Puerto Rico > Puerto Rico Beaches > Isabela Puerto Rico Beaches > Playa El Pastillo

Written by Deb Bybee & Luisa Cupeles

Playa El Pastillo - One of the best beaches in Puerto Rico

This beach is a pretty magical and special place.  As soon as you arrive to the beach, if you look to the far off cliff, you’ll see the profile of a Taino native carved by Nature, this is the first indication that this place is particularly blessed.  It seems that the island itself desires to keep a sacred spot in memory of those who first dwelt here.

This wide stretch of flat sand welcomes the sea and the brilliant sunshine, calling to those who wish to contemplate the calm spirituality of quiet waves and sapphire skies.  The solemn feel of this beach makes raucous, vivacious play feels impious and disrespectful.

Playa El Pastillo - Isabela, Puerto Rico

This beach does not have much shade but along the cliffs you can find shaded oasis under palm trees.  The best time to enjoy Playa El Pastillo is from late spring ’til late fall.  This beach has a very wide expanse with sand the color of ground ginger.  Along the water, the sand is compact making it enjoyable for feet to walk, the sand thickens towards the back, sand dunes have formed, indicating that the tide comes in pretty far.  Lush green vegetation blankets the cliffs that serve as an emerald backdrop contrasting with the buff sand and intense blue waters.  It’s no wonder that artists and photographers find the views so captivating.

El Pastillo Beach - Isabela, Puerto Rico

The wild primitive landscape, the extraordinary hues, heightened by the brilliant sunlight beckons aficionados of natural beauty.  Walk along the line of cliffs and you may find small caves that may have been given shelter to natives for centuries.  Listen closely and you just might hear strains of their chants and music blending with the wind and sea.

Scroll below and stay longer for a walking tour of El Pastillo Beach, one of our favorite beaches in Puerto Rico.  Be sure to slow down while seeing photos, so you can enjoy the sliders created in order to share this amazing place. 

Puerto Rico - Playa El Pastillo - Isabela

Please Note: 

  • Playa El Pastillo does not offer any facilities, you need to bring everything you’ll need during your visit,  leave only footprints, take your trash with you and dispose at a trash can.
  • There are no lifeguards at this beach, you  use at your own risk.
  • Visit during the summer when the tide is low and the surf gently splashes against the natural barriers.  The rocks along this stretch of beach are cause for concern during high tide and the winter when waves crash and can mask more dangerous rocky areas.  If planning a visit with children or inexperienced swimmers, it is best to remain on the calmer stretches of beach or enjoy fun in the sun at another of the many family-friendly beaches of Isabela.  We want our visitors to delight in their excursions safely.

West Side of Playa El Pastillo

We’ll start your online tour by walking towards the west side of El Pastillo Beach if you were starting from the main entrance.

Scattered naturally throughout, iconic palm trees frame an artist’s dream stretch of sea and sand.  A glistening morning is the perfect time to take long walks and go beach combing for sea glass that matches the translucent water, tiny shells that were used as decoration by natives, and revel in the spectacular view.

Playa El Pastillo - Isabela, Puerto Rico Beaches

Choose a morning after island rain has washed swirls of rich soil from the cliffs into the burnished sand, creating patterns that mirror the swirling morning clouds.  As the tide pulls through the shore, the beach resembles gingerbread with frothy white icing.  A “sweet” place indeed.

Early morning colors…

During low tide you can find sea gardens where baby oysters grow. Notice the balance of green from the cliffs matching the green of the tidal pools.  No wonder this beach holds a quality of spiritual and life balance.

Although the beauty of the water and waves hypnotize the senses, there are treasures hidden along the cliffs.  Pools and small caves play hide and seek where the sands meet the verdant bluff.  These finds are seasonal, as the tide reaches farther in the rocks during the winter months, cutting off some of these secluded spots.

Lower rock formations, carved by the sea, transform into a small cave that shelters an intimate space, perfect for quiet meditation and romantic conversation.  From the interior of the cave, wind and surf are perfectly framed.  This is certainly not a typical beach, but who wants “typical” when you are taking some time for soul-searching or wish to find an ideal romantic spot when the tide is low.  Imagine having a picnic with this kind of view!

After marveling inside the cave, head west to get a closer look at the original Cara de Indio (Indian face).  Clearly, Nature wanted a notable remembrance of the natives of this land.  What a majestic finish to a day’s beachcombing…but we’re not done yet…there’s more wonder to come…

As you get closer, you’ll now reach a site imbued with mystery; a sacred space.  It’s a place where there is a feeling of being one with the sea and sky, embracing the history, the connection to Nature, and the impression of endless energy.

