Copyright (C) 2008 J. Hopke -Luquillo Beach
With hundreds of miles of coastline you will never be far from a beach while in Puerto Rico. From balnearios with all the amenities to mountainous overlooks with crashing waves to peaceful deserted hideaways tucked among the coco palms... the choices are endless.
*****Please be aware of current weather conditions and heed any posted warnings and flags at beaches. Even though they may appear calm there may be undertows and rip currents. Always enter the water slowly and be aware of conditions.
The Balnearios are public beaches which are maintained by the parks service. These beaches will have groomed sand, and many more amenities such as life guards, lockers, showers, food kiosks and even souvenir shops. At these designated beaches you will be charged a nominal fee for parking (usually about $3-$4) but it is well worth the convenience especially for families. Below are the two Balnearios which you can find on the north east coast.
Luquillo Beach or Balneario Monserrate
Copyright (C) 2008 J. Hopke
Luquillo Beach is one of the most stunning public beaches on the island! With the magnificent backdrop of El Yunque's mountains you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the sun watching the ever changing weather moving across its peaks. With over a mile of sandy shoreline lined with swaying palms this beach provides wonderful retreats from the hot sun. Luquillo beach is family oriented with calm waters that are perfect for children and it is usually extremely clean. The beach provides changing rooms, showers, food kiosks, souvenir shops, lifeguards and security patrols.
- You can rent chaises and umbrellas for about $5/$10, kayaks for $20/ 1/2hr.
- Remember that this is the pay beach and is not the beach behind the kiosks. Some tourists have entered the beach area behind the kiosks which is free however this area can be dirty and will be a disappointment. It is best to fork over the fee and to enter through the paid parking area.
- The middle photo shows the views looking east. The farther east you walk the more secluded it will be. Most people tend to gather on the western side of the beach which is closer to the restrooms and shops.
- There are handicap facilities at Luquillo beach which provide special beach wheelchairs. Stop at the office to inquire.
- Avoid Luquillo beach during the 4th of July holiday as it is over crowded, understaffed, and will be dirty.
- The beaches will be more crowded during holidays and weekends in the summer months. Our suggestion is to go early. The beach opens at 8:30am but many people don't arrive until after 11am. In the fall and winter months there may only be a handful of people on this beach. The middle photo was taken in June but at 9am. The other two photos are a typical morning and afternoon during the winter months.
- This is a great place for a morning run or swim.
- There is not any snorkeling at this beach
Balneario Seven Seas
Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo is a sheltered coconut and pine tree lined beach where on a brilliant sunny day you can actually see seven different hues of color in the water. If you follow the beach along to the right or far left you will come to a good spot for snorkeling where the reefs are just offshore. The snorkeling is fair for beginners and you will see mostly juvenile fish. This beach is protected by a large reef and calm on most days making this another good family beach. The sand is not as well groomed as you will find at Luquillo beach and there will be some seaweed (mostly washed up on shore from the tides) depending on the currents. The restroom facilities are also in some disrepair and can be dirty but there have been improvements made in the last year. However all in all the waters on a sunny day are really amazing and despite these things it is still worth a visit. (The photos above were taken in the month of May) Read our BLOG about a day at Seven Seas.
- Bring snorkeling gear for kids as this is a nice spot to introduce them to this
- Food stands at the beach are sometimes open and sometimes not. We suggest to pack a cooler with food snacks and drinks and make a picnic out of it.
- There are chaise and umbrella vendors some days and some not so bring beach chairs or beach mats.
- This beach is near the biobay, so make a day out of it by spending the afternoon here then grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area and then head over to Las Croabas park to experience the biobay in the evening.
- Avoid this beach on the 4th of July or other major summer holidays as it will also be overcrowded, understaffed and dirty.
Other beaches on the North East coast
There are many beaches along the north and east coast which are free. Parking is usually off road or along the street and they offer everything from surfing opportunities, people watching, to secluded coves. These do not have any services available and there are no life guards on duty, but they can be a wonderful places to enjoy a relaxed island feel.
Pinones State Forest Beaches
For a bit more of an adventure, you can visit Pinones State Forest stretching from Loiza to Carolina. Here you will find secluded beach coves just about anywhere that HWY 187 joins the coast from Loiza all the way to Carolina. Just pull off the road at any one of the sandy inlets leading to the beach and you will be treated with groves of palms, pristine secluded sand beaches and a fabulous day of relaxation. Even though life guards are not on duty and you may occasionally find some trash, these beaches are a real treasure. While at Pinones, you can travel west toward Carolina and you will find many food kiosks serving pina coladas, coco frio, and many of the local favorite foods and snacks. Read our Blog about a day at Pinones beaches.
