Puerto Rico is already a maritime hub in the Caribbean. Now, the U.S. flag island is ready to make its mark as the region’s first-ever full-service superyacht destination. In June, Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro García Padilla announced the development of Porta Atlantico San Juan, a marina and shipyard facility that will cater to international yachts ranging from 130- to 500-feet in length.
“A number of large yachts such as A (390ft), Luna (377ft) and Le Grand Bleu (371ft) are already coming to San Juan. In fact, visitation by large yachts to the Port of San Juan has increased 300 percent over the last three seasons,” says Paul Madden, chief executive officer of Madden Yachts, in Newport, RI, who teams as a large yacht consultant with Edgewater Resources and Puerto Rico-based venture capital firm, Advent Morro Partners, on this US $73 million development.
“We talked to the captains and managers and they confirmed that they wanted to have the same level of marinas and vessel services in the Caribbean that they would find in the Mediterranean or Florida. Over the last two years, we determined how we could achieve this level of facilities and service, and put together the team to develop and deliver this.”
The megayacht marina is located within the Bahia Urbana redevelopment next to Old San Juan, while the shipyard is situated on the over 40-acre former U.S. Navy base which has a graving dock capable of handling yachts 644ft (196m) in length with 81.6ft (24.8m) of beam. Madden says the first phase of the project, the marina, will open by the end of the year in time for the winter season. Limited dry dock services and wet dockside boat refit and refurbishing within the existing facility’s pier will also be available this season. Phase II calls for a hotel marina by 2020.
“Crews love Old San Juan because of its lively culture and welcoming people. When they have time off, they can head into the rainforest and mountains, or hop on a short flight to Florida. For owners, they can land their plane on Isla Grande within sight of their yacht, and if they arrive from U.S. there is no customs. Vessel managers can source whatever they need locally, or in Florida and have it immediately, without duties or customs. Most importantly, San Juan is a secure port with a U.S. Coast Guard base and good weather protection,” says Madden.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.