Cruising Puerto Rico

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This page updated: May 2015



Guidebook: "A Cruising Guide to Puerto Rico Including the Spanish Virgin Islands" by Stephen Pavlidis (2003; 50 full-color charts).
8th edition of "A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" by Bruce Van Sant has lots of PR info.
US Coast Pilot 5, chapter 13 covers Puerto Rico.

Charts: Maptech's Region 10 chartkit.

Puerto Rico courtesy flag

Puerto Rico map from World Atlas

Some Spanish phrases for cruisers

North shore, except for San Juan, is exposed; few anchorages.

Rainiest May through December, more on north coast than on south coast.

Try "Maubi", a non-alcholic drink of tree bark, sugar and spices.

NPR stations: 1030 AM, 89.7 FM, WVGN 107.3 FM ("Car Talk" Saturday and Sunday 1 PM, "Prairie Home Companion" Saturday 7 PM and Sunday 4 PM in winter; subtract 1 hour in summer).
Couldn't hear any of them from Mayaguez to Ponce.
Can hear 1030 AM a bit in Salinas and Jobos; they have English-language in morning and evening, it seems.
Can hear WVGN 107.3 FM in Vieques.
Nice classical music station: 91.3 FM.

I'm told all the doctors in Puerto Rico are bad; maybe the good ones leave and go to the mainland USA ?

I'm told there are no public libraries in Puerto Rico; the voters don't want to finance them. The open-to-public libraries you see actually are attached to schools, and some school libraries are not open to the public (for example, on Culebra). (I didn't see any school attached to the library in Salinas, but maybe there is one.)

Puerto Rico Planner

If you plan on exploring the Island, renting a car is probably your best option, as scheduled bus service between cities is unavailable. The roads are modern and well-maintained, but get a good road map and chart your course before your trip.

Guagua's (private taxis) in Puerto Rico have a special pale-yellow license plate, and a placard in the front windshield telling where they go. But they're scarce in the smaller towns.

Plane flights out of PR to USA: from Mayaguez (MAZ), Ponce (PSE), San Juan (SJU), Fajardo. Many/most flights go through San Juan.

From US Coast Pilot 5, chapter 13:
Puerto Rico collects no customs duties on merchandise entering the island from the continental United States or its dependencies.
But in 12/2005, I'm told that everything coming from USA pays a 6% duty, and Puerto Rico is starting to enact a 1% sales tax.

From Lee Church:
Re: Buying a scooter in PR:

You do need a license, and registration. Registration is $150 (I'm guessing from what various sources have told me). I was able to buy my scooter new, including the registration, for just under $2000.

Parking them is a bit tricky, you can't just "do as the Romans do". It's best to park as legally as possible, while trying to avoid having the scooter run over by some poor driver who doesn't look behind them before reving up their 300 HP urban assault vehicle and peeling off an inch of rubber on the way out of the parking lot.

Oh, and helmets and goggles are required equipment as well. It adds up (cheap helmets are $30 - $50).

> more expensive than I hoped; is there a smaller and cheaper scooter ?

It IS the cheaper one! it's a 150 cc engine. [But he told me later: there ARE smaller and cheaper scooters, but he considers 150 CC to be the minimum acceptable. And I think he said less than 150 CC can't be run on toll roads without a special permit.]


Entry fee: US annual cruising decal/permit; $25 for USA boat.

According to "Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands" by Nancy and Simon Scott, there is a special relationship between PR and USVI's: from PR to USVI, don't have to clear out of PR or in to USVI. From USVI to PR, don't have to clear out of USVI but do have to clear in to PR (because USVI is a duty-free area). To/from anywhere else (including USA and BVI's), have to clear out and clear in.

From Noonsite:
  • Boats arriving from outside the territory must contact customs immediately at one of the following telephone numbers: San Juan (787) 729-6850, (787) 729-6802 Fajardo (787) 863-0950, Mayaguez: (787) 831-3368, Ponce (787) 841-3130. The regional offices are open Monday to Saturday, 0800-1200 and 1300-1700. Yachts arriving after business hours, Sunday, or holidays, must report arrival by contacting US Customs Service at Tel. (787) 253-4538.

    Culebra 742-3531; If the agent is absent the phone rings in Fajardo and the agent there will advise as to agent's availability.

  • American yachts coming from the USVI must clear customs on arrival in Puerto Rico the same as other yachts. US boats can do this by telephone provided they have paid the annual $25 customs fee. If not, the captain will have to visit the nearest customs office to pay that fee before being considered cleared.

  • Mayaguez: a commercial port, but a convenient port of entry. One should go to the commercial dock and phone customs or clear at the customs office on the main street. Instead of entering the commercial port, which is unsuitable for yachts, it is possible to anchor at Boqueron and take a taxi into Mayaguez to clear in. Some US boats that already had $25 customs decals have managed to clear in by telephone from Boqueron.

  • It is normally sufficient to inform customs by telephone of one's intention to depart. Non-USA nationals must return the immigration docket in their passports, issued on arrival, but this can be done by post.

  • Customs must be notified when a yacht arrives at each subsequent port or anchorage after the first port of entry, even when possessing a permit.

  • Overtime is charged outside of working hours Monday to Saturday from 0900-1600.

  • No garbage may be taken ashore: it must be disposed of outside of Puerto Rico. San Juan does have some garbage removal facilities, but these are not found elsewhere on the island. [Not true: all towns have public cans on the streets.] US marine regulations apply concerning discharge of any waste overboard. Marine Police occasionally inspect yachts and fine them for not having a holding tank with the valve in the correct position.

Don't have to clear out when going from PR / Spanish VI's to USVI's, but do have to clear in when going from USVI's to PR / Spanish VI's. I think it's because USVI is a duty-free area. But the security guy in Culebra didn't ask me any Customs-type questions when I arrived from the USVI; didn't have to fill out a declaration form or anything.

From Windom log file [2001]:
Arriving Boqueron PR: The first thing to do, once we got our post-passage ten hours of sleep, was to officially check in. Since Puerto Rico is an "associated Commonwealth" of the United States of America, and since we're US citizens on a US documented boat, we could clear in with Customs by telephone. It only took ten minutes, which is five minutes less than it took us to figure out how to use the pay phone, figure out which of the several Customs numbers to call, oops, you mean this isn't a local call?, rummage around for our phone card information, and finally get all the digits punched in.

