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Pinones Mangrove Forest – Nature Boardwalk & Waterfront Fun

Update 1/21- The area was hit hard by Maria, but things are making a come back, lots of rebuilding of the restaurants. The boardwalk is usable but does need to be repaired in places. You can use the beaches.

Pinones Shoreline

Pinones mangrove forest (Bosque de Pinones) offers a unique experience for tourists and locals alike. We find that almost no matter what we like doing, we can find it and spend an enjoyable day or evening in this area.

Even though this area is located just east of the airport and Isla Verde, it seems like a totally different world. There are no high rise buildings or traffic lights. This area is designed for recreation and relaxation.

During the day, it offers an 11 kilometer long nature trail/boardwalk that runs through the mangrove forest and along the northern coastline. The boardwalk is open to any non-motorized transportation, though mostly people walk or bike along it. I enjoy walking parts of it, and then stepping off the path and onto the beach, or to look at the rock formations, or the splashing waves coming in, and exploring the tidal pools. You can watch local fishermen catch large sea snails and other things.

Biking along the path is very popular with both tourists and locals. There are a few places along Road 187 that will rent bikes (usually about $5 per hour). These tend to be “well-used” bikes, but they usually will get you up and down the boardwalk just fine. The trail has no lights, and its use is prohibited at night. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of trash along the path, so one must overlook the mess and see the bigger picture. Hopefully it will get a good cleaning soon.

There is a place called COPI (a Pinones Cooperative that wants to encourage the Pinones area enjoyment and the Loiza heritage) that has bikes and kayaks for rent. This place is open every day from 9a-4p. When we went, their bikes are in good shape (helmet is included), they sell water and have a clean bathroom available, and gated parking. They rent the kayaks for $10 per person per hour and the route is to kayak out into the mangroves. They also occasionally have Bomba dance classes and shows.

Pinones Beach View

Another great part of Pinones that we love is the food! There are many places to eat and drink, ranging from dilapidated road side stands to great water-front restaurants. We have eaten at a couple different little shacks for snacks. We occasionally go to The Waterfront restaurant and really enjoy the stuffed Mofongo, as well as the view of the ocean. Bamboobei is also nice. There are a number of more casual/local places that serve frituras and you can eat there at picnic tables or take it with you. Some of the restaurants are closed Monday and Tuesdays, but usually are open for lunch and dinner the rest of the week. There are a few beaches along the boardwalk. The one across from the kiosks is very popular. This area (pozo) is separated from the ocean by a large rock divide. This makes a wide shallow pool to splash around in. It also is a great place to get sea urchin shells, and find a few other types of shells.

If you go, be sure to bring a bottle of water, the path is sometimes shaded and sometimes in full sun, and it can get hot! There are gazebos to sit and rest in along the way. Wear bug spray if you are going into the mangroves.

There are also road side stores to buy all sorts of vacation needs – hats, towels, sunscreen, some neat PR essentials, like hammocks and mortars and pestles. You can spend some time going from shop to shop. I would plan a stop at a few food shacks for drinks and snacks so you have the energy to keep going!

Pinones is the place to be seen for locals on the weekends – especially Sunday afternoons. It comes alive with people and music and dancing. Live bands and musicians appear at various places in the area. This fun goes on long into the night – there are dance floors, pool bars, and all sorts of roadside hangouts. However, traffic congestion comes along with that. Since Route 187 is the only road into and out of this area, be prepared to spend some time in traffic.

As a side note, You can also easily take the D45 bus from Isla Verde.

I do not swim at the beaches here. I also am leary of parking far from others and personally, I don’t usually feel comfortable hanging out in this area at night. Use common sense.

Plan on spending ½ to a full day between the beach, boardwalk, bike riding, kayaking, eating, dancing and people-watching.

From San Juan: Take Route 26 east or Route 37 east to Route 187 east and cross the bridge over Boca de Cangrejos You are now in Pinones! COPI is located on the right, just at the east end of the bridge.

From Ri­o Grande: Take Route 3 west until you get to the RT 66 Mall. Turn right onto Route 188 north toward Loi­za. Once you’re in Loi­za, turn left onto Route 187 west toward Pinones.

Swim at your own risk. I only swim in a cove beach in this area. I also am leary of parking far from others or in a secluded area. I try to park by a restaurant, at COPI or in an area with lots of other cars and I never leave valuables in the car. I don’t usually feel comfortable hanging out in this area at night, unless with a group of people. Use common sense.

