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Looking to discover the best beaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico? Look no further. I’ve visited San Juan a couple of times now and have spent time at all these beaches.
After you’ve spent time exploring the colorful walled city of Old San Juan, you’ll probably want to spend some time tanning and soaking up the sun. The beaches around San Juan aren’t powdery white like those on Culebra and Vieques, but they still have tropical island vibes, with swaying palm trees and crashing waves.
If you’re a beach lover then I’d definitely recommend staying in Condado or Isla Verde over the old town. Ubers are cheap in Puerto Rico, so you can easily order one to whisk you into Old San Juan.
In this guide I’ll show you all the best beaches in the San Juan area (ordered from west to east), and tell you which is my personal favorite!
10 Best San Juan Beaches
Playa Puerta de Tierra
Located on San Juan islet (Isleta de San Juan), Playa Puerta de Tierra is the closest beach to Old San Juan. Opposite the Capitol building you’ll find a set of stairs that lead down to this beach – it’s pretty narrow and rugged looking, with swaying palm trees and lush greenery.
Currents at this beach can be very strong, so avoid swimming here and stay on the shore.
At the northeastern point of San Juan islet you’ll find Balneario del Escambron, a fairly small public beach that’s very popular with locals. This beach is split into two sides; one for swimming and one for snorkeling and diving.
The beach is lined with palm trees offering plenty of shade, and offers facilities such as restrooms and showers. Visitors arriving by car can park in the Calle San Agustin parking lot, which is to the west of the beach.
If you get bored of the beach, take a stroll through Parque del Tercer Milenio and Luis Munoz Rivera Park, which are both situated nearby.
Playita del Condado
At the western end of Ashford Avenue next to the Condado Plaza Hilton lies Playita del Condado, a tiny beach with calm, shallow waters. This beach is great for families with kids, and provides a safe place for swimming if the tides are too strong on Condado Beach. If you fancy snorkeling, bring your mask and swim along the rocks off shore.
Sun chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and there are a few food vendors selling pina coladas, drinks and snacks. If you prefer something more substantial, the restaurants of Ashford Avenue are just a short walk away.
Playita del Condado sits right beside Dos Hermanos Bridge, which connects Condado with San Juan islet, and from the shore you can see the famous Hotel Caribe, which is the birthplace of the pina colada.
Located south of Ashford Avenue and Puente Dos Hermanos bridge, Laguna del Condado is a tranquil lagoon that’s popular for snorkeling, standup paddleboarding and kayaking. If you’re lucky, you may even spot manatees poking their noses up out of the water.
The lagoon has an average depth of 10 feet, and features coral reefs that are teeming with many types of fish. If you want to get some exercise, take a walk around the edge of the lagoon, or bike along the nearby bike path into Old San Juan.
With its luxury hotels, high-rise apartment buildings, trendy eateries and fashionable boutiques, Condado is one of the most popular areas to stay in San Juan.
The neighborhood is very convenient; it’s only a 10 minute drive from San Juan and has everything you need, including CVS and Walgreens.
Condado Beach can get pretty busy, and usually has a lively vibe on weekends.
Ocean Park Beach
Ocean Park Beach is similar to Condado Beach, only less crowded. There’s plenty of space for sunbathing and it’s a bit more laid back and relaxing than Condado. This beach was once called Ultimo Trolley Beach, since it was the site of the San Juan–Condado streetcar line terminal. It’s backed by swaying palm trees, and a mixture of condominiums and guesthouses.
The shore can be pretty windy, which makes it a popular spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you want to have a go at kitesurfing yourself, you can book lessons through Kite Puerto Rico, which is located at Numero Uno Beach Hotel.
Ocean Park Beach is also popular for jogging, and there are several volleyball nets placed along the beach.
Isla Verde Beach (Split into 3 Beaches)
Isla Verde is located right by San Juan airport, so you can reach your hotel in under 10 minutes if you choose to stay here. I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde on my last visit to Puerto Rico, and was tanning on the beach within 30 minutes of landing!
You’ll find a number of luxury hotels in Isla Verde, including The Ritz-Carlton San Juan, Fairmont El San Juan, The Royal Sonesta San Juan and Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Isla Verde is located in the town of Carolina and features one long strip of golden sand, lined with palm trees, hotels, resorts, beach bars and restaurants.
It’s actually divided into three beaches – Pine Grove, Alambique and Balneario de Carolina. Each has its own vibe.
This beach is located closest to San Juan, and is popular with both locals and tourists. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, and there are a number of eateries along the beach. The main entry point for Alambique Beach is from Calle Jose Tartak, although it can also be accessed from Fairmont El San Juan, Royal Sonesta and San Juan Water & Beach Club.
Pine Grove Beach
Pine Grove is quieter and good for families, and the waves here are good for beginner surfers. There are two beachfront resorts at Pine Grove – the Courtyard by Marriott and the Ritz Carlton.
Balneario de Carolina
This is a public beach, although the term is a bit confusing since all beaches in San Juan are open to the public. The beach is managed by Compania de Parque Nacionales, and offers a number of facilities, including restrooms, showers, parking and picnic facilities. There are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied here, including eateries, volleyball courts, water sports and a small water park for kids. The beach has been awarded the Blue Flag Award for cleanliness and water quality, and is attended by lifeguards and paramedics.
Playa de Pinones
Head further along the coast and you’ll come across pinones, which is home to a few different beaches, including Vacía Talega and Playa La Pocita.
My favorite beach along this stretch of coast is Playa Aviones, which is popular with surfers. Bring your own board, or simply watch the surfers doing their thing from the shore.
If you’re feeling hungry, grab a bite to eat from Kiosko El Boricua, or head over to Hook’d at Drift – a cool beach bar with comfy oceanfront seating. On the menu you’ll find fresh seafood dishes as well as cocktails and daily drinks specials.
A Final Word
So that completes my list of the best beaches in San Juan! If you get tired of the beach, I’d highly recommend hiring a car so you can explore El Yunque rainforest. And if you’re looking for the most postcard-perfect beach in Puerto Rico, organize a day trip to the island of Culebra, where you can visit one of the world’s best beaches, Flamenco Beach. This beach is known for its white sand, turquoise water and colorful painted tanks.