Beach, Beauty, Surfing, and Petroglyphs at Playa Los Tubos
The winter storms and rough seas usualy clean the sand off. It all depends on how the waves/storms move the sand- best chance to see them would be after a large storm/waves and at low tide in the winter months (Jan – April).
If you are looking for a long and pretty beach, Playa Los Tubos in Manatí might just fit the bill. It offers a lot … surfing, a boat ramp, diving spots, beach, beauty, and history. The water is crystal clear, and the sand is a nice creamy color — but it has strong currents, so it is not a swimming beach, just a “looking” beach! There is parking available roadside, and also in a parking lot. And occasionally, ancient petroglyphs get uncovered by the waves — proof that people have been enjoying this spot of hundreds of years. Go check it out!
I think the north coast of Puerto Rico is lovely … it has many beautiful areas and beaches. Playa Los Tubos (farther westward it is sometimes called Playa Tortuguero because the Tortuguero Lagoon is on the other side of the road) is a nice long stretch of sand. It is right along the roadside of Route 868 in the town of Manatí.
There is one area that has a parking lot, gazebos, some playground equipment and animal structures for the kids. Post-MARIA, I don’t think this area has been reopened … it was looking kind of run down. You may have to park elsewhere (along road or by boat ramp and walk in). There is a boat ramp (there is a dirt road providing access to the ramp, just west of the gated area). This is also were people will enter for beach SCUBA dives. I don’t know how good it is, but there is a reef all around there. Due to the dangerous currents, we recommend against snorkeling at this beach.
Personally, I prefer the stretch of sand to the west of parking lot area. You will see all sorts of parking and pull-offs on the side of the road. We opt to park on the south side of the road (the sand is not as deep — we would hate to get stuck in the sand!). Then you just walk onto the beach, find a nice spot, and relax. Again, no swimming as the currents are dangerous.
But the real appeal for me, and they is not always visible, are the petroglyphs. These were carved into the flat rocks on the shoreline by the people that inhabited the island before the arrival of Columbus. Most of the time, the petroglyphs are covered with sand, protecting and hiding them from view. They are sometimes uncovered for a period of time by a storm or rough seas, usually January through March.
If you are lucky, catch the tide just right (at low tide), and the waves have washed the sand away you can see the petroglyphs at the shoreline for yourself. There are some really beautiful examples of “bundled babies”, animals, faces, and geometric shapes. To best see these, you need to go at low tide, so check the tide tables for Manatí, PR. We have provided the GPS coordinates for the petroglyphs below.
The petroglyphs can only be seen at low tide on occasion, usually winter months.
This beach usually has dangerous currents. We recommend against swimming and snorkeling at this beach.
Since the pretty beach is easily accessible, this whole area can get crowded on the weekends. Be careful if you park on the side of the road … there could be soft sand and your car might get stuck.
From the San Juan area, take Route 22 west to Road 137 north to Route 2 east to Road 687 north. Continue on Road 687 until you get to Road 686, where you’ll turn left and head west. Look for the beach on your right.
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