Near the heart of Old San Juan along Puerto Rico’s north shore is the Escambron Marine Park. This protected bay near the Caribe Hilton is a shallow dive with an average depth of twenty feet but provides a unique diving experience. Visibility is typically under ten feet but can average between fifteen to twenty feet in the summer months. Scuba Dogs, a full-service PADI dive shop, is located directly on-site and has a full line of rental gear, offers guided dives, and provides training.
The marine park faces northeast and has a soft sandy beach entry. There are several dive profiles. However, the two typical dives include checking out the swim-throughs and caves of Labyrinth Reef outside the bay and staying in the protected confines of “La Pocita” Bay looking for green sea turtles, investigating the statues of Atlantis, and keeping a keen eye out for seahorse.
Escambron Marine Park offers a unique scuba diving experience near the heart of Old San Juan.
Guarded by a ruined and crumbling Fish Protection Wall, “La Pocita” Bay has a maximum depth of twenty feet and is typically calm even when the seas outside the wall are breaking. This shallow dive allows for an extended bottom time, provides an excellent confined water area for dive training, and is home to numerous submerged structures. Pocita Beach, in the south corner of the bay, allows for easy entry. The sandy beach is accessed by descending a few concrete stairs, where the gentle waves within the bay roll onshore. A short swim to the north leads directly to Atlantis, an area worth spending some time exploring. The central portion of Atlantis is composed of a stack of Doric columns that create an intriguing fish habitat in twelve feet of water. Rising out of the sandy bottom, near the columns, are several statues and large vases.
Protected by a ruined and crumbling Fish Protection Wall, “La Pocita” Bay includes several points of interest that are worth exploring including Atlantis and the artficial A-frame reefs.
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A few yards from Atlantis, in twenty feet, are a series of large A-frame structures. These structures, composed of a square latticework upon a cinderblock base, make a nice home for numerous reef fish, including Sergeant Majors, Chubs, and Porkfish. The largest A-frame structure is in the shape of a small boat. Continuing to the northeast, just outside the Fish Protection Wall, is an area known as Taino Reefs. This area is home to over 200 man-made reef balls. The large hollow concrete balls with circular openings sit in twenty feet of water on a sandy bottom and form another habitat for reef fish. Back inside the bay, near Escambron Beach along the northern edge, is an area known as the Sea Weed Forest. This shallow area has a sandy bottom covered in seagrass and is the perfect place to spot green sea turtles. Circling back south to Pocita Beach, it’s worth checking out Snorkel Reef. Sitting in just five feet of water, this reef is home to several types of juvenile reef fish. Keen observers may also find the random seahorse. Ending the dive is as easy as exiting the water at Pocita Beach.
The dramatic rock formations, along with the potential for a manatee encounter, make Labyrinth Reef a genuinely unique dive. Starting this dive is the same as diving “La Pocita” Bay with an entry along the sandy Pocita Beach. A short surface swim out past Snorkel Reef, and a short descent in twenty feet of water near the Fish Protection Wall is a great way to start the dive. The Fish Protection Wall is worth investigation as it’s home to numerous reef fish, including Porcupinefish. Turning to the northeast and heading out past the Fish Protection Wall provides an opportunity to investigate several of the manmade reef structures at Taino Reefs. Keeping a keen eye out for green sea turtles, follow the jagged rock formations along the shoreline past the Hilton Pier to the Caves and Caverns.
The dive profile past the Fish Protection Wall provides a unique opportunity to explore the rocky shoreline with dramatic formations, overhangs, and swim-throughs.
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At an average depth of 23 feet, the area known as the Caves and Caverns does not disappoint. Here the rocky shoreline is composed of dramatic formations with overhangs, swim-throughs, and openings that can be explored with good buoyancy and relative ease. The breaking surf on the rocks overhead causes the light to dance as is shines through numerous cracks and fissures. Look carefully for spiny lobsters hiding within the rocks amongst the sea fans and soft corals.
To complete the dive, circle back through the formations towards the Fish Protection Wall and exit at Pocita Beach.
Escambron Marine Park is a dive site that offers a lot of diversity. From the ruins of Atlantis to the swim-throughs of Labyrinth Reef, it’s a must for any diver in Old San Juan.
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1/16/2021 3:00 PM
Dive Site ForecastDiving conditions are expected to be good. The forecasted water temperature is 80℉ with slight wave action out of the northeast and winds at 9 MPH from the east.