I once had a dream when I lived in Miami (where I’m from – Go Heat!) that I would be writing and living in a place that had an “ocean view.” That was 7 years ago. It turns out that view came after four years exploring the island of Puerto Rico and obviously with a story worth sharing – at least from my point of view. I was and am still grateful to write a major portion of my upcoming interactive book “Puerto Rico Adventures Revealed” with the views I had from Ocean Park Puerto Rico. I guess I understand now why it’s all about the view and breeze sometimes…
“If we could see these many waves
That flow through clouds and sunken caves
She’d sense at least the words that sought her
On the wind and underwater”
“Waves” – Anastasio
Ocean Park is situated just down the shore of Condado and before you get to Isla Verde. It’s probably the part where most tourists will feel like you’re in the “real Puerto Rico” because it’s not perfect but great enough. Ocean Park also offers the most accessible and nicest beaches while you’re traveling in San Juan. Once Ashford Avenue turns into McCleary Avenue you will know you’re in the Ocean Park district.
This laid-back neighborhood is mostly a residential area that is upscale in some parts and yet downtrodden in others with roaming dogs seemingly everywhere. You’ll notice Puerto Rico is like this in many parts, but don’t let that fool you. The neighborhood itself is charming and you can easily feel comfortable walking around from place to place where the locals are quick to help you with any questions you have.
Ocean Park also offers many shops, restaurants and bars to hang out at. In fact, there is also a pseudo “bar” located at one of the gas stations where you can purchase your drinks. You can also get shaved ice cream of the fruit of your choice from a local vendor/kart that’s right in front of the beach.
One of the best surf shops in the island that also sells great clothes is Tres Palmas Surf Shop located at 1911 McCleary Street. When you see this surf shop as well as the Mini Market, turn left in the residential neighborhood to park at the beaches where most of the locals hang out. Stock up for the day at the local convenience store as you drive into Ocean Park (yellow building).
The beaches at Ocean Park are popular with locals and you’ll see kite surfers out in the distance flying through the waters, or you can see the paddle ballers doing their thing on the shoreline. If you’re lucky you may also see some Puerto Rican musicians walking the beaches while playing their instruments. The Ocean Park beaches are one of the best in the tourist areas for people watching and spending a day here relaxing under the Puerto Rican sun.
Another option for a great beach and park that provides “less parking hassles” is further up on McCleary Avenue. Look for Parque Barbosa – a place you can’t miss once you see the jogging track and many open parking spaces. Parque Barbosa is nestled right on the beach and makes a great place where you can get your jog or workout in and have a picturesque beach literally within walking distance for you to enjoy and relax in afterwards. There’s also some showers there if you want to rinse off.
Punctuating the area are a few bed and breakfasts inns and boutique hotels located in the Ocean Park district that make for a distinctly different experience. Wind Chimes Boutique Hotel is one of them, Acacia Boutique on Calle Taft, and Mont Caribe Guesthouse, and Hosteria Del Mar are others. Numero Uno Guest House is also highly recommended if you want to stay in the Ocean Park region.
The highlights of places to eat in the region are Mango’s Restaurant (where I met my girlfriend – and good local cuisine/good drinks), Kasalta Bakery (the most amazing Cuban deli), La B For Burro – a unique and quaint Mexican restaurant, and Pamela’s Restaurant – where you can eat on the beach and take in the views albeit a bit overpriced. Click on the links below for Trip Advisor Reviews.
Further east and right before getting into Isla Verde is Punta Las Marias – where there are other great restaurants to choose from. Rosalia International Cuisine is one of our favorites better geared towards night time dining (although we just heard they closed and there is now a Burger Place now). Also be sure to check out Inca Chicken (Peruvian), and Little Italy Pizza Restaurant. If you’re a healthy & food conscious eater be sure to check out The Garden Restaurant.
In the interactive travel guide, you can pick and choose from various “Adventures & Activities” Chapter that Ocean Park, Puerto Rico has to offer.
HOTELS/LODGING & GET YOUR VIEWS HERE!
