Kick off your shoes and join me on Isla Verde Beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico! I'm talking all about things to do on this gorgeous beach, as well as places to stay in San Juan.
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Doesn't a beach day sound wonderful right about now? If I close my eyes, I can just about feel the sand between my toes.
Lucky for you, we're headed to Isla Verde Beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico today ... so get ready to do a little day dreaming!
But let's back up for a minute. A couple weeks ago, I shared the first part of my amazing 48 hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I visited an awesome museum, ate delicious food, and explored a little of the hip Santurce neighborhood.
My second day in San Juan was packed from morning to night! I started out the day at Isla Verde Beach, then explored the San Juan Historic Site and Old San Juan.
I'll get back to those historic sights on another day ... today is all about beautiful Isla Verde Beach! Plus I'm sharing some tips on where to stay in San Juan.
Isla Verde Beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico
Okay, so first things first ... Isla Verde Beach is actually located in the city of Carolina, which is right next San Juan proper.
To be honest, I didn't even realize that until I returned home from my vacation. I thought I was in San Juan the whole time. That's what happens when you plan (and I use that word lightly) a trip at the last minute ... ha.
Playa Isla Verde does share a coastline with two of San Juan's most popular beaches, Ocean Park and Condado. So I think the fact that it's not actually in San Juan gets downplayed to the turistas, like me!
Regardless, Isla Verde Beach is absolutely beautiful. And if you're looking for a low key beach, Isla Verde is the perfect option.
The weather was quite overcast on my first morning on the beach.
After a few sprinkles though, we were rewarded with vibrant blue skies.
Isla Verde Beach is lined by high rise hotels and condos.
It's an impressive sight, and apparently, a number of celebrities live here ... like former members of the band Menudo (remember them?), including Ricky Martin! Sadly, I did not run across Ricky.
Right on the other side of these high rises is a busy street packed restaurants, which is very convenient if you'll be spending the day or staying in one of the hotels.
I don't know about you, but when I hit the beach, I'm all about relaxing. So as far as things to do on Isla Verde Beach, I'd highly recommend dipping your toes in the water and walking up and down the soft, sandy beach. I don't need much else to make me happy ... maybe a lounge chair!
Of course, there are tons of other things to do on Isla Verde Beach. You'll find everything from jet-skiing to those crazy banana boats. If you're interested in these kinds of activities, check with your concierge or keep an eye out for rental stands on the beach.
I also spotted lots of swimmers (the water was very warm), although I did see signs warning of strong currents. Personally, I'm a major wimp and didn't want to get swept out to sea, so I stayed near the shore.
The hotels along Isla Verde Beach put out chairs and umbrellas for their guests, but if you're not staying there, you can rent them. It wasn't that crowded in the mornings I spent on the beach, but I'm sure it's a different story on hot afternoons. Get there early if you want a chair.
Just look at that beautiful blue water ... pure heaven, I'm telling you.
I wish I would have had more time to enjoy Isla Verde Beach, but I know I'll be back someday!
Our Hotel on Isla Verde Beach
Of course, the reason I was able to spend any time on Isla Verde Beach during such a short trip was because we stayed right on it at the InterContinental San Juan.
We had the luxury of walking out to the beach from the hotel, and it was the best!
If you're looking for a hotel on Isla Verde Beach, I'd highly recommend it.
The InterContinental is located five minutes from the airport ... it literally felt like we drove around a corner and were there. Loved that!
It's a little further away from the Condado and Old San Juan, but we didn't mind.
All the sights were just a quick drive (or bus ride or Uber) away, and there were tons of restaurants nearby, too.
The outside of the InterContinental has a slightly retro vibe, which I loved.
Our rooms was warm and luxurious with lots of dark wood ... a very luxe tropical vibe!
As I mentioned in my first post about San Juan, this was a business trip for my husband, Joel, and he had booked a standard room at a work discount.
Since Joel stays in IHG hotels (that's the InterContinental's parent company) three to four days every week (usually at a Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn), they upgraded us to a suite in the Club InterContinental wing. And that, my friends, is why I like going on trips with him!
Our suite was absolutely beautiful and super spacious. I wish I took some pics before we messed it up!
We didn't have the views of the beach that you'd get from the higher rooms (we were in the low rise wing below), but the other perks, including a private patio, definitely made up for it!
And there was a complimentary breakfast that was heads and tails above the normal pastry buffet you get at most hotels.
It was overflowing with fresh fruit, a delicious Spanish tortilla (potato and onion omelet), cheese and meats, and all the usual suspects. Plus, they had mimosas .. which I very sadly did not notice until day two. Oh well, you live and you learn!
