One of US’s best kept secrets is scuba diving Puerto Rico, surrounded by Caribbean waters, it’s like having a staycation vacation. Puerto Rico gives you the best balance of a quick, easy getaway while feeling like your miles away from home – if home is the US. Scuba diving in Puerto Rico is the cherry on that cake. You’re able to enjoy the old town by night, head for boat dives during the day and bask in the sun in the afternoon. But be careful, Puerto Rico is where my “face fell off” - literally. Don’t be fooled by the cool waters, the sun is strong and it will burn you – a good sunscreen, book and periodical sun umbrella is a requirement. Don’t forget the cocktail either.
Puerto Rico is a popular destination for many Caribbean cruise liners dock that dock here for a few days, bachelor/bachelorette parties and a lot of US travelers.
This is the place for great boat dives, crystal clear waters allow for great visibility but make sure you pick the right season.
Accommodation ranges from a luxury hotel to a cheap motel style. While I haven’t personally tried Airbnb, it could be a good option. There are plenty of dive shops to scuba dive Puerto Rico well. If there isn’t one attached to the location you’re staying in. One mistake I made scuba diving in Puerto Rico was not being clear about the diving experience I wanted. While it was great, it was a dive that took us in a circle with very little diversity. You also have to be clear on where you want to be diving – the closer you are to the hotels the weaker the diving experience. I stayed in Condado and dived about 30mins away. I really recommend making a day trip and heading out on a further boat dive to take full advantage of the Caribbean.
Boat dives – when looking to scuba dive Puerto Rico, head towards Flamenco beach, you’ll be around a popular beach but get in a couple of good dives out on the boat
Bioluminescence – I recommend doing this in any place you can. I did it in Grand Cayman and found it amazing, I haven’t personally done it in Puerto Rico but I’ve heard wonderful things about the experience
Old town – you must eat, drink and enjoy the Spanish atmosphere here
Where to stay for scuba diving in Puerto Rico – if you’re looking for a scuba specific trip I’m not sure San Juan will give you the best of the ocean. But if you want a balance of culture, food, good ambiance, lively area, beaches with some diving San Juan will be a perfect combination
Hotels for scuba diving Puerto Rico – I didn’t think there was anything special about the hotels I stayed at for a great scuba experience. It’s easy enough to stay where you prefer and find a local dive shop to take you places. Particularly if you decide to stay in San Juan you will need to drive some way out to get the best dive spots.
Staying in Old Town vs. Condado – this is dependent on the type of vacation you want, if you’re with friends who want to be in a lively area then Condado is great to stay in. Old Town is great for cheap bar nights out and a real feel for the Spanish culture.
Night outs – if you’re a couple you’re unlikely to like the overflow of bachelor and bachelorette parties that travel to Puerto Rico. If there’s a cruise liner it’s even busier. Hard to get the local experience here, but there’s a slew of bars in Old San Juan and night clubs at some of the hotels.
Best Time to Go – You must check the weather for this destination as there can be a bit of rainfall and overcast days. Also being outside of cruise liner season is also preferred. Or staying far away from San Juan.
Local vs. hotel dive shops – I recommend going local. Often the dive shops on site tend to be more expensive and will take you around the hotel location or just 30mins out. The best diving is not around San Juan, so you want to be with a local dive shop that can pick you up and take you out on a boat for a full day dive adventure.
Currency – all places here take the US dollar.
Food/water – all safe at this location, as is the alcohol! If you’re nervous you can buy bottled water from multiple locations. There’s also your typical fast food joints in case you are suspicious of food.