Sunset at Playa Buye, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. 6/12/23 at 6:47pm from The Red Door beach house.
Playa Buye, Puerto Rico: A Beautiful, Crowded Beach
The pictures don’t do Playa Buye justice. It’s a small, beautiful beach in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
You’ll see Playa Buye listed as one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, and if you’re visiting Cabo Rojo, everyone recommends seeing Buye Beach. With all that hype, it makes sense that it gets busy. We were pretty shocked at just how busy it could be. But we planned our trip well and Playa Buye was one of the best parts of our first Puerto Rico trip.
Here’s how to enjoy Playa Buye…
lapping at white sand
the birds and breeze and sea
Creation’s sun-soaked band
How to get to Playa Buye, Puerto Rico 🚗
Playa Buye is on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, in Cabo Rojo. So you get there by driving across the north coast of Puerto Rico and then down the west side, or heading straight down from San Juan to the southern coast, and heading west. Playa Buye is about 2 hours 30 minutes from San Juan’s airport (SJU) using the southern coast of Puerto Rico, and you’ll go through stop-worthy cities like Ponce and Yauco.
If you add 30 minutes to your trip along the north coast of Puerto Rico you’ll see cities like Arecibo, Aguadilla, and Mayagüez. While we only visited Mayagüez and saw the Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (a Catholic cathedral), I’ve heard good things about each of these places.
Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of the Candelaria Cathedral), Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. 6/11/23.
On the Way to Playa Buye
On your way to Playa Buye, there are quite a few places and experiences to stop for. You should also read my favorite things to do in Puerto Rico.
Here are a few things to stop and see on your way to Playa Buye…
- Go canyoning. That’s right. Canyoning. We didn’t get a chance to explore any of central Puerto Rico’s caves and canyons (although El Yunque has some of it’s own beautiful waterfall canyons and caves), but it’s on my list. Driving from San Juan (or the east coast) to Playa Buye will give you the opportunity to stop and satisfy your adrenaline needs. Learn more right here.
- Visit an art museum. Art? In Puerto Rico? Did you know Museo de Arte de Ponce (on the southern coast) has “approximately 4,500 works of art and is renowned for its great examples of Baroque, Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian paintings as well as Puerto Rican and Latin American art.” We stopped here on our way to our Playa Buye Airbnb and while the collection is supposed to be fully visible for the public again soon, we only saw a small collection. Hurricane Maria and the following earthquake damaged the buildings and forced a temporary closure of the main viewing areas.
- Tour a cacao farm. Finca Hekiti offers education and experiences in sustainable agroforestry and cacao farming. We had booked an experience on their farm but got stuck in Rincon triathlon traffic and couldn’t get back inland for our tour. Next time!
- Stop for lunch in Rincon. Rincon (where we only spent two nights 😔) had some of the best eating of our whole Puerto Rico trip. There were multiple solid vegan options, and lots of other restaurants we didn’t have time to check out. They also have some upscale, touristy shopping. I highly recommend Estela (pretty pricey–good vegan options), The Beach House (I had spaghetti here–lots of variety), and Passiflora (closed 😭). If vegan food, spaghetti, and closed restaurants aren’t your thing, there are tons of cool restaurants all around Rincon!
Where to stay in Playa Buye ☀️
Alright, you’ve made it to one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico.
Oh my. It’s packed with people.
Even when we visited at the end-of-season, even on weekdays, Playa Buye was crowded. There is very little parking, very few places to stay close by, and it’s not in a touristy beach town. There’s a place to eat right on the beach, but everything else is about 10 minutes away.
Playa Buye would be perfect for one of those “Instagram vs. Reality” pictures where one picture is super beautiful and picturesque and the other is filled with people.
Should you visit Playa Buye?
Yes, it really is incredibly beautiful. The sunsets are phenomenal.
