Cayo Alcatracito is one of the many coral cays belonging to the legendary Gardens of the Queen. This remote archipelago, where a National Park was established in 1996, is one of the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. On the reef that stretches south of Cayo Alcatracito, you can snorkel with rays, sharks, barracudas and a vast array of colorful fish.

School of grunt at Cayo Alcatracito
Huge schools of grunt live on the sheltered side of the reef.

How to get to Cayo Alcatracito snorkeling spot

Cayo Alcatracito is located in the northern part of the Gardens of the Queen, in the Cayos Cinco Balas group, right next to Cayo Alcatraz Grande. It is a popular anchorage for boats visiting this part of the archipelago. To get there, you must book a liveaboard diving or snorkeling cruise in the Gardens of the Queen, or have your own boat.

Cayo Alcatracito snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Cayo Alcatracito

The reef is located more than 800m south of Cayo Alcatracito. It is a short dinghy ride from the caye or from the anchoring area.

Cayo Alcatracito snorkeling exploration

The snorkeling area covers the inner side of the reef which extends south of Cayo Alcatracito. The reef stretches for more than 2km.

There are shallow coral areas on the inner side of the reef, which then extend into large sand flats (↕2-4m). Damaged in the most exposed areas, the corals are in better condition in the deepest parts of the spot, where a nice diversity of sea sponges and sea fans can be found.

Spotted eagle ray at Cayo Alcatracito
Spotted eagle rays are commonly spotted on the shallow sandy flats.

Cayo Alcatracito’s underwater life is thriving: there is an incredible diversity of reef fish here, including several angelfish species (queen angelfish, gray angelfish), huge schools of grunt, trunkfish and snappers. But it is the abundance of big fish that make this spot a true snorkeling paradise. Several species of rays (including the spotted eagle ray, the Southern stingray and the yellow stingray), but also huge barracudas and nurse sharks can easily be spotted on the reef and the surrounding sandy flats.

Nurse shark at Cayo Alcatracito
Many nurse sharks call Cayo Alcatracito’s reef home.

Restaurants and accommodation

There are no hotels nor restaurants in the National Park. Cruises in the archipelago are full board.

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Jardines de la Reina
  • Maximum depth6m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsDiving/snorkeling liveaboard cruise costs (you can also come with your own boat)

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.