The Top 5 Best Beaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Details + Map (2024)

Looking for the best beaches in San Juan? I have compiled a list of the top beaches for you to visit while you are in the area. While San Juan has many more beaches, the five on the list are the best spots that you shouldn’t miss. 

If you’re planning a trip to San Juan, you’re in luck. I just spent a week roaming around Puerto Rico 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 five best beaches in San Juan and I include the information about each below. (And if it’s NOT included in the list below, it’s not one of the best!)

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.

 ⚠️ First time to Puerto Rico?
Read over my ultimate itinerary for your first time to the island

Key Takeaways

  • The best beaches in San Juan, in terms of beauty, cleanliness, and fun, are El Escambron Beach, Condado Beach, Playita del Condado, Playa El Ultimo Trolley, and Carolina Public Beach. 
  • Each beach has their own key feature- while El Escambron is the best overall beach, Condado Beach is the best for resort stays, Playita del Condado is best for small children, El Ultimo Trolley is best for fun and relaxation, and Carolina Beach is best for toddlers and kids.
  • A balneario is a government-run beach. It provides amenities, plus the water and sand are monitored and cleaned. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so the full amenities will not be available those days.

Table of Contents

Overview of San Juan Beaches

1. El Escambron Beach:
Overall Best Beach

el escambron beach is one of the best beaches in san juan, puerto rico.

Vibes

El Escambron Beach is 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.

This was not only my favorite beach in San Juan, but one of my favorites in all of Puerto Rico! 

Getting there: You can easily walk here from Old San Juan using the walking path. Or take a short drive from San Juan.

Parking: Parking lot available for $6 per car.

Amenities

  • Restrooms
  • Outdoor rinsing showers
  • Lifeguards (Mon-Sun, 8:30am – 5:30pm)
  • Handicap ramp with beach access
  • Numerous restaurants and cafes nearby

🐠 Love to snorkel?
Take this 5 star snorkel tour – with almost 9k reviews!- at Escambron Beach. Instruction and all the gear is provided, including a GoPro that will capture everything you see! Hurry because it books up fast. 

Check prices and book this guided snorkel tour by clicking here

Best nearby hotel: 
📍 Caribe Hilton 

An iconic upscale beachfront resort on 17 acres of tropical gardens. It’s in the perfect location, with a private beach, ocean-front swimming pool, and 9 on-site restaurants. Standard rooms or junior suites.

➡️Check prices and book your stay at the Caribe Hilton here

2. Condado Beach:
Best For Resort Stays

Vibes
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.

Getting there
If you’re staying in the hotel zone of Condado, this beach will be at your doorstep!

Parking: Street parking (free) or private parking ($9-12)

Amenities:
Food nearby

🛶  Get on the water on a night kayak ride!
Check out this 5-star, Badge of Excellence night kayak tour on Condado Lagoon. You’ll be in a glass bottom kayak with LED lights and glow sticks while you take in the sights of the city AND the water. 

Check prices and book this guided snorkel tour by clicking here! 

Best nearby hotel: 
📍 La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort 

This stylish beachfront hotel is set in the heart of the Condado district – the entertainment capital of the Caribbean. There are multiple on-site restaurants, 3 swimming pools, and even a 24/7 casino. Choose from a variety of room types, including suites with a separate living room and kitchenette! 

➡️Check prices and book your stay at the La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort here!

3. Playita del Condado:
Best for Small Children

playita del condado is a small beach in san juan that is great for small kids.

Vibes
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 great family beach day.

Getting there: 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).

Parking: There are city parking lots near the beach.

Amenities:

  • Chair and umbrella rentals
  • Snack stand
  • Restaurants nearby

Best nearby hotel: 
📍 The Condado Plaza Hilton

This beachfront hotel overlooks the Condado Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean.
There are 4 swimming pools, beachside hammocks, 3 on-site restaurants, and a kid’s game room! 

➡️Check prices and book your stay at the Condado Plaza Hilton here!

4. Playa El Ultimo Trolley: Best for Fun and Relaxation

one of the best beaches in san juan is el ultimo trolley

Vibes

Trolley Beach is a part of larger Ocean Park Beach—and it’s the best part of it. Ocean Park Beach goes on for one mile, and some parts of it are better than others.

When the waters are calm, you’ll see visitors boogie boarding and paddle boarding. There are also volleyball nets up and it’s a popular spot to go kitesurfing.

The beach is lined with a gorgeous lushness of palm trees, sea grape trees, and almond trees. The palm trees provide a shaded, quiet area to relax under.

On the weekends, street vendors come by and sell food, drinks, and ice cream.

There’s also a park across the street, Parque del Indio, with a playground and outdoor gym. Next to it is Parque Barbosa, where there are tennis and basketball courts.

Getting there: A short drive from Condado Beach

Parking: Free parking lots across from the beach, city parking lots nearby.

Amenities:

  • Food vendors on weekends
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Park nearby

Best nearby hotel: 
📍 Tropica Beach Hotel

A short walk to the beach and nearby restaurants, this modern boutique hotel has a plunge pool, a restaurant and bar, a cafe, plus loaner bikes and complimentary beach gear. 
Choose from standard rooms to 1- and 2-bedroom suites with separate living rooms.

➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Tropica Beach hotel by clicking here!

5. Carolina Public Beach: Best Beach Near San Juan for Toddlers And Kids

carolina beach is one of the best beaches near san juan, in carolina.

Vibes
One of the busiest beaches in the area but it’s technically in neighboring Carolina—just minutes from San Juan. It’s 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.

Carolina Public Beach (Balneario de Carolina) is one of three beaches that make up Isla Verde Beach. They’re right next to each other and offer a great beach experience. 

But I chose Carolina Public Beach specifically for families. Why?

Because 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.

Parking: Parking lot available for $5 per car.

Amenities: 

  • Restrooms
  • Rinsing showers
  • Lifeguards (and paramedics on site)

🏄 Surfs up! 

Want to learn how to surf? Try this Badge of Excellence beginner surf lesson right next door at Isla Verde Beach. You’ll get a short lesson and then an hour on the water while the instructor guides you. 

Check prices and book this beginner surf lesson by clicking here!

Best nearby hotel: 
📍 Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort 

Sitting on the beach, this resort has 2 swimming pools, 4 restaurants, private balconies with ocean views, a 24/7 casino, and even weekly salsa dancing! Choose from a variety of room options from standard to large suites with separate living rooms and kitchens.

➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort here!

Map of Best Beaches in San Juan

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.

FAQs: Best San Juan Beaches

What is the prettiest beach in San Juan?

Hands down, El Escambron is the prettiest beach in San Juan. The sand is white, the water is clear, and there are beautiful palm trees swaying as far as you can see. 

 

What part of San Juan has the best beaches?

Puerta de Tierra, between Old San Juan and Condado, is the area with the best beaches in San Juan.

 

Are there swimmable beaches in San Juan?

Yes, there are 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 San Juan Beaches

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, El Ultimo Trolley, and Condado. And right next door, Carolina Beach is another great option.

I hope that my guide helped you choose which beach you will be visiting during your time in San Juan! 

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

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