After Hurricane Maria, many visitors have questions about which beaches are ready for visitors, so we hopped in our SUV and made the trips to check out our favorite spots to bring you an up to date 2018 list. We did a lot of driving to come up with this list. If you find it useful please share it. We found many changes along the shore, some beaches that actually got prettier and better and some shorelines almost disappeared. Due to time constraints, not all of the photos were taken post Maria, but we used them because there were no major changes.
The top ten beaches in Puerto Rico for 2018 are in no particular order…they’re all amazing in different ways…and that’s the reason you may fall in love with Puerto Rico. Many destinations in the Caribbean have beaches with clear turquoise water and white sand…but very few places offer such a diverse selection of beaches in one destination. We’ve added a map below to help you locate these great beaches.
Note: We had already created a list of Best Beaches in Puerto Rico divided by regions including the island of Vieques & Culebra for a total of 28, so be sure to take a look at it before mapping your beach adventure.
San Juan is the most tourist ready destination in Puerto Rico, you can rent a car and take a variety of day trips from there or split your vacation and stay on the west coast to explore some of the best beaches on our list. Rincon, one of the most tourist friendly towns on the west coast of Puerto Rico is also ready for tourism, from there you can explore a ton of great beaches along the west. Vieques is still in recovery mode, but many restaurants and small inns are open and operational. Culebra has some small inns open and ready for tourists.
+ Isla Verde Beach - Carolina, Puerto Rico
Isla Verde is one of the top beach destinations in Puerto Rico, the beach and great beachfront hotels are the main reasons. Isla Verde is ready for visitors, most of the hotels, restaurants, and water sport activities are open and operational. Like many beaches around the island, the water of Isla Verde Beach is even clearer and more beautiful. The water is better for swimming than nearby Condado Beach yet still close enough to Old San Juan so visitors can enjoy the wonders of the old city. Whether you’re in Isla Verde for the day or a week, we think you’ll enjoy your visit. Right after the last beachfront resort on the east side of Isla Verde (Courtyard Marriott in Isla Verde), you’ll find Carolina Beach, formally named “Balneario de Carolina”, the public beach of Carolina, which recently received the Blue Flag Award in November after Hurricane Maria. You can drive to Carolina Beach or walk if you’re staying on the nearby hotels.
What we love about Isla Verde & Carolina Beach: water sports, variety of restaurants within walking distance, beachfront hotels, clean sand, playful waves.
Best Hotels to Stay in / near the beaches of Isla Verde & Carolina: We love El San Juan Hotel by Hilton. Our family has also enjoyed a stay at Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort, budget / family friendly and one of the best beachfront locations in Isla Verde. The Hampton Inn is clean, within walking distance and budget friendly. San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel is a chic hotel with a fun rooftop pool and bar. Check out the best hotels and resorts in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.
+ Condado Beach - San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the most tourist ready vacation destination in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, there are plenty of attractions open and operational for visitor’s enjoyment. Condado Beach is like the Miami Beach of the Caribbean. City lovers seeking for a quick weekend escape will enjoy staying at Condado Beach. Although not the best beach for swimming, the entertainment, beachfront resorts, dining, shopping and nearby attractions make Condado Beach a favorite for our family when we crave the perfect mix of city life and beach time.
What we love about Condado Beach: Amazing hotels to choose from right on the beach. Great places to eat and shop within walking distance. Lounge and umbrella rentals and drinks served on the beach. Taxis everywhere for easy transport to Old San Juan and events in the city.
Best Places to Stay in Condado Beach: La Concha, Condado Vanderbilt, San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. See hotels in Condado Beach.
+ Flamenco Beach - Culebra, Puerto Rico
What best beaches list could possibly be without Flamenco? Although this list is in no particular order, Flamenco is surely the first beach that comes to mind when listing the best beaches in Puerto Rico. This place is simply mesmerizing, if you happen to visit Culebra for a few days, you’ll find a few more amazing beaches untouched by development.
Flamenco Beach is ready for visitors after Hurricane Maria, and was just recently re-awarded a Blue Flag post the hurricane. We do recommend you fly instead of taking the ferry; ferry service has been very unreliable since the hurricane. At this time we recommend you vacation in San Juan and either take a day trip to Culebra by flying from SJU or spend a night or two in Culebra.
What we love about Flamenco Beach: Everything…the softest sand, the most beautiful jeweled tones colors on the water, the rolling hills in the background. Beneath…sea turtles, coral reefs teeming with fish.
+ Pozo de Teodoro - Isabela, Puerto Rico
We absolutely hate to tell you about this beach, because…we feel selfish and don’t want to share it with crowds. We go during the week on “winter” months and we typically have it to ourselves or share with few beachgoers. Pozo de Teodoro is located in the town of Isabela, which has become our favorite beach town. Isabela is gaining popularity as a surfing destination but for those seeking calm waters, Isabela offers the best natural pools on the island. During the winter the natural pool is typically fuller, during summer months when the tide is low the pool may be empty. If the pool is too shallow, be sure to visit another beach in Isabela.
What we love about Pozo de Teodoro: uncrowded, wide beach area, calm water (normal weather conditions), snorkeling in shallow water, natural unending show of waves crashing onto rock wall, easy access from road.
Best Places to Stay near Pozo de Teodoro: Royal Isabela (still closed for renovations after Hurricane Maria) & Villa Montaña (open and operational). See hotels in Isabela.
