Discovering Paradise: The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico sits within the Caribbean and has over 143 islands, keys and atolls. This gorgeous archipelago is blessed with year-round warm waters, fantastic diving and a wide variety of marine life. With excellent food and a fascinating history as well, it is an amazing vacation destination for divers and non-divers alike. If you have not yet been scuba diving in Puerto Rico, now is the time to go.

Located east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico has a warm climate all year and clear blue waters typical of the Caribbean. It is the perfect place to experience diving in the Caribbean away from the crowds, with over 200 beaches and secluded coves to explore, plus numerous dive sites.

In this article, we are going to look at where to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico, the best time to visit, and how to get there.

Top places to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico

1.Mona Island

Mona Island, often called the Galapagos of the Caribbean" is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the east of Puerto Rico and is visited by day tours for the quality of its dive sites (these can be 5-6 hour boat rides in rough seas). 

Flushed by currents from the open Atlantic Ocean as well as the sheltered Caribbean, this island is known for its excellent visibility and marine biodiversity. It is said that visiting by liveaboard is the best way to see this destination to maximize your dive time. 

  • Isthmus and Boqueron Reef

Renowned dive sites on Mona Island include the sheer cliff-like walls of the Isthmus and Boqueron Reef, famed for the Gorgonian sea fans and black corals hanging in the current. 

  • Silver Banks and Southern Pride

Silver Banks and Southern Pride are visited by passing pelagics, including sharks, leatherback sea turtles and dolphins. There is great scuba diving in Puerto Rico for all certification levels, but the conditions can be quite tough at Silver Banks and Southern Pride, making these sites best suited to experienced divers.

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  • Mona Passage

The Mona Passage between Mona Island and Puerto Rico is a great place to see humpback whales during the winter months. Divers on boats in the area may see these ocean giants making spectacular breaching displays as well as socializing in family groups.

2.Little Monita

Mona Island also has a neighboring smaller island called Little Monita, which also offers adventurous scuba diving in Puerto Rico. Hobbit House is an open ocean seamount that is visited by large numbers of sharks, but it can only be dived when sea conditions allow.

3.Desecheo Island

Also reached via boat from Puerto Rico, but closer than Mona Island, Desecheo is a federally protected wildlife reserve with dive sites that attract divers every year.

  • Bomber Anchor Valley

Being protected, this island’s rich biodiversity is never put under fishing pressure. As a result, sites such as Bomber Anchor Valley provide excellent diving over classic Caribbean spur and groove formation reefs. Festooned with sea fans, healthy corals and sponges, the shallow dive site is home to sea turtles, moray eels, lobsters, nurse sharks and countless fish species. 

  • La Cuevas

Las Cuevas is an exquisite place to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico. It features numerous caves, overhangs and ledges that provide divers with a multitude of routes to follow with their Dive Guide.

Caves and tunnels in the reef attract large fish such as goliath groupers, some of which can grow to more than 180 kg (400 lbs)! This dive site is shallow at only 10 meters (30 feet) deep, so is a popular second dive on scuba or even as a playground for freedivers to explore.

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  • Candyland

Candyland is a shallow site that has numerous large odd-shaped coral heads that conjure up images of childhood treats. This shallow dive site is a great place for divers to look for nurse sharks tucked up under the low-lying ledges of the coral heads as well as graceful eagle rays

The healthy and huge sea fans here are known for being excellent photographic subjects. The bustling populations of reef fish, surrounding them with movement and color, make this a site to remember for divers of all certification levels.

4.La Parguera

This area on the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico is easy to access and has some excellent dive sites for all certification levels.

  • Efra’s Wall and Black Wall

If you love macro life, scuba diving in Puerto Rico should be on your wish list. This destination offers some of the best macro dives in the Caribbean. Efra’s Wall and Black Wall are known for steep drop-offs with dense aggregations of delicate black corals, sea whips, huge elephant’s ear sponges and their own tiny but incredible macro life. Whip coral shrimps, neck crabs and clingfish are not easy to spot but are a real reward for keen-eyed divers! 

