What Is The Code For The 8 Off At Hotels.Com Snorkeling Desecheo: A Forbidden Island Off Rincon, Puerto Rico

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Snorkeling Desecheo: A Forbidden Island Off Rincon, Puerto Rico

Towering waves in the 12-mile corridor between Rincon, Puerto Rico, and an uninhabited island. Our submarine breaks the waves again and again, easily reaching the top of the indigo hills. We plan to dive just off the coast of Desecheo Island, a national wildlife refuge that was once home to smugglers and pirates, but is now home to a brown plover, three species of lizards, and a healthy introduced population. Rhesus monkeys.

Unfortunately, the island itself is off limits. It was used as a bomb site by the United States during World War II, and unexploded military ordnance now poses a safety hazard to visitors.

As we close the gap, Desecheo rises from the notoriously changing tides and strong currents of the Mona Passage. When its massive shoulders come into sharp view, we anchor forty feet away. I survey the shore, where the white water funnels up through the jagged rocks and tumbles onto land. There is something alluring about the mystery of a secluded place. I want to explore the wild hills. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to explore the bay, but even as I slip into my gear and take a giant step off the diving platform, I’m focused on the small beach that’s only a short swim away.

The water closes over my head, and for a moment I hang between the sky and the earth at the fish’s eye level in the zero-gravity world. Visibility is over 80 feet and it’s a cloudy day. Queen fish hover near the boat, perhaps hoping to share our sandwiches. They wave their slender fins like girls tossing their hair. After cleaning my snorkel, I lie face first in the water, watching a tropical fish dance and letting the sun’s warmth seep into my frame like Puerto Rican rum. Pink and blue parrotfish tango over the sand and striped sergeant cha-cha over limestone ledges. A butterfly fish greets me in a couple of salsa cascading spirals.

That’s when I notice a barracuda looking at me. Barracuda tend to swim close to the surface, and if they focus too much on the distant seabed, they lose their menacing presence. Mr. Flashy Teeth is at your fingertips. We look at each other for a long moment, then he wags his tail and disappears into the blue.

I allow myself to drift towards the beach. Submerged rocks rise below me and the surf slams into them and visibility drops to two or three feet. Even if it were safe to set foot on the island, reaching it would be treacherous. I was hoping to at least get close, but not today.

Resigned, I hit the current and head back to the safety of deeper water. Our guide invites everyone back to the boat anyway. Maybe one day I will set foot on the island of Desecheo. In the meantime, I must admit, the snorkeling in the sea is breathtaking. And I’m glad that in my longing to discover some unattainable horizons, I didn’t miss the wild encounter.

Information Please

AMENITIES

US citizens do not need a passport.

Puerto Rico uses US dollars.

English is widely spoken, although Spanish is the traditional local language.

Puerto Rico phone numbers can be dialed from US phones without an international code.

Cell phone coverage in the US is very good, especially along the coast. We didn’t need anything extra to use the mobile phone, and since we have a national plan, we didn’t even roam!

THE PROCEDURE

Fly into (BQN) Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla on the west side of Puerto Rico.

Desecheo is 13 miles up the coast from Rincon, a small surf town on the western tip of the island, 20 minutes from the airport.

Taino Divers is the only officially licensed dive shop in the waters around Desecheo. You can snorkel, scuba dive or try an exploratory diving lesson and dive with an instructor.

WHERE SHOULD WE STAY

Rincon offers everything from trendy resorts to budget hotels to private homes for rent.

WHERE CAN I EAT

You’ll find everything from a Spanish-style tapas bar to the famous Lazy Parrot Rum Shack, which has Reggae Night every Wednesday. We enjoyed lunch and watching the surfers at the Tamboo Seaside Grill

TO DO

Visit an art gallery.

Check out Rincon’s 8 miles of beaches, most of which are known for great surf, especially during the winter months.

Take surfing lessons.

Learn to sail.

Go deep sea fishing. Marlin, sailfish, swordfish, tuna, dorado, wahoo and shark are all waiting to tangle with you in the blue waters off Rincon’s Caribbean coast.

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