- Avoid this area on the weekends as it will be very congested with traffic and crowded
- There have been some issues of petty theft mentioned however we have gone many times and never encountered any problems
- The surf can be higher at times so these beaches are more appropriate for couples or families with experienced swimmers
- Driving west toward Carolina there is a large open protected area made up of old reefs. The water here is shallow, calm and warm with small pools which is nice for children
- There is a boardwalk and bike trails along this area. You can rent bikes but they are not in the best shape. It does however make for a nice walk
- Either bring a cooler with food and beverages or stop at one of the many stands heading toward Carolina on 187.
Besides the balneario, the eastern coastline is full of beaches. Stretching from Monseratte all the way to Fajardo. These beaches do not have life guards or services, but there are restaurants near by and many times, especially on weekends and during the summer months there will be street vendors serving up local foods such as pinchos along with the little ice cream carts jingling their bells.
Playa Azul Beach is a sandy stretch which sits in front of the Play Azul condos near downtown Luquillo. The name of this beach says it all as the water colors are beautiful hues of blues and aqua's. Most of the people that frequent this beach are locals and tourists staying in the surrounding condo complexes. There are a few palms for shade but get there early to stake your claim, otherwise bring an umbrella and plenty of sunscreen. The waters can range from calm as a lake to some pretty good swells making this a good beach for boogie boarding. There are also some reefs off the east side of the beach with some fair snorkeling. Parking is off the street in back of the Playa Azul condos.
- Bring a cooler with drinks and snacks
- Rent a boogie board at La Selva surf shop or buy a cheapie at Walmart
- Get there early on weekends or it will be difficult to find parking
La Pared or "the wall" in Luquillo is named for the seawall and board walk which line this beach. It is located off the town Plaza in Luquillo, and even though there are no services at the beach, there are several good priced restaurants, sandwich shops and bakeries a short walking distance near the town square. Parking is off street along the wall. The beach can vary from season to season and year to year depending on the tides and swells. After a stormy period or heavy north east swells, the sandy beach area may be significantly reduced. The water is only waist to chest high and the waves can range from small swells to pounding surf. The waves break along several reefs located about 100 yards off shore. It's an all sand bottom beach so no worries about rocks and corral making this a great spot to boogie board or learn or improve surfing skills. You can rent boogie boards ($10) and surf boards ($15) at La Selva surf shop in Luquillo or if you are adventurous and want to have fun see our surfing section for lesson information and more photos.
Other great beaches
The beaches below are all located off Puerto Rico's NE coast along the small island chains know as La Cordillera Islands. You will find white sand on these beaches as they are generally compromised of crushed coral. Since these tiny islands do not have mountains or rivers, the water will usually be crystal clear and teeming with colorful fish, corals and reefs to explore. Most of the islands are uninhabited so finding a private slice of paradise is not too difficult.
There are several ways to reach these destinations and the most popular is to take a sailing and snorkeling charter out of Fajardo. (Please see the sailing and snorkeling section for more information.)
You can also hire a local captain out of Fajardo to take you out to the islands. He will drop you off and then pick you up at a predetermined time. If you choose this method, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, beach towels, snorkel gear and a cooler with drinks and food along with a cell phone. These islands are uninhabited, have no services or fresh water.
La Cordillera Islands-photo taken from the Fajardo Lighthouse
Cayo Lobos Cayo Icacos Cayo Palomonito
Flamenco is a stunning beach on Puerto Rico's sister island of Culebra. You can get here by flying out of the Fajardo airport, taking a ferry out of Fajardo, or the easiest way for a day trip is take a snorkeling excursion with East Island Excursions out of Fajardo (please see sailing and snorkeling section for more information). The beach is a long stretch of course white sand and amazing waters. Toward the center of the beach there is a guest house along with lounge chair and umbrella rentals (they only have a very limited quantity however) and at the main parking lot you will find food kiosks and restrooms. The beach is perfect for swimming, beach combing, tanning, walking, and there is also some snorkeling to the far left (when facing the beach from the water). You can also hike about 20 minutes to Carlos Rosario beach for some excellent snorkeling. Flamenco is rated one of the top ten beaches in the world.
There are also many wonderful beaches on Vieques. Most of the beaches on Vieques are secluded but difficult to get to unless you rent a jeep. Our recommendation if you want to see the beaches of Vieques is to spend a few days on that island, rent a jeep and explore.
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