Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico and its offshore siblings, Vieques and Culebra, possess dozens of beaches, ranging from the city shores of San Juan to undeveloped, unnamed strands that line much of the island’s north coast. Although all beaches are open to the public, major strands are specifically designated as balnearios (public beaches) and a small entrance fee offsets the cost of parking facilities, lifeguards, and bathrooms. The beaches of Vieques have a special appeal: Most of the island was used for military practice until 2003 and now that land is carefully maintained as a U.S. Fish and Game preserve – adventurous visitors can access hideaway coves without a building in sight via rutted dirt roads.

Puerto Rico Best Beaches


East of San Juan the sand turns honey-colored and a balneario appears opposite the Wyndham Rio Mar resort. A former coconut plantation provides shade along this mile-long stretch. Kayaks and Wave Runners are available for rent and kiosks sell empanadas and other fried treats; wash them down with a piña colada. Also noteworthy: Ramps and wheelchairs equipped with balloon tires make the sea accessible for visitors with disabilities (Mar Sin Barreras; 787-889-4329). 

Tags: beach | water sports | best beach

Ocean Park

Located between Old San Juan and the airport, this two-mile-long neighborhood beach is less noteworthy for its swimming conditions than its refreshingly local bent. On weekends watch for Leo, a beach vendor, to show up with a box full of hot crab and chicken empanadas. Or pull up a chair at Pamela’s for tasty sandwiches and salads served at tables in the sand (787-726-5010; 1 Santa Ana St.). At the far eastern side of the beach, you can find outfitters renting all manner of water sport craft, including kiteboards.

Tags: beach | family | water sports | things to do | swimming | best beach


You don't have to drive far from San Juan to experience quality shoreline seclusion. Follow highway 187 along the coast past the airport and you'll come to Piñones, six miles long, beautiful, and blessedly devoid of facilities. A parking area near the west end is where most visitors unpack their kids and picnic coolers. Rent a bike and follow the six-mile path east to your own personal palm tree.

Tags: beach | family | best beach

Playa Crashboat

Since most of the beaches around Rincón aren't suited for swimming, this is the local favorite on the west coast, located two miles off Highway 2. The beach is a happening place, full of colorful fishing skiffs, food vendors serving the catch of the day, and good facilities, including parking, restrooms, and showers. The sand is soft, the water calm, and you'll find decent snorkeling north of the unsightly pier.

Tags: beach | snorkeling | swimming | best beach

Playa Flamenco

Located on the north shore of Culebra, Flamenco is an exquisite arc of plush white sand that curls into a wide, balmy bay. It's somewhat seasonal: In winter, swells pick up just enough for modest body surfing; in summer, Sanjuaneros ferry over for the weekend, often camping in the shade just behind the beach. When Flamenco is busy there are teenagers blaring radios, but at almost a mile in length, you'll still find plenty of space along this magic carpet. Lodging can be found in the island's one town, Dewey, a mile away. 

Tags: beach | swimming | best beach


The chief attraction on Vieques is the conga-line of beaches found on former Navy land that are reached by Jeep or mountain bike on dirt roads. Several of note: Sun Bay is the most accessible and is the island’s only beach with public facilities; Media Luna has brilliant white sand and is shallow and calm for hundreds of feet out; Red Beach is broad, beautiful, and popular; secluded Secret Beach has rugged access and more waves than most but also fine snorkeling. Do not leave valuables in your car or on the beach – petty theft is rampant.

Tags: beach | snorkeling | editor pick | swimming | secluded | best beach

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