East of Puerta de Tierra, resorts and posh condominiums line the Atlantic almost as far as Piñones, well outside the city limits. Each of the coastal neighbourhoods has its own distinct character, but there’s little in the way of traditional sights – the main attraction is undoubtedly the beach.
The theme-park atmosphere begins in earnest at CONDADO, San Juan’s oldest resort neighbourhood, an area gradually recovering some of its former ritz. Avenida Ashford is the main strip, running behind the beach from Puerta de Tierra to Ocean Park and lined with fast-food outlets, shops and restaurants. Playa Condado proper starts at Plaza Ventana al Mar, a small park opposite the junction with Avenida Magdalena. While the sand is thick and golden, it can get dirty and there’s not much shade. Loungers can be hired for $4 (per day).
Beyond Avenida José de Diego, the hustle and high-rises of Condado peter out into the quieter residential community of OCEAN PARK. The beach here is far more attractive than at Condado: it’s wider, less busy and backed by a thin line of palm trees, though it also attracts its share of trash – it’s still a city beach after all. The reef offshore means the water is usually far calmer, making it ideal for windsurfing and swimming; the only downside is that the beach is slightly harder to reach by bus and there are fewer amenities nearby. The beach starts to thin out as it reaches the Punta Las Marías headland.