Are you going to Puerto Rico and looking for the best beaches in San Juan? I got you!
I was just there and got my fair share of beach time all over the island. I took a day to beach hop in and around San Juan, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I was actually surprised that right next to a bustling city, an airport, even historical buildings, were beautiful, tropical beaches! It was like a whole other world just steps away.
I put together my list of the four best beaches in San Juan and I include the information about each below. If you’re going there solo, on a couples trip, or with the whole family, there are options for everyone!
Note: These beaches are in or right next to San Juan. One of them is in a neighboring city but is right next to San Juan.
Never been to Puerto Rico? Read over my ultimate itinerary for your first time to the island! Check it out here.
What’s a Balneario?
I’m calling this out on its own so you can be on the lookout while you’re looking for beaches.
A beach (or playa) is a stretch of sandy shoreline.
A balneario is a public, government-run beach. That means that these beaches have amenities.
These amenities include public restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and picnic tables. Most also have parking lots that you have to pay to park at (price to park is usually between $3-6).
Balnearios also have their sand cleaned and their water quality is monitored. The waters are typically better for swimming and are more family-friendly.
The only downside is that balnearios are usually closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays. You can still get onto the beach, but the parking lots will be closed (but there’s usually parking in other areas) and there might not be lifeguards on those days.
Ok, let’s get started! Here are the top four best beaches to hit while you’re in San Juan!
El Escambron: Overall Best Beach in San Juan
The most popular beach in the area, for tourists and locals—and for good reason.
First of all, it’s gorgeous. It has beautiful, clear waters, the sand is soft, plus there are mountain views and a rocky island named Peñon de San Jorge to stare at.
There are also plenty of palm trees for shade, and even a couple of spots you can hang a hammock to really relax.
The best part? Not only is it huge (so you have plenty of room to find your perfect spot and spread out), but it offers two different experiences on each side. So, whatever you want to do, you can do it at this beach.
On one side there’s a protected cove so the waves are calm and it’s the spot for swimming and lounging around. On the other side, the area is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
This beach is the crowd pleaser. It’s walking distance from San Juan. Whatever you want to do on your beach day, you’ll be able to do it here. And, it has plenty of amenities.
You can easily walk here from Old San Juan using the walking path. Or take a short drive from San Juan.
Outdoor rinsing showers
Lifeguards (Mon-Sun, 8:30am – 5:30pm)
Handicap ramp with beach access
Numerous restaurants and cafes nearby
Parking: Parking lot available for $6 per car.
Closest hotel: Caribe Hilton
Condado: Best For Resort Stays
If you want to stay in the middle of San Juan but also be beachfront, Condado is it. The beach has fine, soft sand and the water is stunningly blue.
There’s a South Beach feel to this area with all of the high rises and colorful buildings right next to the sand. There is also full beach service so you can lounge in a chair and order food and drinks from a beach attendant.
The only downside to this beach is that it’s not safe to swim. The water has very dangerous currents. Beach staff recommends getting into the water only up to your knees.
This beach is the resort beach. Getting a hotel here will guarantee you some fun in the sun during your trip.
If you’re staying in the hotel zone of Condado, this beach will be at your doorstep!
Street parking (free) or private parking ($9-12)
Where to stay near it:
Playita del Condado: BEST FOR SMALL CHILDREN
If you’re staying in the Condado area but need calm waves, this is the place. Playita means small beach—but even though it’s small, the crystal clear, calm waters make up for it. There’s even a tidal pool!
It’s a cove so the water is calm with shallow spots, and a rock wall that blocks any waves from coming in. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or just lounging in the water. Lots of great fish and coral to see too, so bring your snorkeling equipment or rent when you get there.
But since it IS small, come early to grab a spot on the sand. Expect it to be a bit crowded.
This beach is the beach for the smallest kids. It’s easily accessible, you can rent chairs and umbrellas, there’s a food stand, and the water is calm. This would make for a perfect family beach day.
Easily walkable via Condado Beach or from the hotel row. A short, easy drive from Old San Juan. (You can even see the beach from the bridge).
Chair and umbrella rentals
There are city parking lots near the beach.
Balneario de Carolina: Best Beach Near San Juan for Toddlers And Kids
One of the busiest beaches in the area but it’s technically in neighboring Carolina—just minutes from San Juan. It’s actually near the airport so you’ll spot planes in the air during your time there.
It has soft sand and clear waters—it’s even been awarded the Blue Flag Aware for cleanliness and water quality. Besides the obvious swimming and sunbathing, there are watersports, volleyball nets, and visitors can also rent gazebos to really relax.
There are plenty of food options right on and near the beach. There’s even a supermarket nearby if you want to pack a picnic.
There’s a BIG bonus for small kids—a small water park called Parque Acuatico Infantil Aquasol. It has slides, water triggers, and a pirate ship with water cannons. It’s right off the sand too!
If you want to take a dip in a pool and get a meal, walk over to Vivo Beach Club for a day pass.
Lifeguards (and paramedics on site)
Parking lot available for $5 per car.
FAQs: BEST BEACHES IN SAN JUAN
What is the prettiest beach in San Juan?
Hands down, El Escambron is the prettiest beach in San Juan.
What part of San Juan has the best beaches?
Puerta de Tierra, between Old San Juan and Condado.
Are there swimmable beaches in San Juan?
El Escambron and Playita Condado are both protected by coral reefs and are perfect to swim in because the water is calm.
Condado usually has strong rip currents and it’s not safe to swim in.
WRAPPING UP: BEST BEACHES IN SAN JUAN
No matter what type of beach day you are looking for in San Juan, you will be able to find a beah that can give you exactly what you are looking for.
There are different options all over San Juan, but I believe the best beaches in San Juan are El Escambron, Playita Condado, and Condado. And right next door in Carolina, Isla Verde and Carolina are the best options.
I hope that my guide helped you choose which beach you will be visiting during your time in San Juan!
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