The waters off Puerto Rico provide excellent boating in all seasons. Winds average 10 to 15 knots virtually year-round. Marinas provide facilities and services on par with any others in the Caribbean, and many have powerboats or sailboats for rent, either crewed or bareboat charter.
Puerto Rico is ringed by marinas. In San Juan alone, there are three large ones. The upscale Club Nautico de San Juan (tel. 787/722-0177) and neighboring San Juan Bay Marina (tel. 787/721-8062) are adjacent to the Condado bridge and the Convention Center district in Miramar. The other marina, the Cangrejos Yacht Club (Rte. 187, Piñones; tel. 787/791-1015), is near the airport, outside Isla Verde at the entrance to Piñones.
All three have several sailing charters and dive and fishing operators.
Fajardo, on Puerto Rico's northeast corner, boasts seven marinas, including the Caribbean's largest, the Puerto del Rey Marina (Rte. 3 Km 51.4; tel. 787/860-1000 or 787/801-3010), and the popular Villa Marina Yacht Harbour (Rte. 987 Km 1.3; tel. 787/863-5131 or 787/863-5011), offering the shortest ride to the best snorkeling grounds and offshore beaches. Other town marinas include Puerto Chico (Rte. 987 Km 2.4; tel. 787/863-0834) and Puerto Real (Playa Puerto Real; tel. 787/863-2188).
Along the south coast, one of the most established and charming marinas is the Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club (La Guancha, Ponce; tel. 787/842-9003).
But marinas, both small and large, can be found throughout island coasts. Check local listings for a "Club Nautico." Those with pleasure crafts, sailing, and watersports offerings catering to tourists include Club Nautico de Boquerón (tel. 787/851-1336) and Club Nautico de La Parguera (tel. 787/899-5590), which are each located just outside their respective village centers.
Several sailing and ocean racing regattas are held in Puerto Rico annually. The east of Puerto Rico and the southwest are particularly attractive for sailors. Fajardo is the start of a series of ports, extending from Puerto Rico's own offshore islands through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands to the east, which is probably the Caribbean's top sailing destination.
The easiest way to experience the joys of sailing is to go out on a day trip leaving from one of the Fajardo marinas (with transportation from San Juan hotels often included). The trips usually take place on large luxury catamarans or sailing yachts, with a bar serving drinks and refreshments, a sound system, and other creature comforts. Typically, after a nice sail, the vessel weighs anchor at a good snorkeling spot, then makes a stop on one of the beautiful sand beaches on the small islands off the Fajardo coast. Operators include Traveler Sailing Catamaran (tel. 787/853-2821), East Island Excursions (tel. 787/860-3434), Catamaran Spread Eagle (tel. 787/887-8821), and Erin Go Bragh Charters (tel. 787/860-4401).
Also on the east coast is Karolette Charter, Palmas del Mar, AB-12 St., Rte. 3, Km 86.4, Humacao (tel. 787/850-7442), which offers snorkeling trips for $107 per person, or charters for $640 for 4 1/2 hours or $840 for 6 hours.
Out west, Katarina Sail Charters (tel. 787/823-SAIL ) in Rincón gives daily sailing trips aboard a 32-foot (9.8m) catamaran; there are both a day sail and a sunset sail.
For the typical visitor interested in watersports -- not the serious yachter -- our favorite place for fun in the surf is the aptly named San Juan Water Fun on Isla Verde Beach in back of the Wyndham El San Juan Hotel & Casino, Avenida Isla Verde in Isla Verde, San Juan (tel. 787/644-2585 or 787/643-4510). Here you can rent everything from a two-seater kayak for $30 per hour to a banana boat that holds eight passengers and costs $15 per person for a 20-minute ride.
If you're staying in eastern Puerto Rico, the best place for watersports rentals is the water sports center at Rio Mar Beach Resort, 6000 Rio Mar Blvd., Rio Grande (tel. 787/888-6000), which scuba and snorkeling trips, and a great selection of small boats. WaveRunners cost about $100 per hour, and two-seat kayaks go for $35 per hour.
In the southwest, Pino's Boat & Water Fun (tel. 787/821-6864 or 787/484-8083) at Guánica's Playa Santa has everything from paddle boats or kayaks to water scooters for rent.