The Red Door beach house. Playa Buye, Puerto Rico. Step out your back door into the salty sea! (6/12/23)
The Red Door, Playa Buye
The Red Door at Playa Buye is the only place I would stay when visiting this iconic beach. Buye Beach itself is not huge and gets very crowded. Why not stay right on the water? There are other small cottages a few minutes’ walk from the beach, but The Red Door gives you your own ladder to the sea, a second-floor porch to watch the sunsets, and a parking spot with no competition.
Spend a few hours floating and snorkeling, swim to the beach and lounge on the sand, and then retreat to your very own shady kitchen for lunch.
The Red Door was our favorite of five Airbnbs on our entire 2 week Puerto Rico trip. We wished we would’ve done two more nights there–truly this place is paradise. It comes with a parking spot, so you won’t need to stress about the horrendous parking situation at Playa Buye. You’ll see what I mean, when you get there.
If you can’t stay on the water, I’d spend more time in a beach town with more accessible restaurants and less parking congestion. There are so many quaint, beautiful beach areas on the west coast of Puerto Rico. You’ll save yourself some headaches by visiting other beaches.
Checking in at The Red Door
Some of the reviews for The Red Door grumble about the check-in procedures. The owners have a few extra rules and are a bit tight about security, but we had zero complaints after our stay. It was simple enough. You do need to back your vehicle down a short dirt road and parallel park (which was tricky the first time), but we didn’t want to leave much, so that was no big deal.
I do not recommend leaving or returning to your Airbnb at The Red Door during prime beach hours (10am-2pm and around 5pm). The tiny little strip of beach and homes gets insanely congested.
Amenities at The Red Door beach house
I was impressed upon arrival at The Red Door with how well it was set up for travelers. You never know with Airbnbs. There was a massive water cooler, a kitchen with all the cookware essentials, and plenty of ocean-floating gear. My wife was happy to have pool noodles.
As you’ll see in the below video, The Red Door is situated right on the water. You open your back door, put the ladder in the water, and step onto the sandy sea floor. No beach crowds, but you’re close enough to swim over if you want. There’s great snorkeling, amazing sunsets from the top floor balcony, and restaurants just 10-15 minutes away.
I love the beach as much as anyone, but there was something magical about stepping indoors to eat, relax out of the sun, and drink a big glass of water.
Who wouldn’t want to stay at The Red Door beach house?! (6/12/23)
How Long to Stay at Playa Buye
Stay at Playa Buye for at least two full days. You can float on the water, soak up the sun, snorkel, and watch the sunset. It’s the perfect place for beach bums, writers, and lovers of the sea. If you stay at The Red Door beach house, I think you could stay for 5-7 days, enjoying the water. Here’s how I’d spend 5 days in Playa Buye:
- Day 1: Bring groceries (
here’s a supermarket) to your Airbnb, or at least some snacks. There’s a handy Walgreens right here, too, about 12 minutes from the beach. Then snorkel, enjoy the sunset, and hangout on the porch overlooking the water.
- Day 2: Water, sunshine, and beach. Snack and eat light throughout the day before heading to Sabor ‘N Serio for dinner.
- Day 3: Sleep in then head to lunch in Boquerón, just a 10 minute drive south. After lunch, drive to El Faro de Los Morillos, an amazing lighthouse perched on 200 foot cliffs at the very southwest corner of Puerto Rico. You’ll pass through dry forest and salt flats, and the whole area feels more arid. I saw many iguanas in Cabo Rojo, especially heading toward this scenic lighthouse. You’ll walk about a mile after parking, so bring good walking shoes or sandals. There are also amazing, remote beaches here like Playa Sucia.
- Days 4 & 5: lounging around Playa Buye and hitting restaurants in Puerto Real (15 minutes north) and Boquerón. Relax! You’re in paradise.
Playa Buye is pure paradise, but for beach bums that like more seclusion and walkable towns, head to the island of Vieques. Read my Vieques travel guide to see if you want to include it in your Puerto Rico itinerary.
A pretty sunset at Buye Beach, Puerto Rico. Any west-facing Caribbean beach will have picture-worthy sunsets (6/11/23).