My Beautiful Puerto Rico: Unique and Special Beaches

Puerto Rico has so many beautiful and amazing places to visit. The beauty of nature is exposed here in its mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, and beaches. It can be appreciated any time of the year. With the warm weather and cool breeze, beaches are one of the most popular attractions in our Island. We Puerto Ricans proudly call it “Isla del Encanto” or “Enchantment Island”.

I’ve written about the beautiful beaches around the Island, and it has been a hard task to pick only ten on each coast. For this post, I picked ten more of these amazing places, so unique that I want to tell you all about them.

First, let me tell you about the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. Bioluminescence is a very interesting chemical reaction from some living organisms that produces light. They use it as a defense mechanism, to confuse predators, or to attract and hunt prey, or even to attract mates. For more information, check this article from National Geographic Magazine https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/bioluminescence/

Angler Fish from “Finding Nemo”, image courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures

Some animals that are good examples of these type of reaction are:

  • the angler fish: uses it to attract prey, the fish we see in Finding Nemo, 2003 Pixar/Disney movie;
  • the “vampire” squid: uses it to confuse predators, instead of dark ink they produce a bioluminescent mucus; and,
  • the firefly, also known as lightning bug: uses it to attract mates (those cute little fireflies!).
Fireflies at night

This phenomenon happens most commonly in warm water lagoons or bays near the ocean. There are five bioluminescent bays around the world, three of them are in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, this is mostly caused by micro-organisms, called dinoflagellates, reacting to confuse predators. This reaction, producing a bright light, is better appreciated at night.

Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

One of these bays is Mosquito Bay. It’s located in the south coast of the island-municipality of Vieques. Vieques is located to the east of Puerto Rico, and you have to get there on a boat, a ferry, or on a plane. This bay is considered the brighter one. There are many tour guide companies offering visitors a tour to the bay to see this phenomenon up close.

Laguna Grande,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The second bay is Laguna Grande (Big Lagoon). It’s in the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, in the town of Fajardo. It’s located in the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve area. There are many mangrove trees surrounding the lagoon. Because it’s in the reserve, reservations are required. Different tours are offered for visitors, including night tours.

La Parguera Bay, Lajas, Puerto Rico

The third one is La Parguera Bay. It’s in the southwest, in the town of Lajas. It’s located in the La Parguera Nature Reserve, and near the Guánica Dry Forest. Like Laguna Grande in Fajardo, there are many mangrove trees in the area. It’s considered the least bright, but still have some bioluminescent activity in it.

Check this article from “The Culture Trip” for more information about Puerto Rico’s amazing bioluminescent beaches https://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/puerto-rico/articles/a-guide-to-puerto-ricos-magical-glow-in-the-dark-beaches/.

There are also some interesting beautiful beaches around the many islets and cays around the Island. Puerto Rico is considered an archipielago (a group of island close together). It includes 143 small islands, islets and cays. I’ve selected some of them to write about, as they are some of the most beautiful beaches around Puerto Rico. As there are no facilities in most of these islands, visitors are advised to bring water, food, insect repellent, sunblock, and garbage bags for trash.

Isla de Cabra, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico,
Courtesy of Francisco Alvarado/Marilyn Alvarez

Starting in the north, there’s Isla de Cabra (Goat’s Island), located in the town of Toa Baja, near the San Juan area. There’s a small fort in this islet, the Fort San Juan de la Cruz, that was one of the forts built by the Spaniards when they governed the Island. A kid’s play zone has been built there for visitors with children. There are also picnic tables and public restrooms. There is a small beach area, but is not suitable for bathing. There’s an entrance fee per vehicle.

Icacos Cay, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of Francisco Alvarado/Marilyn Alvarez

In the northeast, near Fajardo, we find Icacos Island. It’s about 3 miles from mainland, and you have to get there by boat. It’s managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico, and is very popular as a scuba diving and snorkeling destination. The sand is of light white color and the water is crystal clear. There are no restrooms on this island. Food and coolers can be brought over for picnics.

