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Several reputable catamaran and yacht operators in Fajardo make excursions to the reefs and sparkling blue waters surrounding a handful of small islets just off the coast. Many of the trips include transportation from San Juan and transportation to and from San Juan-area hotels. Whether or not you're staying in Fajardo, if you take a day trip on the water, you'll see classic Caribbean scenes of coral reefs rife with sea life, breathtakingly clear water, and palm-fringed, deserted beaches. The day sails, with stops for snorkeling, include swimming breaks at deserted beaches and picnic lunches. Most of the craft are outfitted for comfort, with quality stereo systems and full-service bars. Many competent operators offer a nearly identical experience, so your selection will probably be based on price and which operators serve your San Juan hotel, or which operate out of the marina in Fajardo that you are visiting. Prices range from $55 to $95; price is affected by whether you join a trip in San Juan or in Fajardo and by what is included in the cost. Ask if extras, such as picnic lunches and a full-service bar, are included. They are quickly becoming standard features.
East Island Excursions. At East Island Excursions catamarans ranging in size from 45 feet to 65 feet take you offshore for snorkeling. Two of the catamarans are powered, and this cuts down tremendously on the travel time to outlying islands. Trips include stops at isolated beaches and a lunch buffet. East Island Excursions can accommodate those who wish to see the bioluminescent bay on Vieques and return to the mainland on the same evening. Transportation to Vieques is included, as is dinner at a local restaurant. All craft are outfitted with swimming decks, freshwater showers, and full-service bars. These vessels are some of the plushest for day sails in the area. Marina Puerto del Rey, Rte. 3, Km 51.4, Fajardo, 00738. 787/860-3434 or 877/937-4386. www.eastwindcats.com.
Erin Go Bragh. The Erin Go Bragh III is a 50-foot sailing yacht based in Fajardo that takes groups of six or less on tours of the glistening waters and nearby islands. Known for delicious barbecue picnic lunches, snorkel and fishing equipment are provided. Overnight and longer charters are available for groups. Call for rates. Marina Puerto del Rey, Rte. 3, Km 51.4, Fajardo, 00738. 787/860-4401 or 787/409-2511. www.egbc.net.
Fajardo Tours. Leaving from Villa Marina, Fajardo Tours has a 54-foot sailing catamaran called the Traveler that delivers you to pristine coral reefs for an afternoon of snorkeling. There's the usual lunch buffet, a salad bar, and plenty of rum punch. Rates start at $70 for adults, $53 for kids 12 and under. Villa Marina, Rte. 987, Km 1.3, Fajardo, 00738. 787/863-2821. www.travelerpr.com.
Spread Eagle II. The Spread Eagle II is a 51-foot catamaran that heads out to isolated beaches on the islands off Fajardo. The trip includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited piña coladas. To top it off, you get a free snorkel to bring home. Sunset and moonlight cruises are also available. Puerto del Rey Marina, Rte. 3, Km 51.4, Fajardo, 00738. 787/887-8821 or 888/523-4511. www.snorkelpr.com.
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