SCUBA,  Snorkeling,  Wild Travel

Incredible SCUBA Diving in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Juvenile Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Rincon

Scuba diving in Rincon, Puerto Rico is an exhilarating experience for anyone who loves the ocean and admires marine life.

Article Summary

  1. Why Rincon and why should you dive there?
  2. Diving for all skill levels
  3. Different types of dive sites
  4. Incredible marine life – even from the beach
  5. How do you get to Rincon?
  6. Where to stay, eat, and what to do (besides SCUBA diving)
Tres Palmas Marine Preserve, Rincon

1. Why Rincon Puerto Rico – and why should you dive there?

“Were those whales I heard “singing” underwater?” I asked as soon as I got back to the boat. It sounded like beautiful flute music.

“Yes!” Said our divemaster, a mom and baby humpback had been seen in the area yesterday. “She came to have her baby”

The captain spotted them in the distance and during our surface interval between dives we all got to see the momma whale teaching her baby how to breech out of the water.

You can see my video of the baby humpback breaching on instagram here.

Rincon is famous for surfing, but I can’t believe I overlooked this town for SCUBA Diving!

I am excited to share my experience SCUBA diving Rincon, but wondering if I should keep this special place to myself!

Octopus Hiding In The Rocks at Tres Palmas Marine Reserve

I thought all the best diving on the west side of Puerto Rico was “The Wall” in La Parguera/Ponce area (southwest). I was wrong.

Of course, snorkeling in the Bioluminescent Bay in La Parguera is a popular tourist attraction. While the diving there is nice, and I recommend it – It’s sad that the majority of corals are all pretty much dead.

We are usually in Puerto Rico around Christmas (which in Puerto Rico, starts after Halloween and doesn’t end until almost Valentine’s Day!).  

Rough winter water conditions on the west on north and west side of the island make diving hit or miss.

So, I was told the south (Caribbean Sea) side is the calmest part of the island to dive during the winter months. Wrong again.

Even the inshore dives around Rincon are filled with tropical fish and at least 10 different types of live corals.

Plus I was lucky enough to see and hear whales in January (usually a little early for the whales)!

Finally ending up on a summer trip to Puerto Rico – I was determined to dive around Desecheo Island.

Which requires taking about an hour’s boat ride out of Rincon.

An absolute superstar to see is the variety of live corals.

The amount and health of corals here easily top anything I have seen in Florida, Roatan, Belize, or Cozumel.

WOW! This little-known spot has some of the best diving and the best live corals I have seen in the Caribbean.

It’s only a 2 ½ hour drive from San Juan but in the opposite direction of most tourists.  

This is an underwater adventure that will fill up your GoPro memory card!

Elkhorn Coral, Rincon

2. Diving for all skill levels

Seriously, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an experienced diver or just getting started with SCUBA, Rincon has levels of diving (and snorkeling) for everyone.

From spotting rare rose-colored corals to sunken ships and volcanic caverns, exploring underwater Rincon is a unique experience.

Amazing visibility, inshore dives that range around 40-60 feet deep, and an average water temperature of 82 degrees make Rincon great to dive all year.

Scuba diving Rincon Puerto Rico is optimal during the summer months, rougher winter water can cause cancellations – but remember winter and early spring is when the whales are migrating through.

SCUBA diving around the island of Desecheo (off the coast of Rincon) is worth the summer trip!

With visibility up to 75 feet, divers (and snorkelers) can easily explore the diverse array of marine life including bright-colored reef fish, sea turtles,  corals, and even larger inhabitants like nurse sharks.

Tarpons often make appearances on dives, and these fish are so large you think a shark is swimming near you.

Taino Dive Shop, Rincon

I always dive with Taino Divers, I love them. I appreciate their knowledge of the reef.

Their prices are reasonable. They will rebook you or suggest another site to dive, depending on the weather.

They always put safety first and are just fun to hang out with for the day.

Taino Divers

564 Calle Black Eagle, Rincón, PR 00677

+1 787-823-6429

3. Different types of dive sites

I promise you that SCUBA Diving in Rincon Puerto Rico is a memorable experience for any level of diver.

There’s a wide range of different diving sites to explore, there’s something for everyone from beginner divers to the advanced.

Packed with breathtaking coral reefs, loads of marine life, underwater caverns, and shipwrecks, you can find it all in Rincon.

Shipwreck off Desecheo Island, Rincon PR

If you’re looking to dive somewhere especially unique, head Desecheo National Park – which really is only accessible in the summer months.

There is an extra charge to travel out to this island but it is absolutely worth the money.

The first time I went SCUBA diving at Desecheo, I immediately signed up for the next boat going back.

The topography around the island is just dramatic.

