For a quick and easy getaway, Puerto Rico is a no-brainer for most Americans. With affordable cruises, direct flights from 20 U.S. cities and the ability to fly to P.R. without a passport for American citizens, traveling to the island is a breeze. Plus, the island’s rich culture will make you feel like you’ve traveled somewhere exotic, even though you’re technically still on U.S. soil.
With 270 miles of coastline and several out islands, any Puerto Rico beach is hard to beat. Expect world-class surfing in Rincón, reefs teeming with marine life off the coast of Culebra and prime sunset views in Aguadilla, to name a few. It’s no wonder that many Puerto Rican beaches consistently rank among the best in the world.
Whether you’re looking to surf, snorkel or sunbathe, here are the best beaches on Puerto Rico to visit.
You’ll have to hire a boat to get to one of the islands of Puerto Rico, off the mainland’s east coast, for this beach, but the trek is worth the effort. In Fajardo, book a private boat, or opt for a group catamaran snorkel tour. Icacos is serene and secluded. Here, you’ll feel like you have your own private island for the day. Be sure to bring your own shade, snorkel gear, food and drinks.
Take a day trip to the island of Culebra where Flamenco Beach is the most popular spot. It’s easy to see why: The crystal-clear, shallow water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll see a variety of fish, coral and even an occasional sea turtle. Plenty of facilities and food stalls make it a great beach to lazy the day away.
This popular surfing beach near Rincón is set between the lighthouse and the domes of an inactive nuclear plant, hence the name. Watch the surfers (or join them), or walk the trail to nearby Spanish Wall Beach. In the winter months, Domes Beach is a prime spot for whale watching.
Also known as Red Beach, this strand is located on Vieques, a small island eight miles off Puerto Rico’s east coast. Within Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, this unspoiled beach doesn’t offer many facilities, save for a few picnic gazebos and barbecue grills. Bring an umbrella, a chair and your favorite book, and spend the day amid the gorgeous, serene scenery.
Located near El Yunque National Forest, this beach is the perfect afternoon stop after a morning spent hiking the rainforest. It’s one of the best beaches for swimming on the mainland of Puerto Rico. Rent a kayak, or try out fly-boarding. Luquillo is also famous for its food kiosks. With an array of local street food, you won’t go hungry at this beach.
Palomino Island is a beautiful private island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. The island is reserved for guests of El Conquistador, a Waldorf Astoria resort, but day passes are also available. Palomino’s smaller sister island, Palominito, was used as a backdrop in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Lined with resorts ranging from budget to high-end, this is one of San Juan’s most popular beaches, drawing both tourists and locals. If you’re looking for nightlife, this is the place to be: Many of the resorts feature casinos, lounges and nightclubs.
If you enjoy hunting for shells or checking out tide pools, you will love Isabela. Located on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, the rocky shoreline is full of sea biscuits, sand dollars and tide pools. Make sure you wear water shoes, and watch out for anemones.
Crash Boat Beach
Located near Aguadilla on Puerto Rico’s west coast is Crash Boat Beach. Restaurants, snorkeling, scuba diving and hanging out with friends are the main attractions here. Grab a drink, and relax on the beach to have a front row seat to a breathtaking sunset. If you want to explore a bit more, down the road is another fantastic beach, Playa Las Ruinas, named for its location near the ruins of an old lighthouse dating to 1889.
Off the beaten path on the southwest tip of Puerto Rico, there is a small dispute over the name of this beach, as some locals refer to it as La Playuela. One thing that’s undisputed: its beauty. It’s one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Bring sturdy shoes, and start your trip at the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. From the top of the limestone cliffs, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the beach before the short hike down to enjoy it.