I'm not saying all this to make you jealous ... its a tip! If you do any traveling at all, try to stick with one brand for hotels, one brand for airlines, one brand for car rentals, etc. Then, join their reward programs.
You probably won't rack up points quite as fast as Joel does, but you'll still earn some great perks and probably get extra friendly treatment from the staff (who were amazing at the InterContinental, by the way).
Apart from the beautiful room and yummy breakfast, the other thing I loved about the InterContinental was the expansive pool area.
It was filled with palm trees and a huge, meandering pool with fun waterfalls, two bars (one swim-up), a game area, and more. Perfect for kids and adults alike.
Isn't it pretty?
Of course, every trip has its hiccups. And I did have one funny / terrifying incident at the hotel that I have to tell you about.
After coming back from the beach one morning, I took a shower, then started getting dressed. All of a sudden, I felt this searing pain in my shoulder, and it kept getting more painful by the second.
Finally, I started freaking out and asked Joel to check it out. He said it looked like I had been bitten by something and told me take off my dress because it was probably in there somewhere. Now I'm really panicking, right?
So I took off my dress, something fell out, and Joel said, "There it is!" ... at which point I stepped on it. It felt fuzzy, and in my head, I was thinking tarantula. Cue the screaming and hopping around like I had a snake wrapped around my leg!
Of course, it wasn't a tarantula; it was a huge bee. Needless to say, my nerves were shot that morning ... ha ha!
I hope you enjoyed this story about visiting Isla Verde Beach in San Juan ... err, Carolina!
Keep reading for some fun tips about the beach, plus more ideas for where to stay in San Juan.
Tips for Visiting Isla Verde Beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico
- Where to access Isla Verde Beach: It's easy to visit Isla Verde Beach if you're staying at one of the hotels or condos that line it since you can enter through their properties. If you're not staying at a hotel, head to Balneario de Carolina, a public beach with restrooms, parking, and other amenities. Check out this map of the beach for more info.
- Get a hotel ID bracelet from your hotel. I didn't realize until my second beach day (oops) that I was supposed to get a hotel ID bracelet before hitting the beach. This was for security purposes, obviously, and I'm assuming it's the same case at most hotels. Check your hotel's front desk or with the concierge to find out.
- Where to eat on Isla Verde Beach: The road all the hotels are located on, Avenida Isla Verde, is lined with restaurants and bars of all different varieties. And of course, most hotels will have their own restaurants, as well.
- Things to do on Isla Verde Beach: You can find all the usual activities on Isla Verde Beach, from swimming to snorkeling to jet-skiing, parasailing, and more. Check with your hotel to arrange something or look out for vendor stands on the beach itself.
Where to Stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Isla Verde Beach: If being on the beach is important to you, I'd highly recommend staying in beautiful Isla Verde. It's a little further away from Condado and Old San Juan, but it's really just a short drive to reach these places. There are lots of restaurants nearby, and it's very convenient to the airport. We loved our stay at the InterContinental, but there are plenty of other options at varying price points, too.
- Condado: The Condado area is located on a smaller beach just to the east of Old San Juan. There are lots of restaurants, bars, and clubs, and it can be noisy and traffic congested. If you want to be in the middle of it all though, this would be a good location.
- Old San Juan: Love history? Old San Juan is the historic colonial section of San Juan. This area is colorful, beautiful, and full of people. Options include hotels, inns, and apartments, and you'll be surrounded by shops, restaurants, and museums, although you won't be on the beach.
- Elsewhere: San Juan is a city of almost 400, 000 people, so the areas I've mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. You could also look beyond typical hotels to more interesting accommodations, like an AirBnB in a less touristy neighborhood. This article has an overview of a few of the neighborhoods in San Juan.
Looking for more things to do in Puerto Rico?
There is so much to see and do in Puerto Rico! Here are some ideas to keep you busy after your visit to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico:
- Explore colorful, historic Old San Juan. Here are 10 Things to Do in Old San Juan that you don’t want to miss.
- Experience Puerto Rico’s vibrant art scene. Spend an afternoon at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico … don’t leave without visiting the sculpture garden!
- Learn about Puerto Rico’s colonial history. A visit to the forts at the San Juan National Historic Site will give you peek into the island’s past.
- Get artsy! A visit to Santurce, Puerto Rico is a must on any trip to San Juan, especially if you love street art, museums, and good food.
- Visit El Yunque Rainforest. A visit to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, is a must on any Puerto Rico bucket list.
- Hit the Beach. You can’t go to Puerto Rico without spending a day (or ten) at the beach. Now that you've checked out Isla Verde Beach, head to Luquillo, Puerto Rico which has some of the best beaches on the island.
Have you ever been to Isla Verde Beach or San Juan?
P.S. Check out all of my travel stories here!