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.