Insider’s Guide to the best beaches in Puerto Rico by tourist region, including the offshore islands of Vieques & Culebra
Please relax and take a few extra minutes to read this guide before booking your hotel, it is our goal to help you plan an extraordinary beach vacation.
We know the island of Puerto Rico very well, this island is truly a beach lover’s destination offering hundreds of beaches to choose from, each with its own unique qualities. We found that a typical “top ten beaches list” makes travelers somewhat anxious, that list is too restrictive and somewhat subjective, leaving out many wonderful beaches you would otherwise miss depending on where you decide to vacation in Puerto Rico. We have created a more practical best beaches guide, so no matter which destination you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a list of amazing beaches to enjoy with your famlily or friends. We keep this list updated and may change depending on various factors.
The beaches included on our list represent what Caribbean dreams are made of. Some of the beaches on our list are located in uncrowded quiet places, some are near all the action with services many tourists prefer and some are the location of amazing hotels and resorts. Some of the beaches you may have seen on lists by travel media outlets and some you may have never heard, seen or mentioned. Some of the beaches we list, have never been on the “best lists” and we are very proud of putting them on the spotlight. Some beaches we struggle sharing because we don’t want them spoiled or getting crowded, but we won’t be selfish, we want you to experience the Puerto Rico we have fallen in love with.
Thanks in advance for trusting us with the planning of your vacation, we welcome your feedback and comments.
USING THIS GUIDE
Things to Consider: We often get asked…”Which are the best beaches in Puerto Rico?” What some may think is a great beach, may not be perfect for YOU. The beaches we include are so amazing naturally, that any facilities or services lacking onsite can be easily overlooked. We have further divided beaches into specific categories in order to help you plan the right beach vacation for YOU. About me: I am a travel professional, my family and I love to travel. We are now living in Puerto Rico, giving us the opportunity to travel and find those hidden treasures along the coast. As far as our taste in beaches, we prefer those that you see in postcards and Corona commercials, at times we want a beach to ourselves without crowds, at times we love the vibe of the beaches in the city with the many activities and attractions nearby. We love to snorkel, offshore fishing, a few water sports, although we don’t surf, we sure enjoy a good show.
Disclosure: We are not affiliated with any hotels or businesses on the island, what we write is independent of any advertisements. We come up with our own list, we are constantly speaking with visitors at beaches, and we also do some research for reviews to see what everyone else is saying in order to get a more collective list. The following beaches were chosen because they all met the following guidelines: they’re naturally gorgeous the beaches are clean beautiful blue clear waters, great sand, great scenery and postcard worthy the location is considered safe If you have to make a drive from your hotel, we think it will be worth while. We keep finding new treasures along the coast, so be sure to come back so we can share them with you.
Best Beaches in Culebra - Island of Puerto Rico
We’ll start off with the best beaches in Culebra, one of the islands of Puerto Rico. Most lists for best beaches in Puerto Rico, place Flamenco Beach at the top, it truly is deserving of the number one spot. Culebra is not on the main island, you must take an additional flight or ferry ride to Culebra.
Best beach for: landscape, scenery, water clarity and quality, sand color and texture, cleanliness, facilities, family friendliness, access, lifeguard services, camping facilities, food, safety, never crowded even on high season…simply perfect. More about Flamenco Beach in Culebra.
Best Beaches in Vieques - Island of Puerto Rico
We’ll move south to the sister island of Vieques, the best example of the Caribbean of the past. You can spend a full week beach hopping postcard perfect bays with crystal clear water perfectly tinted into pretty jeweled tones of blue, green and the clearest diamonds. Snorkeling is fantastic for the entire family, with colorful reefs full of life just laps from the shore. Take long walks beaches landscaped by nature alone, real Caribbean rugged beauty. Those that know Vieques certainly have a favorite beach or two, but if you were to go, you would understand the difficult task of choosing just a few. Just like Culebra, you must take a ferry ride from Fajardo or 20 minute flight to Vieques from San Juan Airport, Isla Grande Airport or 10 minute flight from Ceiba Airport.
Best beach for: everything… snorkeling, relaxation, swimming in crystal clear water, seeing every shade of blue imaginable, falling in love with the Caribbean and each other all over again. Playa La Chiva aka Blue Beach is simply amazing and just about anyone that visits Vieques puts La Chiva at the top of their list… More about Blue Beach in Vieques.
Best beach for: hiking for a romantic beach adventure… You don’t have to travel all the way to Hawaii to see black sand, Playa Negrita in Vieques features that gorgeous metallic black sand that sparkles with the sun. You have to take a 20 minute hike to get there through a lush jungle, over a dry river bed, the beach and romantic solitude is worth the hike.
