Puerto Rico‘s close proximity to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States has made this luscious tropical island an increasingly popular destination for beach getaways. If you love white sandy beaches, clear, sapphire-blue water, and stone ruins where pirates once stashed barrels of rum, you should seriously consider adding Puerto Rico to your bucket list. Accessible and affordable, Puerto Rico’s breathtaking coastline never fails to please. If you’re looking to relax in the sun without a care, or explore on a kayak—Puerto Rico has a beach for you.
ICACOS ISLAND, FAJARDO
If you have ever dreamed of ditching civilization and relocating to an uninhabited island surrounded by pristine azure water, Icacos Island—also known as Cayo Icacos— is the spot for you. Cayo Icacos is part of the La Cordillera Nature Reserve, which is an excellent spot to observe marine life such as brightly-colored fish and sea turtles. Icacos Island is only accessible by boat or water taxi, so getting there does require a bit of planning. Furthermore, there are no places to buy snacks or rent beach umbrellas. You have to bring every item that you will need for the day with you. Icacos Island is the ideal spot for snorkeling, seashell hunting, and sunbathing. There are few things more relaxing than spending the day on a beach with no permanent human footprint.
FLAMENCO BEACH, CULEBRA
No discussion of Puerto Rico’s finest beaches is complete without mentioning Flamenco Beach. Beach enthusiasts who have traveled the globe will tell you that the clear water and pristine white sands of Flamenco Beach are truly one of the great wonders of the world. Flamenco Beach features a mellow crescent-shaped bay with calm water that is highly conductive to snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing without getting splashed. A rusted tank painted several bright colors is a remnant of the U.S. Navy’s presence. Visitors often pose for photos aside the corroded tank, which is steadily being reclaimed by the sea.
PLAYA PUERTO HERMINA, QUEBRADILLAS
The crumbling stone structures that surround Playa Puerto Hermina look as though they belong in Pirates of the Caribbean, Which is fitting, since many historians believe that Playa Puerto Hermina was once a hot spot for pirates attempting to evade the detection of Spanish authorities as they smuggled goods throughout the Caribbean. Today, Playa Puerto Hermina attracts surfers and fishermen who aren’t deterred by thundering waves and choppy water. Visitors love to explore stone ruins where pirates are rumored to have once stashed rum, gold, and other contraband goods. Playa Puerto Hermina is a wonderful spot to frolic in sapphire waves and soak up a bit of history.
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, GUANICA
Gilligan’s Island is named after a popular sitcom about a group of tourists who become stranded on a picturesque island. Most visitors wouldn’t complain if they became temporarily stranded on Puerto Rico’s Gilligan’s Island. The calm waters and slow current are conductive to swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or simply floating in the water and relaxing. Gilligan’s Island features dense mangroves that are protected by the Biosphere Reserve of Guanica. Gilligan’s Island is the ideal destination if you’re searching for a sedate, low-key beach where you can spend a carefree day paddling around exploring, or lounging in the sun.
PLAYA POZA DEL OBISPO, ARECIBO
Playa Poza del Obispo is a relatively small beach, but it is steadily gaining popularity because it is so distinctive. The Arecibo Lighthouse–originally constructed in 1898—rests atop a rocky cliff that towers over the beach. Visitors who tour the Arecibo Lighthouse can take in a magnificent panoramic view of Playa Poza del Obispo. If you visit at the right time of year, you may even spy a whale frolicking in the distance. Playa Poza del Obispo features a natural wading pool surrounded by rocks that create a natural sprinkler when particularly powerful waves roll in. Playa Poza del Obispo’s wading pool may appear shallow and relatively harmless, but visitors are advised to proceed with caution. During certain seasons, the current can be incredibly powerful, and swimmers can easily get swept out to sea. Despite the potentially powerful current, Playa Poza del Obispo is one of the best spots in Puerto Rico to spend a leisurely day bobbing up and down in the waves.