A December 2006 trip
to Cabo Rojo by MARecycle
Quote: In my many trips to SW Puerto Rico, I've discovered all the best snorkeling sites and restaurants in this area of the island.
Restaurant | "Galloway's Bar & Restaurant"
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 23, 2006
Galloway's Bar & Restaurant
Calle Jose De Diego
Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00623
Hotel | "Copamarina"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 23, 2006
Copamarina Beach Resort
Road 333 Km 6.5 Cana Gorda
Guanica, Puerto Rico 00653
Route 102, Joyuda Beach
Playa Joyuda, Puerto Rico
This snorkeling spot is one of the closest to shore and most sheltered spots that we know of in southwest Puerto Rico. As with many inshore areas around the island, the critical factor is the visibility. You need at least ten feet visibility, and that’s about as good as it ever gets. Since the depths range from two feet to less than ten feet we even enjoyed ourselves when the visibility was only five feet in December 2006. This site is off Route 102 in Joyuda Beach. The walkway to the beach is right across the street from the Hotel Joyuda Plaza (which includes a restaurant and sushi bar – we’ll try the sushi some day).
All along the waterfront are private residences that rarely seem to be occupied. There is only one right-of-way entrance to the beach and that’s the walkway, across the street and just to the right of the hotel (facing the sea). At times, local residents frown upon people using this, but it is a government right-of-way and you’re always allowed access. Once you go down the short walkway thirty-five feet or so, make a left and you can walk along the Joyuda bay front. This is right up against the houses, but the land adjacent to the water is public access. You should walk to the left of this pathway as far as you can go until you hit a nice cement walled area with perfect entry steps with PVC pipe handrails. The "along the shore" access is blocked just beyond this by a tree and would be difficult to get around. It is the second or third set of concrete steps that you come to walking along the beach (about a quarter of a mile) and it’s the one in the best condition. This is the water entrance point.
The reef itself is located starting about 50 yards south of the stairway and continuing for several hundred yards. It begins about 50 feet offshore and extends to about 150 feet offshore. There is even a small steel wreck in the reef area that is about 75 yards south of the stairs and about 40 yards offshore. It’s a great little spot and I’ve actually seen lobsters there. It all depends on the visibility. If you look at the water and it’s murky, don’t even bother. Having gone snorkeling in this location several times, we’ve noticed that there are pockets of better visibility in certain areas. Right on the reef itself, because of the coral cleansing action, the visibility tends to be better. When you hit the grassy and sandy areas frequently, the visibility drops, but there’s really nothing to see there anyhow. The reef area extends quite a ways down beyond the point that has a number of tall coconut palms. This should also be an excellent location for night snorkeling because of its sheltering and nearness to shore, but again, visibility is the key. It’s a great spot for novices.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 23, 2006
Off Route 102 in Joyuda Beach
Attraction | "The Lagoon at Punta Guaniquilla"
If you travel down to Playa Buye (Buye Beach) off Route 307 just north of Boqueron (and south of Puerto Real), just before you get to the beach resort, make a left and follow a dirt road with a fair amount of potholes to the end. You can park either at the very last house where there is a concrete pad and room for about three cars, or if that is full, about one block before in a sandy area that accommodates about five vehicles. Follow the shoreline for about 100-200 feet and you’ll see two openings in the fence (the second is easier to get through) that takes you up to a road that goes into the Puerto Rican Conservation Trust Reserve, which has a large lagoon with petrified coral formations. The famous Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Confresi once used the lagoon in the 1800s. It was open to the sea at that time. Later, it was closed off by farmers who attempted to grow sugar cane in the area, but were thwarted by the salt content. It’s a long walk and you definitely should bring some water on hot summer days. It is also potentially accessible by walking the beach, but there are many areas where you will have to walk in the water, and it is much slower.
If you take the main road after walking up from the beach a little bit (the road is in very good condition), there is a series of ruins of older buildings that were obviously made with some fairly early brick from the island. After the road ends, continue through the rather large open grassy field area, where at its end, you will be able to see the lagoon. It’s a nice nature walk, running between 2 and 3 miles, depending on how you work your way to the lagoon and back.
