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La Playuela – A Picture-perfect Beach

La Playuela Beach

The views from the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse are simply magnificent.If you look toward the north you will see a white crescent beach with bright blue water. I was surprised to see one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in Puerto Rico.

Once we saw it, we knew we had to get over to explore it. We asked the lighthouse ranger about the beach and, he said lovingly, "Oh – the jacuzzi? That is La Playuela". Luckily there are trails that lead right to the beach from the lighthouse. Of course you can always just drive to the end of the road to get to the beach!

Lunch On the Beach & A Quick Swim

La Playuela Beach

When we got to La Playuela, there were only 3 other small groups of people on the beach, so we had our choice of spots to set-up. We chose a nice spot under a tree with a little shade. We spread out our beach blanket, had our picnic lunch (that we had packed at home) and then took a short swim. The water was warm and the calm, since the beach is in a large, protected crescent. The sand was white and fine. The water had seagrass/seaweed along the surf line toward the ends of the beach, but the bottom was clean and soft toward the middle of the beach.

Cabo Rojo Lighthouse from La Playuela Beach

The views from the beach are spectacular — the lighthouse on the cliff to the right and more cliffs to the left. The water isn’t crystal clear — it has fine sand particles in it, making it turbid. But it is so nice. And the water here has high salinity, so your skin feels so soft when you come out! I have read that sometimes there are waves at this beach, but the day we went it was almost flat.

There are trails all around the beach, so you can walk around and find more great views. But be aware — it is hot, sunny and the limestone rocks are sharp. So take water, sunscreen, a hat, and sturdy shoes.

This beach is a favorite for off-the-beaten path locals and tourists alike. I imagine that this beach could get pretty busy on weekends and during the summer, just because it is so pretty there. Some people and travel guides incorrectly refer to this beach as Playa Sucia, which the ranger said was further inland, on the Bahia Sucia, in the nature reserve.

The Details

La Playuela Beach

Both this beach and parking are free.

The beach is open during daylight hours. Note- it can get very crowded on weekends. The rangers will close the road once capacity at the beach is reached. Get there early.

There are no services (restrooms, showers, food, etc.) at this beach. There are no lifeguards, swim at your own risk.

This is a remote beach. To get there, drive to the end of Route 301. You will eventually come to the parking for the lighthouse — at that point you want to take the road to the left. This road has huge pot hole/craters, so only drive as far as you feel comfortable then park and walk to the rest of the way to the beach. (Note 2013- they have leveled it out a bunch and made a parking area!). I heave heard you need to park only in designated areas or you may get a ticket!

We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ... 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 →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 9 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

We had a big seaweed issue and being a cove, it gets stuck in there. The town cleaned it out at least once so far (they close the beach for a few days to do it). But I hear this island of seaweed will come and go for another month or so. So conditions can change quickly.

Comment by Gwenn on 17 Jul 2018

I LOVED this beach. I was actually here before the Hurricane. It will be nice if someone give an update of how it is now. I will be returning to the mother island soon. I still recommend this beach to all my friends as a MUST GO. -Thank you for this.

Comment by Lynn L on 12 Jul 2018

It's worth an advisory notice that where 301 becomes a dirt road, the conditions have become all but treacherous in places because there have been no repairs in years! Water-filled pot holes can be be very deep, and much of the other stretches are like driving over a washboard. Too make matters worse, this area has been packed on recent, weekday visits - early January understandable because of the holidays; mid-May the same. When parking areas become full, people park along the narrow/rough road. As cars were coming out, it left those coming in with nowhere to go without backing out for long stretches, around blind curves while navigating potholes. Cars were getting hit by others; I was in a panic with my rental car! Such a shame because the beach and cliffs are some of the most beautiful areas on the island, and shouldn't be missed if planning to arrive very early and avoid the crowds and traffic.

Comment by Kevin Keller (José Kevo) on 10 Jan 2017

Most of us call it Playa Sucia and it's popular amongst young people especially those studying at the RUM at Mayaguez since they're relatively close. It's beautiful but there are periods where there's a lot of algae that washes up on the shore. I always thought that's why they call it "Dirty Beach" but I may be TOTALLY wrong. The water is really salty and a beautiful turquoise color. It's a LONG drive from San Juan (at least, for us, it feels like an eternity), but, SO worth it! You can also go to the lighthouse and be enthralled by the cliffs (acantilados). Lots of birds roaming the wildlife refuge too. Highly recommend!

Comment by Eps on 15 May 2014

LOVED this beach! Thank you! Your website is so handy! We have lived here for months now and I think I check your site as a reference daily. I love how you provide even the smallest of helpful detail. The directions in GPS coordinates are definitely helpful as we found out real quick how useless those devices can be here. I especially love your honest opinion as to whether or not you like a certain destination or not. Thanks again, this site has been our savior. :) Susanne Dorado, PR

Comment by Suzy on 12 Nov 2012

Interesting, I've always known this beach as Playa Sucia. I've been to this beach several times, it is my favorite corner in the world. A great tiome to go is during Thanksgiving week, as you pretty much have the beach to yourself.

Comment by Alex on 09 Nov 2012

DRNA do closes beach after it reaches maximum capacity of 60 cars. After that you have to walk from Bahia Hotel, a good 2 mile walk to beach...when carrying chairs, coolers, bags, seems way longer! Be prepare since is salt flat area: muddy and smelly. However, this is done to protect area and walk it well worth it. Do agree with previous comment: view from other side of beach (opposite to lighthouse) is amazing as well. Shaded areas are part of protected area. So unless you are going for prepare to be sun blazed!

Comment by Heidi F on 18 Apr 2012

One of my favorite places to go in Puerto Rico. The combination of a beautiful beach, remoteness, together with the spectacular views from the jagged 200' cliffs, and many walking/hiking trails is a great way to spend the day. If it's a sunny day, definitely be prepared to protect yourself from the sun. On a clear day it's definitely hot, but you always have the option to take a dip and cool off. Definitely bring a camera, too, cause the views from the cliffs surrounding the lighthouse should be captured in photo. They make great pictures.

Comment by Josh on 26 Aug 2011

I think that it is necessary to add in your description, that on day sthat th ebeach is pretty busy (nochede san juan, holy week, or a day off in the UPR-mayaguez) DRNA limits the entrance of vehicles into the close parking area, so any people that want to go to the beach after DRNA has arrived will have to park near the salt mountainsand walk to the beach (about 1.5 miles). Also, even though there ar eno bathrooms in the beach, you can suggest that they can use the baths in the lightouse, which is nearby. As you mentioned before that there are sometimes waves, I have seen ocasionally people surfing in the far part of the beach. Finally, I think that you should encourage people to go to the left saude f the cliffs, because it is spectacular, prettier than the lighthouse side.

Comment by Joel HCM on 02 Jan 2011

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