Puerto Rico Condado has one of the top beaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Published on November 15th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut

Condado has one of the top beaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Condado vs. Isla Verde: Which is Best for a San Juan, Puerto Rico Vacation?

Are all Puerto Rico beach vacations created equal? Probably not. An article in Monday’s New York Times noted that the New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force moved its annual conference from the 
InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino, which is located in San Juan’s Isla Verde district, to the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, which is in Condado. The reason for the move, according to the article, was that the new location would put less emphasis on the beach and festivities and more focus on “serious policy discussion.”

But I beg to differ. Both of these beachfront San Juan neighborhoods are festive and beach-oriented, just in different ways. So when it comes time to plan your Puerto Rico vacation, which should you go for: Isla Verde or Condado? Here are a few guidelines to help you decide (disclaimer: I used to own a condo in Condado, so while I’m logically partial toward that neighborhood, I’ve stayed at hotels in both places and can appreciate the allure of each).

Beaches:
Both Isla Verde and Condado have wide, long stretches of beach. Condado may at time have stronger waves, although the small beach next to the 
Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza has the most tranquil waters of all, since it’s more on the lagoon than the ocean.

Convenience:
Isla Verde is much closer to San Juan’s international airport and a bit closer to the El Yunque rainforest, but Condado is much closer to Old San Juan. So the amount of time you’ll be spending in Puerto Rico, and what you plan on doing, may influence your decision. 

Activities and Ambiance:
Beach-related activities abound in both neighborhoods, but Isla Verde, being further from the city center and constructed later, has more of a suburban feel, with more emphasis on driving and less on walking (except when you’re on the beach, of course). Condado feels more like an upscale urban beach neighborhood, and walking is the fastest way to get around to the restaurants, chic bars and shopping. Most of the upscale restaurants in Isla Verde are inside the large hotels, while in Condado, local celebrity chefs are just as likely to set up shop in independent restaurants as they are inside the hotels.

Hotels:
Both neighborhoods have excellent hotel options.

In Isla Verde, the hotels tend to be larger, with good choices including the following:
• The luxurious El San Juan Resort & Casino
• The classically elegant The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan
• The well-appointed InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino
• The smaller, hip boutique hotel called San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel, which has an excellent contemporary restaurant called Zest

Top hotel choices in Condado include:
• The coolly renovated Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, which has an especially good beach for children
• The tropical modern La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort, which has a very happening lobby bar that attracts locals and visitors alike
• The beautiful Olive Boutique Hotel, a small luxury hotel with great service and a gourmet restaurant
• The well-located San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino(Stay tuned for the full opening of the Condado Vanderbilt, set partly in a restored historic hotel built in 1919 by one of the famed Vanderbilts.)

MORE TRAVEL NEWS & TIPS:
• Check out the Puerto Rico travel section on LatinFlyer.com

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About the Author

The founder and editor of LatinFlyer.com, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.


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