It’s been a year and a half since Hurricane Maria. So many things have changed, including our beaches. We’ve received many letters from kind visitors wishing to support the island with their visit, this Best Beaches in Puerto Rico article was created with those visitors in mind. Unlike our previously published articles listing many beaches throughout the island, we decided to make it easier for travelers by clustering the list into beach towns, giving you more beach time and less travel time.
Each of these beach towns gives visitors several great beaches to explore while positively impacting the economy of local businesses in need after Hurricane Maria. These are off the beaten path destinations, meaning you’ll get to experience beaches without heavy crowds where you can experience the more authentic island life in Puerto Rico. Don’t worry, off the beaten path doesn’t mean far away or without services you come to expect while on vacation. We know and love Puerto Rico, we are confident you’ll come to love it as much as we do.
Travel to Puerto Rico
Most likely you’ll fly into the main international airport near San Juan. You may also want to consider flying into the Aguadilla Airport (west coast) if you live in the New York area or Florida. If you fly into San Juan, we advise that you stay in or around the city for a few days to enjoy the top sights, then head to the west coast to enjoy the best beaches on the island.
If you’re unable to travel to the beach towns covered on our list, don’t worry, just check our Ultimate Guide to Best Beaches in Puerto Rico, covering all the best beaches in each region making it easier to plan your vacation from your hotel location.
Top Beaches in Puerto Rico where your visit can make a difference in the community
We’ll first send you off to Guanica, a sleepy town on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. In the past year, we’ve seen the town getting prettier. Municipality officials, local residents, and businesses are working together to make the town more inviting and welcoming to visitors from other towns and tourists from abroad. Guanica feels completely different than any other beach town in Puerto Rico, it is unique in every way. The beaches only get crowded during the summer months, the pace is nice and relaxed even during the busier summer months. Guanica is one of the quietest beach destinations on the main island attracting eco-travelers and romantics wishing to have a true escape. Guanica is also very family friendly. A great way to enjoy Guanica is to take a hike in the morning, then head to the beach for a refreshing swim.
Our guide is the first to list Playa Tamarindo on the Best beaches of Puerto Rico list, others will surely follow after this article. Playa Tamarindo is one of our favorite beach escapes, tucked away in the town of Guanica. Playful waves, quiet setting without crowds on a nature reserve where endangered species are thriving. This beach is wonderful for nature lovers who wish to be embraced by nature without all the distractions of a tourist trap. Great improvements were made to the entrance with ample parking. Pack light and bring your hiking shoes, the second most beautiful hiking trail on the south coast of the island begins at Tamarindo. As you walk along the boardwalk you’ll pass ponds where the Puerto Rican crested toad nests. PLEASE don’t throw any type of trash on the area to protect our natural treasures. More about Tamarindo Beach.
Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora
One of our favorite beaches on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Officially this is not a beach, it is a mangrove cay, where you’ll find the clearest water on the island all year round. Even the name evokes island dreams… Gilligan’s Island. Bring your snorkel gear, snorkeling is great for all ages, including little swimmers. You may order food at the restaurant where you get the small ferry boat, they deliver the food to the island. We recommend you have a nice dinner at nearby Copamarina Beach Resort after a fun day at Gilligan’s Island, it is the best place to eat nearby. + Gilligan’s Island, Guanica, Puerto Rico
Beach at Copamarina Beach Resort
Seeking for an intimate beachfront hotel? This is not a sponsored recommendation, we do not accept payments for recommendations or positive reviews. We love Copamarina Beach Resort in Guanica, the best on the southwest coast of the island located on a romantic quiet bay. While relaxing is the main activity on this beach, guests of the hotel can enjoy activities such as kayaking and paddle boarding on calm water. The beach does change with the tide, so at times the beach may be too shallow for swimming, but the ambiance and amenities offered by the hotel certainly make up for it. With more beaches nearby, this spot is an excellent central point for a great beach vacation. Sunsets are spectacular every day of the year. This beachfront resort offers very competitive rates when compared to other beachfront resorts around the island. See deals and book your stay below.