Best beach for: perfect unique landscape, hidden caves, gorgeous shades of the blue, most accessible beach inside the natural refuge, picnic facilities (gazebos), white soft sand…perfect enough to be a filming location of Victoria’s Secret Swim 2014, need we say more? More about Playa Caracas / Red Beach, Vieques
Best beach for: seeing amazing tones of blue against bright light ivory sand. Navio is best for its playful waves, so bring your boogie board. One can find hidden caves framing the cove and hike up the trail to admire the views. Navio does not get much attention on the media, but it is one of those beaches that once you get there for the first time…one word typically blurts out…wow. More about Navio Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Best Beaches in San Juan, Capital City of Puerto Rico & Nearby
The beaches of San Juan and Isla Verde, Carolina are some of the most visited on the island by tourists. Part of the reason is marketing, some of the best beach resorts are located in the Condado tourist district and the district of Isla Verde in Carolina. While the beaches of San Juan and the Metro area are not the best in Puerto Rico, it is the most popular tourist destination on the island for many great reasons. Those wishing for a quick weekend getaway love San Juan, Isla Verde, Dorado and Rio Grande for the convenient close location to the airport and excellent hotel choices. A beach vacation in San Juan offers a well rounded vacation experience with something for everyone. City lovers will enjoy a vibrant nightlife, lively entertainment, excellent dining choices and the best shopping malls in the Caribbean. From San Juan you can easily explore world class historic attractions, to points of interest such as El Yunque Rainforest, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, the Camuy River Cave Park and more.
Best beach for: city life, luxurious beachfront resort choices and sexy-ness.
Best beach for: quiet and uncrowded on weekdays, just 30 minutes from San Juan and minutes from Isla Verde, clear water, views of waves crashing against coral wall, surfing during winter months, food across the street and nearby, shallow water for small children, fun watching airplanes, off-street parking. More about La Posita Beach, Loiza, Puerto Rico.
Best beach for: hotels on the beach, beachfront dining, water sports, budget friendly apartment rentals on the beach, city life, nearby points of interest in San Juan, clean sand. Isla Verde is just a short 5-10 minute drive from the airport. More about Isla Verde Puerto Rico Beach.
Best beach for: getting away from the busier beaches in the San Juan tourist area, clarity of water, surfing during winter months, snorkeling during summer months, facilities, quality of water, many shaded areas under palm trees, accessibility, on-site restaurants, within walking distance of Old San Juan and Condado, two beaches on the beach park, historic attraction onsite. More about Balneario El Escambron, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Where to Stay in San Juan & Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
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Top rated hotels and resorts
- La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort - Condado
- Condado Vanderbilt Hotel - Condado
- San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris - Condado
- The Ritz Carlton - Isla Verde
- El San Juan Resort & Casino - Just fully remodeled, absolutely beautiful hotel
- Courtyard by Marriott - Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
- TRYP by Wyndham Isla Verde - Isla Verde, Carolina
Best Beaches on the East Coast of Puerto Rico
The east coast is known for the resort / hotel communities, the topography along the coast is made up of cliffs, reefs, mangroves and a few beaches good for bathing. The best about staying on the east coast is having easy access to Puerto Rico’s offshore cays, islets and sleepy islands of Vieques & Culebra by ferry, private charter or water taxi. Following are the best beaches on the east.
A perfect private island, for the blissful enjoyment of El Conquistador guests. Palomino Island is what tropical vacation dreams are made of…lounge chairs, crystal clear waters, white sand, small natural pools with schools of colorful tropical fish, water sports, horseback riding, delicious healthy food and Piña Coladas served right on the beach.
Best beach for: landscape and views, its calm clear water, facilities, food, authentic island feel.
Balneario La Monserrate best known as Luquillo Beach (Playa Luquillo) is the best Balneario (bathing beach managed by the government). The water is calm and clear, from the beach you can admire views of El Yunque Rainforest, along the shore, thousands of tall palm trees dancing to the breeze. There are food kiosks steps from the beach and nearby a long strip of restaurants where you can try traditional Puerto Rican food at great prices. More about Luquillo Beach.
Best beach for: solitude, long walk on the beach, bringing a lounge chair and simply admiring the water and scenic views of the mountains and lighthouse perched on the cliff. Not a beach for swimming, but the scenery is worth a trip on the east coast. More about Playa Punta Tuna in Maunabo.
Where to Stay on the East Coast of Puerto Rico
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Top rated hotels and resorts
Best Beaches on the West Coast of Puerto Rico (Porta del Sol)
Best beach for: its scenic views, nearby eco-attractions and eco-activities right near the beach.
A visit here is an all day adventure with nearby attractions and natural activities that include Los Morrillos lighthouse, hiking trails, salt flats, bird sanctuary, offshore fishing, and observation tower. More about La Playuela Beach / Playa Sucia.
Best beach for: its crystal clear water, calm water for swimming, floating and snorkeling with children.
Like a giant natural pool with the clearest water on the entire west and southern coast of Puerto Rico. Lovely place to take the whole family, where even toddlers can play safely on the water and learn to snorkel. You may kayak to the mangrove island or take a ferry over from a private restaurant. Stay at the Copamarina Beach Resort, they offer daily trips at guest’s convenience. More about Gilligan’s Island, Guanica, PR.
