Join any dive trip from Fajardo and you’ll almost certainly be heading for La Cordillera. Unless conditions are perfect, experienced divers may be disappointed with the coral and marine life on display, much reduced in the last twenty years or so – hardcore divers should head to Cayo Diablo (or Culebra). For casual or beginner divers, it’s worth a look and it’s not overly expensive.
La Casa del Mar Dive Center
(t787/860-3483, wwww.scubapuertorico.net) inside El Conquistador Resort is open to non-guests and offers two-tank dives for $99 ($69 for one tank). Trips to Culebra start at $125 for two tanks, while the Discover Scuba programme for beginners is $139. They also run daily snorkelling trips to Lobos ($60) and Culebra ($95), and offer a popular kids’ programme (for 8- to 9-year-olds) known as Bubblemakers – call for details.
Sea Ventures Dive Center
(t787/863-3483, wwww.divepuertorico.com) at Puerto del Rey is the other main operator in the area, charging $119 for two-tank dives with equipment and $109 if you bring your own ($55–65 for one tank). Non-certified beginners can dive for $150.
Where you end up diving is largely in the hands of your divemaster and the weather/sea conditions on the day – heavy rain in El Yunque can decrease visibility dramatically, as heavily silted rivers flow into the sea near here. Beginners usually end up at Pyramid (9m), a coral rise teeming with small fish and reef lobsters, but often disappointing for seasoned divers. Cayo Lobos has three main sites, with Lobos itself (up to 10m) having the greatest variety of fish: yellowtail snapper, blue tang, the ubiquitous sergeant major and sometimes dolphins and stingrays. Isla Palominos has five main dive sites, with Sandslide (4.5–21m) one of the most popular, a gentle sandy slope that leads to a large reef crawling with enormous lobsters and all sorts of coral. You might also see dolphins, turtles, barracudas, small tuna and octopus here. Finally, Cayo Diablo (13–15m) has several sites and some of the best diving on the east coast, though swells and high winds often prevent visits. The island is surrounded by brilliant hard and soft corals, schools of barracuda and occasional rays – the water is extremely clear.