Places to Eat in Guanica
- Copamarina Beach Resort, breakfast, lunch and dinner service.
- Trasiego Seafood Restaurant along El Malecon.
Let's drive west to Cabo Rojo
Just 40 minutes west of Guanica, you’ll arrive in the town of Cabo Rojo, this is the beach town where most Puerto Ricans will tell you they have the most precious memories during the summer.
Cabo Rojo has many beaches, but if you’re traveling around the island and only have a day, head to La Playuela, best known as Playa Sucia. Playa Sucia is located on a nature reserve, there are no facilities, you’ll have to bring everything you’ll need throughout the day. You can spend a full day in Cabo Rojo if you choose to visit La Playuela, on your way there you can visit the Las Salinas (The Salt Flats), take a short hike up the lighthouse where you’ll enjoy the most breathtaking views on the island, then finally enjoying the beach.
Book a Tour - Water Activities in Porta del Sol
+ Where to Eat after the beach in Cabo Rojo
For dinner, please skip the many fast food restaurants you’ll see along Rt 100, and head to the plaza (square) of Cabo Rojo. Many businesses had to close their doors after the hurricane, and a few new restaurants and cafes opened. The municipality and local business owners are making great efforts to bring life into the town offering live music and events every month, you’ll have great choices of food and an authentic Puerto Rican experience while in town. It is a safe and friendly town, just circle the plaza streets for a parking space. Our favorite places to eat are:
- Kalamata – a beautiful family owns it and runs it. Super friendly and attentive staff with a nice variety of food using high quality ingredients for the health conscious. Fresh baked goods and desserts daily.
- La Calaca – (Tex Mex) Casual ambiance, tasty tacos and friendly staff.
- Oldie’s Burgers – a very small restaurant with giant burgers beautifully crafted with good quality meat at great prices. You can eat outside just steps away from the plaza. Burger lovers can’t miss it.
- After dinner, walk around the plaza and visit Cookie Latte, they specialize in coffee drinks, ice cream, and desserts.
Recommended Hotels in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
+ Combate Beach Resort
We can also recommend the Holiday Inn on Rt. 2, in the neighboring town of Mayaguez, just minutes from a shopping center, restaurants and closer to the beaches of Rincon mentioned below.
Let's head north to Rincon
Driving up the west coast, we’ll send you to the beach town of Rincon, popular among surfers worldwide. Rincon is very tourist friendly, the town has recovered well from Hurricane Maria. There are plenty of great local restaurants and small shops that endured through the challenges that Hurricane Maria brought. Your visit will lift their spirits.
Whether you surf or love to watch, Domes is a great beach to visit in Rincon. Bring your board and ride the waves or bring your lounge chair to enjoy the show. Beach access is easy and there’s plenty of parking. Domes Beach is a great point of interest, after soaking the sun, head next door to Rincon Lighthouse Park for great views, whale watching during winter months and food. If you love sunsets, be sure to stay a while, is worth the wait every day of the year. While at Domes, you can quickly visit Spanish Wall by taking a short hike along a dirt trail north of Domes.
Balneario de Rincon
Although not the prettiest beach in Rincon, what locals refer to as “public” beach or El Balneario, certainly makes up for it with the activities you can enjoy. At this beach, there are a few restaurants nearby, art vendors, shops, and a few rentals such as kayaks and boards. The water at Balneario is calmer than the rest of Rincon, the reason why you’ll find more local families there. To make an economic impact where’s needed the most, head into the center square of Rincon. Sundays are a lively scene with farmers selling fresh produce, artisan stands, live music, and food. Around the square, you’ll find shops, cafes, bakeries and ice cream shops.
Book a Tour - Popular Water Activities in Rincon
Places to Eat in Rincon
There are many great dining options in Rincon along the coast and in town. Bakeries offer fresh baked bread, pastries to traditional lunches and sandwiches without the tourist trap prices.
A few recommendations are:
- Sana – great people, farm to table, many vegetarian options.