*Wind Chimes Boutique Hotel: Trip Advisor Reviews of Wind Chimes Boutique Hotel
*Acacia Boutique: Trip Advisor Reviews of Acacia Boutique
*Mount Caribe Guesthouse: Trip Advisor Reviews of Mount Caribe Guesthouse
*Hosteria Del Mar: Trip Advisor Reviews of Hosteria Del Mar
*Numero Uno Guesthouse: Trip Advisor Reviews of Numero Uno Guesthouse
RESTAURANTS IN OCEAN PARK
*Mango’s Restaurant: There’s a great story of how we met at this restaurant, but that’s for elsewhere in the book. For now let’s just say that it’s a pretty fun atmosphere here. The food is perfect for appetizers & excellent dining. The drinks of course are why you’re here. Cool outdoor bar / patio area to lounge, or choose to be inside in a cozy bar setting. Get’s crowded and fun on weekends. Price Range: $5-19. Cuisines: Caribbean / Cafe / Grill. Trip Advisor Link
*Kasalta Bakery: A delightful Cuban bakery with about as many choices as you can imagine. Sweet tooth? Breakfast? Sandwich? Coffee? This place on Ocean Park has it. A tad bit pricey though and slightly expensive, but still some of the best food in Ocean Park. Try the ternera sandwich with angus. Excellent. Also the Cubano Sandwich is a specialty. Price Range: $7-25. Cuisines: American, Spanish, International. Trip Advisor Link
*La B De Burro: Small and tiny, but don’t let that fool you it’s a great Mexican restaurant. Try the burritos and have a great and casual conversation with a friend. Price Range: $5-14. Cuisines: Mexican. Trip Advisor Link
*Rosalia International Restaurant: By far one of the best restaurants when it comes to absolutely delicious plates. Great environment, excellent customer service, and good music playing in the background. What more do you want? Great presentation of food also. Located at Las Marias between Ocean Park and Isla Verde. Update: We heard it just closed. Sad to hear as owner provided beyond excellent service. Price Range: $12-30. Cuisines: International/Caribbean. Trip Advisor Link
*Pamela’s Restaurant: A restaurant literally on the beach. Nice outdoor bar overlooking the beach. Good food but a bit pricey. Can’t deny though this is the perfect place for a $5 Medalla Beer. Price Range: $25-50. Cuisines: Caribbean, Contemporary. Trip Advisor Link
*Pa’l Cielo: This is a place where the creative and artistic people hang out. Come later during a Friday or Saturday night for a good crowd. Pseudo restaurant and nightlife by the end of the night. The food is absolutely delicious – especially the ceviche. The appetizers at this place are great. However, just know that there is no air conditioning. Nothing but the fans and breeze. Gets hot in here. Price Range: $6-20. Cuisines: Caribbean, Peruvian. Yelp Link
*La Cueva Del Mar: If you want good seafood and great restaurant to hang out in with fun vibes this is it. You can eat so good here for a modest price. Plus, most of the locals hang out here as well so it’s fast becoming the “hang out” spot. Price Range: $4-20. Cuisines: Seafood, Caribbean. Trip Advisor Link
*The Garden: The place to go if you’re vegetarian or looking for healthy eating alternatives. Nice ambiance in here. Breakfast/Brunch, Late night. Price Range: 10-25. Cuisines: Healthy. Trip Advisor Link
*El Conde Pasta y Pizza: It’s kinda hidden if you don’t know where to look. Located on the 2nd floor next to the Shell Gas station on the fork of the road between Ocean Park and Isla Verde. Great spot for pizza. Tomato and basil pizza is tremendous. Price Range: $5-19. Cuisines: Pizza and pasta. Trip Advisor Link
*Little Italy Pizzeria: Another one of our favorite pizza places in Ocean Park. Try their thin crust chorizo pizza and you will not want to stop. The bottle of sangria is the best on the island. Price Range: $7-19. Cuisines: Wood brick oven pizzas. Trip Advisor Link
*Inca Chicken: Don’t let the name fool you this is not a fast food place when you first notice it. It’s an excellent Peruvian restaurant that specializes in the most amazing chicken you can ever have. Try the 1/4 chicken with the white rice and beans. Price Range: $8-20. Cuisines: Peruvian/Chicken. Trip Advisor Link
