A Day at the Beach in Luquillo – Monserrate Balneario
Update 9/22 The Balneario is now only open Wednesday-Sunday. Closed M&T
Since hurricane Maria, the beach has suffered a bit, but it is still nice. It lost some sand and the gazebos are still destroyed.
I go to this beach quite often (being it is the closest swimming beach to my house). It is one of my favorites too, just due to the scenery – it is a cresent of fine sand, with lots of mature palm trees for shade. And behind that, you have the Rain Forest – it’s picture perfect.
The Balneario, which has sometimes been designated a Blue Flag Beach. This means it meets lots of standards- from water quality, to facilities etc. The beach is gated – they charge a fee for parking. The walk from the parking lot to the beach, which takes you past the camping/picnic area, is kinda far, but it’s not too bad. The beach itself is wide, so there is ample room to pick your favorite spot. We try to get one in the shade because the sun is HOT and it is easy to burn quickly!
Mid-week, the beach is usually not crowded, but in the summer and especially weekends, it is a different story, as Luquillo beach is very popular with the locals and tourists alike, and the beach can get really crowded.
On the beach, there are kiosks selling some typical foods (pinchos, empanadillas, etc) and also delicious drinks. You can get pinacoladas in a pineapple! There is also a kiosk selling souvenirs and beach stuff – towels, sunglasses, etc. There are chairs and umbrellas for rent if you don’t have your own and you prefer sitting up out of the sand. We have our own, so we didn’t rent them.
The water was calm, since there is a reef way out that breaks the waves. The kids had no problem at all. Since it was not busy, we were allowed to use our boogie boards in the swimming area. I know when it is busy, it is not allowed. Because the sand is so fine on this beach, the water at the shore’s edge is not clear – each little wave picks up the sand. But as you go further out, it clears up. I like the water here because it has very little seaweed in it and it is kind of warm too. They groom and clean the beach, so the sand is clean. It is also perfect for sand castle building.
They have facilities. There are free outside showers for rinsing off (to the far right as you look at the water), but there is a nice “Bath House” offers clean bathrooms, showers and changing rooms for a fee. $1.00 per adult (50¢ per child) fee for the whole day to use the changing room with showers. They will give you a wrist band. They also have nice sized (about 1 ft wide by 2.5 ft tall) lockers that are $0.50 for the day in case you want to lock your stuff up instead of leaving it on the beach.
Camping is not currently available
There is camping allowed on the grassy area. You need a permit to camp. It is $10 per night to camp, $13/n for a site with water, $17/n for a site with electricity and water. If you want to go camping on a quiet beach, DON’T go here on a summer weekend – the camping area is packed – every square inch has a tent (it is a very popular thing to do for locals)! The parking lot gate is locked at 5pm in the winter, so plan get there before that. In the summer, they are manned 24 hrs/day.
Just down the beach to the West (toward the Luquillo kiosks), there is usually a guy that rents kayaks ($10 per person per 30 minutes as of 1/22) , a vendor with Fly Board and past that are the Luquillo Kiosks where there is a wider selection of food and drinks.
Down the beach to the east is the “Mar sin Barreras” Sea without Barriers. This is a great area where people with all types of handicaps can go in the water using special wheelchairs and floats. There is a therapist there to help. They also have specially equipped bathrooms so they can bathe or use the bathroom. Trained lifeguard on duty here, handicapped parking and gazebos too. All for free for the handcapped/differently abled and their families! No reservations needed.
Parking $4 for cars, $8 buses. Restrooms, showers and changing room are $1 for adults and 50¢ for children for the whole day. ).
Balneario is open Wednesday- Sunday during the off season (Sept-June) 9am- 5pm. Open 7 days a week and until 6pm in summer months in July/Aug. Closed major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, 3 Kings Day etc. “Closed” means there are no facilities open/available, but you can still walk in and use the beach. If the parking area is closed, you can park at the kiosks and walk in along the beach.
Play safely- They have flags out to alert you to water conditions- red and yellow flags mean it is not safe to swim.
You could easily spend the whole day at the beach, but allow a minimum of 2 hours. We find that a trip to Luquillo Beach is a great way to spend the afternoon after a morning of hiking in the Rain Forest.
Administration Office of the Balneario La Monserrate: 787-889-5871, 787-889-5110.
From San Juan: Take Route 66 East (este) and then Route 3 East (este). Continue on Route 3 past the turn off for El Yunque / the Rain Forest. The beach is located just off Route 3 in Luquillo. Take the right hand “Balneario” exit just after you see the long row of food Kiosks on your left.
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