Puerto Rico has 272 miles of coastline, and plenty of beaches to go around it. To contrast, there are places with water as calm as a pond and fantastic breakers with world class surf. Beaches here may be lined with high-rise condos and hotels, or in pristine national wildlife refuges.
But it doesn’t matter what you’re up to – a laid-back siesta with a clean hammock, or a party with the best reggaeton around – there is a beach in Puerto Rico for you. Here, you’ll find a great system of balnearios, or public beaches, that – like Curacao, charge a small fee. They have ample parking and lifeguards, concessions and bathrooms.
And we found something special here; four of the beaches, two in San Juan, one at Luquillo, and one on Isla Culebra – are Blue Flag Beaches. This means they are administered in a safe and environmentally conscious manner.
San Juan has been a tourist destination for decades, with convenience and casinos, age-old Latin culture and weather that’s hard to beat. The fortress guarding the harbor here, San Felipe del Morro, is a must visit. But let’s head out to the beaches which are sure to please.
First a note about Puerto Rican beaches. We found that the most white were on the smaller islands of Culebra and Vieques. We believe this is because there is less silt content in the sand from the mountains of the main island.
But tan beaches can be enjoyable. Some beaches we found had too much sea grass to make them nice to wade in. Others were just downright treacherous. Off the northwest coast are the best surf beaches – but you must mind the currents or you can get in trouble real quick.
And finally, there’s a move about to give Puerto Rico autonomy. You’ll see and hear chatter about it everywhere. And that’s okay. Puerto Ricans need what’s theirs. On Vieques, bad vibes still exist over the Navy’s long occupation, turning much of the island into a target range. Some places on the island are still off limits because of unexploded bombs.