Palomino Island, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Palomino Island is also in the northeast, near Fajardo and close to Icacos. It’s a small paradise with light white sand and crystal clear water. Part of the island is privately owned by a nearby hotel resort, and thereby reserved for their guests. But there are areas still accessible to public visitors. There’s a restaurant on this island, but is in the reserved area for the hotel guests. As Icacos, the sand is of light white color and the water is crystal clear.

View of Caja de Muerto Island from Ponce

Moving to the south, we find Caja de Muerto (Coffin) Island near the town of Ponce. This name was given because, from afar, the island looks like a coffin. This island is also managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. There are some hiking trails around the island. There are five named beaches on the island:  Pelícano, Playa Larga, Playa Chica (also known as Carrucho), Playa Ensenadita (also known as Pocitas), and Playa Blanca (also known as Coast Guard).

Pelícano Beach at Caja de Muerto Island, Ponce, Puerto Rico

All those beaches are good for bathing, as always, taking all necessary precautions. There are restrooms with composting bathrooms and changing rooms. There are gazebos with picnic tables. There’s also a visitor’s center, an educational center, and an office for the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

Guilligan’s Island, Guánica, Puerto Rico

Aurora Cay, best known as Guilligan’s Island, is in the southwest, near Guánica. It’s about a mile from mainland. It’s part of the La Parguera Nature Reserve and it’s managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. Being part of the reserve, you’ll find a lot of mangrove trees around. There are many bathing spots all around the island. There are picnic tables and barbecue pits. There are no restrooms, but there are composting toilets.

Mata La Gata Island, Lajas, Puerto Rico

There’s another beautiful small cay nearby Guilligan’s, known as Mata La Gata Island (a tricky name, as translation means “Cat the Plant” or “Kill the Cat”). This one is also in the southwest, near Lajas, close to Guánica. It’s part of the La Parguera Nature Reserve. Beaches are safe for bathing, but always taking necessary precautions. This island has picnic tables, gazebos, and barbecue pits. The restrooms here have composting restrooms, showers and changing rooms.

Beach in Mona Island, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Mona Island is in the west, near Mayagüez. It’s located about 41 miles west of Puerto Rico, and about 38 miles east of Dominican Republic. It’s also managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources as Mona Island Nature Reserve. Part of this reserve are two more smaller islands nearby: Monito and Desecheo. Most popular beaches are Sardineras, Pájaros and Arenas. There’s also an extensive cave system in the island.

View of cliffs, Mona Island, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

There are some impressive cliffs, better appreciated as you approach the island on boat. Sights of humpback whales and dolphins are common here. There’s a big turtle population that comes to this island to nest, especially the hawksbill sea turtle. Biologists come often to do research here. There are restroom facilities, but water consumption is limited. Camping is allowed, but permits are required.

For more information on these beautiful places, and some others nature reserves managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (document is in Spanish), check here http://drna.pr.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/NANP_Folleto.pdf. (Note: As a warning, if you open this document on your phone, it has 56 pages. It opens as a “pdf” in Adobe reader.)

All these beautiful places are part of Puerto Rico’s many nature wonders. We are privileged to have all these extraordinary and unique beaches and islands. I hope that all these places would be well taken care of, and preserved, so future generations can have access to enjoy all that our Island has to offer. As soon as I go back to Puerto Rico, I’d be visiting some of these places. I’m so proud to be able to share all of these with you. Time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/08/11/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico:-playas-unicas-y-especiales/

My Beautiful Puerto Rico: Beaches of Culebra and Vieques

The beautiful island of Puerto Rico is in an amazing and unique location in the Caribbean area. The Atlantic Ocean borders its north coast, and the Caribbean Sea borders its south coast. It has warm weather, no snow, and breathtaking views.

Even though Puerto Rico is considered an island, it’s actually an archipielago (a group of island close together). It includes 143 small islands, islets and cays. The islands of Mona and Monito are in the west, and Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, and Palomino islands are in the east.

The islands of Culebra and Vieques are bigger in size than the other islands. Both are towns, with municipal government. Culebra has a population of about 1,800 and Vieques has about 9,300 residents, according to the data of the 2010 Census. All of the smaller islands have no population. Culebra is smaller in size that Vieques, and it’s located north of Vieques.

