Isla Verde is the fancy resort strip of San Juan. What draws the crowds to this neighborhood? Isla Verde means "Green Island," but it's the lovely crescent of beachfront that commands center stage, and it is here that you'll find some of the island's hippest, hottest, and most exclusive hotels. They are the focus of my guide to Isla Verde.
Where to Stay
Hotels here range from budget to bring the gold card:
- Borinquen Beach Inn - the closest budget hotel to the beach.
- Courtyard by Marriott - A great, kid-friendly option for families in a prime location.
- ESJ Azul - One and two-bedroom apartments right on the beach; what more do you need?
- El San Juan Hotel & Casino - among the top casino hotels in Puerto Rico, and the heart of the Isla Verde action.
- The Water & Beach Club - Major style points at this hip, sexy boutique hotel.
- The Ritz-Carlton - Great casino, great spa, and elegant rooms.
Where to Eat
There are many excellent restaurants in Isla Verde, from local favorites to popular global chains –
Puerto Rican Cuisine
There's a surprising dearth of really good Puerto Rican restaurants in Isla Verde, which offers many more international options. However, you can't miss at Platos, which serves local dishes with innovative flair.
- Ceviche House - A refreshing, seafood-heavy trip to Peru, and one of the better international flavors around.
What to See and Do
Of course, there's the beach. Two of them, actually: Isla Verde Beach and Carolina Beach, a balneario, or "public beach," with ample parking and amenities (unlike Isla Verde beach). Here are some other activities to put on your list:
- Casinos - Two of the best casino hotels in San Juan are located in Isla Verde.
- Diving - Call Ocean Sports if you want to arrange a dive trip from Isla Verde.
- Water sports - San Juan Waterfun, located on Isla Verde Beach, will get you on a wave-runner, Hobie Cat, bananaboat, or parasail.
Where to Shop
There's not much shopping in Isla Verde, especially compared to San Juan's other neighborhoods. The best shops are at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino and the Ritz-Carlton, where you'll find mostly high-end jewelry and fashion stores. On Isla Verde Avenue, look out for the tiny but delightful Algo d'Aqui (787-791-4105) for unique souvenirs.
Where to Go Out at Night
Now here's one area where Isla Verde shines. Clubs, lounges, and late-night hangouts abound, such as:
- Club Brava - the hottest club in San Juan can be found at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino.
- Wet - The rooftop setting is awesome, making this Water & Beach Club hangout one of my favorite San Juan lounges.
- Lupi's on Isla Verde Avenue (787-722-1874) - Cheap Mexican food, gigantic margaritas, a young Spring-Breakish crowd. What's not to love?
- The Upper Level Lounge - A chilled out second-floor destination above the casino floor at the Ritz.
- Casinos - most are open until at least 4 am, if not 24 hours.
Don't Forget About ...
Isla Verde has a few good ones, including:
- The Edouard du Paris Spa at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino.
- The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton specializes in local ingredients, essences, and aromas.
- The Spa at The Intercontinental uses treatments, facials and body wraps by Elemis.