Mar Chiquita Beach (Little Sea) has been on my radar for a while now and I was able to finally discover this stunning beach a couple of weeks ago; though the sea was a little too rough to truly enjoy one of Puerto Rico’s best beaches.
Mar Chiquita Beach is located in the town of Manati on Puerto Rico’s north coast, approximately 40 minutes west of San Juan. From the sand packed parking lot, you are steps away from the oval shaped bay that is protected from the open ocean by the rocky limestone formations found along the north coast of Puerto Rico. An opening between the rocks allows the ocean to flow in and out creating the Little Sea (Mar Chiquita).
The crescent shaped palm tree lined beach is one of the nicest that I have been to in Puerto Rico. The sand is golden and soft (ankle deep in some parts) and slopes gently to the shoreline. Though once into the water you will find it gets deep fairly quickly.
You need to be aware of the current sea conditions as even though the beach is relative well protected from the ocean the water can still be very rough. Due to its shape and the narrow opening between the rocks (that lets the ocean in and out), there can be dangerous under currents when the ocean is rough and there is the potential to be taken out into the open ocean, or into the rocks. There is no lifeguard at Mar Chiquita, so use common sense and stay out of the water when it is too rough.
On the day we visited, it was such a day; the sea was cresting over the large rocks and rushing through the opening creating quite large waves inside the bay. Though not ideal for swimming it was impressive to see the waves crashing over the rocks from beach. We will be making another trip back to Mar Chiquita when the sea is a calmer, so we can enjoy both the beach and the sea.
If swimming and relaxing on the beach is not your thing, then take a walk along the rock formations, just make sure you are wearing some type of shoe as the rocks are sharp and of course slippery. Also watch out for the waves, as I have seen them first hand crashing over the rocks.
You can also take a break from the sun underneath one of the many palm trees that line the beach or check out one of the small kiosks in the parking lot area (usually open on weekends and holidays).
We visited Mar Chiquita mid week and the beach was pretty well deserted, though I have been told that on weekends it can become pretty busy. If you find the beach to be too crowded when you visit, there is another larger crescent shaped beach just to the right of Mar Chiquita. From the car park you will see an old concrete wall that has several openings, just walk through one of them and you will find the beach on the other side. Again part of this beach is protected by large limestone rock formations, but the beach is much larger than Mar Chiquita and stretches east away from the rocks.
If you are looking for a picturesque beach, then Mar Chiquita is a must see beach in Puerto Rico and go mid week if you want to avoid the crowds.
Mar Chiquita Information
- The beach and parking is free
- There are no lifeguards on duty, so you swim at your own risk, so use common sense
- There are no restrooms or showers and only a few small kiosks (open on weekends), so bring some food and drink if you plan to spend the day here
- Mar Chiquita is located in Manatí approximately 30-45 minutes west of San Juan. Take Route 22 to exit 46 and follow Route 686 north. Take Route 685 west and then join Route 648 north. Mar Chiquita and the parking area are located at the end of this road