Customs asked us to next call Immigration. We knew from talking with other cruisers that Immigration requests that all crew members go to the immigration office in Mayaguez with their passports. (Boqueron isn't an official port of entry, and non-US vessels must call at Mayaguez or some other port of entry first.) Some cruisers we knew had hired a van for $12.50 each; others we talked with had braved the two rides each way needed on the public transportation system, about $6 each round-trip but a big hassle and with infrequent runs. In fact, before calling Customs we had waited fruitlessly at the publico stop for nearly half an hour, figuring we might as well just go in to Mayaguez and deal with all the officials at once.

Some cruisers in Luperon had advised us to "just blow off Immigration," and when we talked with people from other boats who'd gone up to Mayaguez, they indicated that they hadn't gotten any passport stamps or other proof that they had cleared Immigration. (In contrast, we got a "report release number" from the Customs agent over the phone.) The final kicker was that it was Friday. So, I hope no officials are reading this, but we decided to accidentally forget to call Immigration until we hit Ponce, our next official port of entry.

If you anchor in Ponce, the Customs/Immigration guys will appear around 8 or 9 each morning on the fuel dock and whistle at you, and yell across for you to come talk to them. They don't have a boat or a radio.

Registering your boat in Puerto Rico:
8th edition of Van Sant says "Vessels remaining in Puerto Rican waters more than 60 days must register in Puerto Rico. ... PR wants 6.6% of the boat's value in import taxes.".
Pavlidis, Reed's, and Noonsite don't say this. Experienced PR cruisers have never heard of this happening.
I talked to Mr. Van Sant 8/2005, and he said the law is on the books, and a few years ago there was some enforcement of it. He recommends just keeping your head down, avoiding areas the DRNA boats frequent, and removing non-PR registration stickers from your boat. He doubts they have reciprocal sales-tax agreements with US states. He knows someone they tried to charge the full import tax, and that person just left the PR in the middle of the night.
Caribean Compass had an article in 2010 saying that law had just been changed.

In 8/2006, I was told of a USA boat which had been in La Parguera for eight years, got some police suggestions to register in Puerto Rico, and did so.

In 8/2006, I asked a couple of people some questions about "importing a boat into Puerto Rico" and registering in Puerto Rico, and got these answers:
From Jim Veiga, Atlas Yacht Sales:
Your [33-year-old] boat will not have to pay import duties because of its age. A 40' boat pays $300 per year [for registration]. You can do this at the department of natural resources.

From Bonnie Anderson:
Since your boat was built before Jan 1 1998, you will NOT have to pay any import tax. Don't let ANYone tell you differently. That's a good thing, since the damn tax is 7.6 percent ... of what the Puerto Ricans THINK your boat is worth. [If a tax person tries to make you pay anyway, read the small print on the form and show it to them; they may not be aware of the pre-1998 rule themselves.]

I don't remember what I paid [for a 1997 boat], but it was inconsequential compared to the thousands I WOULD have paid if I hadn't read the small print. I'm sure it was under $100.

When you register it here, you DO give up all other [USA state] registration ... and they will take all of your original documents away from you forever ... and in return give you PR docs. [I think this applies to state title and registration only; don't let them take away federal documentation or bill of sale.]

Since your boat is older, you don't pay the import tax regardless of having paid Florida sales/use taxes or not.

So, the process is:
  1. You go to a registration office and tell them what you want to do. Make SURE they understand the boat was built before 1998. They will hand you an information sheet and tell you you will have to pay the tax. Look at about the middle of the form and point out the date issue ... and that you DO NOT have to pay it.
  2. They will print something out that shows what you have to pay for registration ... stamps, etc.
  3. Then you go to a "Colecturia". Each town has one. This is a government office (bank-like) which collects all fees. You hand them the paper from the registration office, pay them what they say (and again, it'll be under $100), get the stamps etc needed.
  4. You go BACK to the registration office and hand this stuff to them. They then do the paperwork in a slow fashion (I was born and raised in Latin America ... I understand this stuff!) and hand it back to you.
  5. You're registered here.

This was MY experience, and what I learned by doing it. I'm not a lawyer and don't want folks getting mad at me if their experience is different!

Boat registration fees:
DNRA's "Vessel Registration" (PDF)
DNRA's "Documentation Required for RENEWAL of vessel License" (PDF)
DNRA's "Division de Inscripcion y Numeracion de Embarciones"


See my Caribbean page for more info about the Mona Passage.

From The Aldebaran Travel Log:
  • Mayaguez is a commercial harbor and not well protected, but it is the port of entry on the West Coast, so we anchored off and went ashore to clear customs. Even though we were tired, as soon as we cleared in we took off for the 18 mile sail south to Boqueron. The "fresh" odor of the packing plant ashore left no room for discussion of this matter.
  • Boqueron was a neat little beach community with an idyllic harbor that apparently really comes alive on the weekends.
  • Salinas, on the south coast: This was a very well protected anchorage and we had a manatee that lolled about our boat during our stay. We took the publico (bus) to Ponce, Puerto Rico's second largest city, and went to K-mart.
  • Quite a few Americans who had set up shop in Salinas Harbor and they just loved it here.
  • Little town of Dewey: by far the cleanest and most organized city in all of Puerto Rico.

From letter from Denis and Arleen Webster in 10/2002 issue of Seven Seas Cruising Association bulletin:
  • Discard food scraps before landing, to avoid problems with Agriculture.
  • Guanica: several anchorages. Over the hill, Ensenada has bakery and veggie van.
  • Nautico: harbor is fouled with deteriorating moored boats and lost chain and rope.
  • Ponce: excellent provisioning, big stores and good prices.
  • Hurricane hole: Jobos near Salinas.
  • Puerto Patillas: anchorage a bit rolly if you stay too far out.
  • South coast of PR: beautiful, anchorages are plentiful and calm and deserted with clear water. Police patrols in almost every anchorage.

From Windom log file [2001]:
Boqueron is a big beach party town: loud music late at night. We decided to put up with the long dinghy ride in to town rather than move closer.

Ponce: Ponce Yacht Club charges $5 per person per day to land dinghy. Instead, land at little wooden dock on the other side of the anchorage, by a boat ramp and a waterfront plaza called La Guancha.

