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Dive or Snorkel at Desecheo Island

Diving at Desecheo Island

A few years ago, Puerto Rico won a Readers Choice Award from Scuba Diving Magazine for being one of the Top 20 Overall Dive Destinations in the Caribbean region. I have done a number of dives around the island over the past few years and I was looking to encounter another Top 20-type of dive (the wall dive at La Parguera was one).

We were heading "out west" for a couple days and I was hoping to find this WOW diving experience off of the west coast. Desecheo Island is one of the "must do" dive locations out west, so we "did" it and had some great, memorable dives.

Desecheo Island

Diving at Desecheo Island

Desecheo (pronounced day-say-chAy-oh) is a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Puerto Rico — about 12 miles west from Rincon. It’s a small island, only about 0.6 square miles of total land mass.

Currently, the island is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and is now a wildlife refuge. It was used as a bombing practice site by the US military in the past, so you are not permitted to go onto the island because there may be unexploded military ordinances present. Due to its isolated location, not too many people get to visit the area, and the reefs around the island remain in excellent shape — full of life and color.

How Do I Get There?

I was only able to find one company, Taino Divers, that offered dive trips to Desecheo Island. I guess there are probably other ways to get there — maybe you could charter a private boat or something. Taino Divers was very quick to respond to emails and phone calls.

We went during low season, so they needed at least 2 other divers for them to make the trip. Lucky for us, 3 other divers had reserved for the same day.

The morning of the dive, we met at their dive shop, got gear and paperwork taken care of, and then we walked to the beach. Our Captain and dive master that day was Frank. Another of their dive masters, Izzy, had off that day but wanted to dive so he went with us. One of the divers was working on his Advanced Diver certification, so he had his own dive master, Emily. All of the staff seemed very nice, friendly, and really seemed to enjoy their jobs.

Since the Rincon marina is out of service (actually, non-existent at this time), there is no dock use while loading the boat. They have to load the boat from the beach, so we all got into a line and helped load our tanks and gear onto the boat. Once on-board, we got the boat safety breafing and we settled in for the 45-minute ride to the island.

The boat was nice — it had a sun cover and we all enjoyed the ride. The water was calm, so it was an easy trip. I’m told that’s not often the case, especially the way back! Once we got to our first dive site, we got our gear set-up, listened to the dive briefing and jumped in.

Our Dives

Diving at Desecheo Island

The water was warm and visibility was about 80 feet. Our first dive site was called Candy Land, which is reminiscent of the colorful children’s board game. It was full of rocks & boulders, mounds of coral, loads of colorful sea fans, and a nice variety of fish. The site was alive, colorful and interesting.

It was a nice easy dive, with almost no current at all. Our maximum depth on this dive was about 80 feet. Frank was able to find a number of small sea creatures (like spider starfish and cleaner shrimps). We had one great encounter with a turtle — he was not afraid of us at all. He came almost face to face with each of us individually. Nice!

Izzy found a 50mm shell casing, left over from the military target practice, that he brought up to show us. From where our boat was moored, you could still see the targets the military "added" to the landscape of the island.

Diving at Desecheo Island

During our surface interval, we had a delicious lunch (local sandwiches and pastries) and sodas as we talked about the dive. Water and soda is provided and available throughout the entire trip. After lunch we moved to the second site, just a short distance away.

For this dive, we did parts of two reefs — Ladder Reef and the Caves. Ladder Reef was colorful and full of life. The Caves is a great site for lovers of swim-throughs. Both reefs were really shallow — the swim-throughs were at times only 10 feet in some spots!

The ride back to the "big island" surprised us all by being pretty smooth. After helping unload the boat, we went back to the shop and rinsed our gear. Since we were going to be doing more dives with them, we were able to leave our wet equipment at the shop instead of lugging it home and back. They also have showers at the shop to rinse off after the dive. That is a nice touch.

Other Info

Diving at Desecheo Island

Though we went as all SCUBA divers, Taino Divers also offers the trip for snorkelers. With the very clear waters and shallow areas just off the coast of Desecheo Island, snorkelers can really have a super experience. They go to Desecheo Island daily, weather permitting. If the seas are not cooperating, they can do local, off-shore dive/snorkel trips instead.


The cost to dive is $120/person for 2-tanks. There is an extra charge to rent dive gear. The cost for snorkelers is $95/person, which includes snorkel gear. Obviously, you must present your C-card to dive. NOTE- There is a $20 Marine Park Fee to go to the Island.

If you're happy, let them know it — Don't forget to tip your your bartender, tour guide or trip operator if you enjoyed yourself. Gratuities are appreciated and typically aren't included in the price they charge you.

Taino Divers makes daily trips to Desecheo Island (weather permitting), for snorkeling, SCUBA diving and discover SCUBA diving. They meet at the shop at 7:30am and return to the shop around 2:00pm. There is also an additional $20pp Marine Park fee. Reservations are highly suggested, but if you are a last-minute type of person, you can try to go to the shop in the morning to see if they have room on the boat.

Their maximum capacity is 12 guests.

You can call 787-823-6429 for more information or to make a reservation.

You can visit the Taino Divers web site for more information.

Restrooms are available at the shop and there is a small marine head on the boat.

The Taino Divers shop is located in the Black Eagle Marina in Rincon.

We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ... assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 3 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

I have to start by saying I am appalled at the practices of this dive shop. Not only did they put our lives at risk but when i gave them a chance to make us happy as costumers they refused! It was my partners first ocean dive and they took us to the wall, the dive master never once asked our air levels during the dive, I had to get his attention twice to ask to move to our safety stop, my partner ended up back on the boat with less than 30 units of air. The dive master even lost a diver half way through and didn't realize it until the last 5 min of the dive as we were making our way to the surface. They gave us equipment that was faulty and even after pointing out the faultiness they failed to change it out which impacted the air consumption. Be clear that we are all certified but you CAN NOT rely on the dive master for any direction or to ensure the dive is safe- DIVE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! I had to take our dive into my own hands and begin moving to the surface as it was clear the dive master did not care about the group. Beyond all the messed up safety stuff the dive masters are just in the water with you, they don't point anything out or watch out for your safety. when i confronted them about their practices they wrote to me "we have never had any loss of divers in 30 years in the bussines" glad to know they judge safety based on loss of LIFE!!!!! BEWARE!!!!!

Comment by Adrienne S on 06 Dec 2016

Gwenn's description of her Desecheo Island dive trip in 2011 was very similar to my experience there too. I'm going back to Desecheo next month (June 2014) and looking forward to another good trip.

Comment by Ryan Reinhold on 08 May 2014

I remember our snorkeling trip with Taino Divers @ Desecheo. It was a wonderful day all around. So glad you got to go there too. thanks! Martha

Comment by Martha Lorentzen on 24 Nov 2009

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