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Balneario Punta Santiago: A Neglected Beach

Posted on Mar 1st, 2012 by • Updated on May 13th, 2014

Balneario Punta Santiago

Parque Nacional Balneario Punta Santiago is a government-run beach in Humacao that is advertised as offering facilites and the things that one needs for a nice day at the a beach — like life guards, bathrooms, and food kiosks.

Do not be fooled. The balneario has been abandoned by the government. It is in disrepair and in need of serious maintenance. It is a real shame.

Years ago, we would go to this beach during the "winter months" and it was open. It was almost always empty. It was windy and it had some decent surf, so the kids used boogy boards in the waves.

We always enjoyed our time at this beach. It is in a nice location, because often, when the surf was too rough at the beach on the north coast, this eastern beach was calmer. And it also has a great view to Cayo Santiago (aka Monkey Island).

The Difference a couple Years Can make

Over the last few years, something has changed at this balneario. The sign on the gate still says it is open. The web site of the Compañia de Parques Nacionales still says it is open. Various other web sites still say the balneario is open. We’ve called the Compañia de Parques Nacionales to ask about this balneario, and they assured us that it was still open, staffed, and not in disrepair.

Balneario Punta Santiago

In reality, this balneario is not open. We have stopped by a few times over the last few years wanting to go and the gates have been closed every time. We finally just parked outside the gate and walked in through one of the many holes in the fencing.

What we found was a disgrace. The sand was over grown with grass and sand burrs. The tiny, sandy beach area that is left (really just at the high tide line) was trashy. The buildings were vacant. There were no facilities available.

The day we were there, the water had some under currents. Without lifeguards, you really have to be careful about entering the water here.

It’s Not all bad

On a positive note, the children’s water park (called Parque Acuático Infantil Punta Santiago) is open in the summer months. So, in the summer, the gate is open and you can enter. This water park is mainly for little kids (12 years and under).

The Centros Vacacionales de Humacao Villas (which are local vacation rentals, where you supply everything, including sheets, towels, dishes, cooking utensils, etc.) are also still open. The beach near the rentals was a little bit better, but still not very nice.

Balneario Punta Santiago

It is possible that, someday they will fix the beach up and reopen it. If they ever do, I will update this article.

But, as of now, my suggestion is that you don’t bother with the balneario nor beach here.

If you want to go to a local beach on the eastern shore, head north on Route 3 just a little bit to Playa Punta Santiago. This is a public beach, with no facilities nor lifeguards, but it is a nice beach. There is an open area along the road, where you can pull your car in under the coconut trees to park, and then enjoy the views and a small sandy beach area. This beach is very popular with locals, so don’t even think you will have privacy and/or quiet!

If you want peacefulness, head a little farther south and you will find long, sandy beach that runs south from the Punta Santiago boat/fishing pier all the way to the Humacao Nature Reserve. This area is quiet and tranquil. But there are no facilities nor lifeguards here either, so enjoy at your own risk.

Quick Update: The Way It Was

Balneario Punta Santiago

Shortly after we published this article, our friends over at Villa Sevilla sent us this photo taken at Balneario Punta Santiago back in 2005.

This photo was taken from a spot on the beach a just little bit north of where we took the photo we used above. If you compare the two, you can really see how much the quality of the beach has deteriorated in just 6 or so years.

Balneario Punta Santiago is on Route 3 at KM 72.4.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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6 comments
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  1. You are always so refreshingly frank and honest. Very few are those that, even in a nice way can politely say: “Don’t bother with this at the moment”. You’re a bit of an “Ecological Hero”. BRAVO for caring so very much about beautiful PUERTO RICO!!!

  2. This article hopefully will add some much needed fuel to the fire out this way in our beautiful small fishing village and beach Playa Punta Santiago. This area of the island and our beach is a jewel and resource of incredible natural beauty that is so neglected by the government it is a shame.
    We clean the beach regularly here near the barefoot travelers rooms guesthouse and have been doing so for years in fact. It helps as best we can. Did you know that this strip of beach is actually a turtle nesting area?
    The rains and storms always wash trash out of the rivers inland and sadly much of it gets deposited by the tides onto the beaches all around the island. BUT As you correctly point out the beaches that get funding and regularly attention from the government do not show their blemishes. We hope the day comes soon for DNR to resume keeping this amazing stretch of miles of Caribbean sea as beautiful as it can be. Thank you for the article and bringing public attention to the need for action here!

  3. Our family went to this place a couple of years ago and much to my surprise, there was trash everywhere. Sadly, there were only a few places that we could walk without seeing any trash. I wrote a letter to the government when we left stating the conditions of the villas and beach area, but of course no response. I have been to other balnearios and have been pleased with the cleanliness of the beaches. This is the only one that I have been so far that I would not recommend no anyone. Hopefully, it will get some attention.

  4. We will be staying at Royal Club Cala in Humacao in December. Someone told me this beach was a nice beach close by. Your post is not too promising.
    Where is a nice beach you would recommend near Club Cala?

    Thanks.

  5. Sorry. Don’t know what to tell you. Balneario Punta Santiago is in bad shape, and nothing is being done to improve it. The beach in Palmas del Mar rip-currents, so it is not the safest place to swim.

  6. We stopped at this beach yesterday. It was a beach off the beaten path. It was a beach I was searching for that was not full of tourist. It was a true local beach now. I grew up on the South Carolina coast in Beaufort SC.

    It was a treat for my wife. We met a nice local couple who talked with us for some time. The sand was soft. It was not like the sand at our hotel in San Juan. Pumped sand to maintain the beach. This sand on the bottom of your feet is the real McCoy. This beach reminds me of my home town beach. Hunting island, SC. This is a rustic beach. The beach I wanted to visit in Puerto Rico.

    A true gem now. We had the beach to our self. Some locals present fishing and some kids playing in the surf. I live in New Hampshire now. So we stuck out very well. No problems for us. It was a chance in a life time to visit this place.

    We left the rain forest. I punched up the gps and selected this town close to the ocean. It was a random chance of finding this beach. The town was a bit of a sight to see with poverty and long abandon homes. Then again the poor in the States have it pretty good compared to Punta Santiago. Then again, the couple we meet was very friendly to us.

    There was some stray dogs on the beach. There was one that was our buddy. This dog sat and watch the ocean as she was rubbing his head. I have plenty of pictures of this dog. It was our pal for the day. Then again the dog was healthy. So they do get food. Then again, the life of a dog on his on beach.

    There was two other dogs sleeping on the beach. They became agitated when we came too close to them as they slept on the beach. I guest they knew they had a gem of a beach.

    Then again the other dog was the Mayor of the beach. We will have fond memories of this friendly dog. Plenty of pictures to remind us of our chance encounter this day.

    Punta Santiago a town to remember.

    Will Shoemaker

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