My experience in PR 2005-2007:
Fuel seemed about 80 cents/gallon cheaper in big towns here than in Luperon.

  • Mayaguez:
    • Anchorage between R8 and R10 is a bit bigger than it looks on Pavlidis sketch chart. Could hold 6+ boats in a pinch. I anchored in 15-foot water. Maptech chart is much better than Pavlidis sketch chart.
    • Big white-with-red-squares-and-blue-rectangles building is ferry Customs/Immigration terminal. They weren't open when we arrived on Thanksgiving day, so we did customs and immigration in town. All of the officials were super-nice, giving us rides back and forth. It's a mile or two to the building in town.
      Do Immigration first.
    • Port seems to be a couple of miles from anything interesting.
    • No fuel dock or marina.

  • Shopping in Mayaguez / Cabo Rojo area (need a car):
    Marine electronics store: Schafer & Brown Electronics Inc, highway 100 km 5.1, 787-255-2351,

  • Puerto Real:
    Didn't stop there.

  • Boqueron:
    • Mangrove cove just west of Club Nautico is bigger than it looks on Pavlidis sketch chart; a dozen boats in there 11/2005.
    • Dinghy dock is just north of yellow pedestrian drawbridge.
    • Internet: at Travel Agency half a block past grocery store; $6/hour for slowish link.
    • At gas station 11/2005: regular 55 cents/liter, premium 60 cents/liter, diesel 65 cents/liter.
    • At marina 11/2005: water 10 cents/gallon.
    • Garbage disposal: plenty of public cans on streets and near dinghy dock.
    • Town is mostly liquor stores, bars, restaurants, T-shirt stores.
      No sign of a marine store or hardware store.
    • Town and beach are lively on weekends, quiet during the week.
      Hot in the summer; breeze is cut off.
    • To get to Mayaguez, have to take a publico (bus) to town of Cabo Rojo (which is not near charted Cabo Rojo; the town of Cabo Rojo is ENE of Puerto Real), then another to Mayaguez. Travel Agency lady says it's "not easy" (although she may be trying to discourage it because she rents cars; but I have heard that the bus schedules may end up stranding you). She'd arrange a taxi/car to go in morning and pick up in afternoon for $15/person round-trip.
    • Hurricane hole up channel at SE end of bay: I'm told the police say you can't tie off to the mangroves, even when a hurricane is coming, and of course you can't block the channel. So that doesn't leave much room. And the inland terrain east of there is flat, so exposed to wind from the east.
    • Leave early (5 AM) to go around Cabo Rojo; by 9 AM it will be blowing hard from E there while calm in Boqueron anchorage.
      Better yet, go to Cabo Rojo and leave from there at 6 AM.

  • Cabo Rojo / Bahia Salinas:
    Grassy bottom, and gets shallow far from shore. But a good place to stage before going around the corner and into the teeth of the wind and current.

  • La Parguera:
    • My knowledge is circa 2006; in 2011, someone told me the main outdoor shopping center has closed. This would make La Parguera a much less useful place for cruisers.
    • Pavlidis sketch chart PRS-2 and text 2003 have wrong digit in waypoint: instead of 17.57.30, should be 17.55.30.
    • Narrow inner entrance E of Cayos Enrique is lat 17.57.450 long 67.02.425.
    • Coming in, after Green 3 buoy, turn to port. See a couple of red or orange markers; each is on a shoal. Anchor about 2 cays west of research station to be closest to dinghy dock (about long 67.02.941).
    • Dinghy dock is down at base of a dock, very hard to find. Go down west side of boat-shed with flat corrugated roof and sides.
    • Turn left from dinghy dock, right at Hotel Casablanca, 1 block to outdoor shopping center with everything you need: supermarket, pharmacy, restaurant with free Wi-Fi internet for customers, big book exchange, propane exchange, laundromat, post office (inside supermarket), etc. Internet in restaurant: Wi-Fi only (but service is off 10/2006 and I don't think it's coming back); no PCs any more.
    • Library: up street past police station, just past the school. MTWR 9-8, F 9-5:30.
      Several free internet computers.
      Wi-Fi, but they will type in the password for you, not tell it to you.
      They will pull out an Ethernet cable for you (have to configure to,,,,
      Almost no English-language material.
      Printing/copying 10 cents/page.
    • Garbage disposal: plenty of public cans on streets and near dinghy dock.
    • Water:
      Hose at end of dive-boat dock near dinghy dock, at end of boat-shed with flat corrugated roof and sides. Owner says it is okay to take water on weekdays, but not on weekends when there are lots of people and water-pressure gets low. (But prices have been soaring in 2006; owner may have to start charging for water.)
      Also: a faucet inside a concrete planter about 50 feet inland from the dinghy-dock; no hose on it.
    • Fuel: gas station next to shopping mall. Prices about 15 cents/gallon lower than in Boqueron.
    • Lucerna "bakery" is not really a bakery, more of a deli. Up street past police station.
    • Marili bakery: up street past school and library, make about 2nd right, go one block.
    • Misc: several ATMs in town; surveillance blimp (see Tethered Aerostat Radar System) west of town; no theft problems.
    • No bus or taxi to Ponce.
    • To get to Mayaguez by bus: apparently have to take bus to Lajas, another to Hermilla (?), another to town of Cabo Rojo (ENE of Puerto Real), another to Mayaguez.
    • To get to San Juan airport: call Melvin, 787-317-2606 ? Inconvenient schedule, and very expensive if only one person.
    • To get to San Juan airport on weekday only: At 6 or 7 AM, near library, catch a car or publico to the central market in Lajas, a town inland from here. There, get a reserved car (call 899-1553 at least 2 days ahead) to San Juan for $35.
    • To get to San Juan: might be possible to hitch a ride on a Sunday afternoon/evening; lots of weekend visitors heading back to San Juan then, and there may be guagua's.
    • Guy who knows about cars and publico's: Wally on trawler "Neptune's Lady" with dinghy with 40-hp outboard.
    • To get to San Juan airport: I'm told there's a van/taxi from the hotel next to the square; maybe ask "Ruff Life" about it.
    • Boatyard Veradero Puerto Viejo is about 1 mile west of dinghy dock; blimp area is farther out than the boatyard. They say they've hauled Morgan OI 41's, but I think they're more of a powerboat and catamaran yard. They use a wheeled platform of I-beams to haul boats out.
    • Gil near boatyard does outboards ?
    • Small convenience/fishing/hardware store (Sammy's) on the west end, about 1/3 mile east of the boatyard.
    • Marine store in the east end across from the Club Nautico, east of last mangrove island along waterfront. It's on the inland side of the street, just inside the entrance to a trailer park.
    • Post office (inside supermarket): you can have things delivered to you via general-delivery, but you have to go to the post office in Lajas to fill out the paperwork to set it up !
    • Snorkeling: some decent fish out at the reefs, but no good coral.
      Arrecife Coral is nice, and has 3 moorings and an orange buoy in one area, then several more moorings a little further out.
      Cayos Enrique is not good.
      Moorings at Cayos Caracoles, a mile east of town: half of moorings are in very shallow water (2-3 feet); interesting snorkeling through roots of mangroves. Very busy on weekends.
    • SCUBA: I'm told the dive boats charge $75/person for a half-day, take you out about 5 miles, air-tanks included. All other equipment is extra.
    • Canvas/sail shop: Aleli, across street from shopping center, sort of.
    • Drawbacks to this town: no beach; no big hardware store in town; watch out for rats getting into dinghies at the dinghy dock; hard to get transportation to elsewhere.
    • When I left a bike locked ashore overnight a couple of times, someone kept letting air out of the tires.
    • Monkey Island, west of town: no longer any monkeys there.
    • I'm told there are lots of channels back into the mangroves, with some opening up into lagoons that could be used as hurricane holes. But they get crowded, and boats damage each other.
    • Bahia Fosforesente, east of town: touted by some as a hurricane hole. Looks small (crowded) and south-exposed to me, and it's an ecotourism place. I'm told the entrance has only 5 feet or so; Pavlidis seems to show 11 feet. I did one quick random slice across it and found 6-7 feet at deepest point. Entrance is unmarked and narrow. Evening tour-boat anchors right in the middle, so don't anchor there.
    • Bahia Montalva, farther east of town: might be a decent hurricane hole. More substantial mangrove islands, and thus more protected from S and SE, than it looks on Pavlidis chart. Must be hunting on the N shore; heard gunfire in morning.
    • Traveling east from town to Punta Montalva: go out main entrance east of Cayos Enrique, gradually move from N17.57 to N17.57.500 as you go east, to stay in good water all the way. Depths near Punta Montalva seem greater than shown on Pavlidis sketch-chart.

