Cayo Icacos is a tiny, uninhabited island in Puerto Rico with perfect white sand beaches and some of the prettiest turquoise waters in the Caribbean. Its natural beauty and easily accessible location – just 1.5 miles off Puerto Rico's stunning east coast – make it a perfect day trip from either Fajardo or San Juan.

There is only one way to reach Cayo Icacos: by boat. You can choose between a water taxi or catamaran boat charter, but no matter which you choose, you're in for a short, scenic ride to one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico for swimming and snorkeling. Keep reading for info about getting to Cayo Icacos, what to bring, and what to expect once you're there.

Overhead view of the coastline of Cayo Icacos on the east coast of Puerto Rico, with clear-blue water and several boats anchored near the shore.

Cayo Icacos is surrounded by crystal-clear blue waters and white-sand beaches.

About Cayo Icacos

Cayo Icacos – often referred to as Icacos island – is the largest and most picturesque of the cays (little islands) that make up La Cordillera Nature Reserve off the northeast tip of Puerto Rico.

This popular weekend destination has a relaxing, unspoiled beach to lounge on and is surrounded by unbelievably clear blue waters hosting a diverse and abundant underwater life, making it an ideal snorkeling site. Prefer to have the beach to yourself? Look into booking a day trip to Cayo Icacos on a weekday.

Icacos is literally a deserted island and no camping is allowed, so day trips to the cay start early in the day. Most vessels anchor a few yards from Icacos’ main beach, framed by palm trees and sea grape bushes on one side and fringed with rocks dipping into the ocean on the other. Turquoise waves crash lightly against the white sand sprinkled with bits of seashells. It's a postcard-perfect location.

Getting to Cayo Icacos by Water Taxi

Water taxis depart from the Las Croabas neighborhood of Fajardo. There are multiple taxi services on site, and most charge around $50-$60 per trip. These small boats carry around 6-12 people and travel between Las Croabas and Icacos throughout the day, with the last boat returning at around 4 p.m. to ensure everyone is off the island by sunset. 

In some cases, you may be able to board without a reservation, but because of the small size of the boats some water taxi providers require advance bookings. It's best to do a little advance research and planning before heading to Las Croabas. Be sure to bring cash, as some taxi providers do not accept credit cards.

a sailboat idles near Icacos islet.

Icacos is the largest islet in the Cordillera Nature Reserve. 

Catamaran Boat Charters to Cayo Icacos

While a water taxi might be cheaper, booking a catamaran trip saves you the hassle of planning and overpacking. Snorkeling gear, refreshments, and food are all provided, so just remember to bring your towel, sunscreen, and a (waterproof) camera. 

Most catamaran charters depart from either Marina Puerto del Rey or Villa Marina, which are just south of Las Croabas. Companies like East Island Excursions, Traveler, Salty DogSpread Eagle II, and Castillo Tours, among others, depart around 9 a.m. and return after 3:00 p.m. Most hotels offer transportation to either marina Puerto del Rey or Villa Marina, so plan accordingly.

As you sail to your destination, sit back and enjoy the ocean breeze and the view of Fajardo’s coastline slowly getting smaller and smaller. Crew members may offer some soft drinks and fruit on the way.

Once at Icacos, wait for the crew’s instructions to get off the boat. Pro tip? The most fun way to disembark is via the waterslide! Once anchored, you can go for a leisurely swim, put on your snorkeling gear and explore the reefs, or walk on stretches of white-sand beach that surround the island.

More Snorkeling Destinations Around Puerto Rico

Getting hungry? Swim back to the boat and help yourself to the lunch buffet the crew has laid out. Build your sandwich with pan de agua, sliced meats, cheese, and veggies. Sandwiches are usually accompanied by a side of coleslaw, pasta salad, chicken or bean salad, cookies, and chips. Wash down your lunch with a sweet piña colada, rum punch, soda, or juice.

After lunch – depending on the weather conditions – the captain will sail to an offshore reef where you can best explore colorful corals, large schools of fish, stingrays, and more. If you don’t feel like getting wet again, take this time to enjoy the view and work on that suntan before setting sail back to mainland Fajardo.

What to Bring to Cayo Icacos

The first thing to know when preparing for a day trip to Cayo Icacos is that there are no facilities on the island. That means no bathrooms, no shelter, and no food or drink vendors.

If you opt for a water taxi, be sure to bring all the supplies you'll need for the day: food and water, sunscreen, towels, a hat, snorkel gear, and even a beach umbrella to protect you from the sun.

One of the benefits of booking a catamaran trip to Cayo Icacos is that most charters provide just about everything you'll need for your day trip. Still, it's a good idea to come prepared with sunscreen, a shirt or cover-up to put on over your swimsuit if you need a break from the sun, and some reading material if you plan on taking it easy.

Be Mindful of Your Environment

Whether you’re traveling by catamaran or water taxi, pay attention to the crew's instructions regarding the rip currents. Icacos does not have on-duty lifeguards, so it's recommended to swim with a buddy and use floating belts, which are available on the catamarans.

This is a natural reserve and one of Puerto Rico's natural treasures, so remember to keep the area clean and bring back everything you brought with you on the boat.