Ocean Park Beach
Ocean Park Beach is a terrific little residential beach that benefits from ample free parking at Parque Barbosa at the end of Calle McLeary. Due to its central location, it’s a short cab ride from anywhere in the city. The section of the beach across from the park is cleaned and raked daily, and a swimming area is marked off with nets to keep out sea creatures.
The only drawback is that this part of the beach gets very crowded on weekends and holidays. On weekends, lounge chairs are available for rent, and street vendors patrol the area selling snacks and beverages. Farther east the wind and surf are a little rougher, which makes it popular with sailboarders and kite-surfers.
The area in front of the guesthouses inside the gated community of Ocean Park is a popular gay beach.
More San Juan Area Beaches
Isla Verde Beach (along Ave. Isla Verde) is one of San Juan’s most stellar beaches. Roughly two miles long, its wide stretches of sand and rolling surf make for great swimming, surfing, and windsurfing. Like all beaches in Puerto Rico, Isla Verde Beach is open to the public, but because it’s lined cheek by jowl with high-rise hotels and apartment buildings, access is limited to narrow walkways between buildings and the occasional dead-end street. Compounding the access problem is the dearth of parking, except for a multilevel lot on the far eastern end.
Condado Beach (along Ave. Ashford) is a less picture-perfect beach than Isla Verde Beach. The terrain is hillier, the sand coarser, and the water less crystalline. But it’s got sand, surf, and sun, so it’s still got a lot to offer. Like Isla Verde Beach, it’s lined with high-rises, but it’s much more easily accessible to the general public.
Balneario de Carolina (Carr. 187, Ave. Boca de Congrejas, 787/778-8811, $2) is a public beach maintained by the municipality of Carolina. There are picnic shelters, bathroom facilities, and plenty of parking.
Balneario Escambrón (Carr. 25 in Puerta de Tierra) is the closest beach to Old San Juan. It is a small strip of sand but there’s plenty of parking, food vendors, a children’s playground, and lifeguards on duty until 5 p.m. Shady characters are known to loiter here after dark.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition