I had an immense amount of fun while in Puerto Rico. You see when I go on vacation it’s not for me to spend my days lounging on the beach every day. A vacation for me is an opportunity to immerse myself in the place I’m in, including the culture, food, natural attractions, and everything else that specific destination has to offer. I spent my days out and about, with only one day lounging most of the day at the pools and beach in my first Airbnb. So when my aunt suggested a day of swimming and diving at Charco Azul I was so ready. What is charco Azul? It’s a canyon surrounded by caves in the mountains with the river running through. A “charco” is a water source or river, so there are many charco’s in Puerto Rico.
Charco Azul is located in Vega Baja, a town in the northern part of Puerto Rico. You have to drive in very mountainous areas to get to it. So prepare yourself for that! Once you drive up the mountain, you have to walk up the rest of the mountain to make it to the actual Charco Azul. Now, this is a serious hike up a literal mountain, so I suggest sneakers or water shoes. I was smart enough to buy water shoes before I landed in Puerto Rico and they did a great job getting me to and from Charco Azul among other water attractions. You can pay a guide to drive you up the mountain, but we decided to walk, and although I was scared ( I don’t like walking or traveling on inclines), I’m glad we did. It made the experience that much more memorable.
Once you make it to the charco the land is flat and you can walk right into the water. There was a “shoreline” that allowed people to sit if they didn’t want to go in the water. Although the water is normally azul (blue) that day it wasn’t because of a rainstorm the night before, but we didn’t let that stop us. At first glance, I thought the water was completely shallow, but it certainly is not. Once you swim further it is very deep with boulders under the water. To swim here, you have to be a good swimmer. A short swim led us to natural stairs within the walls of the canyon, at the top was a perfect spot to jump off and dive right into the water. Depending on how courageous or crazy you are you can jump from higher cliffs or lower ones. So after watching the guys in our group jump I was ready to be the first female in. Watch the videos to see the experience!
Where to Eat Nearby
Costa Azul in Manati (the next town over) was the restaurant we chose to eat before and after going to Charco Azul, and for good reason. The authentic Puerto Rican food there is delicious! It’s only around 30 minutes away from Charcol Azul so when you work up an appetite after cave diving, think about this spot!
Beach to See Nearby
After cave diving and eating dinner we wanted to see the sunset and we knew exactly where to take everyone. Mar Chiquita in Manati! We had started our day there and ending it there was something out of a movie because of its beauty. Mar Chiquita is exactly what it’s named a “Small Ocean” cove in the shape of a semi-circle. The shape is created by the surrounding rocks that stop huge waves from hitting the shore. So only smaller more tranquil water comes up to the sand. This is a location I was also grateful to have water shoes because the entrance to the water has slick rocks on which you can slip if you’re not careful. If you feel up to it like I did, you can climb the surrounding rocks to see the waves and the rest of the ocean.
I hope this post inspires you to go off the beaten path and be adventurous on your next trip to Puerto Rico! And please remember you’re vacation spot is someone’s home, please be respectful of it and its people as such. Would you cave dive? Let me know in the comments and on social media.-T.S.