|All photos supplied.|
The sailboats go out every day (weather permitting, of course) and the fee (about $70-$90 per person when you meet the boat at its dock) includes captain and crew, lunch, refreshments, snorkeling equipment, and life vests. This same excursion in other Caribbean islands can cost up to twice as much.
The sail begins at 10:00 a.m. and returns at about 3:30 p.m. (it is considered really bad form to arrive late—you may miss the boat and you certainly will inconvenience your boat mates and crew). If you drive from San Juan, plan for traffic and allow at least an hour to an hour and a half for the drive. You should be at the dock by 9:15 a.m. (see map and driving directions). Make sure you go to the right marina: East Wind and Erin Go Bragh depart from Puerto del Rey; all others from Villa Marina.
If you arrange to be picked up at your hotel, it is also important to be on time—a delay at one location will hold up the trip for everyone. Most transportation operators charge $30-$45 per person round trip to Fajardo by minibus, a pleasant trip that allows you to see a good part of the northeast side of the island.
Passengers usually bring along sunblock, a towel, a light change of dry clothing, a camera, and a smile. You don’t need to know how to snorkel (the crew will teach you) or swim (you can just bask in the warm, shallow water with a float or life vest), and if you’d rather just soak up the sun on the boat or on the beach, that’s cool, too.
Here is a guide to the seven experienced sail & snorkel catamarans in Fajardo that are endorsed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company—your assurance of safety and quality.
787-728-6606 or 787-383-5700, www.saildiveparty.net
The Fun Cat is a 51-foot sailing catamaran designed and built by Capt. Greg Korwek, a NAUI scuba instructor who opened the island’s first hotel watersports and dive shop in 1963. The Fun Cat—which operates out of Villa Marina—has 60 seats with a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) license for 48. It usually hosts about 18 people, who enjoy the ample space and shade of its permanent sunroof, unlimited picnic lunch, and refreshments. For those who prefer a private excursion, the company also features the Innovation party, snorkel and scuba motorboat, USCG licensed for 25.
787-791-6195 (ESJ Towers), 787-791-9487 (Verdanza Hotel) or
787-253-8092 (Ritz-Carlton San Juan), www.castillotours.com
Located in Villa Marina, Barefoot IV is a 46-foot Gold Coast Catamaran USCG approved for 44 passengers. Daily trips include all snorkel gear and instructions and complimentary picnic lunches with soft drinks, piña coladas, and rum punch. The Barefoot is also available for private group charters—times can be adjusted according to the group’s needs. Sunset sails are available in Fajardo and special arrangements can be made for sunset cruises in the San Juan Harbor. Private charters can also include BBQ on the beach, DJ, beach games, watersports program, and team building.
787-887-8821 or 888-523-4511, www.snorkelpr.com
Sail to the paradise island of Icacos aboard the Spread Eagle II, a 51-foot SeaRunner Catamaran, USCG certified to carry 48 passengers. The Spread Eagle—docked at Villa Marina—features free brand-new snorkels for every passenger, instruction for beginner and intermediate snorklers, a premium sandwich buffet lunch, unlimited piña colada and rum punch (with or without rum), and a variety of soft drinks. The Spread Eagle II has a stairway that lowers at the front of the boat for easy access while at the island and the reef, a freshwater deck shower, sun and shade decks, and a bathroom/changing room.
787-860-3434 or 787-409-2485, www.eastwindcats.com
Sail from Puerto del Rey in the comfortable 78-passenger, 62-foot sailing catamaran East Wind to nearby cays and the Icacos marine reserve. Sip cool piña coladas and enjoy a sumptuous lunch buffet served in a shaded cabin area. Enjoy a water slide and eight-foot glass windows so even non-swimmers can enjoy viewing sea life. East Island Excursions can also custom-design a sailing experience to your specifications and can arrange for an exclusive “on the beach” dining service with tents, tables, chairs, and flatware or an elegant sit-down dinner aboard with table linens, flowers, and candles.
787-860-4401, 305-393-6600 or 787-409-2511, www.egbc.net
Erin Go Bragh Charters has been offering the very best sailing and snorkeling adventures aboard its 50-foot Gulfstar sailing-ketch since 1990. For more than two decades the charter company has provided personalized service and delicious meals to small groups, families, and individuals (up to six) of all ages (two months to 98 years), including a “world-famous” BBQ lunch. In 75% of the trips, some or all guests are repeat visitors. Also offered are romantic, sunset and full-moon dinner cruises plus overnight and longer-term charters sailing from Puerto Del Rey Marina in Fajardo.
787-717-6378 or 787-717-7259, www.saltydreams.com
Salty Dog is a 46-foot Hard Top Gold Coast Catamaran with a capacity for 42 passengers that has been hosting sail and snorkel trips from Villa Marina for eight years. After swimming, snorkeling, or combing the beach for seashells and treasures, passengers enjoy a buffet lunch with fresh locally baked bread, vegetables and relish tray, premium cold cuts, tuna salad, fresh tropical fruits, cookies, and its famous “pain-killers” and rum drinks. The boat is equipped with a stairway for easy access to the beach. Salty Dog also offers a sunset sail with snacks and drinks, departing at 5:30 p.m.
787-863-2821, 787-396-0995 or 787-412-9555, www.travelerpr.comDeparting daily from Villa Marina in Fajardo, the 48-passenger, 54-foot Traveler Catamaran sails to the beach of Icacos Cay and after lunch visits Lobos Cay reef. The trip includes snorkeling equipment, instruction, a salad bar buffet lunch (open for two hours), fruit, snacks, soft drinks, and “never-ending” piña coladas and rum punch made with world-famous Puerto Rican rum. The vessel also features a waterslide that small children especially enjoy. Ask about group, family and special combo rates for biobay, kayak, and rainforest tours.