Palmas del Mar Resort has 3 exceptional miles (4.8km) of white-sand beaches (all open to the public). Nonguests must park at the hotel parking ($2 per hour), and there are showers and bathrooms near the beach. The waters here can get rough in winter but are generally calm, and there’s a watersports center and marina. (see “Scuba Diving & Snorkeling,” below). The Rancho Buena Vista Equestrian Center is one of the largest and best equipped in the Caribbean, catering to the expert but also luring newcomers with tantalizing tours and “resort courses.” Trails through tropical forest, beachfront and other coastline are held throughout the day.
Some of the best year-round fishing in the Caribbean is found in the waters just off Palmas del Mar. Capt. Bill Burleson, based in Humacao (tel. 787/850-7442), operates charters on his customized, 46-foot sport-fisherman, Karolette, which is electronically equipped for successful fishing. Burleson prefers to take fishing groups to Grappler Banks, 18 nautical miles (33m) away, which lie in the migratory paths of wahoo, tuna, and marlin. A maximum of six people are taken out, costing $750 for 4 1/2 hours, $940 for 6 hours, or $1,280 for 8 hours. Burleson also offers snorkeling charter expeditions starting at $750 for up to six people for 4 1/2 hours.
Few other real-estate developments in the Caribbean devote as much attention and publicity to their golf facilities as the Palmas del Mar Athletic Club (tel. 787/656-3000; www.palmaspac.com). Both the older Gary Player–designed Palm course, and the newer Reese Jones–designed Flamboyant course, have pars of 72 and layouts of around 2,250 yards (2,057m). Crack golfers consider holes 11 to 15 of the Palm course among the toughest five successive holes in the Caribbean. The pro shop services both courses and is open daily from 6:30am to 6pm. Course rates are $75 weekdays and $85 on weekends and holidays. Call the Golf Club (tel. 787/656-3015) for reservations.
Palmas del Mar’s land is an attraction in its own right. Here you’ll find more than 6 miles (9.7km) of Caribbean ocean frontage—3 1/2 miles (5.6km) of sandy beach amid rocky cliffs and promontories. Large tracts of the 2,700-acre (1,093-hectare) property have harbored sugar and coconut plantations over the years, and a wet tropical forest preserve with giant ferns, orchids, and hanging vines covers about 70 acres (28 hectares) near the resort’s geographic center.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Some of the best dives in Puerto Rico are right off the eastern coast. Two dozen dive sites south of Fajardo are within a 5-mile (8km) radius offshore. See “The Best Scuba Diving” section, in chapter 1.
Set adjacent to a collection of boutiques, bars, and restaurants at the edge of Palmas del Mar’s harbor, Palmas Sea Ventures Dive Center, Palmas Del Mar Marina, 110 Harbor Dr. (tel. 787/863-3483 or 800/739-DIVE; www.divepuertorico.com), owns a 44-foot-long dive boat with a 16-foot (4.9m) beam to make it stable in rough seas. They offer both morning and afternoon sessions of two-tank dives (for experienced and certified divers only), priced at $119 each (equipment included). Half-day snorkeling trips, $60 per person, depart both morning and afternoons on demand to the fauna-rich reefs that encircle Monkey Island, an offshore-uninhabited cay. A discover scuba course for beginners is $150.
The Tennis Center at Palmas del Mar (tel. 787/656-3025 or 656-9043), the largest in Puerto Rico, features 14 hard courts, two artificial turf Omni courts, and four Har-Tru clay courts. Fees for guests are $10 per hour during the day and $10 extra per court at night. Fees for nonguests are $20 per hour during the day and $10 extra per court at night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.