  • Playa Santa / Celeta Salinas / Punta Jorobado:
    A bit rolly.
    "Small cay 3/4 to west" mentioned by Van Sant is underwater at high tide.
    Better anchorage: half a mile NW, behind Cayo Don Luis (I think); entrance at approximately 17.56.815 66.58.340.

  • Ensenada and Guanica / Bahia de Guanica:
    I anchored in the NE corner of the bay, in front of Playa Guanica. A bit of swell, and nothing of interest in town (all stores are on far north side, at highway).
    I also anchored in the WSW corner of the bay; well-protected except from chop from afternoon wind; didn't go ashore.

  • Gilligan's Island / Cayos de Cana Gorda:
    Lots of room to anchor; mostly sheltered from swell.
    Closest (S) entrance is between two reefs and then around a third one; use W entrance if at all unsure.
    Moorings near dock on Gilligan's Island are in very shallow water, intended for people to wade ashore from small motorboats. Not much ashore except picnic/barbeque areas and a swimming lagoon.
    Channel into Punta Ballena swimming area is very shallow, even for the dinghy; have to hug the mangroves on the north side. Decent beach to walk on.

  • Guayanilla:
    Anchored inside Cayo Maria Langa. Need good light to get in and out. Rolly.
    West side of Cayo Caribe: looks too small.

  • Ponce (pone-say):
    • Anchorage is small, deep (30 feet), and half-filled with permanent boats. And not really close to anything. And sometimes loud music at night. Blows ESE hard through anchorage in afternoon.
    • Expect to have Customs officers whistling at you from the fuel dock at 9 AM, wanting you to come over and talk. They don't have a radio or boat.
    • Customs building can be reached by dinghy, if necessary. Go N out of anchorage, across mouth of commercial dock area, to rectangular pink building with three flags flying over it and two red-and-white range markers near it. No dock; I landed on small beach. Rough surf.
    • Can dinghy ashore to:
      - small finger-dock next to boat ramp at NE corner (maybe use only for a short time; lock the dinghy),
      - near tower in SE corner (weekdays have to get buzzed through gate to street, or easy climb over fence; door is open on weekends), or
      - marina ($5/person/day, and a longer walk to stores; dinghy dockage seems to be along seawall near lift).
    • Santiago's Cash And Carry warehouse store: walk across huge park / parking lot to NE corner, then right turn (E) and past electrical supply warehouse. A mile or more from tower at malecon; shortest to land dinghy at boat-ramp and go from there. Open Sunday 7-2; other days probably 7-???; 787-848-5525. Prices just okay and selection limited, actually, but it's the only store within walking distance. Has a fair amount of hardware-type stuff, including nuts and bolts, and tons of cleaning-type supplies (acids, degreaser, etc).
    • Centro Nautico marine store: on left side of street just after you turn right at intersection to go towards Santiago's. Inside tallish building with glass revolving door; looks like a former bank. No signs that indicate a store is inside.
    • Publico stop: at Texaco station, 1/2 or 3/4 mile north of Santiago's Cash And Carry warehouse store.
    • Big shopping mall (Plaza Caribe) and Pueblo Xtra Supermercado: another 1.5 miles north of Texaco station. After going under overpass, cross highway to left (W) side, through parking lot to gas station, then up road. Mall is on left side and supermarket on right side.
    • Free internet at university just E of Pueblo Xtra Supermercado (shopping mall is W of Pueblo). Weekdays only. Instead of taking cutoff to plaza and Pueblo, stay on highway and take next left into university; first building is "Ruth Fortuno de Caldaza" building. Computer lab is on second floor, room 248. Hours are erratic.
    • Sam's Club and Walmart: about 1.5 miles W of shopping mall (Plaza Caribe).
    • Walmart Supercenter: take route 12 N to route 14 E, go 4-6 miles E.
    • Fuel dock at marina:
      In 12/2005, about 15 cents/gallon more expensive than at gas station in La Parguera.
      In 11/2006, about 65 cents/gallon more expensive than at gas station in La Parguera.
      Call on VHF 68 before going in (use Spanish; say something like "Ponce Yacht Club, esta boatname, necessita gasolina" to get them to page a guy to come to the fuel dock).
      Open approx 7 AM to 5 PM on weekdays, about 7 to 2 on weekends.
      No water hose at the fuel dock, but you can jug from a slip 100 feet away. Or ask if you can run a long hose from there.
    • Oil disposal facility: tanks just inland from boat ramp at NE corner; probably not supposed to leave jugs outside the locked gate, but looks like people do.
    • Haul-out at marina 12/2005: $5/foot for haul-block-launch, 80 cents/foot for each day on hard, proof of insurance required. Yard opens at 7 AM; closed Sunday, probably Saturday too.
    • Small book-exchange in marina. On first floor of restaurant building, across from fuel dock. Moved into a storage closet 11/2006.
    • Taxi: 848-8248. Negotiate price with driver. Boardwalk at anchorage is "La Guancha Malecon".
    • Trolley was seen once on a Saturday at circle at SE end of boardwalk; no idea of schedule or route.
    • Downtown: Ponce Museum of Art, tourist office at Casa Armstrong-Poventud, central historical area Plaza Las Delicias, firehouse Parque de Bombas, historical museum 2 blocks east of tourist office, open-air market in Ponce de Leon Plaza, nice view from Vigia's Cross and Serralles Castle up on the hill.
    • Electric motor repair place: Nieves Electric Service, 12 Comercio St 00730-5108, 787-842-1335. Don't know where they are.

