Fajardo Puerto Rico has grown from a sleepy fishing village into one of the most full-service yacht-friendly destinations in the Caribbean. It’s no wonder. The city’s location on Puerto Rico’s east coast is particularly scenic plus it’s the perfect jumping-off point to explore the U.S. commonwealth’s off-shore islands of Culebra and Vieques as well as the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. What’s more, Fajardo is today the hub of the islands recreational boating sector and home to every service a cruiser could desire.
“Transients on everything from sailboats to large motor yachts are finding that Fajardo Puerto Rico is a great destination,” says Carol Fernandez owner of Atlantic Canvas located at Puerto del Rey, the Caribbean’s largest marina with 1,100-slips. “There are many marine services, haul-out facilities, a hurricane tie down yard, flight access to San Juan, major grocery stores, medical facilities, hotels that range from the high end El Conquistador to bed-and-breakfasts and lots of restaurants. San Juan is just a one-hour drive away where there is an international airport, major hotels, shopping and many visitor attractions.”
Drilling down to more detail on the marine scene, there is not one but over seven marinas in the Fajardo Puerto Rico area and they collectively cater to all types of boats and boaters. One of these, the 282-slip Sunbay Marina, has been appointed as an official cruising station for the Seven Seas Cruising Association.
Olga Perez, Sunbay Marina owner, says, “Our friendly staff is trained to assist yachters and to provide any information that might be needed. We even welcome—and are more than pleased—to help sailors anchored at nearby Isleta Marina.”
Chandleries abound in Fajardo and include Industrial Marine, Martinez Marine, the Skipper Shop and West Marine. The Fajardo West Marine is one of the largest chandleries in the Caribbean and, at 16,000-square-feet, is full of merchandise, parts and accessories for the yachting lifestyle.
Pedro Monge, West Marine store manager, says there are plenty of things to see and do offshore or onshore in Fajardo. “Icacos, Palominos, Palominitos and Medio Mundo are small uninhabited islands off the coast with clear calm waters excellent for snorkeling and any other watersport. Nearby on land, there is the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, the El Yunque rain forest and beautiful beaches like at Luquillo.”
Las Cabezas de San Juan is a 445-acre reserve that showcases incredibly diverse ecosystems. Take a guided tour over two-miles of trails and boardwalks through the mangrove forest. Kayak the bioluminescent bay at sunset or at night. Visit the historic El Faro de Fajardo, or Cape San Juan Lighthouse, Puerto Rico’s oldest lighthouse built in 1880. There’s an information center and observation deck with views that span to El Yunque. This is the only tropical rainforest in the National Forest System. There is a visitor’s center, nature and hiking trails, waterfalls and cool river pools and places to picnic. Luquillo Beach is located a half hour drive north from El Yunque. This is one of the prettiest beaches in all of Puerto Rico with a mile-plus of white sand bordered by rows of majestic coconut palms. Nearby, the Luquillo Kiosks are a great place to sample local fare on the weekends. Row after row of open-air huts offer delicacies such as conch salad, skirt steak topped mofongo (fried mashed green plantain), seafood paella, bacalaítos (salt cod fritters) and empanadillas (fried meat pies).
There is something else that boaters can find in Fajardo beyond the marine services and majestic sites, says West Marine’s Monge. “We have friendly people to make sure cruisers have a good time and enjoy their visit to our island.”