San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico, and is home to many great snorkel spots.
The barrier reef in San Juan is healthy and vibrant. It’s part of Puerto Rico’s Atlantic reef system.
I have been snorkeling these reefs for over a decade, so I know which areas to visit.
In this article, I will cover the 8 best snorkel spots in San Juan, Puerto Rico:
Escambron Marine Reserve is the most accessible snorkeling location in San Juan. This park has parking, bathrooms, showers, and even scuba rentals.
The reef here is partially man-made with structures sunken in the water. The initial reef is a limestone sea wall, where marine life takes refuge from the rough ocean. There is a large section of this park with an artificial reef. The outside part of the park has more natural reef formations.
Below is a video of someone snorkeling at Escambron Beach:
It’s located inside the municipal Escambron Beach Park.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Escambron:
Continuing eastward, the next part of the barrier reef is called Sunset.
This location is sometimes frequented by surfers. You can expect to see brain corals and tropical fish on this reef.
Before any snorkeling trip, check the weather. It’s recommendable to speak with locals that can explain to you the powerful rip currents that can form in the area.
You can access Sunset by Condado Beach close to La Concha Resort and the Ventana al Mar Plaza.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Condado Beach:
The next reef in San Juan, which is east of Sunset reef is Domino.
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Photo credit: @cristianvsanchez
The rock croppings can create a point break where surfers will sometimes try and catch a wave.
A kayak with an anchor will work just fine. This location is for confident swimmers as powerful rip currents can form in the area during ocean swells.
You can access Domino with a small watercraft from Condado Beach or Ocean Park.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Domino:
This gorgeous reef is mostly made of a family of orange elkhorn corals. They’re healthy and mature with long branches that extend towards the sky.
You can access this coral system by parking at Parque Barbosa, and then swimming towards the break.
It is far from the shore (approx 1-2 km), and paddleboards, kayaks, or a dinghy are recommended to reach this location.
Below you can find the location of the parking spot on Google Maps:
The Blue Hole is a secret attraction usually enjoyed by locals. It’s an unusual circle formation in the reef with white sand, surrounded by a cavernous reef.
You can see arches and other unique natural structures. The Blue hole is a little beyond the Waimea reef in the same vicinity.
Below you can see an underwater video taken at Blue Hole:
The access point is Parque Barbosa in Ocean Park. You will need a watercraft to access this rock formation as it’s several kilometers from the beach. Kayaks with anchors, or dingy is best.
There are no boat ramps in San Juan. The only ramp is in Cangrejos, an inlet, and marina located after Isla Verde.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location for parking to access Blue Hole:
Puntas Las Marias reef is a natural formation where the reef forms a point on the land mass.
You can access the reef very easily from the beach.
While parts of the reef are very shallow, the water progressively slopes into deeper areas. Here you can see many sea turtles, tropical fish, corals, sea fans, sponges, and sea urchins.
Check the weather and make sure that the ocean has good visibility. Days with little rain and late spring are the best.
Many people practice wind sports in this area, in particular, a potentially dangerous sport called foiling. Plan your snorkeling in the morning, to avoid other watercraft that frequent in the afternoon.
The access point is Las Molinas, a small park, at the end of the Ultimo Trolley Boardwalk.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Las Molinas:
Isla Verde is a lively fun-loving beach.
Thanks to the conservation efforts of locals, part of Isla Verde’s reef has been declared a marine reserve.
This is another awesome beach with easy access. The closest location is behind Casa Cuba, however, parking may be limited in this area. You can park at the Balneario of Carolina, and walk to the far west part of the park.
Continue along the beach, until you see the beach curve to a point. This will be after the surfers practice on the shore. This landmass extends underwater and marks where the marine reserve is located.
Here you can explore some of the sea life in one of San Juan’s most calm and protected beaches. You will see sponges, corals, sea fans, sea grass, sea turtles, colorful fish, and even the occasional manatee.
Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Isla Verde Beach:
For more information about the area, read our guide Isla Verde – All You Need To Know.
Puerto Rico has three unique bioluminescent bays.
You can kayak or snorkel in them, with two of them being within a few hours drive of San Juan.
This is a night time activity, meaning it’s a unique snorkel experience.
You can learn more about Puerto Rico’s bio bays in our article Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays – All You Need To Know.
The snorkeling in San Juan is excellent. The long barrier reef on the outside of the city is healthy and diverse. You can find sea turtles, tropical fish, and manatees year around. In the winter, migrating sea creatures can be spotted including whales, manta rays, and other marine life.
Condado Beach has great snorkeling spots, but tourists should be careful. Powerful rip currents claim the lives of inexperienced swimmers every year.
San Juan has many great snorkel spots.
My favourite is Escambron and Sunset reef.
If you are looking for more snorkel spots, then read our article 25 Best Snorkel Spots In Puerto Rico.
You may also enjoy our article 40 Best Things To Do In San Juan.
Writer at PuertoRico.com. I am a Santurce local in Puerto Rico who is obsessed with following cultural trends in art, music, sports, and fashion. I hope to uncover the perfect setting for your next experience. When I’m not writing, I am working in the live events industry, or sailing the coastline.