Puerto Rico is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, and those waters meet in the middle of the east and west, creating the most beautiful beaches. Whether you are into surfing, jet skiing, or just lounging on calm waves and enjoying the sun, Puerto Rico has a beach, or three, for you.
Remote, rustic and so very scenic, La Playuela (more commonly known as Playa Sucia, which is a misnomer as Bahia Sucia is farther inland) can be a challenge to get to as you drive down dirt roads through the Salt Flats and the wildlife refuge, but it is worth every bump and pothole when you get there. As you face the turquoise water of the bay, Faro Los Morillos (Cabo Rojo Lighthouse) is on the cliffs to your right. Walk along the soft sand to the other side of the bay and hike to the top of the cliffs and walk out onto the natural bridge for some incredible photo opportunities.
Around October and November, you may see areas cordoned off where sea turtles have laid their eggs. And during the low season, if you go on a weekday, you may have some time when you have the entire beach to yourself; the crowds are bigger on weekends and during the traditional spring break months of February and March. During those times you may be able to buy helado or a freshly made mojito.
The surf depends on the time of the month and the weather, but it is always kind. As stated, it is very rustic, so there are no picnic tables, benches or restroom facilities—plan accordingly. There are trash receptacles at the start of the trail to the beach, so bring some bags. There are no fees for parking or entry.
Boquerón Beach is part of the Parque Nacional Balneario Boquerón and is a wonderful place for a family day outdoors. Soft sand and shallow blue waters make it a perfect swim area for children, and even after Hurricane Maria, there are many trees for shade. The park has public restrooms and showers, but they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the low season.
The park also has over 100 cabins and villas that are rentable at reasonable rates if you want to make it an extended stay; it is a very popular thing to do over the new year. The cabins sleep about six to eight people and have a bathroom and kitchen with a stove so that you can cook. Parking is included if you are staying there, but if you just want to go for the day and do not want to pay for parking, you can park just outside of the park gates and walk in. During the high season, there are also vendors down the beach renting out jet skis, water bikes, kayaks and other fun activities. Take a short walk down the path into Boquerón and enjoy some great seafood or a burger and a mojito.
Another great family beach that is also very popular with the locals is Buyé Beach. The water is usually very calm and crystal clear, and as with Boquerón, it has many trees that provide shade, along with a very long beach. There is a lot of room for beach bums. Oftentimes, visitors bring a small table and a grill and make a day of splashing in the waves and playing paddle ball, frisbee or volleyball. Buyé Beach Resort is also right there, again with cabañas or condos for rent. There is a gift shop, frappe stand, small food stand that also sells drinks, an outdoor bar with karaoke and a full restaurant on the patio above that is an incredible place for dinner. As with most beaches in Puerto Rico, it is much busier during the summer months.
According to the Official Website of the Tourism Association of Rincon, Domes Beach is one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. Surfing competitions take place annually in Rincon, so this is where surfers can go to catch some waves. The beach is named Domes because of the old nuclear plant, but do not let that ward you off. It is now being turned into a science museum. If you really feel adventurous, hike down Domes Trail to Spanish Wall Beach, a “secret” beach that is also good for surfing. In the winter, Rincon is an excellent place for whale-watching.
On the northwest side of the island, off the coast of Fajardo, you will find Isla Palominos, which is beautiful in and of itself, but the true gem is the tiny island off of Palominos known as Isla Palominito. The sand is stunningly white, and the water is the blue of your island dreams. This island was used in the closing scene of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Before you charter a boat to take you to this piece of paradise, check with local authorities to ensure that you are permitted to go there. In an effort to keep it pristine, they are limiting visitors, but it is so very worth it if you can go.
The island of Vieques, which was once a naval base, is now a beach lover’s dream. There are so many incredible beaches on Vieques, so it is hard to pick just one. Playa Caracas is one of the most popular with its white coral sand and small waves. There is a limited number of gazebos, so get there early if you want one. There are no restrooms, but you can drive back to the entrance of the National Wildlife Refuge and use one there if necessary. Make sure you bring bags for your trash so that you can carry out what you bring in. Check out all of the beaches at www.vieques.com as well as updates on tourism there after Hurricane Maria.
The beaches of Culebra are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world. Just take the 20-mile (32.2-km) trip by ferry out of Fajardo. Flamenco Beach is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of gorgeous sand and water that is perfect for snorkeling. You will also see evidence of the naval base in the form of old tanks on the beach. There are picnic tables under the shady trees, restroom facilities, and showers, and you can rent beach chairs and snorkeling equipment. Do not worry about getting to the beach once you depart the ferry; taxis will take you where you want to go and are usually a flat rate, about $10. While there are no big resorts or casinos on Culebra, there are many charming rooms and small restaurants, so take the week to explore the island and visit all of the beaches.