Playa Azul in Luquillo, Puerto Rico is the perfect place if you’re looking for a jumping off point to explore the beauty and adventure of Puerto Rico. It’s close to the ferry to Culebra, the bioluminescence bay and El Yunque rainforest.

Let’s start with the positive and talk about what makes Playa Azul special. There are very few beaches in the world that offer something for everyone, but this one does. It’s in a cove that’s semi-protected by coral reef, so to the right you can snorkel for hours in clear calm waters and to the right you can play in some decent sized waves.

The snorkeling area is great for beginners, being right off the beach you don’t have to swim far to see fish and coral. If you’re more adventurous and comfortable in the water, swim out further and you might find exotic fish and stingrays. We saw lots of the usual suspects, our black and yellow striped fishy friends, as well as some of the unusual, a pod of baby squid or cuttlefish.

If you move to the centre of the beach it’s less protected, so you get some pretty impressive waves to try body surfing or boogie boarding. Apparently there can be rip tides. We didn’t experience any, but be careful.

And if you just want to float in the water and relax, there’s space on the beach between the snorkeling and the waves that’s perfect for just that.

I’m not generally a fan of golden sand…I like how white sand turns the water turquoise, but on a calm day the water is clear as glass, and even I had to admit it was gorgeous. The sand it soft, but gets hot, hot, hot in the Caribbean sun, so be prepared for the long walk from the shade of the trees to the water.

Playa Azul is a public beach and very popular with the locals, but there are no lifeguards or amenities. A few garbage cans, but no washrooms or change rooms and parking is limited. As far as we could tell the sand was never graded, so there’s always seaweed washing up on shore, but also great shells and coral from the reef.

Now the bad part. The garbage. No matter where you are in the world, please take out what you bring in. It’s not that hard. It’s really not, but people still seem to have an issue with it. The water is clear and clean, but as soon as you hit the treeline there’s evidence of lazy humans everywhere; cigarette butts, bottle caps, plastic cutlery, straws. I was okay with clearing out a section of sand under the trees before putting a blanket down, but then I was laying there digging my toes in to the sand and I dug up a used condom. That was the last straw. I spend half an hour in the water scrubbing my toe with sand. People are disgusting. None-the-less, Playa Azul has a lot of potential, and if people start to care for it and pick-up after themselves, this beach could be amazing.

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