The Truth About Puerto Rico Beaches

Glass Beach is known to locals as such thanks to the little bits of sea glass that wash up on its shores.  It is one of the few beaches in Palmas that I would even consider swimming in, as it is a small cove where the waves are broken by enormous breakwater structures jutting out from the harbor.  The sand is course and yellow and the far side of the beach turns into pretty, smooth yellow, brown and black pebbles.  We have found at least one piece of sea glass each time we have gone, and always come back with cool coral as well.  There are NOT loads and loads of sea glass available for the taking.  i.e. I wouldn't make the trip down to Humacao just for this beach, but if you live in Palmas, it is a fun little day activity.  Also note that when the seaweed is bad, some collects on this beach, but it is not as bad as other areas like the Beach Club and the beaches along the "crescent" (see below).
Palmas del Mar Beaches Sargasso
Palmas del Mar Beach behind Beach Village - note the seaweed :/
Palmas del Mar Beaches Sargasso
The seaweed and rip tides make these beaches unpleasant and sometimes dangerous to swim in -- they are lovely to walk along though!
Beyond the seaweed, one of the biggest issues about the beaches we have visited in Puerto Rico is the trash.  Luquillo was covered in trash, Mar ChiQuita in Manati had broken glass everywhere underfoot (though the cove itself is REALLY cool) and our little Glass Beach here in Palmas is often littered with beer cans, condoms and their wrappers and other trash.

BOO to love nests on beaches...
Getting to Glass beach is difficult if your home does not back up to it.  You have to make a little bit of a hike from the marina, and it is OK for older kids, but was NOT fun with our almost 2 year old.  If you turn down into Surfside, there are easier walking paths to get there (no golf carts or cars can get directly down to the beach.) Also, beware that this particular location must be a local hangout for um, love.  Beer cans, condoms and their wrappers and other stuff can often be found.  We just need to don some gloves and help clean it up sometime soon.

Here is the location:

Glass beach at Palmas del Mar, Humacao Puerto Rico

...and from closer in:

Glass beach at Palmas del Mar, Humacao Puerto Rico

A few notes on Glass Beach and Palmas del Mar beaches in general:

1. Low tide mid-summer is around noon most days and high tide at night.  Low tide is nice because you can access more of the sand/stones to walk on, but high tide always brings in better sea glass.

2. The beaches around Palmas are rocky and have a strong undertow.  These are not super safe beaches and I won't let even my oldest kid any deeper than his knees/waist.  The waves aren't super strong, but the tow back out to the ocean can really catch you off guard and drownings are not rare.  Be careful.

3. Another note on the rocks...if you are swimming, you need to get out far enough away rom the rocks so that you are not pushed back into them when a strong wave hits.  Also, the large rocks right around the shore have plenty of snails and greenery growing on them and are VERY slippery.  BE CAREFUL!

4. The seaweed comes and goes.  Sometimes there isn't too much and the beach is pleasant to walk along, but other times it can cover the entire sandy area.  The native seaweeds just look bad, but the Sargussum (reddish floating along the surface of the water) STINKS.  Sometimes it is gag-inducing and sometimes it just smells a little fishy/salty.

5. The views of the ocean are GORGEOUS from Palmas.  The waves crashing into those rocks and cliffs are stunning and the long expanse of flat ocean is truly awesome. You can see the white in the google map image above from the waves crashing onto the rocks.

Also...looking UP is stunning!

Palmas del Mar Beaches Sargasso

We have been collecting little bits and baubles or weeks now for our sensory tables/sandbox, my Makerskit projects (like this necklace, this perfume and this candle) and I have many, many ideas or more jewelry pieces!  Hope you come visit -- you will probably see us there!

Photos are all as of fall 2015 and the beaches have been like this since at least June. 
 To learn more about the Sargasso problem -- you can read HERE.

UPDATE: November 2015 Hurricane season seems to have done good instead of ill to the beaches of Palmas del Mar at least!  There are now pretty pieces of bamboo and driftwood on the beach as opposed to hills of seaweed.  The problem?  There is still trash everywhere and broken pieces of glass that beach visitors are neglecting to take home with them...and yes...the condom wrappers still appear :/

Glass Beach as of November 2015

The worst of the seaweed problem was here in the harbor -- it is MUCH much better after a few minor hurricanes.

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