On my last trip to Puerto Rico, I visited Old San Juan, Rincon, and El Yunque Rainforest along with the beach areas of Condado and Isla Verde outside of Old San Juan. We stayed in both areas - and they are both quite different.
Isla Verde sits minutes away from San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin's International Airport and you can find yourself checked into your hotel and on the beach within an hour of landing. Located on the north coast of Puerto Rico within the district of Carolina, Isla Verde is a laid back beach spot yet it's only 15 minutes drive to Old San Juan.
Isla Verde has beach resorts that range from budget to luxurious. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard directly on the beach. I loved the view from our room - we watched a wedding ceremony and saw all the deep sea fishing boats come in in the evening. We enjoyed the hotel's swimming pool, beach and swim-up bar and dined in it's restaurant though we didn't take advantage of the casino. (But if that's up your alley, Isla Verde is where the casinos area.) We mainly enjoyed the resort while we were there but you could take day trips to El Yunque, the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo or take in other beaches. Isla Verde is the more family friendly beach area where you can just relax and watch the kids dig in the sand.
Condado is the glamorous beach area of San Juan. Known for it's nightlife, you can spend your day on the sand and then hit up clubs in the evening.( You can easily spend the day in Old San Juan - it's just over the bridge - and then come back to Condado at night) It's Caribbean beach life with the lights of the city close by. There are high end shops, think Cartier, places to brunch and see and be seen. If luxury is your objective, you can stay at the ritzy Condado Vanderbilt Hotel or the Condado Plaza Hilton.
We stayed a block off the beach which enabled us to walk over to the sand or head into Old San Juan for the day at more of a budget price. La Ventana del Mar ( window to the sea) is the main park with beach access and bordered by the Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha Hotel with it's famous shell shaped restaurant, La Perla. If you'd like to do some paddleboarding, you can head to Condado Lagoon which flows between the Condado and Miramar neighborhoods.
we had drinks at Oceano, which I loved, at their bar overlooking the ocean with a nice ocean breeze. We moved over to the Lobby Bar at La Concha and managed to even sneak a peek into the famous La Perla. If you're looking for a beach area with more to do than your typical toes in the sand activities, then Condado is probably for you!
How about you? Have you enjoyed any of San Juan's "urban" beaches?
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