Life’s a Beach in Puerto Rico
If you’re seeking a beautiful beach to spend your vacation time on, you need to look no further than the beaches of Puerto Rico. Besides the spacious beaches that run along the tourist area of Isla Verde, there are countless others that offer a more secluded atmosphere. You can spend your time at one of the hundreds of beautiful beaches that surround the island enjoying cabanas, beach umbrellas, or lounging in the sun.
I will start our exploration of the beaches in Puerto Rico from our home base in Fajardo and move around the island from the beaches on the southern part of the island to those on the east and northern coast.
Seven Seas Beach
Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo is famous for its crystal clear water, facilities for people with disabilities, camping area, BBQ, facilities for RVs or campers. There is a coral reef some distance from the beach, making a natural wave break. This makes for a nice protected beach, with calm waters that the whole family can enjoy.
Only minutes from Fajardo are some of the most popular beaches on the island and for many reasons.
Luquillo Beach has all the facilities necessary for a perfect day at the beach: showers, kiosks, parking, gazebos, camping area and facilities for people with disabilities. Its spacious coast faces a crystalline and peaceful sea where you can practice sports and aquatic exercises. The beach is surrounded by vegetation and provides shade for all its visitors.
This beach is one of the four beaches in Puerto Rico under the Blue Flag classification. The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards for water quality, safety, environmental education and information.
A few steps from the beach you will find the famous area of kiosks with Caribbean goodies that will delight your palate.
Playa Los Machos
Not far from Fajardo in the town of Ceiba, on the old Roosevelt Roads Naval Base is the white sand beach, Los Machos. This is a “natural beach” — meaning it has seaweed and sea grass in places. I didn’t find this beach all that appealing compared to many other beaches in Puerto Rico and there’s not much to see besides a pier, some fishing boats, the ocean, and a small bar and grill that was closed while we were here. The waters can be pretty rough and it’s not generally recommended to swim here.
Playa Medio Mundo
Just a short distance from Playa Los Machos is Medio Mundo. At the south end of the parking lot is a mangrove forest with rustic paths leading into it. At the south end of the Los Machos parking area are some mangrove trees and a path that leads to a hidden beach… Playa Medio Mundo, which is one of the properties managed by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.
Just south and a little east of Fajardo along the coast, near Naguabo is Hucares Beach with its authentic Puerto Rican vibe permeating the casual outdoor eateries and funky little shops that compete with the water for your attention. Locals sell ice out of trucks, and the heavy base of reggaeton music beats from the windows of passing cars.
Parque Nacional Balneario Punta Santiago is a government-run beach in Humacao that has been abandoned by the government. It is in disrepair and in need of serious maintenance. Just a little north on route 3 is Playa Punta Santiago, a promontory that juts into the jade waters of the Caribbean Sea. Off its tip is Cayo Santiago (aka Monkey Island), a small islet inhabited only by Rhesus monkeys. This is a public beach, with no facilities nor lifeguards, but it is a nice beach. There is an open area along the road, where you can pull your car in under the coconut trees to park, and then enjoy the views and a small sandy beach area.
Continuing west along Hwy 3 is another of several beaches near Naguabo, PR: Tropical Beach. Naguabo is said to be the place where ‘pastelillo de chapin’ was first created. The food, which is popular throughout the country, features trunkfish wrapped in flour dough which is then deep-fried into a tasty treat. You can sample this delightful dish at virtually any seafood restaurant on the island.
You’ll find remote coves and broad stretches of open beach, white coral, cozy guesthouses and huge luxury resorts throughout this area.
Further west, near the intersection of Hwy 901 and Hwy 9911 you’ll find Lucia Beach with its great shade under coconut trees and several little beach bar-restaurants along the route. El Cocal is one of the few good surfing spots in the area.
Punta Tuna Beach
This beach near Maunabo is natural — there are no facilities, lifeguards, nor maintenance done to the beach. Even so, it’s a very pretty beach, with a wide sandy area.
The beach is posted as a no swimming beach because the swift currents make the water unsafe. But it is great for sun bathing and long walks.
Caribe Playa Beach
Continuing west along Hwy 3, Caribbean sea breezes, sand, and palm trees.., located right on the Caribbean Sea in a pristine corner of Puerto Rico’s southeast coast, Caribe Playa Beach is nestled in a secluded cove where the mountains’ rainforest slopes down to touch a crescent-shaped beach on the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Caribe Playa Beach is within 12 mi (20 km) of Lucia Beach and Maunabo Lighthouse. Palmas del Mar Beach and Carite State Forest are also within 25 mi (40 km).
