"La 8" – El Escambrón, San Juan
If you're flying in from SJU, check out the coast's stretch from El Caribe Hilton to Old San Juan. Known as "La 8", this beach has very consistent surf and is often overlooked by traveling surfers. Although there is a somewhat exposed coral reef, the waves break from left and right, and many go unridden during the weekdays. The best waves are during the winter months, but the rest of the year is considered a great starting point for beginners. Scope out the lineups around the big rock and down the coast towards Old San Juan. There you will find Fiji, Kentuckys, 2 ½, and a few others.
After the waves: Once you're done surfing, hit up El Hamberguito burger shop, a decades-old staple where you can wash down homemade burgers and fries with an ice-cold beer overlooking the ocean. There's also a great vantage point to scope out across the joint. You also have La 8 Surf Shop a few blocks from the waves, so you can load up in gear and head out in the right direction.
La Pared – Luquillo
While staying on the east coast of the Island, you can ride the tide at La Pared, an exposed beach break with a ridable swell and offshore winds. You won't find shelter from cross shore breezes, but the beach offers both left and right-hand waves. There, you'll find waves from three to five feet with different size breaks within sets. Watch out for rips and undertow!
After the waves: The best after-surf meal you'll find is right across the beach… literally. Boardriders, a local surf shop where you can snack on burgers, wings, wraps, and even poke bowls, grab a beer or cocktail and sing karaoke away. The best thing? You don't have to rinse off because they have an outdoor patio that's also pet-friendly. You can also find surf gear and merch there or the local rental next door.
Margara – Arecibo
A little bit of an inconsistent surf, this north coast beach is best to visit during the autumn and winter months. A reasonably exposed reef break, the best wind direction is from the south, and it tends to receive a mix of groundswells and wind swells. Since there is no reef break, Margara is a good surf in all states of the tide. It is considered a small wave beach by most surfers, but it makes an excellent rookie spot. Some surfers consider the drop and the right and left barrel to be just like a pipe or backdoor rides. Beware of the sea urchins!
After the waves: A ten-minute car ride from the beach is the Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park, a place where you can scope out other swells and waves, as well as explore some of the Island's colonial history.
Machuca – Barceloneta
Known for its dark-black sand, Machuca beach is part of Hacienda la Esperanza between the towns of Manatí and Barceloneta. This beach bears the name of local surf legend, Jorge Machuca and you can ride both left and right-hand waves and the best swell direction from the north.
After the waves: Be sure to pack a light lunch and water, as there is nothing nearby this secluded beach. Machuca is near La Boca beach, another one of the beaches with dark-colored sand, and near this beach are several restaurants in the malecón for you to dine and relax.