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Recently I decided to spend my vacation in Puerto Rico for the first time ever. I happened to book this during the week that Hurricane Dorian was passing through the Caribbean, but fortunately, it passed right on by. Whew! So my arduous trek becomes your fortune because during my trip to Puerto Rico, in September 2019, I blazed a trail to Cayo Icacos and traced all of my steps. Which I now pass along to you!
As a quick note, for those who are worried that the beaches may be in ruins after Hurricane Maria, from what I saw, they are doing just fine. And in this article, you will see some current pictures I took just this summer during my trip.
While I was searching for routes and instructions on how to get to Cayo Icacos online, to my surprise, I had to piece together information from various outdated articles. Unfortunately, most of those directions turned out to be totally wrong and outdated!
Maybe a lot has changed after the hurricane hit, but either way, I couldn’t even find a clear picture of how to get to Cayo Icacos from Puerto Rico’s own official website! Furthermore, I couldn’t even find mention the Cayo Icacos Island on Puerto Rico’s tourism website! What gives?
So, to help out my fellow travelers and tourists, I put together this list with the most current and accurate directions, along with a few travel tips. These are all the steps you need to know to get to the beautiful Cayo Icacos island and have an amazing trip!
For those who are familiar with Puerto Rico, you can get to Cayo Icacos by taking a water taxi or boat charter ride from the docks of Las Croabas in Fajardo. These rides are about 15-20 minutes long and normally launch every 30 minutes to an hour. These docks are a 60-minute drive from San Juan or a 2.5-hour drive from Aguadilla by car.
For those who need the step by step directions, here you go:
1. Rent a Car! Don’t waste money on taxis.
If you are wondering “Should I rent a car in Puerto Rico?” Yes, if you are planning to go beyond the local areas and travel around the state to remote locations like Cayo Icacos, Yunque Rainforest, Vieques, or any other popular tourist destinations. It doesn’t matter which airport you arrive in because none of them are close to where you need to be to get to Cayo Icacos by public transportation.
Wondering “How to rent a car in Puerto Rico?” Well, you can easily find all of the common car rental agencies just beyond the San Juan airport exits. Here you can find some pretty cheap and competitive prices running anywhere from $35 per day and up in prices. So shop around.
If you decide to go ahead and get an Uber you would likely end up paying an arm and a leg for long distances. If you get a private driver it would be a similar situation, unless of course you are a baller and that’s just how you roll. So I highly recommend that you rent a car. And don’t worry much about toll roads, which are only a couple of dollars here and there, unless you want to minimize driving time. Use the drive to see the sights and stop by some of Puerto Rico’s great local restaurants!
Bonus advice: If you come in by San Juan’s airport, you are looking at about a 1-hour drive to the boats that go to Cayo Icacos Island. If you come in from Aguadilla airport, I’d book a hotel in the Fajardo area because now you’re talking about a long drive!
2. Avoid Fajardo Port. There are NO ferries there to Cayo Icacos!
Yes, you heard me correctly. Despite what you heard from the various outdated pages online saying that you can sail from Fajardo port, there are no ferries that go to Cayo Icacos island. The port that did have ferries was closed and moved to Ceiba. Now Fajardo port is limited to commercial charters.
Don’t be like me and waste your time driving there only to be turned away by the one lonely security guard that is posted there to protect the chained up gates. There are absolutely no passenger boats here or staff of any kind to even help you get to the right place!
3. Go to the docks of Las Croabas, Fajardo
Forget the port of Fajardo. Forget the idiots at Ceiba Ferry port who didn’t tell me that my ferry to Vieques arrived until after it left. You need to get to the town of Las Croabas in Fajardo! Here you will find many easy options for Water Taxis and private catamarans available for rental to get you over to the islands of Cayo Icacos and even others like Culebra and Palomino islands.
Here is a custom google map with driving directions from Aguadilla and San Juan airports to Las Croabas.
Here is a picture of the road when driving into Las Croabas.
Curious about my horrible experience at Ceiba port? Here’s the story in my Yelp Review:
4. Find free parking near the docks of Las Croabas
Once you arrive on the strip near the docks, you can find free street parking if you turn to your right just off the main road. Here you can also find public bathrooms with outdoor showers behind them. There are a few restaurants in the area that are convenient but are pricey.
5. Choose a Water Taxi or Boat Charter
Once you are in Las Croabas you have your choice of many different water taxi options, and probably some private charter boats or catamarans. The prices of water taxis are generally $25 per person. Boats generally leave every 30-60 minutes, and the ride is about 15-20 minutes. Private charters are on your schedule!