  • Coffin Island:
    Nature reserve / underwater park. Snorkeling, nice water, beach, trail up to lighthouse.
    When I was there, it was too rough to snorkel on the E side, and the snorkeling on the SW corner is not impressive.
    A bit rolly, even in E or SE wind.
    I'm told it gets crowded with powerboats on weekends, maybe especially summer weekends. But there's lots of room to anchor.
    3/2011: 4 or 5 free (DRNA) moorings east of dock.

  • Cayos Cabezazos (off Punta Petrona): nice protection. Need decent light to enter from the west, and probably from the SE or NE also.

  • Salinas:
    (Thanks to Harvey on SV Sea Bound for updates 3/2011.)
    • The village outside the marina is "Playa Salinas"; the town of Salinas is 2+ miles further away.
    • Playa Salinas:
      • Marina De Salinas: office open 8 AM to 8 PM or later. Garbage cans; laundry; book-exchange; used oil disposal for 45 cents/gallon. 787-824-3185. Hotel rooms start at $80 plus taxes.
        There are dinghy-dock charges ($25/week), but I think most people don't pay.
        Sign says dinghy must be "registered" if it's there at night.
        Use stern anchor.
        Full access to marina facilities (water, pool, showers, postal address) costs $125/month.
      • Fuel at marina fuel dock:
        In 12/2005, about 30 cents/gallon more expensive than in Ponce.
        Water free.
        In 11/2006, gasoline is 65 cents/gallon cheaper than in Ponce, and diesel is 10 cents/gallon more expensive than in Ponce.
        Depth at fuel dock: about 6 feet at low tide.
      • Propane refill: two places, both near hardware store.
      • Sailmaker: just outside marina gate, Marianne Pfeiffer at Tradewinds Sails and Canvas, 787-824-1611, cell 484-7737, address Bo. Playa A 131 - Salinas PR 00751. Open TWRFS. Also has marine and hardware catalogs for ordering, and business cards for welder, machine shop, etc.
      • 3/2011: Only Wi-Fi is the Marina's and Drakes.
      • 9/2007: Wi-Fi at Drake's, just outside marina entrance. Couldn't get it to work with my 3Com adapter.
      • Bakery / small grocery: white-and-blue building 50 yards north of cafe.
        I'm told the Cuban sandwich is large and good.
      • Playa Marine store: 3/2011 Playa Marine has moved, for new location see
        Pretty good store, but stock of serious sailboat stuff is limited.
      • Green publico stop in "triangle intersection": I sat there for an hour and no publico came. I hear there are few publico's any more, maybe a few for schoolkids.
      • Pharmacy, and hardware-type store: at NE corner of ballfield. From Cruiser's Galley, head toward hardware store, but turn left, then right, see ballfield.
      • For welding (steel, SS, Alum) Armstrong Marine Services, 100' dock at N end of harbor, 3rd property west of El Dorado rest. Tommy Armstrong (787) 640 3336.
      • Hardware store: Ferreteria Rincon Criollo: turn right at intersection just before Cruiser's Cafe, go left at first fork, straight across next intersection, on left. Not much English spoken.
      • Mechanic: Mike Swanson, 824-4565 ???
      • Mechanic: Steve Kemsley, marine mechanic, (939) 579 1856
      • Good general repair info source: Steve something, works around the marina.
      • Restaurants: I'm told the upscale, touristy restaurants sell frozen food for inflated prices.
      • To locate and get to various welders and suppliers, or for trips to Ponce, talk to Norman (cell 787-222-5894).
      • Snack bar at marina: Friday 7-10 is happy hour with cheap drinks and cheap barbecue, and lots of cruisers in attendance. MTWR 5-7 happy-hours are less happy; be careful to find out drink-prices before you drink. Best to pay cash for each drink instead of running a tab. Pay during happy-hour and you get the happy-hour rate, even if you were drinking before happy hour.
      • Shipping stuff in:
        To marina, send to yourname, c/o Marina de Salinas, Calle Chapin G-8, Playa de Salinas, PR 00751.
        Must be on the dock or a "bay member" to use their address.
        They won't accept packages that require a signature (UPS), but you can get the delivery slip, wait for the UPS guy to come again the next day, and sign for the package.
        7/2007 I'm told very few businesses will accept packages for cruisers any more, now that the government is charging 7% sales tax on everything. If a business accepts a package, later they get a bill for the sales tax on the item.
      • Telephones: pay-phone in marina has been removed 7/2006; pay-phone at waterfront park 1/2 mile up eats money 7/2006; another pay-phone past hardware store ? Phones in marina office and cafe are not cheap.
      • Tourist Info office.
      • Some BBC on AM 1620 from St Croix. Weekdays midnight to 5 AM, then a little at 7 AM, 8 AM.
      • Anchor chain: Astro Industrial Supply, 519 Fernandez Juncos PTA de Tierra (old San Juan), 787-721-4041/4043/4046/6738. Delivers to Salinas marina for $25 ?
    • Town of Salinas:
      • To get there: go N along shore in Playa Salinas, staying left at triangle/fork with Publico stop. Entire road makes right turn. Keep going past fields on right and park with marlin or dolphin statue on left. See signs that you are on 701, approaching intersection with 180. Keep going. When road curves left slightly, take road straight ahead; post office will be on right. This is 1.5 to 2 miles from marina.
      • Library: across street from SE corner of central park/square. Several internet computers; no English-language materials. Internet computers not working entire month of 8/2007.
      • Tourist office: across street from library, at SE corner of central park/square.
      • Publico terminal: tall roofed area 2 blocks W of central park. Lots of publico's run from about 6 AM to 2 PM; $12 to Ponce. Can get publico to Guayama, and another from there to San Juan.
