Balneario El Escambrón

Top choice in San Juan

This sheltered arc's raked sand, decent surf breaks, local action and a 17th-century Spanish fort shimmering in the distance are the hallmarks of what's considered San Juan's finest beach, with Blue Flag status and only a stone's throw from the old city and the busy tourist strip of Condado. Best of all, it's often uncrowded.

Perched on the northern end of the slither of land that is Puerta de Tierra, it abuts majestic Parque del Tercer Milenio. This palm-fringed yet rugged beach just might be one of the best municipal options offered anywhere. There are lifeguards, restrooms, gear-rental stands and snack bars, along with a large parking lot.