It about a 35-minute drive to Pinones from our vacation rental in Ri­o Grande. It is just about 10 mins away from Isla Verde.

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 12 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

There is no problem swimming on this seashore if you know where to go, drive to KM marker 14 and you will be on a beautiful sheltered beach protected by a reef and without currents.

Comment by Karen Randall on 19 Feb 2019

Exploring Pinones on bicycle is quite the refreshing activity for anyone weary of the tourist-clad chaos in San Juan Viejo. During my ride I was able to observe a variety of unique scenes: a stray dog eating an iguana, a man hunting crabs with a machete, and a horseback rider galloping along the sidewalk. All the while a myriad of lizards frantically dashed out of my path, some of them colored with hues of blue and gold. These fleeting moments left a lasting impression on me and I would not have been able to witness them had I passed my day in the nauseating comfort of Old San Juan, or behind the wheel of my rental car. I have since then tried to include biking in my itinerary whenever I travel. After returning my bike, I stumbled upon a road side stand and sheepishly asked for one of those coconuts everyone had. The chef grunted, picked up a machete and chopped open the coconut in one swing. It was the most refreshing drink I've ever had and the perfect way to end a most memorable experience during my stay in Puerto Rico.

Comment by B. Rosa on 12 Mar 2016

Going on RT 187 along Pinones is a nice waterfront route. It will add about 45 mins-1 hr as opposed to using RT 66. You should have a little time to get out and get some pictures or a snack. There is usually not a lot of traffic on a Wednesday. Yes, it would be fine doing El Yunque on your way past on Friday.

Comment by Gwenn on 06 Mar 2016

Hello! Firstly, your site is a super awesome resource. Thanks for that. Secondly, I was curious if you could recommend if it would be worth spending some time along this route, of 187 and the Pinones, to get from the SJU airport to Ceiba, Airport vs going the inland 66 route (on a Wednesday). We are coming in April and will have a rental car. We will be flying out of Ceiba to Vieques at around 3pm (planning on getting there at about 2 for check-in), so we were going to leave the airport area around 10am and make our way toward Ceiba. We thought it might be worth sight seeing on the way. However, I'm terrified of getting stuck in traffic or something and not making the flight. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity to make the best use of our time to see something along the way. Any suggestions you have would be fantabulous and very appreciated. Also, would it be viable to see the rainforest on Friday when we get back into Ceiba airport around 1:30 pm? So sorry for all the questions. I'm sure you are super busy, but any help would be appreciated. Only here for a short period of time and don't want to "screw it up" on purpose, ha! Thanks!

Comment by Kim Williams on 05 Mar 2016

The boardwalk is quite long (goes for miles), and there are kiosks spread along the road by it. The kiosks run up and down the road even past the boardwalk, so you don't want to go too far or you would have to walk along the road, which could be scary. And I am not sure how many bus stops there are after the "main drag", since it is mostly natural. I would ask the driver where he suggests getting off.

Comment by Gwenn on 27 Jan 2015

We took the bus to Pinions but got off right after we crossed the bridge. We found the boardwalk. We wondered if we would see more kiosks if we got off at the end of the bus route and walked back toward the bridge. We did make it to Kiosko Borica, if you recall where that is located.

Comment by Diana on 26 Jan 2015

I can't think of any lechoneras in Pinones last time we went. I know there used to be a small stand, but places with lechon come and go every so often.

Comment by Gwenn on 24 Jan 2015

Do you know if Pipo's lechonera is still in Pinions? We were there today and asked a few people about it and they did not seem to know it. Thanks

Comment by Diana on 23 Jan 2015

The places in Pinones do not supply locks. You can bring your own, wouldn't be a bad idea. But if someone wants to steal your bike, they will easily cut the lock/chain.

Comment by Gwenn on 06 Dec 2014

should i pack my cable lock when i fly in or does the shop provide locks? i'm sure we want our rentals to be safe when we dodge off the trail to explore...

Comment by dave bonan on 26 Oct 2014

It is on the North coast, unprotected- large swells, rip currents and sometimes underwater rocks etc. Good surfing/body boarding, not good for swimming. There are a couple places where it is more protected than others, but for the most part, one has to be very careful.

Comment by Gwenn on 25 Mar 2014

Hi! Could you tell me why you dont like to swim here? Water quality? Have a great day!

Comment by janae on 25 Mar 2014

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