Love macro diving? Check out these 8 Best Spots for Muck Diving

  • Fallen Rock

Fallen rock is known as a good spot for passing pelagics like dolphins and billfish such as marlin or sailfish. Big schools of jacks, with species such as crevalle, horse-eye and yellow jack, can be found here as well.


In the east, the two small satellite islands of Culebra and Vieques offer excellent scuba diving in Puerto Rico. The Culebra Marine Reserve Park has thriving dive sites, one of which is Cayo Lobito.

  • Cayo Lobito

This dive site is a 23-meter (75-feet) dive famed for its population of resident nurse sharks amongst a picturesque reef with plenty of other life to spot. There are hawksbill turtles, flamingo tongue snails and southern stingrays at this special dive site. 


  • Angel Reef

Vieques has some fantastic diving with sites like Angel Reef, known for the health and diversity of its coral species in shallow and infrequently visited waters. Elkhorn coral, staghorn, and gorgeous pillar coral (only found in the Caribbean) can all be seen here supporting huge amounts of fish life.

  • Patti’s Reef

Patti’s Reef is well known on Vieques for its swim-throughs, creating a maze-like structure for divers to explore.

Vieques is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay. This bay is filled with light-emitting plankton that turns the bay bright, glowing blue at night. It is certified as the brightest bioluminescent body of water in the world.

Want to learn all about bioluminescence? Check out: Bioluminescence: What is it and Where to See it

What to do on your non-diving days in Puerto Rico

Experience Puerto Rico’s incredible culture on your non-diving days, including pirate history, Spanish influences, many historical ruins, and vibrant carnival culture. The Carnaval de Ponce is held in February each year and lasts for one week. At 165 years old, this vibrant celebration is one of the longest-running carnivals in the Caribbean. A visit to the world-famous Bacardi distillery is also a great day out for visitors but make sure you have the morning afterwards free!

When to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is subject to the same weather patterns and seasonal change as the rest of the region, but there are a few details to consider when deciding when to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico. 

Water temperature

Water temperature is a big factor for some divers, both for personal comfort and also for deciding what thickness of dive suit to wear. Annual water temperatures in Puerto Rico vary between 24-30°C (75-86°F), peaking in August to September and dropping to their minimum in the early spring (March to April). 

The water temperatures lag behind the air temperature, which varies between 22-32°C (71-90°F). The highest temperatures are in July and August and the lowest in January and February. 

Wetsuit thickness

In the coldest water temperatures, a 5mm wetsuit is best for scuba diving in Puerto Rico. As the water warms up, a 3mm wetsuit or even just a rashguard in the summer months would be suitable. Always check in with your dive center in Puerto Rico before traveling to get the latest dive conditions and temperatures.

Hurricane season

Hurricane season is always a factor in the Caribbean and the official hurricane season is June to November. The latter end of the season is considered the most dangerous, with very warm waters in the region and the western Atlantic providing optimal conditions for storms to form - sometimes at very short notice.

The NOAA website is an excellent source of information for any tropical depressions or named storms building. Check regularly with your tour provider and, if possible, book a trip at short notice when the conditions are favorable to travel and dive. 

When is the best time to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico?

Many people consider November and December to be a good time to go scuba diving in Puerto Rico. The water is warm and the air temperatures are comfortable. It is also the official end of hurricane season and there is a lull in tourist numbers before the peak seasons of Christmas and Easter/spring break for the USA.

How to get to Puerto Rico

Visitors from the USA do not need a passport to visit Puerto Rico. International visitors can reach Puerto Rico via international flights to San Juan or by transiting through the USA mainland.

We think Puerto Rico could be the perfect location for your next adventure!

Check out the SSI Center Locator to find the best dive center in Puerto Rico for you.