the U.S. and Canada)
- Hurricane season runs from May to October in Puerto Rico.
- There are currently no travel health and safety notices currently in effect for Puerto Rico (U.S.).
- PR is in the Atlantic time zone but it doesn't observe day light savings. Spring-Summer is same as EST, Fall-Winter Atlantic Time Zone
Top Dive Shops in this Country
- Water temperatures range from 75 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to 85 degrees in summer.
- Average water visibility is 60 to 80 feet around the main island and more than 100 feet around Desecheo and Mona.
When to go
- Puerto Rico offers fantastic diving conditions year round.
- The best time for whale watching is January to the end of March.
- The peak season for tourism is mid-December to mid-April.
What You'll See
- Divers can expect to see a myriad of vibrant marine life including tropical fish, sharks and even humpback whales. And among colorful coral and cavernous caves, don’t be surprised if you come across an old shipwreck or two.
Best Scuba Diving in Puerto Rico
Desecheo Scuba Diving
This small, uninhabited island located off the coast of Rincon boasts some of the most unspoiled coral reefs in Puerto Rico. A 45-minute boat ride will take you to this National Wildlife Refuge that has more than 20 dive sites. Most popular with intermediate divers is the aptly-named Candyland—a kaleidoscopic reef filled with tropical fish (think: giant sea fans and stoplight parrotfish), colorful sponges and more. This is also where you’ll find one of Puerto Rico’s most chilled-out dives—Las Cuevas (the Caves). With a maximum depth of 30 feet, this one’s great for swim-throughs and beginner divers.
Vieques Scuba Diving
For beginner divers, the island of Vieques (located about 7 miles east of the main island) offers sheltered waters, great visibility and a variety of gorgeous coral reefs. Favorite diving spots include Rompeolas (or Mosquito Pier), Blue Tang Reef and Lobster Reef, where you just might bump into a turtle, dolphin or manatee. Stay locally to soak up the white-sand beaches and bustling restaurants, or take a boat from the big island.
Mona Island Scuba Diving
Dubbed the “Galapagos of the Caribbean,” Mona Island in western Puerto Rico isn’t the easiest diving site to get to (the 50-mile ride can be bumpy) but its clear waters and diverse marine life make it well worth the trip. Explore the many coral reefs, grottos and drop-offs teaming with turtles, dolphins, marlins and even whales during the winter migration season. But note that unpredictable currents make this site best suited for expert divers.
La Parguera Scuba Diving
About a 45-minute trip off the coast of La Parguera is where you’ll find Puerto Rico’s most famous diving spot—the Black Wall. This 22 mile-long stretch features drop-offs of over 1,500 feet and magnificent coral formations including staghorn, elkhorn and black coral gardens. Especially popular with advanced divers is Fallen Rock, a passageway formed thousands of years ago that’s now home to stunning coral forests, octopi, sharks and barracuda.
Fajardo Scuba Diving
Fajardo offers great scuba diving for beginners and above. Expect to see plenty of sea turtles and nurse sharks while exploring underwater. With easy access by boat to islands off the coast, Fajardo is a great place to start a dive adventure. You can access the Sand Slide dive from here where you'll see lobsters, moray eels, puffer fish, and spotted eagle rays. You might even get a glimpse of a dolphin.
Culebra Scuba Diving
Calm and clear waters make this small island (located approximately 17 miles north-east of Puerto Rico) an excellent diving spot for beginners. In these shallow waters, divers can expect to see lush coral reefs, brightly-colored fish and gliding turtles. Once here, don’t miss out on the gorgeous sandy beaches.
Best Snorkeling Puerto Rico
Balneario El Escambron Snorkeling
Puerto Rico is full of terrific snorkeling spots that can be reached from the mainland and this little beach just east of Old San Juan is one of the most popular and easy to get to. Crystal-clear waters and mild currants make this an excellent spot to glide around and gaze at the many beautiful fish passing by.
Step onto a luxury catamaran and sail to the island of Culebra located 17 miles east of the main island. Here, breathtakingly clear waters and calm conditions reveal some of the healthiest coral reefs in the Caribbean teeming with flamboyant marine life. Top snorkeling spots include Carlos Rosario and Tamarindo Beach (popular with sea turtles). Don’t miss Flamenco Beach— consistently rated as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Boasting great visibility and safe conditions, this island located 7 miles east of Puerto Rico is a great snorkeling option for all levels. Bahia de la Chiva (Blue Beach) is especially popular with families and children will love coming across fish, spotted eagle rays, hawksbill turtles and more. Other popular beaches for snorkeling are Mosquito Pier and Esperanza Beach.
Playa Escondida Snorkeling
We recommend staying away from this spot due to strong currents that are too dangerous for snorkeling.
Discover Unique Things to Do in Puerto Rico
Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay (Vieques)
During the day, it’s a tranquil inlet but at night, watch as the waters glow bright blue and green thanks to tiny organisms called dinoflagellates. Mosquito Bay is known as the most bioluminescent bodies of water in the world and one of the most magical ways to experience nature’s electrifying underwater light show.
El Yunque National Rainforest
As the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System, this elaborate ecosystem is a mustsee for nature-lovers (and a great way to burn off some of last night’s Mofongo). Explore the many trails, waterfalls, lush greenery and diverse wildlife—just don’t forget to take a snap for the ‘Gram.
If golden sands, crystal-clear waters and tree-lined hills are your idea of a good time then look no further than Culebra Island. Flamenco Beach is a picture-perfect destination but don’t miss out on equally beautiful Tamarindo Beach and Punta Melones.
Old San Juan
No trip to Puerto Rico is complete without a visit to the island’s capital. This bustling metropolis offers fabulous shopping, fascinating museums and vibrant dining and nightlife—all just minutes away from the beach! Walk through cobblestone streets and charming plazas to explore the many historical sites including a 16th-century citadel (Castillo de San Felipe del Morro) and stunning San Jose Church. Visitors can’t help but be impressed by Castillo San Cristóbal, a giant stone fortress built between 1634 and 1790 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Head to Luquillo on the east side of the main island for an all-natural water slide—yes, really! Gushing waters have made the rocks in this river so smooth that thrill-seekers can slide right down them. If that sounds like too much action for you, the surrounding area is a lovely spot to take in the lush rainforest views and have a picnic.