- Tamboo Bar – popular beachfront restaurant/bar
- The Beach House
- Red Flamboyan
Recommended Hotels in Rincon, Puerto Rico
+ Hornet Dorset Primavera
Rincon of the Seas Grand Caribbean Hotel
Save the Best for Last... Hop to one of the islands of Puerto Rico
The main island of Puerto Rico was unfairly blessed with hundreds of stunning beaches, but those that have been to Vieques and Culebra cannot argue that the best beaches under the Puerto Rico flag are on the offshore islands. Vieques and Culebra are one of the few islands in the Caribbean that have not been overdeveloped, so visitors are captivated by experiencing “The Caribbean of the Past”. Your visit will help local businesses in Vieques and Culebra reach a full recovery faster.
Vieques was badly hit by Hurricane Maria. The long recovery process heavily affected tourism. Businesses are ready to welcome visitors, hundreds of families depend on your visit. The flora along the shores has recovered, the island is very green and the water on the beaches is clearer than ever. Snorkeling is amazing and even during the busy season, all the beaches are quiet without crowds. The island’s natural treasures are ready to capture visitor’s hearts again. Those that have been to Vieques will tell you that this little island has the best beaches under the Puerto Rican flag. Which beaches should you visit in Vieques? We hate answering that question, they’re all amazing…really. We’ll send you to our favorite two beaches, but since there’s a special beach for everyone in Vieques, we encourage you to spend at least two days in Vieques and find your little piece of paradise.
La Chiva (formerly known as Blue Beach)
If you’re only visiting for a day, we recommend you head to La Chiva, your eyes will wander through endless shades of blue where you can swim in crystal clear water. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear, snorkeling is amazing for all ages and levels. La Chiva is very long, giving romantics and serenity seekers their very own spot. As you drive up, you’ll see numbered spots, is fun to stop at all of them and declare your favorite. If you manage to leave La Chiva, just keep driving to find your special beach cove along the wildlife reserve.
This beach is amazing, the sand is white, the blues on the water seem to be more intense, the waves are gentle and playful. Caracas is the most accessible beach on the wildlife reserve for those on the island short on time. Many scenes from Victoria’s Secret Swim were filmed here. Locals like it for the facilities and parking. Even though it is one of the most visited beaches on the reserve, it has retained a pristine natural setting. More about Playa Caracas, Vieques, PR
Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach)
If you insist that we name another beach in Vieques, head to Playa Negra, the most unique beach in Vieques with a dramatic landscape. This is not a swimming beach, water can get rough, but the experience begins on the way there. Take an easy hike through lush landscape leading to black sand that sparkles with the sun. The pictures you’ll take on this beach will be moved to your favorite vacation photo folder for sure. More about Playa Negra – Vieques, Puerto Rico
Exploration will lead to adoration of Vieques. One thing is guaranteed, you’ll be coming back for more.
Getting to Vieques – If within your budget, we highly recommend you fly to Vieques. Many tourists pay a lot of money on tours offered on the main island. If you’re a beach lover, spend the money on a flight to Vieques instead. Once you get to Vieques, rent a jeep for the day and explore the beaches on your own. You won’t be disappointed. See all the flight options. You may also take the ferry to Vieques from Ceiba, just be sure to read our travel tips.
Recommended Places to Stay in Vieques
Contact owners directly for best rates on their Facebook Page.
+ El Blok
Last but not least, actually the very best beach, the one on every list… Flamenco Beach. If you’re only planning on spending a day in Culebra, the easiest way of getting there is by booking a tour or taking a short flight. Most charters leave from Fajardo, most operators offer transportation from San Juan. Everything about this beach is perfect (during normal weather) after visiting Flamenco you may find yourself finding flaws on each beach you go.
About Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico ⎜ Isla Verde Puerto Rico ⎜ Culebra, Puerto Rico ⎜ Vieques, Puerto Rico ⎜ Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico ⎜ Dorado, Puerto Rico ⎜ Fajardo, Puerto Rico ⎜ Guanica, Puerto Rico ⎜ Isabela, Puerto Rico ⎜ Lajas, Puerto Rico ⎜ Mayaguez, Puerto Rico ⎜ Ponce, Puerto Rico ⎜ Rio Grande, Puerto Rico ⎜ Rincon Puerto Rico