San Juan Feature

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Best Beaches in San Juan

Just because you're staying in the city doesn't mean you'll have to forgo time on the playa. San Juan's beaches are among the island's best.

With 365 different beaches in Puerto Rico, choosing where to spread out your towel might seem like a daunting task. The decision is easier now that seven have been designated with a Blue Flag. Chosen by the Foundation for Environmental Education, a nonprofit agency, Blue Flag beaches have to meet more than 30 criteria, focusing on water quality, the presence of a trained staff, and the availability of facilities such as water fountains and restrooms.

Two beaches on the east side of the island, Seven Seas in Fajardo and Luquillo's Monserrate, made the cut. More surprisingly, two of the beaches are in San Juan: Balneario El Escambrón, in Puerta de Tierra, and Balneario de Carolina, in Isla Verde. A fifth is Punta Salinas in nearby Toa Baja. This means that five of Puerto Rico's finest beaches are within an hour's drive of the capital. The final two Blue Flag beaches are in the west and south: Boquerón in Cabo Rojo and Pelicano Beach in Ponce.

Public Beaches

The government maintains 13 balnearios (public beaches), including two in the San Juan metro area. They're gated and equipped with bathrooms, dressing rooms, parking, and, in some cases, lifeguards, picnic tables, playgrounds, and camping facilities. Admission is free; hours are generally daily 9–5 in summer and Tuesday–Sunday 9–5 during the rest of the year.

The city's beaches can get crowded, especially on weekends. There's free access to all of them, but parking can be an issue in the peak sun hours—arriving early or in the late afternoon is a safer bet.

Updated: 2013-10-04

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