I have to confess that I’ve never been to Culebra or Vieques. Yes, I intend to visit soon. As I keep learning about these two beautiful islands and their beaches, the more interested I become.

Okay, so how do we get there? Well, there are two ferries departing every day to both islands, one is a passenger-only ferry and one is a cargo ferry. The cargo ferry is for cars, but mostly for residents, because rental companies in Puerto Rico put restrictions on insuring cars taken outside the mainland.

To take the ferry, there’s a port in the town of Ceiba. Ferries used to provide service from Fajardo, but operations were moved to Ceiba in 2018. They travel about 4 times a day to both islands. There are also charter flights that go to both island, as they both have airports.

These two islands have some of the most beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, but also of the world. I have picked 10 beaches, 5 from each island, for this post. This has not been an easy task. All their beaches are beautiful!

Map of Culebra, courtesy of Google Earth Maps

Culebra is about 22 miles east of Fajardo. It’s best known as “la Isla Chiquita”. There are about 1,800 residents living in this island, according to data from the 2010 Census. There are about 111 named beaches on its coast. The coast is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. The island has a small airport, and a port for ferry transportation by sea every day. To inquire about camping requisites and permits, contact the Culebra Conservation and Development Authority.

For more information, visit https://enciclopediapr.org/en/encyclopedia/culebra-municipality/, information provided by the Puerto Rico Endowment for the Humanities. Also check this great article about Culebra’s beaches from The Travel Channel here https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches/articles/culebra-island-puerto-rico.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach is the most beautiful of all of Culebra, and possibly of all of Puerto Rico. It’s in the northwest side of the island. It has been selected several times as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Its sand is of a light white color, and its water is crystal clear. It’s so clear, that a variety of blue-green tones can be seen throughout the day. There are restrooms and showers available. Camping is permitted in this beach (permission required).

Tamarindo Grande Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

Tamarindo Grande Beach is in the southwest side, very close to Flamenco. It takes about 20 minutes walking from one beach to the other. They’re separated by the Flamenco Peninsula, where the Culebra National Reserve is located. There’s a wildlife refuge in the reserve area, protected by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. This beach has some spots of sands that are of light white color and some spots that are of golden yellow color. There are plenty of pebbles throughout the beach, because of the abundance of coral reefs in this area. Water is crystal clear. The Luis Peña Bay is visible from this beach.

Datiles Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

Datiles Beach is a hidden gem. It’s in the southwest side of the island. It’s not a popular beach, but it’s a beautiful one to visit. This one has a shallow shore, water stays mostly calm with almost no waves, making it perfect for kids to bathe. Sand is very light, almost of white color, and water is crystal clear. It’s also perfect for camping, but there are no restroom facilities here.

Zoni (Soni) Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

Zoni Beach (known also as Soni) is in the northeast side of Culebra. From Zoni, the islands of St. Thomas and Tortola are visible in the distance. It has plenty of tall palm trees to enjoy some shadow. There are no restrooms on this beach. There might be areas restricted during turtle nesting season. The waves here are more active than in other beaches, so swimming is not very safe. There are no lifeguards around, always proceed with caution.

Tortuga Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

Tortuga Beach is located on the northwest side of Culebrita, Culebra’s largest cay. Its named “tortuga” or turtle because of the many turtles that are spotted on this beach, from leatherbacks to hawksbill, coming here for nesting or feeding. The beach is beautiful, as all of Culebra’s beaches, the sand is light white and the water is crystal clear. There are no facilities at all on this cay. There is a lighthouse, that remains closed for repairs. There are many hiking trails open to public, but there are no lifeguards or safety personnel here.

Map of Vieques, courtesy of Google Earth Maps

Vieques is about 8 miles from Ceiba. It’s best known as “la Isla Nena”. There are about 9,300 residents living in this island, according to data from the 2010 Census. There are about 172 named beaches on its coast. The coast is bordered by the Caribbean Sea. There is also a bioluminiscent bay in Vieques, Mosquito Bay, which I’ll write about in another post. The island also has a small airport, and a port for ferry transportation by sea every day.