A stunning combination of underground caverns, colorful sponge-encrusted tunnels, at least one shipwreck, and even live pillar corals – a first for me.

4. Incredible marine life – even from a beach dive or snorkel

Swimming Next to a Nurse Shark, Desecheo Island

Crystal clear waters and the coral reef that wraps around the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve -which goes right up to the beach!

A few feet off the beach and you are swimming or diving through colorful schools of Blue Tang.

Trying not to touch all the Elkhorn coral around you.

Spotting octopus hiding in the rocks, and looking for nurse sharks sleeping under reef ledges.

TIP! Go early to find parking and have the marine reserve largely to yourself.

You will be rewarded with several sea turtle sightings. I see one to three hawksbill or green sea turtles every time I go.

Be sure to bring your camera!


Brain Coral

I have to talk about the coral (again). I volunteer in coral restoration in Florida because 97% of our corals are dead.

They are such amazing little animals (yes animals), and have survived 400 million years through several mass extinctions – including the one that took out the dinosaurs. Such a valuable resource to be protected and respected.

Even if you are not the coral lover that I am – the diversity and health of corals in Rincon is like finding hidden treasure in the Caribbean.

Among the coral species found in Rincon are brain coral, elkhorn coral, fire coral, and fan coral.

Elkhorn coral is a shallow-water species with many large branches and finger-like projections that shelter juvenile fish from predators.

Fire coral has polyps that contain venom capable of irritating the skin on contact (especially my skin!).

Can you find the two Flamingo Tongue Snails on the fan coral?

Marina Tres Las Palmas Marine Reserve

The Tres Palmas Marine Reserve in Rincon, Puerto Rico is a 40-acre tropical oasis that includes 6 different coral reefs and 2 white sand beaches.

 This sanctuary hosts an array of animals and plants, including more than 65 fish species, multiple types of abundant coral formations, several seagrass beds, endangered green sea turtles and thousands of types of invertebrates.

Desecheo Island

Desecheo Island, Rincon PR

The Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge, is located about 8 miles west of the main island of Puerto Rico.

This wildlife refuge has some unique characteristics, making it popular among SCUBA divers and snorkelers, even though the island is closed to visitors.

The island is located off of the coast of Rincon, Puerto Rico, is approximately 6.7 miles away from the mainland.

Desecheo is an SCUBA diving paradise that should be experienced at least once.

Gray Angel Fish with Soft Corals

The island itself has a very rich history. It’s believed to have served as a hideout for pirates in the 17th century.

In the early 1900s, it was used as an illegal rum-producing hunting ground by American officials during prohibition.

In 1983, US authorities closed Desecheo Island to all visitors to preserve its wildlife.

Boaters should exercise caution due to strong currents coming out and into the small inlet around Desecheo Island

It’s important to check weather forecasts before beginning a voyage as storms on the area can create rough seas.

Large Schools of Blue Tang Tropical Fish

5. How do you get to Rincon?

From Aguadilla Airport

The closest airport is Rafael Hernandez International in Aguadilla and the major airlines that fly there are American, Cape Air, and JetBlue.

Once you arrive at the airport, car rentals are available onsite and the drive to Rincon takes approximately one hour over PR-2. You will see some of the beautiful coastal views along the way too!

Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Dollar are all car rental companies with several locations both in and around the airport near Aguadilla .

Visitors traveling from Old San Juan to Rincon will take the José de Diego Highway/PR 22 and then the PR-2, the route with the shortest driving distance making the trip quick and direct without any curvy roads.

From the San Juan area

Visitors traveling from Old San Juan to Rincon will take the José de Diego Highway/PR 22 and then the PR-2, the route with the shortest driving distance making the trip quick and direct without any curvy roads.

Rincon Mile Marker

6. Where to stay, eat, and what to do (besides SCUBA diving)

About Rincon

The city of Rincon dates back over 500 years when it was first established in 1514.

Despite being heavily impacted by hurricane Maria in 2017, Rincon is continuing to rebuild and offers an authentic taste of Puerto Rican culture.

Visitors can enjoy restaurants, festivals, history, and culture .

 Surfers flock to its popular beaches.

There are plenty of shops and eateries located in town.

The iconic Punta Higuero Lighthouse has breathtaking ocean views (in the winter months be sure to watch for breaching whales!).

Favorite Restaurants/Cafe’s/Shops:

Pa’l 22 – especially for the view (this restaurant is technically in Anasco before you enter Rincon)

 Red Flamboyan

Bakery Rimconmi Rincon

Friends Cafe – in Downtown Rincon

Tinto Wine Shop

Friends Coffee, Downtown Rincon

Where To Stay

Villa Cofresi

Serenity Guest House

If you like this post, make sure to read How To Go Shark Diving in Florida

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Serenity Guest House, Rincon

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