After looking through reviews online, it seems all of these water taxis have very nice crews, the same prices, and good service. Some also offer different add-on options for beach equipment like umbrellas and snorkels. I read somewhere that some even have food packages. I just so happened to use Captain Mingo, and it worked out great, which is much more than I can say for my horrible experience at Ceiba Port. (If you want to know my Ceiba Port horror story and how their idiotic staff ruined my planned trip to Vieques, check out my Yelp review here. )
Here is a custom google map that I made with a list of the water taxis in Las Croabas, Fajardo.
6. Reserve a water taxi or boat charter, or just show up.
Now it is the safe play to call ahead and make reservations with one of the water taxis or boat charters. This will guarantee you a seat at the time you want to depart and also this may be best if you travel here during a busy season. In my case, I was lucky enough to show up just when the boat was being boarded, and the captain let me and my girlfriend on board.
Perhaps it was luck or the slow season, or he just wanted to make an extra buck. Whatever the reason was, it just showed me that you don’t have to book ahead unless you want to have a strict agenda and timeline.
There are many water taxi services in this area so if you don’t find availability on one, the odds are in your favor to find space on another. Wondering how long the ride is to Cayo Icacos? The ride is about 15-20 minutes long by water taxi, and there are no stops along the away. If you take a private charter, you can request stops along the way for some recreational swimming in the ocean.
Wondering how often water taxis arrive for pickup and drop-offs? Water taxis tend to come to pick up or drop off new passengers every 30 minutes to an hour. They will tell you the schedule when you board, and you can choose what time you want to be picked up. A stay on the island is generally in 4-hour increments.
Wondering when does the last boat arrive for pick up and drop-offs? The last passenger drop-offs are generally around 4 PM. The last pickups are before the sun sets, generally between 5 PM – 6 PM.
The water taxi captains are pretty flexible so you can just tell them when you want to return and they will try to squeeze you in if there is space. If you are not sold on the idea of sharing a ride or want a more VIP experience, here are the main differences between a private charter and a water taxi to help you decide:
Private Charter Facts
1. The private charter is all yours for your entire stay on the island. This is ideal if you are with a large group or willing to pay the premium.
2. The boat will sit with you by the shore of the island, allow you to blast party music, and may have drinks, etc. I recommend buying your own drinks rather than pay a markup on the boat.
3. This boat is on your schedule. It will come and go with you according to your preference. But the last departure time will likely still be before sunset as the water taxis’ are.
Water Taxis Facts
1. Water taxis are small and packed to capacity with guests. So it’s good to make some new friends. Not so good if you hate humans.
2. Water taxis drop off and pick up guests on their own set schedule. So be sure to check with your captain.
3. Water taxis are the cheaper and less luxurious option. It’s not fancy, but it’s only a 15minute ride, who cares.
7. Bring the Essentials! Cayo Icacos is an Uninhabited Island.
Cayo Icacos is an uninhabited island with absolutely no facilities on it, as you can see in my picture below. That means there are no vendors, restaurants, bathrooms, or showers! They don’t even have garbage cans, so please clean up after yourself.
So that you can be more prepared than I was, here is a quick list of 10 recommended items that you should definitely bring on your visit to Cayo Icacos:
Bonus: 10 recommended items
1. Food, and plenty of it to last for your entire visit.
2. Plenty of water.
3. A beach umbrella for the strong sun. (There aren’t any trees to hide in the shade under, you will get a sunburn.)
4. Water Shoes for the rocky areas.
5. Beach Towels.
6. Snorkel gear. (There are plenty of fish to see if you find yourself a quiet area where the boats aren’t docked.)
8. Waterproof speakers. (There were other boats when I arrived playing loud music, so feel free to bring your own!)
9. Lots of sunblock.
10. Beach toys. (Unless you just like to lay on the beach and snorkel, you might get bored.)
8. Find great areas to snorkel down the shore.
From what I saw, Cayo Icacos is a good beach to snorkel on, but perhaps not the best. If you are looking for huge fish and turtles, I hope you can find them because I couldn’t. However, I explored a few different areas and found some fishies hiding away amongst some of the more rocky areas on the far end of the beach as you can see in the pictures below. This is likely because these areas would be treacherous for boats to dock at and scare away the fish.
So there you have it. This is the most current and complete firsthand directions to Cayo Icacos that you will currently find online. If anything changes please feel free to let me know and I will update.
If this article helped you out, please share this article, drop a comment, and/or tag me in your awesome photos on IG! Not only will I get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but I’ll also write more articles like this!
Enjoy your trip, my friend!