Playa El Pastillo - One of the best Caribbean's most beautiful secret beaches in Puerto Rico.

This is as place brimming with Life.  Waterfalls connect to tidal pools, feeding the creatures that rely on the delicate balance of survival.

Waves crashing - Playa El Pastillo - Isabela, Puerto Rico

The cycle of water spraying against the rocks before settling across flattened stone and trickling in rivulets back to the beginning, is mesmerizing.  The soothing sounds of water and birds is a relaxing recess from day-to-day cares.

Musical beats crash like cymbals with each collide of water and stone.  Listen to the rhythm that invigorates each sense.  Feel sea spray against the skin.  Catch the scent of salt and surf.  Lick your lips and taste the brine in the air.  Add the warmth of the sun and you will be stirred.

Once at the steps of the entrance to the Indians face, you’ll appreciate the vast beauty of this beach.  The little pools brim with little treasures to find as you stroll.

Playa El Pastillo - Isabela, Puerto Rico

A few more steps and you’ll arrive at a local secret spot very few still know.   By late summer all the sand from the cave is above sea level, there are pools of fresh water inside.

During the winter months, the scene changes and the cave is not accessible.  Waves take over and swell into the entrance.  Come from late Spring to early fall to be sure you experience this exquisite locale.

If you came for a walk early morning, as you walk back east to explore the rest of the beach, you’ll notice how the color of the water changes, it is clearer, the sand seems a lighter shade as the sun moves across a deeper blue sky.  Those that love photography and notice the details will appreciate the ever changing scene of this magnificent beach.

El Pastillo Beach - Isabela, Puerto Rico

East Side of Playa El Pastillo

It is easy to spend an entire day at this beach before satisfying your curiosity and appreciation.

At the first glance from a distance, it may not look all that special…as you begin to walk you’ll find that the east side of Pastillo Beach has it’s own share of treasures and interesting gifts offered by Nature.  This is the ultimate beach for taking a long walk on the beach.

El Pastillo Beach - Isabela, Puerto Rico - Beaches

On the east side of Pastillo, the water is shallower, the colors of the water mesmerizing… could anyone ever imagine so many shades of blue and green? Colors melt together in the brilliant sun, a masterpiece of art.

Before continuing to walk, be sure to take a break from the sun, have a snack, a refreshing drink, and re-apply sunblock.   There are a few wonderful shaded spots along the beach, find your perfect spot.

In summer months, the beach is wider and the water shallower.  This spot is the best for safely enjoying wading or swimming.  When the tide is right, perhaps try a bit of snorkeling just off the shore.  This spot is ideal.   This section of the eastern beach is a lovely spot for families with small children.  The sea floor is sandy with some rocky outcrops to keep it interesting.  Gentle warm waves and light foam surround the beachcombers with their silky touch.  While the west side is backed by cliffs, the east side of Pastillo Beach is framed by palm trees sensually dancing to the melodic breezes.

Stronger waves on the north side of the island, although visually stunning, make some parts of the northern coast a place for exploring rather than staying close to the turbulent waters.

Below, photo slider shows a summer scene when the tide is low.  Just off the shore, is an excellent snorkeling spot for delving into the underwater paradise.  Perfect for snorkeling when the waters are placid and clear,  the spot pulls you into the tranquility of an underwater world.  Colorful and delicate, please practice safety, and never touch, step on, or take away from the reef.  Snorkeling is only safe during summer months till early fall when the waters are calm.  For safety, never snorkel alone and wear appropiate gear.

As you keep walking you’ll get to a rock outcrop, the sounds of the waves are a sweet melody at this spot.  Water constantly crashes against it.  From here you’ll see amazing views of the entire length of the beach, however it is not safe to stand at this spot during winter or bad weather.  Waves of up to 25 ft. crash against the outcrop and could cause harm.

Early morning calls the local fishermen.  Fresh fish, oysters, and more sea delicacies will make their way into homes, markets and local hotels. Mouthwatering. Bring your angling equipment and join them!

Below, a few photos of scenes along the end wall of Pastillo Beach.

Pastillo Beach is uncommon; remarkably quiet and romantic, private and pristine, with hidden surprises, and natural treasures to be found.  Please help keep it in this untouched state by respectfully removing any waste or evidence of your stay.  Like the Boy Scouts, “leave no trace”.

Enjoy your visit to El Pastillo Beach, this alluring locale that beckons to those who seek serenity.

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