      • H. R. Machine Shop: at least 5 miles E out of town on route 3, past the racetrack. 824-1098.
      • Radio repair: American Radio Service.
      • Small auto-parts store: going into town from west, go left at first traffic light (Banco Popular), go about 3 blocks (this street is route 1), on left side.
      • Better auto-parts store: going into town from west, go left at first traffic light (Banco Popular), turn right at N edge of park, go about 2 blocks, on right side.
      • Small hardware store: another block N past first auto-parts store, on right side. No English spoken.
      • Amigo supermarket, another auto-parts store, etc: plaza on NE side of town. On route 180 near intersection with route 1 ? Can get there by going N from Banco Popular (route 1).
      • A Selectos Supermarket opened at lot NW of 90 deg bend in Rt 180.
        A new Walgreen being built adjacent (N) to Selectos, open 2012.
      • Salinas lumber across Rt 3 from Banco Popular best hardware store in Salinas.
      • Closest ATM: at Banco Popular at traffic light in town.
      • Medical:
        Hospital/clinic is east out of town on 3, behind (south of) big gas station.
        Dr. Moreno: go to post office, straight across route 3 past Texaco station, go until road ends, on right. $10 for office-visit.
      • Dentist: Dr. Ducos. Head into town on route 3, but turn left 1 block before Banco Popular. Go 1 block, see optician's office on NW corner. Go into optician's door, and dentist office is on one side of hallway.
        I'm told they open at 8:30 (but sign on door says 8), and they give everyone a number and see them in order. Busy in the morning; maybe go just after lunch. Hours might be MWF 8-1 and TR 8-5.
        I'm told extracting a wisdom tooth costs $50 cash, $65 credit card. I paid $25 11/2007 for exam and a couple of x-rays. Dentist is very nice and speaks good English.
    • Transportation to San Juan airport (info circa 2007):
      • Best way: pay another cruiser to rent a car and drive you there.
        From Playa Salinas, I think: take 180E or N to 52N. Route 52N becomes 18N. Take exit for airport/17E, and make immediate right turn onto 17E. 17E across bridge of flags to airport.
        Hertz in Salinas out of Aponte Collision center picks you up at marina and drops you off after rental. Sidney Gonzales, 787-824-2418 (office), 787-473-7037 (cell).
      • Norman on "Psyche" (lives ashore now) runs a van to San Juan airport for $65 one-way; cell 787-222-5894.
      • Salinas VIP - Taxi Cab. Weekdays 787-512-9183, nights and weekends 787-864-6739. Price to San Juan airport "$80 to $100 depending on luggage".
      • Lugo Travel agency in town of Salinas: Punky Lugo runs a car to San Juan for $70 (might be extra to Playa Salinas); 787-824-3470; Munoz Rivera #11 Salinas PR 00751.
      • Sara at Coqui Express / Cruiser's Cafe: $90/person for trip to San Juan airport; two from same boat go for price of one; price higher outside workday hours.
      • Publico from town of Salinas to Guayama, then another to San Juan. Easy to get stranded by schedules; they stop running about 2 PM.
    • Flying JetBlue out of Ponce: shorter drive than to San Juan, and ticket price is about half that of San Juan airlines, but usually have to fly through JFK, the flights are in the middle of the night, and if a flight is missed or cancelled you'll have to wait 24 hours until the next flight.
    • Hurricanes:
      I'm told that when hurricane Georges (1998 ?) came right over Salinas, boats in the mangroves of Mar Negro (AKA Jobos) were fine, but everything in Salinas harbor was destroyed, because a lot of small local boats came in at the last minute and they all tore free during the hurricane. Someone else said they all piled up in the north end of the harbor; some cruising boats in the south end were okay.
      I'm told that when a hurricane approaches, the marinas kick all the boats out, and the boat-owners all bring their boats out into the harbor and put a couple of anchors down and leave.
      I'm told the authorities here don't want people to tie to the mangroves until a storm is approaching.
    • Yanmar dealer: in Santa Isabel, which is west of Salinas down route 1. (Or maybe you could go there by boat.)
    • Guayama: Walmart not very good; go to Santa Isable Walmart instead.
      Tools store: La Casa De Los Tornilos, near west edge of Guayama, moved about 2 streets east and 1 block south of Rt 3.

  • Mar Negro (the hurricane hole east of Salinas; often called "Jobos"):
    Very shallow water if you try to get in far. Outer part seems pretty exposed, with just one barrier island between you and open ocean.

  • Boca Del Infiernos:
    The pass is a bit scary, unmarked, with sandbars and breakers about 100 feet on each side. Do it only in good light, and maybe only outbound.

    From Dave and Annie on "Fidelis":
    The snorkeling is great on BOTH sides of the pass (on the outside and extends forever in both directions) and starts as soon as the water shoals, but most of the coral is severely damaged on the INSIDE edges of the pass from the fishing boat anchors. The place where we have been most impressed is to anchor the boat north of the Cayos de los Barcos, across from the entrance to Mar Negro (the hurricane hole entrance), then take the dinghy out through the opening between the west end of the Barcos and the east end of the Cayos Pajaros and snorkel along the outside of the Barcos toward the Boca Del Infiernos pass. Wonderful contours and beautiful coral - fields of fans. I am convinced that the entire barrier reef along here must be pretty much like that all along on the outside.

