San Juan Neighborhoods: Guide to Isla Verde

Playa de Carolina Avenida Isla Verde San Juan, Puerto Rico
••• Prayitno/Flickr

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:

Budget

Moderate

Expensive

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.

International/Fusion

  • 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.

    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 ...

    The spas.

    Isla Verde has a few good ones, including: