Puerto Rico is a beach lover’s playground. There are over 300 beaches to enjoy year round and no two are alike. As travelers we understand the importance of your vacation. Before you book your hotel, please read through the guide, without proper planning you may end up disappointed. Our goal is to help you plan a beach vacation you’ll love, cherish, and may wish to repeat again. We have experienced Puerto Rico from a tourist, traveler and local perspective. We are not associated with any hotels, resorts or businesses, all our guides are based on our experiences and independent of any advertisements.
The diversity of beaches around the island is astounding. Puerto Rico offers beaches from untouched by development, to Miami style in the capital city of San Juan. Puerto Rico offers beaches with hotels, where guests can enjoy all the pleasures of a Caribbean vacation, without having to leave the property. In contrast, Puerto Rico possesses offshore islands, cays and islets with beaches unceasingly praised for their natural, quiet and uncrowded qualities.
The landscape of beaches around the island is very diverse across every region. Puerto Rico has beach coves perfectly framed by palm trees with turquoise waters, to beaches with dramatic landscapes on the north side protected by cliffs and rock walls. If you love water sports, you can do them all in Puerto Rico; from riding waves on world class surfing beaches to paddle boarding on calm waters.
Locals have their favorite beaches, but the needs of tourists and travelers are quite different. Most locals want a great beach with an authentic Puerto Rican atmosphere. The average family living on the island can do without many of the amenities, conveniences, services and conditions that most visitors come to expect. Tourists may prefer to stay at a beach with a hotel that offers water sports and services without leaving the property, while travelers typically prefer to drive around a destination in order to explore the less touristy beaches, learn about the culture and go where the locals go. Perhaps you’re a good mix of traveler and tourist like we are, we’ll create a beach guide for you too.
We’ll do our best to simplify your planning, by giving you an overview.
Beaches in the San Juan / Metro Area
The capital city of San Juan is the top popular tourist destination in Puerto Rico. San Juan has two beach destinations, Condado and Ocean Park. While the beaches in San Juan don’t possess the qualities of the more pristine beaches around the island, the variety of water sports such as swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, surfing, and windsurfing, make San Juan a popular beach destination.
Places to Stay on / near the beaches in San Juan:
- Condado offers luxurious beachfront hotels, and more affordable hotels just a few blocks away from the beach.
- Ocean Park has a more laid back feel with small inns and restaurants.
- In the neighbouring town of Carolina is the district of Isla Verde, with some of the most popular resorts on the beach.
Families with children who want to swim, consider staying at one of the beachfront hotels in Isla Verde’s Pine Grove Beach. In Condado, take a look at the Condado Plaza with easy access to La Playita del Condado or Caribe Hilton. Please keep in mind that if you rent a car, San Juan is a great home base location with easy access to more wonderful beaches around the island.
Best Beaches in Puerto Rico
With hundreds of beaches on the main island alone, visitors and friends often ask us, which are the best beaches in Puerto Rico? That’s a tough question, but from our own experience, visitor feedback and expert reviews, we have compiled a list of the best. Read our guide to the best beaches in Puerto Rico.
Best Snorkeling Beaches
The main island offers beaches, cays and islets with great snorkeling spots. The offshore islands of Vieques & Culebra are the best snorkeling destinations in Puerto Rico. Best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico.
Places to Stay with excellent snorkeling beaches:
Guanica – Stay at Copamarina, from there you can snorkel the Lajas / Guanica walls and offshore keys.
Best Beaches for Seclusion
If you prefer secluded beaches with untamed natural beauty, Puerto Rico has some of the best in the Caribbean. The offshore islands of Vieques & Culebra, give visitors the most seclusion, where you can spend full days beach hopping through nature reserves with miles of beaches untouched by development. If you drive a few hours from the capital city of San Juan, you’ll see a contrasting scene of more pristine beaches with few crowds or perhaps no one at all. The town of Isabela, Rincon, Cabo Rojo and Guanica have many beaches relatively empty on weekdays from August – April.
The most popular beaches among locals are called Balnearios, which literally translates to bathing places. Balnearios are government run beaches, they’re cleaned, monitored for water quality, with a variety of facilities and services. Balnearios are considered the best beaches for swimming in Puerto Rico, most of them are located in protected bays with designated swimming areas and lifeguards onsite. Puerto Rico participates in the Blue Flag program, many Balnearios win the coveted award year after year. The top 5 balnearios are: Balneario Escambron in San Juan, Balneario Monserrate (Luquillo Beach) in Luquillo, Balneario de Boqueron in Cabo Rojo. The other two are on the offshore islands: Balneario Sun Bay in Vieques, and Balneario Flamenco in Culebra.
Beaches in Vieques
With the opening of W Retreat & Spa, Vieques is the ultimate mix of luxury and old Caribbean. If you’re dream of intimate beach coves without crowds, where you can relax, swim and snorkel Isla de Vieques may be for you. Vieques is home to Sun Bay Beach, one of the top 5 Balnearios under the Puerto Rican flag. La Chiva (Blue Beach), has gotten much attention in the past few years, making it to the top lists of “Best Caribbean Beaches by Trip Advisor” and “Best Beaches in the World by Conde Nast Traveler. More about beaches in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.
West Coast Beaches – Porta del Sol
Beach lovers that prefer more of laid back and authentic beach towns, head over to Porta del Sol. The west coast is an exciting destination offering beach lovers a diversity of beaches to explore. Surf the waves of Isabela, Aguadilla and Rincon, which is known as the surfing capital of the Caribbean. As you head south, the waters become more turquoise and calmer.
In Porta del Sol, there are various cays you can visit for the day to add a little variety to your beach vacation. High season is actually in the summer, so in the winter months, you’ll have many beaches to explore without crowds. If you’re a beach lover, all you need is a car rental and an adventurous spirit. More about the beaches on the west coast of Puerto Rico.
We are currently updating the following beach guides.
North Coast Beaches – Porta Atlantico
The beaches of the north coast are on the Atlantic Ocean side. The landscape is very dramatic with cliffs and rock walls creating picture perfect tidal pools. There are various Balnearios great for swimming. The north coast offers miles of great beaches for romantic walks. You’ll see gorgeous cave formations along the cliffs with scenes of the surf smashing against the rocks. If you delight hearing the sounds of the waves, the north coast beaches are the best for lounging and relaxing to the melody of the ocean. The two best swimming beaches are Balneario Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta an Playa Mar Chiquita in Manati. One of the most dramatic beaches is Puerto Nuevo in Vega Baja, just 45 min from San Juan. More about beaches on the north coast beaches in Puerto Rico.
Places to Stay to enjoy the beaches on the north coast
East Coast Beaches
The east coast is an interesting beach destination. In the town of Luquillo you can enjoy one of the prettiest Balnearios in Puerto Rico. Fajardo offers a few nice beaches great for swimming and snorkeling. Drive southeast and you can enjoy a long walk along the shore of Maunabo, a romantic beach with scenic beauty and a lighthouse. Stay at El Conquistador and enjoy the private island of Palomino Island. The east coast offers access to the sleepy islands of Vieques and Culebra, where you’ll find the most secluded and pristine beaches under the Puerto Rico flag. Take a charter to Icacos Cay for a fun day of snorkeling on crystal clear waters. More about the beaches on the east coast of Puerto Rico.