Find Calm and Adventure at These 11 Secluded Beaches in Puerto Rico
There’s a reason vibrant, sun-soaked Puerto Rico is known as the island of enchantment, and it has everything to do with its glistening shoreline. Here are standout, lesser-known stretches of sand for those looking to relax and refresh.
Packed with hidden seashores, unspoiled coves, and frothy surf, Puerto Rico has a beach to suit everyone. Sun-worshippers and families alike will enjoy pristine stretches of sand and calm waters, while adventurous types can snorkel, kayak, and surf. Couples, too, will revel in the stunning scenery that takes the idea of a romantic walk on the beach to new heights. Whether you opt for a local hangout, scenic bay, or herculean waves, there’s an abundance of undisturbed choices for beach-lovers of all stripes.
Glowing blue waters at Boquerón Beach and the cozy Gilligan’s Island are just two of the nearly 300 magnificent beaches found on Puerto Rico’s more than 300 miles of coastline. We dug deep to identify these and other lesser-trodden sands on the island that top our list for those seeking true relaxation or adventure. Keep in mind that most of these locations are secluded, pristine beaches where you won’t find restrooms, food or other facilities, so it’s important to be mindful and do your part to keep these natural wonders wonderful.
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Scenic seaside action
Many of Puerto Rico’s sandy gems offer all the heart-pumping walks and jaw-dropping scenery of more popular beaches—but without the crowds. Wave-chasers will want to head to Machuca Beach in Hacienda La Esperanza, named after the island’s own surf legend, Jorge Machuca. Here you’ll find some of the best breaks around; this secluded shoreline boasts a swell from the north. The surprising charcoal-colored sands invite you to find a private space to stretch out and sink in your toes.
For hikers seeking more exclusive places to wander, in the town of Fajardo lies a hidden beach, whose name (Playa Escondida) means exactly that. A relatively light 25-minute hike from Seven Seas Beach meanders through a lush mangrove forest to its rock-lined shores. Picture swaths of golden sand between swaying palms and blue surf set against the El Yunque National Forest’s exhilarating views and the glimmering coastline.
Another hideaway, Cayo Aurora (Gilligan’s Island), is reachable only by kayak. The place to truly get away, the beach here is one of the most tranquil in Puerto Rico. Its sleepy stretch of sand lures intrepid visitors with its translucent, warm waters filled with tropical fish. Dive in and admire the wildlife or snooze to the sound of waves lapping against the soft sands.
Beaches for kids (that their parents will love too)
While everyone heads to busy Flamenco Beach, the gentle waters and sugar-cookie-colored sands of Playa Punta Soldado attract families looking for a slice of immaculate Puerto Rico. Cocooned by rocks in Culebra, this cove is dotted with shady palms. Its gentle waves make it well-suited for kids and those learning to dive or snorkel. Float in the pure blue waters, laze under the trees, or admire the never-ending ocean view. You’ll need a sturdy car to tackle the dirt road to get to this secret spot, which adds to the feeling of being truly away from it all. Make sure to bring supplies as there are no amenities nearby.
A little tricky to get to, Boquerón Beach is a three-hour drive from San Juan but well worth the effort. Free from crowds, resorts, and restaurants, you’ll feel like a carefree local on this mile-long, gleaming shoreline, the recipient of the international Blue Flag award given to beaches who meet water safety and cleanliness standards. Nearby, El Poblado de Boquerón is a charming town with a dazzling array of open-air cantinas, brightly colored food stalls, and souvenir and dive shops. Simply spend the day on the sun-warmed sands or take advantage of the picnic tables, bike rentals, or basketball courts. Diving, kitesurfing, and snorkeling are also popular here; you may want to avoid the weekends when it can get a little busier.
Just a 15-minute, scenic drive from bustling San Juan, Piñones Beach’s many food shacks means you can sample Puerto Rican bites in between ocean dips—try the local delicacy chicharron, fried pork belly or rinds. This vibrant enclave offers a taste of the island and a more tranquil experience than better-known destinations. Nearby in the Piñones region, you have your pick of two family-friendly beaches La Pocita or Vacía Talega, both with calm waters and soft sands for youngsters to splash in and snorkel.
Find romance at these tranquil hideaways
Reachable only by boat, Cayo Icacos is quite literally a deserted island. It’s also the biggest and most scenic of the cays in La Cordillera Nature Reserve. Just a 45-minute drive from San Juan to the Fajardo marina, reaching Icacos is a short, breezy sail off the coast by water taxi orcatamaran charter trip. With plenty of room to spread out, the pristine coastline is ideal for flopping on a lounger to alternate between sunbathing and snorkeling in the turquoise-streaked waters.
The blue-green hue of clear water and expanse of white sand, nestled among lush, palm tree-filled scenery, give the quiet Zoni Beach its stunning look. This exquisite bay is in an obvious league of its own, with staggering views of the archipelago of Culebra, St. Thomas, and Tortola in the distance. Kick-off your sandals and let the soft grains of sand tickle your toes, cool off in the water with just the fish for company. You can also take a stroll and marvel at the peacefulness of it all. Wander towards the south side (be sure to bring shoes) to find discreet spots under leaning palms where you can easily hang a hammock.
The snow-white curve of coastline in Cabo Rojo, with its shallow, emerald waters, has several spots for wading, swimming, and exploring with few others around. Part of a nature reserve, La Playuela, sometimes called Playa Sucia, is free from hotels and shops and instead set against a striking landscape. Tan on your towel and watch the clouds drift, or go for a walk and soak in the majestic views.
Secret spots for adventure
An uninhabited island that you can practically make your own for the day lies just off the coast of Culebra. Accessible by boat or tour only, Isla Culebrita (or “little snake”) attracts few sun-seekers. Part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, this destination is home to the Culebrita Lighthouse, one of the oldest Caribbean lighthouses, along with honey-blond swirls of sand and thriving marine life. Six small beaches include the most famous Playa Tortuga, known for its turtles that glide through the water.
Playa Caracas, also called Red Beach, sits on the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, featuring dove-white sands and slow-flowing water that shifts to every shade of blue until the shallows turn it mint green. Take a dip to explore the sea fan “garden,” where bright purple and yellow fans sway with the current. There are no restrooms on the grounds, but a few small gazebos and onsite parking mean it can get a little busy as the day progresses; if you go early, the beach might be all yours.