San Juan Beaches
When most people think of San Juan, they think of the walled city with its historic buildings, forts, and cobblestone streets, but not far from there you can find spectacular beaches.
In general, San Juan beaches are crowded on the weekends and deserted on the weekdays, depending on the season, holidays, or special events and festivities that are taking place. While some people prefer the crowds, others prefer a more quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, this is a factor to consider when planning your beach vacation.
Here is a list of popular beaches in the San Juan Metro Area:
Old San Juan/Puerta de Tierra Area
El Escambrón Public Beach
El Escambrón is a public beach located in the San Juan neighborhood of Puerta de Tierra, specifically by the Parque del Tercer Milenio (Tercer Milenio Park). It is a Blue Flag Beach, which means that it meets water quality, safety and environmental standards. El Escambrón Beach has restroom facilities, outdoor showers, lifeguards, picnic tables, a restaurant, and designated parking. There is a small flat rate parking fee, but vehicles are safeguarded while you are enjoying your day at the beach.
One of the greatest things about El Escambrón Beach is its location, as it is the closest beach to Old San Juan. Another great thing about it is the fact that there is a more secluded and tranquil beach in the east side of Tercer Milenio Park at walking distance from the main beach, in case you feel the main beach is too crowded. This other section of the beach is smaller and safer for kids.
The breathtaking views from El Escambron Beach are what attract a lot of people to this beach. From the west side of the beach you can see the capitol and the San Cristobal and El Morro Forts. From the east side, the Condado skyline and beach can be seen; even Ocean Park Beach can be glanced at from the northeastern tip of the beach, where the Escambron Battery is located.
El Escambrón Beach is protected by a natural reef; therefore, no big waves threaten this beach. It is perfect for families with children and for those who enjoy snorkeling.
The closest hotels to El Escambrón Beach are the Caribe Hilton Hotel and San Juan Park Hotel.
Condado/Ocean Park Area
Condado Beach is located in the Condado neighborhood. It extends from the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza to the “Parque del Indio” (Park of the Indian) at the east end of Ashford Avenue.
The western end of Condado Beach, also known as “Playita del Condado” (Condado’s Little Beach), is bounded by the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, the Puente Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers Bridge) and the Caribe Hilton Hotel in the back. This is a small section of the beach, but it has lifeguards and outdoor showers. Playita del Condado is suitable for families with small children, as the water is calm and safer than in the eastern section of Condado Beach.
The eastern section of Condado Beach is between Ventana al Mar Park and Parque del Indio, where Ocean Park Beach begins. This section of the beach is more popular for the younger crowd and for surfers, as there is regular tidal activity. Access to this beach is available through the Ventana al Mar Park, Parque del Indio, and the side streets between the hotels. This is because the main road, Ashford Avenue, doesn’t run in front of the beach and sometimes it is not obvious to the visitors that the beach is there. This provides for a secluded beach free from traffic noise in the middle of the city.
The section between the western and eastern ends of Condado Beach is very rocky and the waves are rough. I don't recommend you go there as it is not very safe.
Ocean Park Beach
Ocean Park Beach is the favorite stretch of beach in San Juan for many, especially single adults. It is located between Condado Beach and Punta Las Marías, a famous tip that separates Ocean Park Beach from Isla Verde Beach.
Ocean Park Beach boasts a vast shoreline and sand area, ideal for active beachgoers who enjoy sports like beach volleyball, football or beach paddle tennis. Water sports like kayaking and kite surfing take place at this beach on a regular basis. Tourists and locals gather in this nice and peaceful beach to get away from the city atmosphere of Condado and Isla Verde.
Ocean Park has several beachfront small restaurants where you can enjoy a nice meal, snack or drink from outdoor tables. The neighborhood is mostly residential but it houses several guesthouses and bed & breakfast inns from where you can walk straight to the beach. Free parking for Ocean Park Beach and tennis courts facilities are available at Parque Barbosa, the beachfront park from which Ocean Park gets its name.
Punta Las Marías (Las Marías Tip)
Punta Las Marías is the tip that separates Ocean Park Beach from Isla Verde Beach. It is not really a beach, but it is worth mentioning here because it is a popular surf spot. This is the place to go if you enjoy surfing or even if you dare to try it.
Isla Verde Area
Isla Verde Beach
Isla Verde Beach is a long stretch of beach along Isla Verde Avenue, where most beachfront hotels are. The beach starts just west of the Cementerio Puerto Rico Memorial (cemetery) and extends to Amapola Street, at the eastern tip of the beach.
Isla Verde Beach is a great beach for people-watching and for water sports like water skiing and parasailing. Its soft golden sand makes it ideal for beach sports and for playing and building sand castles. The water has a nice turquoise color and it is not as rough as that of Condado Beach.
There are many cafes and restaurants near the beach and at the beachfront hotels. Access to the beach is available through the hotels and through the side streets between them. Parking for the beach may be limited on the road, but there are shopping centers with plenty of parking space across Isla Verde Avenue, in which you can park and walk to the beach.
Pine Grove Beach
Pine Grove Beach is the segment of beach between La Playa Hotel in Isla Verde and the Courtyard by Marriot Isla Verde Beach Resort. Geographically, this segment is part of Isla Verde, but it is on the other side of the tip where Isla Verde Beach ends. Therefore, it is often considered a different beach.
The western side of Pine Grove Beach is sheltered by an offshore reef that extends from the western tip to the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This makes it a nice and shallow beach ideal for family entertainment and for snorkeling. The eastern side of this beach has more waves, which makes it a popular spot for surfing.
Western Side Eastern Side
Pine Grove Beach can be accessed by the side streets adjacent to the Ritz Carlton Hotel or through the hotels and condos of the area. Since it is next to the Balneario de Carolina, it can also be accessed by foot from that beach. Pine Grove Beach does not have outdoor showers or public restrooms, but the nearby beach does as well as the hotels in the area.
Balneario de Carolina/Carolina Public Beach
Balneario de Carolina is located to the east of Pine Grove Beach in Isla Verde and directly north of the international airport. The term Balneario refers to a public beach that has amenities like restroom facilities, outdoor showers, picnic tables, lifeguards, changing rooms, designated parking and security patrols. Just as El Escambrón Beach, Balneario de Carolina is a Blue Flag Beach that meets water quality, safety and environmental standards.
Balneario de Carolina is popular among the locals because it is an open beach free of hotels and commercial establishments and it can be accessed easily. Water sports and beach sports are practiced on this beach on a day to day basis. Families come to this beach to relax and enjoy a day at the beach at its best. Some tourists come to this beach to spend that extra time they get between flights, as the beach is conveniently located near the airport.
Aviones (Airplanes) Beach is located in Loíza, a neighboring town of Isla Verde, specifically at the Piñones Natural Reserve. Because this is a reserve, this beach has no high rise buildings or many commercial establishments, except for the local restaurants or food shacks nearby. There is a lot of green in this beach.
The reason why the beach is called Aviones Beach is because it is located to the northeast of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, directly in the flight path of planes. Extreme indeed! While basking in the sun and enjoying the beautiful waters, tourists can also take advantage of great photo opportunities with airplanes arriving and departing.
One particular characteristic of this beach is that a section of it is enclosed by a large rock ledge forming a natural pool safe for children and adults to bathe and relax.
A daytrip to this beach can be an awesome experience because, besides hitting the waves or the calm water, you can also tour the Piñones Reserve along the Piñones boardwalk and try Puerto Rico’s famous (and delicious) fry food from the local food shacks.
Whatever beach you decide to go to, San Juan has great options for you to consider. Just bring your bathing suit, tanning lotion and have fun!
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