The US Navy had facilities, and bombing practice areas, in over two thirds of land in the island until 2003. That land is now the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. All the beaches in that area still retain the names given by the Navy, including Red Beach, Blue Beach and Green Beach. 

For more information visit https://enciclopediapr.org/en/encyclopedia/vieques-municipality/, information provided by the Puerto Rico Endowment for the Humanities. Also check this great article about beaches in Vieques, written by blogger Jeremy from Pittsburgh, PA, (in English) https://www.livingthedreamrtw.com/2017/01/vieques-beaches-to-visit.html.

Sun Bay Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Sun Bay Beach is a “balneario” (bathing spot) administered by the Puerto Rico National Parks Program. It’s located in the south coast. This is a beach with restrooms, showers, picnic tables, good parking space, and lifeguards on staff. Camping is only permitted on this beach (permit required). There are many tall palm trees all around. This beach has beautiful light white sand and crystal clear water. The beach has a roped area, to make it safer for visitors who want to enjoy the water.

Esperanza Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Esperanza Beach is located in the south coast, to the west of Sun Bay Beach. This is a locals’ favorite, as kids love to jump off the pier nearby into the water. The sand, as Sun Bay, is of light white color and the water is also crystal clear.

Sea Glass (Cofi) Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Sea Glass Beach (also known as Cofi Beach) is located in the north coast, in the Mulas Bay area. It has some big rocks all around in the sand. It also has many beautiful sea glass pebbles, mixed with rock pebbles, all along the beach shore. The sand, mixed with the pebbles, is of golden yellow color. The water, as the other beaches in Vieques, is crystal clear.

Media Luna Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Media Luna Beach is located in the south coast, to the east of Sun Bay. It’s called “media luna” (half moon) because of the shape of the bay where it’s located. This is another local’s favorite, and another beautiful beach. As the others, it has beautiful light white sand and crystal clear water. The shallow shore allows bathers to enjoy a nice day in the water.

Black Sand Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Black Sand Beach is located in the southwest coast, to the west of Esperanza. What’s particular about this beach is that the sand is of a dark black color mixed with golden yellow. This is because the nearby Mount Pirata (peak) has volcanic material that gets washed to the sea when it rains. The sand then takes the dark color mixed in with golden yellow sand. To get to this beach, there is a bit of a hike. The water is crystal clear, but it’s not safe for swimmers as tide currents of the Caribbean Sea are strong here.

Sunset at Sea Glass Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

As I mentioned above, it has been a difficult task to pick only ten beaches, five from each island. If you have the opportunity to visit these beautiful beaches, take advantage of it! I have missed the chances, as I live in Florida and most of my travels to Puerto Rico are to visit family. Beaches are amazing places to admire nature, even if you don’t like to get in the water, or you don’t like beach crowds. There are still many secluded places that, I promise, will amaze you. I am dreaming of visiting soon. Time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/08/04/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico:-playas-de-culebra-y-vieques/

My Beautiful Puerto Rico: Beaches of the East Coast

Puerto Rico is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, making it a tropical paradise with wonderful beaches in every town near the coast. The beautiful sand with its changing color tones, the warm breeze, and the refreshing water makes Puerto Rico a perfect vacation destination.

This is the fourth post I write about Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches. To see previous posts, check the following links:

I share again this great article from Primera Hora newspaper, stating that there are 1,200 named beaches in Puerto Rico. Check the article, mostly pictures, (in Spanish) here https://www.primerahora.com/fotogalerias/noticias/puerto-rico/las1200playasdepuertorico-1069825/foto-1/

On the east coast of the Island, the Atlantic Ocean borders the north side. The Caribbean Sea extends up to part of the east coast and the south side of the islands of Culebra and Vieques, two municipalities of Puerto Rico. I’ll write about them in another post. There’s also much to write about these two islands and their wonderful beaches!

To go to the east from San Juan area, follow main road PR-3 all the way to Fajardo. That’s a driving distance of about one hour. There’s also Highway PR-26 Román Baldorioty de Castro from San Juan to Carolina, then Highway PR-66 Roberto Sánchez Vilella from Carolina to Rio Grande, then continue on PR-3 to Fajardo. This is a driving distance of about 50 minutes.

