Metro Places for Nature and Adventure

Condado Lagoon- a liquid stadium

Condado lagoon beach

Very few cities have such a unique, natural feature right smack in the middle of the city. Locals call it La Laguna del Condado or in English, The Condado Lagoon. This body of water, in spite of being surrounded by all types of development- hotels, condominiums, and avenues- is one of the most diverse natural habitats on the island. Here you can see different ecosystems, coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, sea grass beds that manatees and sea turtles feed on, crustaceans, star fish additionally there are mangrove stands that attract all types of birds.  

A recreation magnet

There’s another species that can be seen daily at the lagoon, paddleboarders, kayakers, long distance swimmers and the occasional dragon boat race. There are also two amazingly calm beaches, including the only one in the metro area with a southern exposure for even tanning (don’t overdo it).  

Condado lagoon paddleboard
Calm waters make the lagoon ideal for family fun.

 

Get out on the water

If you want to try your hand at a paddleboard there are two opportunities. You can head to the small park at the easternmost point and rent one for an hour or two. You can also rent kayaks on the northern side in front of the Condado Plaza Hotel. A word of caution however, it’s really easy to go with the wind but a lot harder to row against it. If you stay in the eastern half you should have no problems. 

Night time kayaking in the Condado Lagoon
Anyone for a little night life?

 

An environmental success story

The modern day lagoon is a far cry from how it looked in the 60’s. A study identified 1,300 buildings that discharged untreated water into the lagoon. The old bridge had just one opening, so circulation was limited with a lot of stagnant spots. You can almost smell the results. In 1969 the Natural Resources Department and the Water Authority began the process of eliminating these connections. A new bridge was built with multiple opening for better circulation. In 2007 a non-profit organization, The San Juan Bay Estuary Program was established and created an artificial reef, restored the mangrove forest in the eastern end and has been chief defender of this unique habitat and more. 

In 2013 the Lagoon was officially declared a Natural Reserve and today hundreds of people enjoy this natural stadium from sunup to sundown and even more. It’s a great jogging, biking, walking track with excellent snorkeling. Even better is to just sit below the monument or on the wall, contemplate the beauty and look out for the resident manatees and sea turtles.

 

Find out more about the San Juan Bay Estuary Program – https://estuario.org/landing-page-2021-en/

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