You’ve asked for it, so we came up with a list of the top 10 best beaches in Puerto Rico. We’ve received many inquiries from explorer types of visitors (like we are) asking us personally for our favorite beaches, which is no easy task. Puerto Rico is a small island just 100 x 35 miles, making it possible for visitors to visit the best beaches at a relaxed pace.
After Hurricane Maria, many visitors have questions about which beaches are ready for visitors, so we hopped in our SUV and made the trips to check out our favorite spots to bring you the first updated list after Hurricane Maria 2018. We found many changes along the shore, some beaches got prettier and better, and some shorelines almost disappeared. Due to time constraints, not all of the photos were taken post-Maria, but we used them because there were no major changes.
Isla Verde Beach – Carolina
Isla Verde is one of the top beach destinations in Puerto Rico, the beach and great beachfront hotels are the main reasons. Isla Verde is ready for visitors, most of the hotels, restaurants, and water sports activities are open and operational. Like many beaches around the island, the water of Isla Verde Beach is even clearer and more beautiful.
Right after the last beachfront resort on the east side of Isla Verde (Courtyard Marriott in Isla Verde), you’ll find Carolina Beach, formally named “Balneario de Carolina”, the public beach of Carolina, which recently received the Blue Flag Award in November after Hurricane Maria. You can drive to Carolina Beach or walk if you’re staying in the nearby hotels.
Flamenco Beach – Culebra
Flamenco Beach is ready for visitors after Hurricane Maria, and was just recently re-awarded a Blue Flag post the hurricane. We do recommend you fly instead of taking the ferry; ferry service has been very unreliable since the hurricane. At this time we recommend you vacation in San Juan and either take a day trip to Culebra by flying from SJU or spend a night or two in Culebra.
What we love about Flamenco Beach: Everything…the softest sand, the most beautiful jeweled tones colors on the water, the rolling hills in the background. Beneath…sea turtles, coral reefs teeming with fish. More about Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico
Top Rated Tours to Flamenco Beach - Culebra
From San Juan
Pozo de Teodoro – Isabela
We hate to tell you about this beach, because…we feel selfish and don’t want to share it with crowds. We go during the week in the “winter” months and we typically have it to ourselves or share it with a few beachgoers. Pozo de Teodoro is located in the town of Isabela, which has become our favorite beach town.
Isabela is gaining popularity as a surfing destination but for those seeking calm waters, Isabela offers the best natural pools on the island.
During the winter the natural pool is typically fuller, during summer months when the tide is low the pool may be empty. If the pool is too shallow, be sure to visit another beach in Isabela.
What we love about Pozo de Teodoro: uncrowded, wide beach area, calm water (normal weather conditions), snorkeling in shallow water, a natural unending show of waves crashing onto the rock wall, and easy access from the road. More about Pozo de Teodoro in Isabela, Puerto Rico.
La Playuela (Playa Sucia) – Cabo Rojo
We were concerned about La Playuela (also known as Playa Sucia) after Hurricane Maria. We were there the same day the road was cleared, we anxiously headed to the beach to find it was still there. We’ve visited some beaches where the shorelines were cut in half, La Playuela is not very wide, and behind it are the salt flats, so it has the potential of disappearing.
We are happy to report the beloved Playuela is still gorgeous, although not officially stated, we noticed the sand area is not as wide as it used to be. We describe La Playuela as an “all-inclusive beach” for nature lovers. Set aside a full morning for this location, and be sure to bring: walking/hiking shoes, plenty of water, sunblock, snacks, and a little cash just in case an ice cream/drinks vendor is on the beach. Please visit our full article on Playa Sucia.
What we love about La Playuela: breathtaking location, clear water, playful waves, romantic shaded spots, and all the additional attractions within the refuge.
Top Rated Tours to Cabo Rojo & West Coast from San Juan
Domes Beach – Rincon
Domes has always been a favorite beach among surfers. Although the beach is not good for swimming, it is a fun beach to watch surfers, relax and enjoy the sunset. Nearby there are various beachfront restaurants for dinner. While you’re in Rincon, be sure to book a horseback riding tour, which typically passes through Domes Beach.
The sand at Domes was the first beach we stepped on after Hurricane Maria, I can’t even describe the feeling of putting our feet on the sand after experiencing such a catastrophic event. To our surprise, surfers were enjoying the waves, kids playing on the sand, families relaxing…and at that moment we realized things would be ok. While the news was focusing on the chaos on the island, many islanders found joy and hope in the sand and water.
What we love about Domes Beach: sunsets, lounging to watch surfers and horseback riding tours along the Rincon coastline.