  • Bahia de Jobos / Puerto de Jobos (inland from Boca Del Infiernos):
    Going up into the body of Bahia de Jobos: in 1/2006, all of the charted channel markers from Punta Rodeo to Puerto de Jobos are missing, and there's an uncharted small cay just north of Punta Rodeo. I ran out of water between the cay and the point and gave up. Attempt this route only at low tide and in good light. Saw a large marina up at Puerto de Jobos.

  • Puerto Patillas:
    Plenty of space; a bit rolly; water very clear; bottom seems grassy.
    Saw some tiny floats that might be the channel markers mentioned in Pavlidis guide. Ignore them and approach the anchorage from the W and N.

    Ashore, it's a weekend-beach place. Dinghy in to the only dock. To the right, a very nice beach-park with an observation tower, but everything closed on a winter weekday. To left from dock, about 1/2 mile to small grocery/liquor store. Nothing else nearby, as far as I could tell. Looks like publico's hang out at the liquor store; you could get a ride to a town.

  • Puerto Yabucoa:
    Commercial (oil-tanker) port.

  • Palmas Del Mar:
    I'm told it's a tight anchorage, and very rough in strong E wind even though it looks like the seawall should give shelter.

  • Cayo Santiago / Monkey Island: I'm told there still are monkeys on the island; don't go ashore.

  • Roosevelt Roads:
    Marina and moorings limited to ex-Navy personnel; don't know about anchoring, but it's exposed to the SE.

  • Isla Pineros:

  • Puerto Medio Mundo:
    Not mentioned in the Pavlidis guide, but looks like a good anchorage in all but N or NE wind. Holding may be bad.

  • Puerto Del Rey marina:
    VHF 71; free Wi-Fi; marine store; 787-860-1000; PO Box 1186 Fajardo PR 00738.

  • Cayo Obispo / Isleta marina:
    Plenty of good anchoring space. Occasional wakes. Isleta Marina charges $10/day for dinghy dockage (which lets you use the little ferry to Playa Fajardo for free). Nothing useful in the marina except a bare-bones marine store. No fuel dock.

  • Fajardo:
    The ferry/harbor area (Playa Fajardo) is separate from "town", and you have to walk or drive to get inland. But the route seems flat; if you're going up hills, you're going the wrong way. From ferry dock, go 1 block left/south and then make a right turn to go straight inland. About 1.5 miles on route 195W to the center of town. No useful stores in the ferry/harbor area.
    About 3/4 mile N to Villa Marina (has marine store, boatyard).
    Large stores (CompUSA, Office Max, Walmart, Pueblo, etc) are on route 3, W and NW of town.
    West Marine: 4186 Carretera Estatal #3, 787-801-2700, MTWRFS 8-8 Sun 11-5.

  • Las Croabas:
    Co-op boatyard but no stores.

  • Cabo San Juan / Bahia Las Cabezas:
    Looks like you could get inside the reef, but not a well-traveled place.

  • San Juan:
    I'm told: anchor near the American Frontiers pier; it's little-used. Or pick up a free/unused mooring off Club Nautico. Or just anchor off the two marinas at the east end. Don't anchor off the Coast Guard station, because ashore there is a really bad section of San Juan.
    Tourist Transportation booth at LMM airport: 787-253-0418.
    I'm told the industrial base of San Juan makes it a great place to buy an outboard, anchor chain, etc.
    Marinas: San Juan Bay Marina 787-721-8062; Club Nautico del San Juan 787-722-0177 (limited transient berths).
    Condado Beach along Ashford Avenue.
    West Marine: off route 18 near Plaza Las Americas shopping mall. 1 block east of route 18 and two or three blocks north of route 23. A bit hard to find. 197 Calle Federico Costa, 787-777-0814, MTWRFS 8-7 Sun 11-5.
    Walmart Supercenter: just east of Caguas, in middle of the island. Take route 52 to route 30 east. Then go south on one of the first exits, I think. Walmart is just east of Sam's Club, across street from it.
    There's another Walmart, south of the airport, in Plaza Escorial on route 3 near intersection with route 8.
    Wholesale marine place (good prices on bottom paint): CEA Industrial Supply, 655 Ave Ponce de Leon HR 787-765-4266 (I think they're slightly S of San Juan).
    Electric motor place (rewinding): EWCO, (787?)-783-8918, 1639 Jesus T Pinero Ave 00920. Don't know where it is.
    Lots of useful stores in the several-square-mile area WSW of Plaza las Americas shopping mall, on route 17 / Pinero: hardware, outboard, etc.
    NPR: FM 89.7.

  • Arecibo / Punta Morrillos:
    The observatory is maybe 12 miles south of the coast, at the south end of route 625. Take 129S to 134S to 635E to 625S. Or take 129S to 651S to 635S to 625S.

  • Aquadilla:
    Good beaches, but big surfing destination in the winter.

I think for a hurricane hole, I'd choose one of these:
  • Salinas (good holding, decent town, but slightly exposed to SSW, likely to have lots of local boats kicked out of marinas).
  • The mangrove creeks at Mar Negro (AKA Jobos), east of Salinas (maybe best protection of all, but no help nearby except other cruisers).
  • Bahia Montalva, east of La Parguera (shallow, better protected than it looks on the chart, but no town nearby).
[I favor anchoring in very shallow water with room around me, as opposed to tying off tight to mangroves.]

