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PUERTO RICO HERALD
Three Beaches For The Romantic In You
By J.A. del Rosario
November 7, 2003
A vacation in the Caribbean is all about sunny beaches, flip flops, sandy feet and salty air. Beaches are arguably the most common national commodity in Puerto Rico -- we have a beach for every occasion on this island.
For the urban crowd we have beaches where the turquoise water laps against a wall of oceanfront condominiums that looms over the shore like an urban tidal wave of concrete and glass. For the nature lovers we have beaches with camping areas and gentle waves lapping against the shore. And for the adrenaline-addicted surfers, there is plenty of rough surf breaking over ominous reefs.
But the popularity of beaches with locals and tourists means that while you can find a beach for any occasion, it is next to impossible to find a beach for yourself. Contrary to popular belief, the greatest luxury a romantic couple can afford in Puerto Rico is not room-service at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, but a beach private enough to reenact that sand-drenched kiss from "From Here to Eternity."
I don't know about you guys, but when it comes to notching up my masculinity level to Burt Lancaster heights -- it always helps to have a little privacy.
Taking this into account, I gave myself the mission of finding a few secluded spots where you can let your inhibitions roam free -- or at least free enough to shame your parents (if they could see you).
After a long tour through secluded trails, obscure mountain roads, and an awful lot of walking, I managed to thin my list down to three spots that are private enough, accessible enough and beautiful enough.
Number one on my list is "Secret Spot," near Playa Jobos in Isabela. Secret Spot is along Route 466, the same road that leads you to Jobos. To reach the Spot, continue driving down along the shore until you spot 10-ft sand dunes to your left. About this time, you will notice white sand covering seeping onto road. When this happens, you have arrived.
The beach is behind the sand dunes. A note of caution when parking your car. Leave it on the grass patch, the sand is very thin and a car can easily get stuck.
Once on the other side of the dunes, take a few moments to admire the hundreds of multi-colored shells the waves washed up on the shore -- the orange, yellow, white, pink shells form colored trails along the beach, depending on how high the tide rose the night before.
Catch your breath and head over to the left side, where a bed of rocks have formed a natural pool. The waves break at the top of the pool, where the rocks are higher, and the water comes down the rocks like a waterfall to fill up the pool. This whole chain of events happens in fast-forward, and the effect is like sitting in a high-speed jacuzzi.
For those who want to stay the night, there are several inns around the area. The nearest one is the Villa del Mar Hau. The rates here are between $85 and $115 a night, depending on the time of the season. Despite the low prices, the view is first class and the beach is straight out of a tourism brochure.
Next on the list is El Cocal, a secluded beach on the opposite side of the island. El Cocal is in Yabucoa, an eastern coastal town. The beach is lodged between a steep hill and a sea characterized by lots of spray and booming waves crashing. The real allure of this beach is the black sand, which streaks throughout the shore, mixing with the regular sand to create a marbleized effect.
On most days El Cocal is empty, save for a few local surfers who show up regularly to ride the waves. In any case, the ratio of space to people is ample enough to afford you enough privacy to feel alone, which is what this is all about.
For those looking to stay the night, you can check out the Palmas de Lucia guesthouse, only two minutes away from the beach. The rates are also between $80 and $115 a night.
To find the beach, Palmas de Lucia is the best marker. The staff there will gladly give you directions. For those who just want to get there, take out your map and look for Road 901 South, heading to Maunabo and Patillas, from this mountain road you will spot the crashing waves of El Cocal at the bottom of the hill. Get to a fork on the road where you have to choose between heading for the beach and a dead end. Head for the beach and take it from there.
The last spot is near the famous Seven Seas beach in Fajardo. I haven't been able to determine a name for this spot, but access is fairly easy, and the mixture of thick sand and rock formations, coupled with the deep blue water make it a favorite of mine.
To reach this beach, go to Seven Seas (you can find directions in every tourist booklet), and leave your car in the parking lot.
Once in the beach, face the ocean and start walking toward your left. You will reach a ditch that flows into the ocean, hike up your pants and cross it. Be sure to wear your shoes, you will start walking on small rocks on the shore, so take your time and be careful.
Continue on this trail until you pass a shipwrecked row boat. I know you are probably thinking that the rowboat will not be there when you finally get down here, but don't worry, the boat has been the key marker for years. I don't think it's going anywhere.
Shortly after passing the boat you will run into a trail to your left. Take the trail through the bushes. When the trail forks, flip a coin (both sides lead to the same place).
Before you know it, you will be standing before a wall of blue sky, blue water and a thick blanket of sand draped over large rock formations.
I have a soft spot for this place. I think it is the rocks that give me a flashback of Charlton Heston in the end of Planet of the Apes. An appropriate allusion if you're looking to get in touch with your primal instincts.
So there you have it. Three beaches where you can still get private enough to do a little romancing.
Good luck, and don't forget the phosphorus!
Villas del Mar Hau
Palmas de Lucia
J.A. del Rosario, a business reporter for The San Juan Star, is a remedial guitar player and an incorrigible nightcrawler. He can be contacted at: : firstname.lastname@example.org