+ La Playuela / Playa Sucia - Cabo Rojo, PR
We were concerned about La Playuela (also known as Playa Sucia) after Hurricane Maria. We were there the same day the road was cleared, we anxiously headed to the beach to find it was still there. We’ve visited some beaches where the shorelines were cut in half, La Playuela is not very wide and behind it are the salt flats, so it has the potential of disappearing. We are happy to report the beloved Playuela is still gorgeous, although not officially stated, we noticed the sand area is not as wide as it used to be. We describe La Playuela as “all-inclusive beach” for nature lovers. Set aside a full morning for this location, be sure to bring: walking / hiking shoes, plenty of water, sunblock, snacks and a little cash just in case an ice cream / drinks vendor is on the beach. Please visit our full article on Playa Sucia.
What we love about La Playuela: breathtaking location, clear water, playful waves, romantic shaded spots, all the additional attractions within the refuge.
Domes Beach – Rincon, Puerto Rico
+ Domes Beach, - Rincon, Puerto Rico
Domes has always been a favorite beach among surfers. Although the beach is not good for swimming, it is a fun beach to watch surfers, relax and enjoy the sunset. Nearby there are various beachfront restaurants for dinner. While you’re in Rincon, be sure to book a horseback riding tour, which typically passes through Domes Beach.
The sand at Domes was the first beach we visited after Hurricane Maria, I can’t even describe the feeling of putting our feet on the sand after experiencing such a catastrophic event. To our surprise, there were surfers enjoying the waves, kids playing on the sand, families relaxing…and at that moment we realized things would be ok. While the news were focusing on the chaos on the island, many islanders found joy and hope on the sand and water.
What we love about Domes Beach: sunsets, lounging to watch surfers, horseback riding tours along the Rincon coastline.
+ Gilligan's Island - Guanica, Puerto Rico
We absolutely LOVE going to little Gilligan’s Island…not the actual place where the Gilligan’s Island show was filmed but once there you’ll see it surely be a nice place to be lost. Officially it is not a beach, the body of water surrounds a cay (formal name Cayo Aurora), the sandy area is very small, but if you get there early you can claim one of the few gazebos or mangrove trees over the water providing shade where you can place your lounge chairs. Gilligan’s Island has the clearest water on the entire main island of Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria we were terrified our little island would be gone or partly destroyed, we are happy it is still there for the enjoyment of all.
What we love about Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora: clarity and calmness of the water, scenery, snorkeling, the journey there.
Best Hotels to Stay near Gilligan’s Island: Stay at Copamarina Beach Resort, they have their own private ferry ready to take you anytime during the day. It is a small intimate hotel with a nice pool facing the water, on-site restaurants and friendly staff.
More about Gilligan’s Island – Guanica, Puerto Rico
+ Combate Beach - Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
This was one of the first beaches to get cleaned up and ready after Hurricane Maria. It is the longest beach in Puerto Rico, a wonderful place to take a walk on the beach. The water is clear, the perfect depth for playing, floating, swimming and relaxing. It is a very popular beach for locals on weekends and summer months, but during weekdays the vibe is nice and relaxed. We encourage you to take a walk all the way to the end, bring only the necessities to the beach, so you can take a long walk on the beach and not worry about carrying or leaving valuables while you explore. There are plenty of spots on the sand to claim your own, most people tend to congregate close to the restaurants for easy dining access, but farther south, the beach gets even prettier. There’s plenty of free parking on the shoulder of the street.
What we love about Combate Beach: clear water, restaurants nearby, depth of the water, hiking to Punta Aguila from Combate.
Best places to stay near Combate Beach: Combate Beach Resort – not a resort, it is really a small inn, charming, clean comfortable guest rooms and within walking distance to Combate Beach.
+ Sun Bay Beach - Vieques, Puerto Rico
Vieques is still in recovery mode from Hurricane Maria, there was much damage to the infastructure, homes, and businesses. The coastline lost many palm trees but the beauty that bewitches visitors, still abound. Just recently Sun Bay was also the recipient of the Blue Flag Beach Award. Sun Bay is the most beautiful Balneario under the Puerto Rican Flag, a Balneario is a “public beach” managed by the government. Sun Bay is ready for visitors, and gorgeous. If you have more a day in Vieques be sure to explore more beaches.
What we love about Sun Bay Beach: calm water, great for swimming, plenty of palm trees for shade and to hang a hammock, gorgeous turquoise water, on-site facilities, ample convenient parking.
Crashboat Beach – Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
+ Crashboat Beach - Isabela, Puerto Rico
This one may come as a surprise, since we never included Crashboat Beach in our Best Beaches in Puerto Rico Guide in prior years. Although a favorite for locals, we didn’t feel it was good for the average tourist. The entire coastline needed work, the cafeteria and shops needed a lot of “TLC”, facilities were non-existent and the sand was dirty most times we visited. Crashboat as everyone knew it virtually does not exist anymore after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
So why include Crashboat in this list? It is one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico to see the effects of Hurricane Maria on the shores. Although we were in shock from the damage and changes, we took a pause, took a look around and found hope and beauty in the mid of destruction. The water is clearer than ever, the beach got a brand new thick carpet of soft light golden sand. All the buildings that now sit on the sand will certainly become an attraction to those that wish to see the effects of a hurricane. We all know that disasters and negativity gets attention, so if you wish to see how Hurricane Maria affected some of our beaches, this perhaps is one beach to visit. This marks the end of Crashboat as a generation enjoyed it, but it is also a sight of how the island will recover and rebuild a better Puerto Rico.
What we love about Crashboat Beach: crystal clear water, scuba diving at the pier, a great place to see the effects of a hurricane on the coastline.
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