Scuba Diving Puerto Rico
With the continental shelf surrounding it on three sides, Puerto Rico has an abundance of coral reefs, caves, sea walls, and trenches for divers of all experience levels to explore.
Puerto Rico, officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, making it the smallest island of the Greater Antilles. Puerto Rico (Spanish for “rich port”) consists of an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and several islands: Vieques, Culebra, Mona and numerous islets.
Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of these five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Culebra, which is merely 29 km (18 miles) away from the mainland, is home to Flamenco Beach, one of the top ten beaches in the world. There are many other even smaller islets, like Monito, which is near to Mona, Isla de Cabras and La Isleta de San Juan, both located on the San Juan Bay. The latter is the only inhabitted islet with communities like Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra, and connected to the main island by bridges.
Puerto Rico is also the Caribbean’s most accessible island. It offers the flavor of a different world, with the comforts of our own.
SCUBA DIVING PUERTO RICO
During the last Ice Age, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands formed one land mass. Today, the waters connecting these islands are uniformly shallow, and the marine life is spectacular. Exquisite communities of elaborate patch reefs and dazzling reef fish sit in clear turquoise waters rarely deeper than 760 feet. Reached by boat, these sites challenge both novice and experienced divers. Dive conditions are consistently favorable, underwater photography is exceptionally good, and night dives are memorable.
The Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic, is located about 115 km (71 mi) north of Puerto Rico at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates. It is 170 miles long. At its deepest point, named the Milwaukee Deep, it is almost 27,600 feet deep.
There are countless scuba diving sites in Puerto Rico including Culebra, Vieques and The Virgin Islands. For snorkeling in Puerto Rico , the shallow reefs near Fajardo and Culebra are perfect. Don’t miss the experience of Diving in Paradise!
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Desecheo Island – This small, remote, island is about 45 minutes by boat from Rincon (a popular surfing destination) on the west end of Puerto Rico. Its relatively isolated location results in healthy, vibrant reefs. One dive site, Candyland, is particularly well named. Caves and swim-throughs are other popular features and visibility frequently exceeds 30 metres/100 feet.
Mona Island – Some 60 kilometres/40 miles off the west coast of Puerto Rico, Mona Island boasts some of the clearest water in the region with visibility that can reach more than 50 metres/165 feet. Stunning coral reefs, caverns and vertical walls encircle the island. Large pelagics such as whales, dolphin and marlin are regularly sighted and share the space with the usual array of reef species. The island itself has been compared to the Galapagos, thanks to its unique ecosystem and the endemic ground iguana which can reach a length of one metre/three feet. Plan for a long boat trip through the Mona Passage, but rest assured that it’s worth every minute.
Vieques Island – About 11 kilometres/7 miles east of the big island, Vieques offers clear water, coral reefs and the possibility of meeting up with turtles, spotted eagle rays and bottlenose dolphin. A variety of dive sites mean that local PADI dive shops can always find a perfect sheltered spot. Vieques and nearby Culebra Islands are relatively laid-back locations and divers can choose to either stay locally or opt for a longer (couple of hours) boat trip from the big island.
La Parguera – Best known for its bioluminescent bay, La Parguera is a small village in southwest Puerto Rico with a reputation as a summertime water sports hotspot. A resident dinoflagellate population literally lights up the bay at night by putting on a bioluminescent show when disturbed. Other dive opportunities here include coral reefs and walls, considered by many to be the best in the region. There are also mangrove islands, which while relatively shallow, offer divers an opportunity to interact with a different and diverse cast of characters, headlined by the manatee.
Escambron – As the most popular local dive training site in San Juan, it’s a great place to introduce someone to Puerto Rican diving or refresh rusty dive skills before heading elsewhere. There’s plenty to see here, but visibility can be affected by rain and bad weather, so check with local dive shops.
Culebra – Culebra`s unique underwater scenery is known around the world as one of the most beautiful and intact reefs open to diving. There is many dive sites, including a natural tunnel, caves, deep water drop offs, a sunken tug boat and endless coral reefs. Because there is no freshwater runoff in Culebra, the visibility is among the best in the world. Most of the dive sites are shallow, between 20 and 50 feet. But there are some sites for experienced divers only. Diving in Culebra is like opening a fish guide for the Caribbean, you can discover them all, including a nearly infinite variety of invertebrates and corals.
DIVE SEASON: Year around.
VISIBILITY: Up to 160 feet throughout the year.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Mid 80° F in the summer to mid 70° F in the winter.
WEATHER: Winter is drier and cooler, there is little seasonal variation. Summer air temperatures range from 80-85° F and from 70-80° F in winter. Hurricane season is June through November.
DIVING SEASON: Year around
CLIMATE: Trade winds and tropical monsoons. Summer temperatures average highs of 31 C/88 F with lows of 25 C/77 F. Winter temperatures average highs of 29C-84F and lows of 23C73F. October is the wettest and February is the driest.
TIME ZONE: -0400 GMT. The time in Puerto Rico is 1 hour earlier than U S Eastern Time Zone.
LANGUAGE: English and Spanish are both official languages
LOCAL CUSTOMS: Puerto Rico is a rich melting pot of cultures, although the strongest influences come from the Taino Indians, Spain and Africa. Indeed, over the centuries these cultures have left countless customs and traditions that can be traced back to their ancestors
ELECTRICITY: Voltage 110-120 (The same as the U S and Canada), using the same plugs
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: U S Dollar. Credit cards are readily accepted.
GRATUITIES: Tipping customs and amounts in Puerto Rico are similar to those in all other parts of the United States.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Phone service is available from any standardized U S phone carrier. Internet is readily available including wi-Fi in many hotels.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: No passport requirements for U S Citizens. For all other travelers, entry requirements are the same as for entry into other areas of the U S.
CUSTOMS: U S Citizens are not subject to duties for items brought with them directly from the U S. Other visitors may bring the standard duty free items such as 200 cigarettes, 1.14 L of alcohol.
DEPARTURE TAX: U.S. Arrival/Departure Tax of $16.70 each way for Puerto Rico is generally collect as a portion of the airline ticket fee.
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