From Fajardo, PR-3 continues all the way to Maunabo on the the southeast. The east coast extends for about 35 – 40 miles from north to south. It’s another drive of about an hour, to 1 hour and a half. From Fajardo, follow Highway PR-53 José Celso Barbosa to Maunabo. This is a driving distance of about an hour. From the south area to the east, follow PR-3 from Salinas or PR-53.

There are six towns in this region with access to the coast: Fajardo, Ceiba, Nagüabo, Humacao, Yabucoa, and Maunabo. There are about 200 named beaches on this area. As I did on the previous posts, I only picked ten beaches, which has turned out a difficult task, as there are so many.

The town of Fajardo is located in the northeast corner of the Island. It’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the east. There are about 46 named beaches in this town. As you can imagine, all the beaches in this area are very popular. The Yunque National Rainforest is also in Fajardo, bringing many visitors to this town. The high peaks from the mountains in the forest can be seen from the coast.

Seven Seas Beach, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Seven Seas Beach is a “balneario” (bathing spot) in this town, managed by the Program of National Parks of the Department of Recreation and Sports of Puerto Rico. It has public restrooms, and picnic areas with built-in grills. There’s a camp area (permit required) and parking access (with a fee per vehicle). It’s safe for swimmers, because there’s a natural reef that protects the shore, plus there are lifeguards on staff. The sand here has a very light color, which makes the water look crystal clear.

Escondida Beach, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Escondida Beach is also in Fajardo. It’s near the Seven Seas Beach. It’s in a secluded area (the name “escondida” means hidden). It’s not safe for swimmers. But it’s a beautiful spot to visit. The sand has a golden color, and as Seven Seas, the water is crystal clear. But rip currents are strong, even when you don’t see big waves. To get there, you have to walk through a path across the mangrove area. There are no public restrooms, and no lifeguards.

Next town to visit is Ceiba. The Atlantic Ocean borders its coast. There are about 60 named beaches in this town. There’s an airport, the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, that uses the facilities of former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. This airport mostly serves private flights, and flights to the islands of Culebra, Vieques, and the Virgin Islands.

Medio Mundo Beach, Ceiba, Puerto Rico

Medio Mundo Beach is near the airport area. It’s another beach with sand that has a very light color. This makes the water look crystal clear. The shore is mostly flat, but it’s still not safe for swimmers. There are no lifeguards. If you decide to get in the water, always proceed with caution. Also, there are no public restrooms.

Húcares Beach, Nagüabo, Puerto Rico
Húcares Beach Boardwalk, Nagüabo, Puerto Rico

Húcares Beach is in Nagüabo. This beach has a long seafront boardwalk overlooking the bay. There are also docks for boats, as this is a town where many fishermen live. Of course there are many great seafood restaurants. It’s not a beach fit for swimming. But it’s a beautiful location, with a wonderful view of the bay. There is available parking nearby. On weekends, it gets very crowded, as many local food and arts vendors offer their products for locals and visitors.

Punta Santiago Beach, Humacao, Puerto Rico

Punta Santiago Beach is a “balneario” in the town of Humacao. There’s a vacational center nearby, administered by the National Parks Administration with villas and apartments for short-term rent. At the time I wrote this, 2019, the center was temporarily closed for repairs due to damage caused by Hurricane María. The beach area is open to visitors. There are public restrooms, picnic area, and parking available (with a fee per vehicle). The beach is near Punta Santiago Natural Reserve, so there are tall palm trees and mangroves.

Palmas del Mar Beach, Humacao, Puerto Rico

Palmas del Mar Beach is also in Humacao. Palmas del Mar is a private gated resort area. There’s a private beach for the resort residents, and there’s a public area for visitors. It has one of the most beautiful beaches in the eastern zone. The beach is framed by a beatiful line of tall palm trees. If you visit, let the security staff at the entrance know you are going to the beach. There are no public restrooms in the visitors’ area.

