Puerto Rico inspires Caribbean daydreams for good reason, boasting some of the most stunning beaches in the world. With more than 250 miles of coastline and nearly 300 beaches, the variety of landscapes can satisfy both the beachgoer searching for sublime relaxation and the budding big-wave surfer – all in a long weekend.
Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, swim in crystal-clear waters, or indulge in water sports, you’ll find plenty of options. But with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ll help you explore some of the Island’s best playas. Get ready to grab your swimsuit, slather on some sunscreen, and discover the breathtaking beaches of Puerto Rico.
Escape the city at Balneario El Escambrón in San Juan
Balneario El Escambrón is often regarded as one of San Juan’s finest beaches and is part of the Blue Flag beach program – an international standard of safety, cleanliness, and water quality. This family-friendly beach has something for visitors of all ages: the palm trees offer plenty of shade for those looking to relax or unwind, while the coral reefs provide calm waters close to shore and decent surf breaks further out. El Escambrón is also popular for its snorkeling and diving, with a small marine park featuring both real and artificial reefs great for those novice snorkelers and divers. You can bring your own gear or book a lesson with Scuba Dogs. You can’t beat the views either, with Puerto Rico’s domed Capitol building and the historical El Morro Fort not far off in the distance.
Important Note: Although all beaches in Puerto Rico are public property by law, balnearios refer to public beaches that are managed by varying public agencies, and usually offer public facilities such as parking, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, or lifeguards.
Enjoy the serenity at Flamenco Beach in Culebra
Playa Flamenco on the island of Culebra is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is a must-visit destination for any beach lover. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white sand, and lush greenery, it’s not hard to see why. To get there, you’ll have to take a plane or ferry, and then hire a car or shared taxi, but it’s well worth the haul. Arrive early enough and you’ll be treated to the unique sight of the island’s wild deer bathing in the ocean. Walk down to the far end of the beach and you’ll find brightly graffitied military tanks that harken back to the naval occupation of Culebra that ended in 1975.
Amenities abound at La Monserrate, Balneario de Luquillo
One hour east of San Juan is La Monserrate Beach, located in the municipality of Luquillo and just a short distance from El Yunque National Forest. Locals know it as the Balneario de Luquillo and flock there regularly on weekends. The sizeable, half-moon bay is lined with palm trees and the waters are warm, tranquil, and shallow for the most part. The beach also has ample public facilities, including bathrooms, showers, picnic, and camping areas, among others. Come lunchtime you can choose from a variety of food stalls and cafeterias near the beach area, or you can walk a little further to the Kioskos de Luquillo, where you’ll find a variety of budget-friendly vendors selling seafood and the local fritters.
Take in the rugged beauty of Survival Beach in Aguadilla
Survival Beach in Aguadilla on the northwest side of Puerto Rico is where the adventurous traveler should head. This secluded beach is known for its rugged beauty and terrain, perfect for those seeking thrill and exploration. The short hike along dramatic cliffs and rock formations is moderately strenuous — and requires better footwear than your standard pair of flip-flops — but provides stunning views of the surrounding coast. However, swimmers are advised to take caution. The strong currents and waves that make it an ideal spot for experienced surfers can also make it treacherous to inexperienced swimmers.
Watch the waves crash at Mar Chiquita in Manatí
Mar Chiquita, which in English means ‘little sea,’ is known for the large rock formations that give the beach its unique and striking backdrop. The limestone walls protect the perfectly-oval-shaped small cove from the sometimes-wild Atlantic Ocean. The beach may not be safe for swimming when the waves are rough, particularly during surf season from October to March. And even when the waves are calm, swimmers should be cautious as the sandy bottom drops out quickly in the middle of the pool and there can be serious undertows from the rocks. Even though the beach may not always be the best for swimming, it’s always worth a stop for its impressive beauty.
See the wild Caracas Beach in Vieques
The island of Vieques is known for its many beautiful beaches, and Playa Caracas (also known as Red Beach) tops the list of beaches to visit here. Part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Caracas has beautiful white sand and clear blue waters that characterize the Caribbean. A short trail to a nearby hill offers gorgeous views of the cove and the beach. Once considered remote, the beach is now easily accessible via a newly paved road. Facilities are limited though, with only a few small gazebos for shade and no vendors or bathrooms, so be sure to bring any supplies you might need. Pack extra snacks for the wild horses that roam the beach, they are docile and love to be fed animal-appropriate snacks like apples!
Get lively at the Balneario Playa Puerto Nuevo in Vega Baja
Playa Puerto Nuevo’s shoreline buzzes on weekends with locals and tourists alike. Just a 45- minute drive west of San Juan, it’s a great place to be surrounded by people and excitement. The beach is divided in two by a golden sand bar: to the right is a shallow pool that families or novice swimmers can enjoy, while the left side allows for open swimming or water sports like paddleboarding. Puerto Nuevo’s facilities comply with the American Disabilities Act, and people with disabilities can enjoy a swim using specially adapted aquatic chairs. The service is free and can be coordinated with the lifeguards on duty.
Scope underwater wonders at Buyé Beach in Cabo Rojo
Buyé Beach in the southwest tip of Puerto Rico is perfect for those who want to feel like they’ve landed in a tropical oasis. Buyé is well known amongst residents of Cabo Rojo and can get packed on weekends and in the summer. Go on weekdays to escape the crowds and you’ll be rewarded with a tucked-away beach that’s post-card and Instagram-worthy. The half-mile coast is great for taking a stroll along the soft, beige-colored sand, while the calm waters are home to a variety of colorful schools of fish, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and exploring the underwater world.