Other hurricane hole possibilities:
  • Puerto Real (but tiny, and I'd guess it fills quickly).
  • Boqueron's hurricane hole, at SE corner of harbor (well protected by hills, shallow, and tight entrance, but hard for deep-draft boats, probably gets crowded, and I'm told you're not allowed to tie off to the mangroves). And Boqueron is hot in the summer; breeze is cut off.
  • La Parguera (good mangroves, but exposed to south and a long fetch inside the reef, and lots of local boats).
  • Bahia Fosforesente, east of La Parguera (very well protected, but it's an eco-tourism place, entrance is shallow and unmarked, and it's small so it may get crowded).
  • Ensenada, at west end of Bahia de Guanica (but long fetch from east, and not much town). Get in SW corner and into mangroves on S side ?
  • Guayanilla. Maybe SW end, W of Punta Verraco (looks shallow and somewhat protected, but completely isolated). Or SE end, N of Punta Gotay (ditto).
  • Bahia de Jobos / Puerto de Jobos (if you can figure out the channel past Punta Rodeo; but there's a long fetch inside the bay).
  • San Juan (but far from normal cruising area).
  • Culebra / Ensenada Honda (but it faces SE, and there's a long fetch inside).
  • Culebrita (but it's isolated, open to N, and no mangroves to tie to).
  • Vieques / Puerto Mosquito or Puerto Ferro or Ensenada Honda (but they're isolated and face S). Puerto Ferro would be pretty good if you snugged up to SW or SE to get protected from the entrance. Puerto Mosquito would be better, but has very shallow and tricky entrance.
    Heard in 2012: E end of Vieques is completely off-limits now.

Good thing about spending hurricane season in PR: US Coast Guard is available.

From Jack Tyler on SSCA discussion boards:
... There are two excellent hurricane holes, the first [Puerto Real] just N of the yachtie stop in Boqueron which has an inner pool that, depending on your draft, is very protected. You probably would end up in the outer estuary if all the fishing boats beat you to the inner lagoon. The second [Guayanilla, maybe ?] is W of Ponce with its stores, movie theater, bulk food warehouse and, more importantly, marine vendors, great museums and lots of local sites. The advantage of the PR coast as a choice is that you aren't locked into one spot but rather can roam around and see all three coasts while being within a short distance of one of these protected mangrove estuaries. I haven't mentioned the sweet little town just E of Cabo Rojo [must be La Parguera] with its own mangrove estuaries and boats have ridden out big storms there with much success ... so I suppose there are actually three choices. Because PR also offers the U.S. infrastructure (ready flights, USPS service, 800 numbers, etc), there is much to recommend cruising there in the storm season ...

From US Coast Pilot 5, chapter 13:
Strong N winds and heavy seas may occur from November to April. During the hurricane season gales may strike from any direction. The best hurricane harbors are Bahias San Juan, Guanica, Guayanilla, and Jobos, and Ensenada Honda (on Isla de Culebra).


Puerto Rico has several hundred streams, some of good size, but none are navigable for anything but small boats. The mouths of the streams generally are closed by bars except during short periods of heavy rainfall. From the location of the mountain divides, the streams on the S and E sides of the island are short and fall rapidly to the sea, whereas those on the N and W sides are longer and slope more gently.


Along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts of Puerto Rico, the currents are greatly influenced by the trade winds. In general, there is a W drift caused by prevailing E trade winds; the velocity averages about 0.2 knot and is said to be strongest near the island. A decided W set has been noted near the 100-fathom curve along the Caribbean coast from Isla Caja de Muertos to Cabo Rojo. Offshore of Bahia de Tallaboa a current of 0.5 knot has been observed setting NE across and against the E wind.


NE through SE winds blow about 80 percent of the time year round.


Good surfing (thus bad anchorages) along N and NW coasts. Few harbors on N coast.

When and where for Carnaval ???


West Marine stores: Fajardo and San Juan.

From Luis F Ramos Reyes on the SailNet Caribbean Islands list:
Re: Refitting:

My recommendation would be to purchase and install everything in Puerto Rico at Marina Puerto del Rey in Ceiba [on E coast, S of Fajardo; Bahia Demajagua]. You have West Marine, other chandleries, riggers, etc. within minutes. I would also recommend that you contact Mr. Luis Vall-Lobera at 787-315-3910 or 787-728-6548; he is an experienced and very responsible contractor that I always use.

From Russ Teague on the SailNet Caribbean Islands list:
I am currently docked at Puerto Del Rey Marina - it's a great place. I haven't done any extensive work while I've been here. I do know that the little "parts and pieces" are much more expensive than in the US and not readily available. I usually load up my suitcase with all the usual needs while I'm in Miami and haul it back. Freight gets very expensive to PR and anything you have sent in is subject to the 6.6% excise tax - while that itself is comparable to US sales tax, it's just a pain to have things held up by Fedex, UPS etc while you pay the tax. Only the US Postal Service refuses to collect the tax, but if it's heavy or bulky you can't ship it that way. The little work I have done has been of excellent quality and the price is reasonable but not a bargain.

  • Villa Pesquera (in Puerto Real, N of Boqueron):
    Good and fast, but fishing boats get priority.

  • Veradero Puerto Viejo in La Parguera (west end of town):
    Small, although they have hauled Morgan OI 41's; 899-5588. May be a good choice for a catamaran because they use a wheeled platform instead of a lift.

  • Ponce Yacht Club:
    Must have insurance; 842-9003; shuts down a bit over Christmas and New Year's. Haul-out 12/2005: $5/foot for haul-block-launch, and 80 cents/foot for each day on hard.

  • Palmas del Mar, Humacao (SE coast, W of Vieques; N18.04 W65.48; 285-8454).

  • Puerto del Rey, Ceiba (SE part of Fajardo):
    Big and well-equipped, but expensive; 787-860-1000.
    2/2009: Haul Out $9/ft LOA, Blocking $2/ft LOA, Lay Days $1.45/ft/day, + 10% on total bill (Environmental Insurance of the Marina), + 7% (Taxes) IVU.
    Looks like DIY is fine, except: "Spray painting, water blasting, and welding are only allowed by our approved contractors."

  • Isletta Marina / Island Marine (on Cayo Obispo across from Fajardo). 382-3051, 787-384-9032.

  • Villa Marina (near Playa Sardinera, NE part of Fajardo):
    Good chandleries, engine, canvas shops next door. West Marine in town. 787-863-5131.

  • Puerto Chico (in Fajardo) ? 787-863-0834

  • Veradero Fajardo in Las Croabas (N of Fajardo):
    From Van Sant: "cheapest if you don't need to dry grind or spray paint"; you must bring all supplies with you. DIY.
    7/2008 from Brett: they now have a limit: 34 feet LOA and 8 tons weight.

Update 3/2011 from Harvey on SV Sea Bound:
Isleta Marina seems to be only yard you can still do your own work. Haul and launch $7.50 per foot, wash, $2 per, blocking $2.