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Puerto Rico Beaches: The Ultimate Guide

November 8, 2018

Puerto Rico is packed with some of the most incredible beaches in the world, but it’s hard to narrow down which are the best. Worry not: here’s the ultimate guide to Puerto Rico beaches. You’re welcome, travelers. Any questions? Drop us a line.

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Greater San Juan

Puerto Rico’s capital city is known not only for its vibrant cosmopolitan charm but also for having some of the hottest beachfront in the country. Easily accessible and popular among travelers, San Juan beaches boast vacation vibes and beachy bliss.

San Juan is one of many Puerto Rico beaches

  • Isla Verde, Carolina: While Carolina is technically San Juan’s neighboring town (just a short walk up the beach), it’s got some of the best beaches in the San Juan area. They are:
    • El Alambique: The closest Isla Verde beach to San Juan proper, this is a great beach for pure hangin’ around—there are palm trees, umbrella and chair rentals, and food carts. Beach access is via neighboring hotels, so it’s street parking only for casual visitors.
    • Balneario Carolina: While many travelers will head to El Alambique, a true local will tell you that Balneario is where it’s at. This public beach is super clean and filled with amenities like bathrooms, parking lots, and picnic areas. It’s a much more local vibe.
    • Pinegrove Beach: Part of a beachfront hotel complex, Pinegrove is a great place to go to Puerto Rico if you’re looking to vacay at an oceanfront resort. Plus, the water is super calm.
  • Condado Beach: A sunbather’s paradise with great waves to boot, Condado Beach has a luxurious vibe that’ll make your most extravagant vacation dreams come true. Lined with five-star restaurants, casinos, and chic shops, it’s a great place to grab a piña colada and chill out.
  • La Playita del Condado: Just a stone’s throw from Condado Beach, this small lagoon-front beach boasts great views of San Juan’s skyline. Plus, the shallow water and small shore sit just feet away from an outdoor playground, making this small beach—playita—the perfect Puerto Rico destination for families.
  • Playa Peña: One of the only beaches in Old San Juan, this one is great for vacationers and explorers. Spend time relaxing on the secluded sand, just minutes outside the city, then check out the historical ruins and sea glass along the shore.
  • Playa El Escambrón: just outside of Old San Juan, this family-friendly beach is where the locals hang out. It's protected from the waves by a reef, and the calm, roped-off swimming area is watched by lifeguards. Go early in the morning to see elderly locals doing their daily tai chi on the sand and before cooling off with a swim.

Isla de Culebra

Isla de Culebra is one of many Puerto Rico beaches

This small island just off the east coast of Puerto Rico is breathtaking all around. A short and cheap ferry ride from Fajardo (or a 30-minute flight from San Juan) means that you can get to this wonderland in no time at all.

  • Flamenco Beach: World-renowned for breathtaking views of clear, blue water and pure white sand, Flamenco Beach is bound to break your Instagram. The Puerto Rican beauty saw some damage after Hurricane Maria, but it’s since been restored to its former glory. It’s been hailed by many publications as one of the best beaches in the world.
    • Bonus: Make sure to check out the rusted, graffiti-covered tanks that dot the beach—they’re relics from an old US military presence.

Flamenco Beach is one of many Puerto Rico beaches

  • Playa Tamarindo: Looking to get off the beaten path? Tripadvisor won’t tell you about this  hidden gem. Quiet and secluded, the waters at Tamarindo are extremely tranquil due to its surrounding reef—which also makes it an incredible place to snorkel. Experience marine life up close at Tamarindo Beach where stingrays and turtles are known to swim right up to people and practically pose for pics!
  • Zoni Beach: This beach boasts the beauty of Flamenco Beach with the silence of a tropical daydream. Located in a secluded area of Culebra Island, it’s beautiful and quiet, devoid of other travelers and a local favorite. Be aware, though, it lacks beachside facilities.

Vieques Island

Vieques Island is one of many Puerto Rico beaches

A larger island (also off the eastern shore of Puerto Rico proper), Vieques boasts some of the most unique beaches in the Caribbean—if not the world.

  • Playa Negra: Playa Negra—a black sand beach on the south end of Vieques—is the perfect place to hike, kayak, and explore. Packs of wild horses from Vieques’ inland countryside are also known trot and swim alongside travelers. How cool is that?
  • La Chiva: Nicknamed “The Blue Beach”, La Chiva definitely deserves a spot on your Puerto Rico bucket list. With crystal clear blue water and golden sands, there’s no question why.
  • Punta Arenas: Yet another color-named beach, Vieques’ “Green Beach” runs alongside the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Ask one of our expert travel planners how you can take a slow drive through the lush forest before hitting the beach.
  • Navio Beach: Navio Beach is home to small but mighty waves where you’ll find surfers and boogie-boarders in training. Or if you prefer, stay dry and hike through hidden caves and rock formations on the shore. There are activities here for every type of traveler!

The West Coast

Puerto Rico spans far and wide and there’s so much more to it than San Juan. We recommend exploring this country and heading “out west” to dip your feet into PR’s unique oceanfront oases.

Steps Beach is one of many Puerto Rico beaches

  • Gilligan’s Island: This can’t-miss Puerto Rico island is both crazy beautiful and family friendly. And while the kids may not get what the island is named after (yikes!), we can guarantee they’ll have fun learning to kayak, snorkel, or fish in its lush mangrove pools.
  • Sandy Beach: Located in Rincon, the Caribbean’s premier surf town, Sandy Beach is also home to Tamboo Tavern—which has been listed as one of the best beach bars in the world. We’ll cheers to that!
  • Steps Beach: Named for the random three steps situated on its sands, this shoreline is seemingly endless. Add a long, romantic walk on the beach to your Puerto Rico itinerary and stroll along this seemingly endless shoreline.
  • Playa Sucia: Ironically named (sucia is Spanish for “dirty”), this beach is not only extremely clean but full of foliage and the occasional critter as well. It’s also been consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean for years.


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