Boquerón is a beach village located in the city of Cabo Rojo in the southwestern part of the island. Boquerón beach (Balneario de Boquerón) is a public beach and resort managed by the Puerto Rican government. It is rated as one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico along with Luquillo Beach. The beach was awarded Blue Flag Beach status by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Venturing north along the Puerto Rican west coast is Rincon where you’ll find some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. Domes Beach is named for the dome of the old nuclear plant. It is being converted into a Science Center and Museum – so don’t worry about any rays emitted from the dome – but bring plenty of sun screen if you plan to spend a day on the beach!
Sandy Beach is the main beach in one of the most popular and lively neighborhoods in Rincon where you’ll find great restaurants, bars, hotels, guest houses, vacation rentals, apartments and villas. Perhaps most appealing about Sandy Beach is the absence of reef and rocks on the ocean floor, giving this beach its welcoming name and makes it a perfect hangout for families with young children.
Sandy Beach was home to the first World Championship of Surfing, held back in 1968. Since then, surfers, beginners and experts alike, have flocked from all over the world to try their hand at the Sandy Beach breaks in Rincon Puerto Rico.
Playa La Ruina
Near the city of Aguadilla, you’ll find Playa La Ruina (sometimes known as Playa Ponderosa) adjacent to Playa Borinquen, a soothing carpet of fine sand – the water is ideal for swimming in the summer. Atop the beach is the abandoned Borinquen Point Lighthouse.
La Poza del Obispo
La Poza del Obispo (Bishop’s Pool) beach is located adjacent to the Arecibo Lighthouse on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. It has a calm spot for swimmers “the posita” where you may float, swim, or simply stand around, and another area for surfing, and is therefore considered a fun beach for youth and family. This swimming area is created by an opening in some large limestone outcroppings, which act as natural wave breaks. It creates some amazing sprays of water when the waves crash over these huge rocks.
Playa La Boca
There are a few beaches in Puerto Rico that have black sand, and this one called Playa La Boca is located in the Barceloneta/Manati area on the north coast. Playa La Boca is easy to get to — it is just a few steps off the road.
This black sand beach runs westward from the river mouth for a really long way, where is gradually gets lighter in color until it is beige again. The black sand ranges in areas from smooth powdery to rough grains.
Because this beach is close to the mouth of a river, a lot of natural debris and silt come down and into the water when it rains in the mountains. That means that you should expect to find a lot of debris on the beach.
Mar Chiquita Beach
Mar Chiquita is a small cove of a beach protected from the rough Atlantic by a rocky wall. This picture-perfect beach, located in the town of Manatí, is not always good for swimming, but it is always beautiful. This cove is an almost perfect horseshoe shape, hemmed in by jagged arms of coral on both sides and lined with a silky strip of sand. The water here is calm and perfect for swimming in summer, though in winter bigger waves surge through the narrow gap into the lagoon.
Los Tubos gets some heavy surf in winter, while for the week of July 4 the beach plays host to the International Playero Los Tubos de Manatí Festival, featuring a series of concerts by well-known artists from Puerto Rico and all over Latin America. Its sand is very heavy and has a beautiful tone. It is excellent for surfing, because its waves break in both directions: left and right.
Another beach located on the north coast, in Vega Baja, about 45 minutes west of San Juan, is Balneario Puerto Nuevo. The beach is golden sand and is protected from the violent northern swells by huge limestone rocks. At times the rock outcroppings offer some incredible views of water breaking above the rocks. The day I visited, there just was not much wave action.
Balneario Cerro Gordo is a really nice government-run beach in Vega Alta, along the northern coast, with all of the amenities that anyone could ask for. It is just 45 minutes from San Juan. The sand is groomed, so the beach looks inviting to lay down a towel and enjoy. The beach area is crescent-shaped, and offers great photo ops looking in either direction. Besides the LONG stretch of light beige sand, it has a large strip of palms and other trees that provide shade, and with picnic tables scattered throughout. The water is clear, and natural rock formations on the east end make a great wave blocker, so the water is usually calm.
The Balneario Punta Salinas, located on the northeast coast not too far from San Juan is a beautiful beach in the town of Toa Baja. This beach is great to spend the day swimming, running, kayaking, basketball or volleyball. It is situated on an islet — one protected side for swimming, and the other side has rough water but with great views of Old San Juan.
Just outside of San Juan on the northeast coast along Hwy 187 between Piñones and Loiza are beaches easily accessible from the road. Just pull of into one of the openings and you’ll be right on the beach. You’ll also want to stop at one of the many food kiosks along the side of the road for some yummy fried foods.