Punta Guaniquilla and Cabo Rojo
Punta Guaniquilla Reserve
In December 2006, we visited our favorite, close-in, offshore reef for snorkeling in southwestern Puerto Rico – Cayo Ron. We went with Captain Elick Hernandez Garcia, who we’ve been out with several times. Captain Elick runs an excellent mid-size charter boat operation, is not overly expensive, has a good crew, and knows all the sites in western Puerto Rico. He leaves from a dock right off Route 102 in Joyuda Beach, across from a building with the Adventures Tourmarine sign. His phone number is (787) 375-2625, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.tourmarinepr.com. Cayo Ron is about a short, half hour boat ride from the dock, and is a large reef for western Puerto Rico. It has breakers and both inside and outside snorkeling. We’ve usually snorkeled this location in winter and the visibility always runs somewhere between 25 and 35 feet, which is good for inshore Puerto Rico locations. We’re told that visibility can get up to 100 feet, especially in the summer – but isn’t that what they always say about visibility! Cayo Ron features an excellent range of coral with many brains and branch and Elkhorn species.
Depths range from awash to 20 feet with plenty of good solid snorkeling in the five to ten foot range. You can do two lengthy 35 to 45 minute snorkels at this site and not cover any of the reef twice. We’ve never seen any lobsters and suspect it is well picked over by the locals. It’s not really a popular dive site, but it is quite nice for snorkeling. The Black Reef (Escollo Negro) is not far from Cayo Ron, and is a similar quality reef. It is a little closer to Mayaguez Bay and we always suspect it has less visibility. It’s a little smaller than Cayo Ron and is barely awash in any parts during low tide. It can be snorkeled in tandem with a trip to Cayo Ron. We highly recommend Captain Elick for fishing, snorkeling, and diving charters in western Puerto Rico. He will run as far as Mona Island take you anywhere in between. His operation is professional, friendly and not outrageously expensive. If you call him on his cell phone, his English is adequate, but his wife Zoe speaks perfect English. He is also pretty responsive by email.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 23, 2006
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
The large southwestern Puerto Rico bay of Boqueron has two reefs at its wide mouth opening to the ocean. In December 2006, we snorkeled both of these reefs using a relatively small boat (17 feet Boston Whaler) from the marinas in Boqueron (it wasn’t a rental - a friend’s). Don’t know that there are any "formal" boat rental places, but deals to rent boats at the docks can always be had. As long as the sea conditions are relatively calm, (usually early in the day) a small boat is plenty adequate. It is a short run out to the reefs, only about 15 minutes and they are easy to locate. Depths range from awash to about 10-15 feet with the most interesting areas for snorkeling being in the 2-10 feet range. When we were there on our recent trip, visibility was 10-15 feet, which was adequate. Boqueron Bay itself is not the highest quality water, but when you get out towards the entrance, it cleans up nicely.
We recommend the reef on the south end of the bay opening, as it has somewhat more vibrant and alive coral than the north reef. Both are easy to find as they have areas that even in high tide are just barely a wash. In December 2006, the south reef was well marked by several pipes with orange cans on them. The north reef is a good distance north of the main entrance buoy into the bay. On the south reef we saw a few small lobsters and in the grassy area behind the reef, quite a number of conchs. All in all, a very nice snorkel that you can get to in a small boat. We don’t believe that access is available from land, certainly not on the north side. I think that you could access the south reef from land, but you need a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the dirt roads that would lead you to Punta Melones.
Boqueron Bay Reefs
Mouth Of The Bay
Boqueron, Cabo Rojo
Attraction | "The Reef off Buye Beach"
If you travel down to Playa Buye (playa is Spanish for beach), just before you get to the beach resort, make a left and follow a dirt road with a fair amount of potholes to the end. You can park either at the very last house where there is a concrete pad and room for about three cars, or if that is full, about one block before in a sandy area that accommodates about five vehicles. From where you park your vehicle, I suggest walking at least several hundred yards along the beach, because as you get further from the Buye Beach resort, the quality of the reef improves. I suspect that the visibility and coral quality improves as you get further from Playa Buye, as there is some drainage from the local area into the ocean. The closest that you want to enter the water is where the first reef outcropping can be seen.
Patch reefs exist for about the next half-mile as you go to Punta Guaniquilla which forms the north end of Boqueron bay. This series of reefs is fairly good quality for those that are accessible from shore. In December 2006, with the waters calm, the visibility ranged anywhere from 10 to 15 feet. Depths are from a few feet to about 15 feet. Overall, a nice snorkeling spot, relatively easy access, decent inshore visibility and a nice amount of live coral. We ran into a local snorkeler who had caught two octopuses by working very close in to the beach in the holes in the dead coral areas.
Boqueron, Cabo Rojo