There are many reasons to travel to Puerto Rico–the food, the history, the nightlife, the rum, the sexy people–but it’s the island’s seductive beaches that arguably attract the most people. Puerto Rico is part of the Great Antilles, meaning it’s big. With an area of 3,515 square miles, the island has nearly endless opportunities for you to escape to a relaxing swath of sand. But if you’d like to spend your time wisely and hit some of the best beaches Puerto Rico has to offer, then here is a list that will put you in Castaway bliss.
Isla Verde Beach – San Juan
In my opinion, Isla Verde is the finer of the two San Juan metro area beaches. The hotels and restaurants are a little swankier, there are more dancing palm trees, and Isla Verde’s status as the prime playa in San Juan tends to attract a good people watching scene.
For some extra fun, check out the The Beach House. This tiny boutique hotel hosts some of the hottest weekend parties in the city, with dancing in the sand/under the stars extending ‘til hours often referred to as “wee”.
Flamenco Beach – Culebra
Flamenco Beach is on the small island of Culebra, about 17 miles off the east coast of the Puerto Rican mainland. You can fly into Culebra’s small airport or take the 90-minute ferry ride departing from Fajardo, on Puerto Rico’s eastern shore. It takes a little extra effort to get to, but it’s well worth it. Once you get there you’ll find a horseshoe-shaped bay and a mile-long sugar white beach. The crystal-clear waters create ideal conditions for snorkeling. If you walk along the shore to your left you’ll come upon abandoned U.S. Army tanks slumped in the sand. For decades, Culebra was used for military exercises. This was stopped in 1975 due to protests by environmentalists. Amenities at Flamenco Beach are on the basic side; there are showers and bathrooms, as well as kiosks renting beach equipment and serving cold drinks and snacks.
Playa Puerto Nuevo – Vega Baja
Located on the north coast, in Vega Baja, about 45 minutes west of San Juan, Play Puerto Nuevo is special for different reason. It has an enormous rock formation that acts as a natural barrier protecting the sandy shore from large rolling Atlantic waves. These rocks make for 2 types of water fun. First, there is a nice natural pool that is gently filled and flushed constantly with the wave action. The water in this pool is almost always calm. It is shallow on the edges and deeper in the middle. Second, there is the beach on the left that is open to the ocean, however one side is a cove protected by the limestone rocks. Go to the west (left) for more wave action.
Playa Sucia – Cabo Rojo
Don’t let the name of this beach fool you (Sucia means dirty), the waters are clean and warm and the sand is white and soft. Dramatic scenery, gorgeous water colors, natural bridges, an attractive lighthouse on the island, and hidden caves–Playa Sucia on Puerto Rico’s west coast is quiet and uncrowded most of the year.
If you stay on the coastal highway going east from San Juan, you’ll soon reach Luquillo Beach. Luquillo Beach or sometimes called La Monserrate Beach, is one of the most popular beaches on the island and for many reasons. It has all the facilities necessary for a perfect day at the beach: showers, kiosks, parking, gazebos, and camping areas. Its spacious coast faces a crystalline and peaceful sea where you can practice sports and aquatic exercises. You will notice an impressive mountain to the West. It is the Puerto Rico’s largest tropical forest: El Yunque. The beach is surrounded by vegetation and provides shade for all its visitors. A few steps from the beach you will find a famous area of kiosks with Caribbean goodies that will delight your palate. This beach is one of the four beaches in Puerto Rico under the Blue Flag classification.
Crash Boat – Aguadilla
One of the best areas for surfing in Puerto Rico is the coastal area of Aguadilla, where professional surfers from all over the world flock to ride waves in beaches like Wilderness and Gas Chambers. Then there’s the star of this northwestern edge of the island, the beach curiously known as Crash Boat. The name came to be because it used to be a small US Navy port with a pier where rescue boats for downed airplanes would dock. The old pier still stretches out into the ocean, enjoyed by beachgoers as part of the scenery.
History aside, Crash Boat is now a peaceful spot better known for the abundance of colorful fishing boats strewn along its shore. Being a great locale for fishing, chances are you will run into local residents who make their living on the open waters of the Atlantic.
Kayaking and snorkeling are popular activities here and several businesses conveniently located right on the beach rent out the proper equipment for these and other water activities. Crash Boat’s south side, meanwhile, benefits from calmer waters perfect for wading and relaxing.
Playa de Ponce – Ponce
Set on the southern shore in the city limits of Ponce, Playa de Ponce features a wonderful boardwalk and several historic landmarks displaying rich colonial history and interesting architecture. Ponce Beach isn’t as popular for swimming, but it is a great spot to enjoy restaurants and a perfect sea view.