Puerto Rico might look like a small island, but it’s full of beautiful scenery. Surrounded by water, our Enchanted Island has a variety of beaches to admire and enjoy. In my research, I found there are 1,200 beaches named in Puerto Rico. See the article (in Spanish) from Primera Hora, mostly pictures, here https://www.primerahora.com/fotogalerias/noticias/puerto-rico/las1200playasdepuertorico-1069825/foto-1/.
I wrote a previous post about many of Puerto Rico’s diverse attractions. (See article here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/03/16/my-beautiful-puerto-rico-this-is-where-i-come-from/)
I also wrote a previous post about the beautiful beaches of the north coast of the Island. (See article here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/06/30/my-beautiful-puerto-rico-beaches-of-the-north-coast/).
The south coast is not as long as the north coast of the Island. It runs about 90-95 miles long. You can imagine all the sandy beaches you’ll find all along. On the southern region, the land area is mostly dry. Many areas have mangroves and dark-colored sand. Also there are many areas with coral reefs. According to USA Today, the beaches on the Caribbean Sea side tend to be calmer, perfect for snorkeling or a lazy float, For more information, see the article here https://traveltips.usatoday.com/information-beaches-puerto-rico-12101.html
In the southern region, from west to east, there are 12 towns with beautiful beaches in its jurisdiction: Lajas, Guánica, Yauco, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Salinas, Guayama, Arroyo, and Patillas. Same as the north coast, most of these beaches are easily accessible and easy to find. Some other spots are known to locals or there are no signs of a beach. But as you drive, you might find a nice spot to stop by and enjoy the view and the water.
I chose the 10 most popular beaches on the south coast. There are many more to visit and explore. Selecting only ten has proven to be a very difficult task. I go from the town of Lajas in the west, to the town of Patillas in the east.
Because the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is in the north, in the metropolitan area of San Juan, there are many routes to get to the south. From San Juan, you can take Luis A Ferré Expressway, PR-52 all the way to Ponce in the south. It’s a drive of about 1 and a half hour, depending on time of day and traffic. On PR-52 in Salinas, there’s Highway PR-53 that goes all the way to Guayama. To continue east from Guayama, there’s main road PR-3.
You can also take main road PR-1 all the way from San Juan to Ponce. Main road PR-2 goes from the west area to Ponce. Then from Ponce, main road PR-1 goes to Salinas, and instead of driving north, take main road PR-3 all the way to the east.
There is an airport in Ponce, Mercedita International Airport, with direct flights from United States. You’ll be in the southern region of the Island, avoiding all the traffic and busy crowds of the San Juan area.
Starting in the southwest, in the town of Lajas, there’s Playita Rosada (Little Pink Beach). It’s located within the La Parguera Natural Reserve area. There’s a forest area, mostly mangroves, and a beautiful bioluminescent bay (I’ll be writing more about this beautiful bay in another post). The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources built a wooden enclosure and created a natural sea pool that attracts many visitors. They put nets lining the pool area, to keep seaweed and fish away.
Playa Santa is in the town of Guánica. This beach is very popular in Puerto Rico. It has light-colored sand, and there are trees nearby the beach area for a spot to enjoy some shadow, in between sun and sea bathing. There are no restrooms available on the beach area, and no assigned parking lot. There’s a vacation center for government employees, so the beach gets busy. But this beach is worth the visit.
Caña Gorda Beach is also in Guánica. This is a “balneario” (bathing spot) administered by the National Parks Program of the Recreation and Sports Department of Puerto Rico. It’s located in the Dry Forest area. There are public restrooms, picnic areas with tables, basketball area, and lifeguards on staff. There’s also a parking lot with a fee per vehicle.
El Tamarindo Beach is in the town of Yauco. This is a nice beach with a wide sand area. It’s located within the Dry Forest area, so it’s home to many threatened and endangered species, including the leatherback sea turtle and the Puerto Rican crested toad. Although there might be restricted or closed areas due to the toad’s mating season or turtle’s nesting season. It’s still a beautiful beach, not crowded and with nice areas to spend a good time.
El Tuque Beach is in the town of Ponce. This is one we used to visit often with the family, since our hometown Coamo is only a drive of 30 minutes away. From our house it was a drive of about 45-50 minutes. In the 1960s it was developed into a “balneario” administered by the Government of Puerto Rico. It was closed, then reopened, then closed again. Recently, it has been restored by a private firm to be part of the attractions of a nearby hotel.
Jauca Beach is in the town of Santa Isabel, east of Ponce. It is part of the Jauca Bay, where there’s an abundance of mangroves and palm trees. The sand is dark-colored. This is another one we used to visit often, as Coamo is the neighboring town, north of Santa Isabel. It’s near a residence area. There are no public restrooms, and no assigned parking. It’s still a nice place to visit.
Polita’s Beach is in the town of Salinas. Salinas is well known as a fisherman’s town, so there are many good restaurants that specialize in fish and seafood. The beach is in a residential area. There’s a parking fee to access this beach, but there are no public restrooms. There’s also abundant mangroves in the area. The Marina area is nearby, so it’s another beautiful area to visit.
Punta Pozuelo Beach is in the town of Guayama. It’s another beach in a residential area. It’s located in the Jobos Bay, and near the Aguirre Forest area. It’s not typically crowded. The sand area is not wide (between the trees area and the water area), but it’s nice for walking around. There’s also an abundance of mangroves and palm trees. There are no public restrooms.
Punta Guilarte Beach (also used to be known as Chiriópolis) is in the town of Arroyo. It used to be one of the “balnearios”, so it still has picnic area, public restrooms and parking space. It is a nice beach to enjoy with the family. There’s a private vacation center nearby, with villas/apartments for rent, now administered by the municipal government.
Finally, Guardarraya Beach is in the southeast edge of the Island, in the town of Patillas. Water is clear and there are plenty palm trees around. This beach has a particular combination of sand and river rocks to walk on. Unfortunately, there are no public restrooms available. But the view and the area are worth the visit.
There are many more beaches in the south area of Puerto Rico. As I have mentioned before, even when you can enjoy visiting Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches all year round, safety is always key. Some of these beaches are natural spots, with no lifeguard services.
Living outside of the Island, makes the research a bit difficult for me, and makes me wish I was there to enjoy all these wonderful locations. I still have plenty more to tell you about our beaches. Make sure to check my future posts. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!
Para versión en Español vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/07/07/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico:-playas-de-la-costa-sur/