El Cocal Beach, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

El Cocal Beach is in Yabucoa. It’s a beach very popular among surfers. The sand is light yellow, and there are big rocks all around the shore. There are a couple of gazebos nearby. Parking is limited, as it’s by the side of the road. There’s a small area called “La Posita” where water is enclosed by rocks, so its waves are softer and is a nice spot to enjoy.

Lucía Beach, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Lucía Beach is also in Yabucoa. It’s in a secluded area, so there are no public restrooms and no lifeguards. The sand is light yellow and the water is crystal clear. The shore extends considerably, inviting for a nice walk. Vieques can be seen in the distance. There are also a great amount of tall palm trees here. The water seems calm, but swimming is not safe. There are a couple of gazebos nearby, that allows visitors to bring food and enjoy a picnic.

Punta Tuna Beach, Maunabo, Puerto Rico

Punta Tuna Beach is in Maunabo. This town is in the southeastern corner of the Island. Its coast is also bordered by the Caribbean Sea. The beach is located by the Punta Tuna Wetlands Natural Reserve, so there is plenty of vegetation around, from mangroves to tall palm trees. Because the beach is part of the reserve, there are restricted areas during turtle nesting season. It’s also a beach not safe for swimmers, due to the strong water currents. But it’s a beautiful location to spend the day, and walk around. The sand here has a range of color tones, from light yellow to dark orange. To the west end, there’s a beautiful rock wall. There are no public restrooms and no assigned parking.

The east coast is the most impacted region of Puerto Rico when tropical storms or hurricanes hit land. After Hurricane María in 2017, the whole Island suffered serious damage, but the towns and beaches of the east coast were greatly affected. With the help and efforts of volunteers, most of the beaches are back to their natural beauty.

Sunset at Húcares Beach, Nagüabo, Puerto Rico
Picture courtesy of Francisco Alvarado/Marilyn Alvarez

This coast also has amazing views. It’s easy to get fascinated by the wonderful sea landscape views as you drive nearby. It invites you to stop by, walk around, take a break and enjoy nature. I promise, if you visit, you too will fall in love with my beautiful Puerto Rico. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/07/28/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico:-playas-de-la-costa-este/

My Beautiful Puerto Rico: Beaches of the West Coast

Puerto Rico has so many beautiful beaches (and amazing locations) all around the Island. Memories come to mind of those sandy beaches, and the feeling of the sun, the water, and the warm breeze. The fact that there’s tropical warm weather all-year-round, makes it easier to enjoy any beach any time of the year.

As I had mentioned in my previous posts, during 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’ve written two previous articles about Puerto Rico’s beautiful beaches: one about the north coast, check article here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/06/30/my-beautiful-puerto-rico-beaches-of-the-north-coast/; and another about the south coast, check article here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/07/07/my-beautiful-puerto-rico:-beaches-of-the-south-coast/

On the west coast of the Island, the Atlantic Ocean meets with the Caribbean Sea. That area is called “Canal de la Mona” (Mona’s Passage). There’s a small island named Mona (jurisdiction of Puerto Rico), and further west is Dominican Republic.

From San Juan area, follow the main road PR-2 all the way to Aguadilla. That’s a driving distance of about 2 hours. The same road PR-2 continues all the way south until you reach Cabo Rojo. The west coast extends for about 35-40 miles from north to south. It’s a driving distance of about an hour and a half to go from Aguadilla to Cabo Rojo.

There are six towns in this region with access to the coast: Aguadilla, Aguada, Rincón, Añasco, Mayagüez, and Cabo Rojo. Only six towns with access to the beach, and there are over 200 named beaches in this area! Many of them are very popular among locals and visitors. I chose only ten beaches for this post, which turned out to be a very difficult task.

The town of Aguadilla is located in the northwest corner of the Island. There are 32 named beaches on its coast. There’s an airport in town, the Rafael Hernandez Airport, with direct flights from United States. The facilities were once for the Ramey Air Force Base, and now are used for the airport.

Crash Boat Beach, Aguadilla, P.R.

Crash Boat Beach is one or maybe the most popular of all. It gets very crowded, especially during summer season. But it’s such a beautiful beach, that it deserves a visit. It’s located in part of what was the old port of the Ramey military base, so some pier structures remain in the area.