*Super Foods: For the healthiest and most delicious smoothies with fruits and and a completely organic menu. This is not so much a restaurant as a quick stop to grab some powerful food. Delicious shakes. Try the Acai Shake. Price Range: $5-15. Cuisines: Health shakes. Trip Advisor Link
*Si No Corro Me Pizza: Literally translates to if I don’t run they’ll trample me. Quaint and perfect little spot for delicious pizza. It’s a tiny place but a great spot for hanging out. Price Range: $14-30. Cuisines: Pizza/Italian. Trip Advisor Link
*Tresbe Food Truck: This yellow food truck in the middle of Loiza Street is a perfect outdoor spot to order great Caribbean food. Try the fish tacos and the empanadas. Food tours come here it’s getting to be that good. Recently I had a friend from Puerto Rico visit me from Canada (who now lives in Miami) and he ate here 1st thing after arrival, and last thing before heading to the airport. The FISH TACOS ARE THAT GOOD! Price Range: $3-20. Cuisines: Caribbean. Trip Advisor Link
*Under The Trees: Located in the plaza at the Doubletree Hotel at the end of Loiza Street, it boasts a terrific ambiance and delicious food. They serve in the style of buffets so you can have your choices. The Mojito’s and drinks are also just right at this place. Price Range: $10-25. Cuisines: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner – Eclectic Cuisine. Trip Advisor Link
*Molinas Native Cuisine: We haven’t been here per say except once to say hello to the owner for one quick second when I was working another job selling payroll technology. The restaurant is super small, yet all we hear is that the food is tremendous and the prices are inexpensive. Good spot for breakfast as well. UPDATE: We recently came and ate here and the service and food were beyond exceptional. Try the “Rabo Encendido” or Ox’s Tail. The meat just comes off the bone in the most savory of ways. Price Range: $7-20. Cuisines: Latin. Yelp Link
*Fleria Greek Cafe: A completely different place to grab a bite to eat. Try some greek food near Calle Taft on Loiza if that’s the mood that strikes you. Price Range: $10-25. Cuisines: Greek. Trip Advisor Link
*Panuchos: Late night Mexican restaurant on Loiza. Price Range: $3-10. Cuisines: Mexican. Trip Advisor Link
*Kamoli Kafe & Boutique: On Calle Taft, it’s a nice outdoor restaurant/cafe/boutique/slash/casual hangout. Price Range: $5-20. Cuisines: Cofee/Tea/Appetizers. Yelp Link
*Caba Wine Bistro: Trip Advisor Link
*Silk: Asian food and elegant environment under the Doubletree hotel at the end of Calle Loiza. Price Range: $15-40. Cuisines: Asian. Trip Advisor Link
*Basilio’s: (Formerly known as Bebo’s Cafe). If it’s the same restaurant, then it’s good food and typical Puerto Rican cuisines at an inexpensive price. Sort of like that restaurant you can always count on for serving hearty inexpensive home cooking type food. If you haven’t eaten MOFONGO, you haven’t traveled to Puerto Rico. It’s just the truth. So here’s a great place to try! Price Range: $4-15. Cuisines: Puerto Rico typical. Trip Advisor Link
*El Bar Bero: Trip Advisor Link
This is the local bar hangout for the up and coming professional/artistic local crowd of Puerto Rico. It’s a tiny bar with a “it’s a barbershop/bar” concept – thus, El Bar Bero. The Haircutter. Except it’s a better play on words and bar than one named Haircutters Bar. Not the same flow in English. Sings better in spanish. Anyways, cool little bar to try a Medalla.
*Marimba House of Jazz & Blues: Facebook Page
*The Plan B: The Plan B sometimes works out is the theme of this bar/restaurant. What’s cool about this spot is the decor of musical legends and artists. The Plan B is known for it’s pizza, it’s live music, and people watching. Fun nightlife environment unless you don’t have a a pulse or are bored. My favorite artpiece of course in the bar is the Woodstock artwork. Cool bar. I love this place. Price Range: $6-16. Cuisines: Pizza. More of a hangout/bar scene just as El Bar Bero right next to it. Trip Advisor Link