About Puerto Rico beaches
One of the Caribbean’s largest islands, Puerto Rico is a land of distinct contrasts. About 75% mountainous, it contains deserts, high mountains, rich rainforests, an extensive underground cave system and many beautiful beaches.
No matter what the hotels will have you believe, all beaches are public. In the San Juan area, the beaches at Isla Verde (Balneario de Carolina) and the more famous Condado merge together; where one ends the other begins. Outside the city, Luquillo Beach 48km (30 miles) to the east is considered the country’s finest. Playa Dorado, just west of San Juan, is actually a series of beaches especially popular with families. More remote areas of the island also boast good strands.
Beyond the beach:
The most popular day trip from San Juan is El Yunque, a genuine tropical rainforest only about 45 minutes away. Walks at lower altitudes are easy on paved paths. These popular trails require a hard surface to accommodate both heavy foot traffic and combat possible erosion from sometimes torrential rains. There are true wilderness hiking experiences at higher, less visited altitudes.
Many of San Juan’s beachfront resorts offer organised programmes and special themed restaurants for children. Leisurely walks in Old San Juan are always fun. The highlight there is exploring the interior of the mighty El Morro Fortress that rises 19.8m (65ft) above the pounding sea. If it’s windy, bring a kite and join the locals on the fort’s expansive open grounds.
Puerto Rico has two very different and appealing offshore islands. Culebra offers gorgeous white sand beaches and many wildlife watching opportunities, including nesting sea turtles between April and July. Uninhabited Mona Island is a miniature Galapagos with iguanas, sea birds and nesting sea turtles. In addition, the US and British Virgin Islands are only a short plane hop away.
The stylish El San Juan Hotel and Casino (6063 Isla Verde Avenue, Isla Verde) is the most popular after-dark gathering place for casino gaming and dancing and the ideal place for people-watching. View it all from a stool in the large lobby bar or from one of the quiet side tables.