Top Rated Surfing Lessons in Puerto Rico
San Juan is the most tourist-ready vacation destination in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, there are plenty of attractions open and operational for visitors’ enjoyment. Condado Beach is like the Miami Beach of the Caribbean. City lovers seeking a quick weekend escape will enjoy staying at Condado Beach. Although not safe for swimming, the entertainment, beachfront resorts, dining, shopping, and nearby attractions make Condado Beach a favorite for our family when we crave the perfect mix of city life and beach time.
What we love about Condado Beach: Amazing hotels to choose from right on the beach. Great places to eat and shop within walking distance. Lounge and umbrella rentals and drinks are served on the beach. Taxis are everywhere for easy transport to Old San Juan and events in the city. More about Condado Beach, Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Gilligan’s Island – Guanica
We LOVE going to little Gilligan’s Island…not the actual place where the Gilligan’s Island show was filmed but once there you’ll see it surely be a nice place to be lost. Officially it is not a beach, the body of water surrounds a cay (formal name Cayo Aurora), the sandy area is very small, but if you get there early you can claim one of the few gazebos or mangrove trees over the water providing shade where you can place your lounge chairs. Gilligan’s Island has the clearest water on the entire main island of Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria we were terrified our little island would be gone or partly destroyed, we are happy it is still there for the enjoyment of all.
What we love about Gilligan’s Island / Cayo Aurora: the clarity and calmness of the water, the scenery, snorkeling, and the journey there.
Best Hotels to Stay near Gilligan’s Island: Stay at Copamarina Beach Resort, they have their own private ferry ready to take you anytime during the day. It is a small intimate hotel with a nice pool facing the water, on-site restaurants, and friendly staff. More about Gilligan’s Island – Guanica, Puerto Rico
Combate Beach – Cabo Rojo
This was one of the first beaches to get cleaned up and ready after Hurricane Maria. It is the longest beach in Puerto Rico, a wonderful place to take a walk on the beach. The water is clear, with the perfect depth for playing, floating, swimming, and relaxing.
It is a very popular beach for locals on weekends and summer months, but on weekdays the vibe is nice and relaxed. We encourage you to take a walk to the end and bring only the necessities to the beach, so you can take a long walk on the beach and not worry about carrying or leaving valuables while you explore. There are plenty of spots on the sand to claim your own, most people tend to congregate close to the restaurants for easy dining access, but farther south, the beach gets even prettier. There’s plenty of free parking on the shoulder of the street.
What we love about Combate Beach: clear water, restaurants nearby, the depth of the water, and hiking to Punta Aguila from Combate.
Best places to stay near Combate Beach: Combate Beach Resort – not a resort, it is really a small inn, with charming, clean comfortable guest rooms and within walking distance of Combate Beach. More about Combate Beach – Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
Sun Bay Beach – Vieques
Sun Bay Beach is still in recovery mode from Hurricane Maria, there was much damage to the infrastructure, homes, and businesses. The coastline lost many palm trees but the beauty that bewitches visitors still abounds. Just recently Sun Bay was also the recipient of the Blue Flag Beach Award. Sun Bay is the most beautiful Balneario under the Puerto Rican Flag, a Balneario is a “public beach” managed by the government. Sun Bay is ready for visitors and gorgeous. If you have more a day in Vieques be sure to explore more beaches.
What we love about Sun Bay Beach: calm water, great for swimming, plenty of palm trees for shade and hanging a hammock, gorgeous turquoise water, on-site facilities, and ample convenient parking. More about Sun Bay Beach – Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.
Top Rated Vieques Tours & Transfer from San Juan
Crash Boat Beach – Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
This one may come as a surprise since we never included Crash Boat Beach in our Best Beaches in Puerto Rico Guide in prior years. Although a favorite for locals, we didn’t feel it was good for the average tourist. The entire shoreline at Crashboat Beach needed work, the cafeteria and shops needed a lot of “TLC”, facilities were non-existent and the sand was dirty most times we visited.
Crashboat as everyone knew it, virtually does not exist anymore after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. So why include Crashboat in this list? It is one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico to see the effects of Hurricane Maria on the shores. Although we were in shock from the damage and changes, we took a pause, took a look around, and found hope and beauty in the mid of the destruction. The water is clearer than ever, the beach got a brand new thick carpet of soft light golden sand. All the buildings that now sit on the sand will certainly become an attraction to those that wish to see the effects of a hurricane. We all know that disasters and negativity get attention, so if you wish to see how Hurricane Maria affected some of our beaches, this perhaps is one beach to visit. This marks the end of Crashboat as a generation enjoyed it, but it is also a sight of how the island will recover and rebuild a better Puerto Rico.
What we love about Crashboat Beach: crystal clear water, scuba diving at the pier, and a great place to see the effects of a hurricane on the coastline.