Food tastes better with an ocean view, and one of the best stretches of beach in Puerto Rico is in Luquillo. Located on the north side of the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Luquillo is approximately 30 minutes from the airport in San Juan. The soft, golden sand beaches stretch over 12 miles of coastline, offering sections that are clear and calm, while others are perfect for surfing and kiteboarding. The six sections of beach are broken down as Mameyes Beach, Playa Fortuna, Luquillo beach, Balneario Monserrate, Playa Azul, La Pared Beach, and La Selva Beach (from West to East). Whatever your beach preference, make sure to enjoy lunch at least once in Luquillo.
Famous Luquillo Kioskos
What is commonly referred to as Luquillo beach is the crescent-shaped section directly behind the popular Kioskos. A long strip of beachfront mini-restaurants run parallel to the beach along PR-3 highway.
The kiosks are filled with a variety of cuisines including traditional Puerto Rican street food, New York style pizza, Peruvian cuisine, and all sorts of bar and grills. There are a few requisite souvenir shops and even a jet ski rental. Guests can sit and enjoy a full meal in the covered dining areas, or buy food to go for the short walk down to the beach.
Luquillo’s only Blue Flag Beach
Farther East is the Blue Flag beach of Balneario Monserrate. Due to the one-way street (Westbound), this beach is usually accessed along Route 3 by entering the gates to the paid parking areas.
Thanks to the natural wave break the water is clear and calm, there are more trees and lifeguard towers. The facilities, including the bathrooms and camping areas, are closed (as of January 2018) due to Hurricane Maria. After significant clean-up effort at the end of 2017, the beach is open and better than ever!
The beach can be accessed by parking behind the east end of the kioskos and walking to that portion of beach. Pick up lunch from the kiosks or bring your own picnic (BYOP) for a quiet lunch in the shade.
Update May 2018 – The paid parking area of Balneario Monserrate is back open! Parking is $5.50 per car entry (cash only).
Luquillo City Center Beaches
At the heart of Luquillo are Playa Azul and La Pared beaches. Located behind the maze of narrow roads, high rise buildings and small city center. There are more free parking spots and beachside restaurants. Off to the left (West) is the crescent shaded Playa Azul and more picnic-worthy spots for lunch on the beach. The calm waters are frequently packed with families for beachfront cookouts. Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) and snorkeling are popular ways to build up an appetite.
Surf’s up at La Pared beach, on the right side of “downtown” Luquillo (East side). A colorful mosaic tile wall lines the beach. The mild ocean waves are a perfect spot for beginners and experienced surfers alike. Strong winds attract the kiteborders from all over the island and beyond. There are several surf schools in town, and almost any given weekend student can be seen out on the water.
Boardriders beachfront restaurant is my favorite spot to watch the surfers and enjoy a delicious lunch from the ever-changing menu of burgers, sandwiches, and more.
Luquillo Farmer’s Market
The 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month is the Luquillo Farmer’s Market. Recently relocated to the Plaza Pública de Luquillo (an outdoor public square off of PR-193), there is music, fresh baked goods, fruits and vegetables, and handcrafted items. This market feels like a cross between a festival and a swap meet. Get there early to grab fresh baked goods for a beachfront picnic.
Parking is limited and can be difficult to find, it is easier to park near La Pared beach and walk the block to the plaza. Some parking lots will charge $3 for parking.
Other Beaches in Luquillo
Other beaches on the west end of Luquillo are Mameyes Beach and Playa Fortuna. Mameyes Beach sits on the border of Rio Mar and Luquillo and is the farthest west beach in Luquillo. Playa Fortuna is a narrow stretch of beach along a wide grassy area. These are predominately locals only beaches due to lack of parking and facilities. The far east edge of Luquillo is La Selva beach, which can only be accessed via 40-minute hike, bicycle, ATV, or surfboard.
Sleep it off
While many of the hotels near Luquillo are closed due to Hurricane damage, now is the time to check out some of the private Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfast options. There are accommodations steps from the beach, like Love. Soul. Beautiful B&B overlooking La Pared beach, and a slew of other Luquillo beach front properties to choose from.