The beach has different areas for everyone to enjoy. There are shallow spots for kids, but always watch for changes in water tidal currents. There are no lifeguards, and no public restrooms. There’s available parking, but it does get crowded fast.

Colón Park Beach is a small beach area located near the downtown of Aguadilla. There’s a beautiful boardwalk that ends on the beach. There’s also a park for kids with swings and a treehouse. There are tables for picnics, but no public restrooms. There are many more beaches in Aguadilla, but on my last visit, during summer of 2017, we ended up stopping there and we really enjoyed the beach area.

Pico de Piedra Beach, Aguada,P.R.

Balneario Pico de Piedra Beach is in Aguada. Being a “balneario”, there’s available parking, lifeguards on staff, and public restrooms. There are also picnic areas and a playground area for kids.

The town of Rincón is another one with fantastic and very popular beaches. There are 53 named beaches on its coast. All of them get crowded, but are well worth the visit. Rincón is one of the main places in Puerto Rico where humpback whales migrate to in the winter, so many people visit every year to enjoy whale watching. 

Rincón Beach, Rincón, P.R.

Balneario Rincón Beach is located near town. There are lifeguards on staff and public restrooms. Also has good parking and picnic areas. It’s a good beach to enjoy with the family.

Sandy Beach, Rincón, P.R.

Sandy Beach is also in Rincón. The name fits it well, because there is an extensive sandy shore that allows visitors to enjoy many activities. From playing to walking, this is also a very busy place. There are no public restrooms.

There are 13 beaches on the coast of the town of Mayaguez. The islands of Mona, Monito and Desecheo are also considered to be part of this municipality. This is a busy college town, because one of the University of Puerto Rico’s campus is located here, and it’s one of the top colleges on the Island.

Mayagüez Bay, Mayagüez P.R.

A beach to visit is the Mayagüez Bay. There’s a chain of reefs that extends through its coast. The Port of Mayagüez is also located nearby. There are no public restrooms, but there’s parking available.

Tres Hermanos Beach, Añasco, P.R.

Balneario Tres Hermanos Beach is located in the town of Añasco. This town has 18 beaches on its coast. The beach has an extensive and beautiful coastline. Being a balneario, there are available public restrooms and picnic areas. Camping is permited, but there’s a fee per night. Parking is also available, with a fee per vehicle.

The town of Cabo Rojo is located in the southwest corner of the Island. It’s another town with amazing beach locations, well known by locals and visitors. There are about 127 named beaches in this town.

Playa Sucia (La Playuela), Cabo Rojo, P.R.

Playa Sucia, also known as La Playuela, is located in the town of Cabo Rojo. It’s name is associated with the Bahía Sucia nearby. There are no restrooms and no lifeguards. Take appropriate security precautions when visiting with children or if you don’t know how to swim. Tide changes might provoke water current changes that might pull a person away from the shore.

Boquerón Beach, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Balneario Boquerón Beach is also located in Cabo Rojo. It’s one of the most visited and most popular beaches on the Island. The sand is light colored and the water is crystal clear. It’s a very crowded beach. But it’s a nice beach and a good place for families to visit. There’s a parking fee per vehicle. There are available public restrooms, picnic areas, and basketball courts.

Combate Beach, Cabo Rojo, P.R.

Combate Beach is another one of Cabo Rojo’s most popular beaches. It’s another beautiful beach with amazing views and great areas to enjoy with the family. There’s good parking, but no public restrooms. It’s also a crowded beach, but also worth the visit.

My Dad and my cousin Auranyd
Boquerón Beach, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Many of my memories are of good times spent with friends and family, and they include days spent at the beach. My Dad would say “we are going to the beach”, and all of us would get all excited for the trip and the day ahead. My Mom would pack the food and all we needed, and off we headed to the closest beach or to the most popular one.

If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the beach, at least give a visit to any of these amazing locations. You would enjoy the wonderful view, or a nice walk along those sandy shores. I find a walk on the beach helps clear the mind and helps forget your worries for a little while. And, I don’t know about you, but just looking at these pictures, makes me want to go to the beach. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/07/14/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico:-playas-de-la-costa-oeste/.