Want an exotic Caribbean experience without leaving the United States? Look no further than Puerto Rico and its dazzling beaches! This U.S. territory provides visitors with endless opportunities for fun, relaxation, and discovery. American travelers can fly in with no passport necessary, and anyone can find something to fall in love with on this magnificent island.

1. Luquillo Beach


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Sandy Luquillo Beach stretches along twelve miles of coastline beside the town that shares its name. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the El Yunque National Park, this is a perfect location for those who love relaxing on the beach after an invigorating hike through the jungle. Nearby downtown Luquillo lets travelers escape the bustle of a metropolis while still savoring small town living. Perhaps one of the most popular beaches amongst native Puerto Ricans, Luquillo is just a short drive east of the capital, San Juan. A festival is held in honor of the endangered leatherback sea turtle every April, making early Spring an excellent time to see all that this slice of paradise has to offer.


2. Tortuga Beach

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Where do islanders take their vacations? Other islands, of course! Located within a small archipelago just off the main island, Culebra Island is a delightful departure from the beaten path. Seafood lovers will want to come to Tortuga Beach in March to experience the fishing festival, which features fishing and cooking competitions inspired by the ocean’s bounty. Sport fishing is a popular pastime of locals and tourists alike, with tuna and marlin being among the most popular catches


3. Flamenco Beach


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Regarded by many as one of the finest beaches in the world, Flamenco Beach, also on Culebra, is an excellent choice for the traveler who wants a tried-and-true good time at the shore. Sport fishers, swimmers, cliff divers, and dedicated beach bums will all find their bliss on the white sand lining the horseshoe-shaped hills that embrace the turquoise bay. History buffs can observe the graffiti-covered tanks that dot the shore, remnants of pre-World War Two weapons testing and training.


4. Middles Beach


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About an hour and forty five minutes west of San Juan, this coveted surf spot is the perfect place to find the wave you crave. The strong currents on Middles Beach make this particular hangout not the best choice for swimmers or even beginner surfers, but those who know their way around a board will definitely enjoy the steady supply of waves and the friendly surfer community that frequents the beach.


5. Crash Boat Beach

Ever worry you’ll have to choose between ice skating and surfing? At Crash Boat Beach, you don’t have to: you can visit the Caribbean's only ice skating rink one moment and be surfing the next! Crash Boat is located two hours west of San Juan. Located on the site of a former military harbor, visitors can enjoy swimming and jumping from the pier into the crystal-clear water. Families will enjoy the Parque Acuático Las Cascadas, a modern waterpark located in nearby Aguadilla.


6. Bateria El Escambron

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Want to stay close to San Juan? No problem! The capital has plenty of breathtaking beaches, but if you want to avoid the crowds and go where locals go, look no further than Bateria El Escambron. Relax on the sand or wade into the calm, clear water. The beach has 8 lifeguards on duty and bathroom/shower facilities, making this beach perfect for those who want an excellent beach experience without venturing too far from amenities of the city.


7. Los Tubos, Manati


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Where can you ride rolling waves after breakfast and be a high roller after dinner? Located just forty-five minutes west of San Juan, Los Tubos beach in Manati is the place for you. Just a short walk from the beach are casinos and restaurants offering gaming and dining options to suit every taste. White sandy beaches are perfect for an after-dinner stroll before returning to the casino for a margarita and a few spins of roulette. Travelers are advised to visit in July so they can experience the Manatee and Beach festivals.


8. Mar Chiquita

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Also close to the amenities of Manati, but offering a bit more for those looking for a trip off the beaten path, Mar Chiquita is an oval shaped beach with picturesque beachside views and hiking. This beach is perfect for those less inclined towards swimming, as strong currents can make the cove an unpredictable spot. Those determined to venture in should be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty and that the current is calmer in the summer months. The cove’s relative isolation makes it perfect for day hikes and picnics.


9. La Jungla Beach


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For travelers touring Puerto Rico’s southern shore, a visit to La Junga Beach is a must. A beach bar, water sport rentals, and clear water perfect for snorkeling make this southwestern beach a sought-after destination. Many visitors to La Jungla Beach claim that the highlight of their trip was kayaking through the mangroves and into the ocean, so this is an ideal spot for travelers wanting to see Puerto Rico’s ecological diversity up-close.


10. El Tuque Beach

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Southern Puerto Rico’s ultimate family getaway experience lays just an hour and a half south of San Juan in El Tuque. Children will love the waterpark and wave pool at El Tuque recreational complex. Travelers with a need for speed can satisfy their craving at the Ponce International Speedway Park, offering both drag and circuit racing. Those more inclined towards time on the water can enjoy ample boat and kayak rental options. The nearby city of Ponce is the second largest in Puerto Rico, and offers many attractions such as the Castillo Serealles, La Guancha Boardwalk, and a PGA golf course. Ponce draws visitors from all over the world year round, and for good reason. Carnival, or the Mardis Gras festival, occurs for a week preceding Ash Wednesday, usually in late February or early March. Many locals have the week off of work and there are street dances, public parties, and a good time to be had for all. Jazz lovers should come in April for the jazz festival, and stay into May for the Barrio Playa Festival, whose festivities are sure to enchant anyone who loves a good fiesta on the beach.

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This article was written by Nic Shipley and edited by Tripping.com Content Specialist, Lexi Perman.