You can get to the island by taking a short ferry ride from Guanica or if you're feeling adventurous, you can rent a canoe or a kayak for the day. Between my family and our friends, we had a total of 4 adults and 5 children. Our big group was able to kayak with the use of 1 triple and 3 double kayaks, with one adult per kayak. The views while kayaking out are spectacular. Most of the cays are not walkable because they are covered in masses of mangrove roots and being in a small boat enabled us to explore all sides of the cays. The kayak enabled us to explore the less crowded spots of the island and discover some pretty cool snorkeling spots. There are shore areas in various spots where you can park the kayak so you can get out and rest or snorkel (many shore areas are not large so you'll need to tether your kayak to a tree limb to keep it from floating away!). Kayaks can be rented at MaryLee's by the Sea.
There are two main snorkeling spots that we found at Gilligan's Island. If you're looking for shallow waters, then head to the far east side. There, you can park your kayak and explore clear waters filled with sea urchin, colorful fish, sea cucumbers, and puffer fish. We even spotted an octopus and a lion fish! This area was perfect for our kids because the water was shallow enough to stand in (wear water shoes and don't stand on or touch the coral! For more tips on snorkeling with kids click here). The first year we went, the water was really calm and we were able to see a lot. We didn't have as much luck the following year because there was a lot of wind kicking up the waves. Definitely pay attention to the weather and if you can, go out on a clear day with little wind.
On the far west side of the island there is a reef that you can swim out to. You'll need to park your kayak along the northwest side and then swim out. Getting to the reef requires a swim across a pretty strong current in water that is about 20 ft. deep. This isn't recommended for small children and it's best to wear a life vest and fins because the current is quite strong. However, it's worth the trouble to get out to this reef. There is a lot of sea life to see once you make it past the current.
This is a popular spot for locals, especially on the weekends after a long week at work. If you're looking for fewer crowds, plan to visit on a weekday. There is no drinking water on the island so you'll need to bring your own. Food and drinks are allowed (we packed coolers in our kayaks) and there are shaded areas, BBQ pits, composting toilets (bring your own toilet paper) and trashcans (just remember to Leave No Trace before you leave). The sandy areas are great for sunbathing and the shallow waters are perfect for cooling down or for the kids to swim in. There is a strip of water that runs between in the middle of the cays with a gentle current, which is fun to float on. Tip: Stay away from the mangrove roots in the water because that's where the jellyfish like to hide out. We learned this the hard way :)
For more information about Isla de Gilligan, click here.