What a pleasant surprise it has been to dive in Puerto Rico. In planning our trip to Puerto Rico we were, of course, excited for a dive trip but, as with any destination we had our concerns about how much we would really enjoy the diving. To our delight we found the four dive sites we experienced to be filled with life and topographies that offer many exciting scenes to enjoy while you are clocking bottom time.
If you are planning your own adventure to Puerto Rico, the first thing to consider is the size of the island. We were staying with friends on the East side of the island in San Juan. It is a beautiful city filled with great restaurants and active outdoor city life. We would definitely recommend staying a night or two so you can experience the energetic city and take in some beach time during the day. There are many beach front bars and restaurants to enjoy, so you can just leave your towel on the beach and go grab a tasty lunch or cocktail. The most important thing to know is, that almost all of the Puerto Rico’s diving is located on the West side of the island, a two-hour drive from San Juan. If you are planning on diving multiple days we would recommend staying on the West side of the island to avoid spending much of your day in the car.
There are many hotels, restaurants and beautiful beaches on the west side of the island. In fact, if you are diving with Taino Divers they have cottages right next door to the dive shop just steps from the beach. Taino Divers offers trips to Desecheo, beach dives around Rincon and other local dives. You can also take trips out to Mona Island if you book in advance (we recommend calling them directly for Mona Island bookings). Conditions and currents around Mona Island can be challenging and it takes good timing to be able to dive there. We dove with Taino Divers for one day and had a good experience.
Some divers will have reservations when they learn that they will be loading and unloading everyone’s gear, but it is necessary as there is a long stretch of sand that the gear needs to be carried across before it ends up on the boat. So line up and start passing gear. Once you are done diving for the day, Taino Diver’s has a great restaurant with an extensive menu including some of the best fish tacos we have ever had. Also located in the restaurant is a fun island style bar that even Jimmy Buffett would be happy to belly up to.
Our dives with Taino Divers took us to Desecheo where we enjoyed two spots called Candyland and The Aquarium. We agreed with the locals that visibility at Desecheo is 100+ feet and to be honest we were amazed because the winds were high and the swell was four to five feet. Despite the conditions on top, we enjoyed a whole day of 100+ foot crystal clear visibility. The fish life at Desecheo is abundant, with loads of surgeon fish, trigger fish, nurse sharks, eels, wrasses, turtles and a healthy population of small reef fish that add to the beauty of your dives. The corals at Desecheo are also healthy and abundant with sea fans, whips, button corals, xenia and many colorful variations of rock encrusting coral. The gently sloping topography at both spots in Desecheo is covered with a white sand bottom and large bommies filled with nooks and crannies to explore, many times housing lobster and small shrimp. Over all the dive sites at Desecheo are a must see if you are diving more than one day in Puerto Rico.