Best beach for: best for swimming, cheap beachfront rentals (cabanas), easy access, family friendly atmosphere, nearby restaurants.
During the weekends and all summer, there are water sport rentals (kayaking, paddle boarding, water bicycles, jet ski rentals). Handicapp accessible (bathrooms, gazebos). More about Balneario de Boqueron / Boqueron Beach in Cabo Rojo.
Peña Blanca Beach - Aguadilla
Best beach for: snorkeling with sea turtles, beauty and unique landscape.
If you’re vacationing on the west coast of Puerto Rico from late spring until late summer, be sure to bring your snorkel gear to Playa Peña Blanca. It is a little difficult to find, parking is limited along a narrow street, so get here during the week early morning or super early on the weekend during summer months.
Best beach for: surfing year round, experiencing authentic casual island vibe, beachfront casual dining.
Jobos is the most popular beach in Isabela, among the top beaches for surfing all year round. This is not your typical touristy beach, this is a beach loved by locals and residents of nearby towns who come here to have a good time. During surfing season you’ll find a good mix of surfers coming from the states happily mingling with friendly locals. This is a great beach to surf, get a tan, do a little snorkeling and make new friends.
Best beach for: surfing (winter months), great snorkeling (summer months).
Steps Beach, part of Tres Palmas Marine Reserve boasts a healthy coral reef with abundant sea life including sea turtles and a healthy elk horn garden. The vibe is relaxed, there’s a food truck at the beach, easy access to beach and parking. More about Steps Beach / Tres Palmas, Rincon, Puerto Rico.
Best beach for: watching waves crash, relaxing on the water, solitude (weekdays), long walks on the beach.
The beach is very wide, sand is soft and golden. Playa Pozo Teodoro changes in size daily, at times the pool is deep and at times very shallow. If the pool is very low, no worries, there are plenty more in Isabela. More about Playa Pozo Teodoro.
Best Beaches on the North Coast of Puerto Rico
The beaches on the north coast are quite unique, the landscape is very different than the Caribbean side. Landscape is dramatic with cliffs along the coastline framing beach coves and creating natural wading pools and protected from the strong Atlantic surf. The best time for swimming on these beaches safely is from late spring to early fall when the surf is calmer. Many of the beaches along the north coast are popular for surfers during winter months. If you are visiting during the winter and you don’t necessarily need to get in the water to swim and you’re content watching the ocean waves, listening to the ocean, beach combing and taking long walks on the beach, the beaches along the north are well worth the drive. Visiting the following beaches are wonderful day trips to take to enhance your resort experience and get you to see a little of the island. Following are we consider the best beaches.
You will not find the popular Mar Chiquita in Manati and Puerto Nuevo because we found them to be dirty and poorly maintained. We will visit again to check on any possible improvements.
In Dorado you’ll find the most beautiful and pristine, beaches on the north coast. Our favorite beach is for the enjoyment of guests at one of the top luxury resorts in Puerto Rico, Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve. From this location you’ll have easy access to Old San Juan attractions, world class natural attractions and more beaches along the north.
Pozo de las Mujeres
Best beach for: clear turquoise water, snorkeling during summer months, views of waves crashing, nice and quiet during weekdays.
Pozo de las Mujeres is really pretty. Best water conditions are from late spring until early fall, water is most beautiful and calm during summer months. You can visit both Playa Cueva de las Golondrinas and Pozo de las Mujeres in one morning.
Playa Cueva Las Golondrinas
Best beach for: intimate setting, uniqueness, unspoiled beauty.
This beach is a hidden gem in the town of Manati. The beach is framed by lush trees providing shade, and on the west side a beautiful cave keeps the strong waves from coming in, creating a nice area for bathing on crystal clear water. To get there, you must take a 10 minute hike, you may have it all to yourself on weekdays. The water is prettiest from late spring to late summer when it is calmer. During winter months, the water may be too rough for swimming, but still worth visiting to enjoy the romantic scene, sunshine and relaxation.
Best Beaches on the South Coast of Puerto Rico
Playa Pelicano / Pelican Beach – Caja de Muertos Island, Ponce
Playa Pelicano is located in Caja de Muertos, an island on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, part of the municipality of Ponce. The allure of Pelican Beach is the feeling of being away on a secluded island, there are no hotels or food kiosks and that’s part of the magic, being on a beach untouched by development. The water is simply perfect, warm, with shades of blue and green gems that change constantly with the rays of the sun. Sand is soft and white. Book a ferry ride from Ponce, you may purchase food, drinks and rent chairs and umbrellas for your comfort. If you can pull yourself away from the beach, you for a hike to the lighthouse, there’s a great reward at the top. More about Pelican Beach, Caja de Muertos, Ponce.