Condado is the center of San Juan's tourist zone. Condado is home to most hotels and a majority of the nightclubs. Isla Verde is quieter, more stately. Old San Juan is european in feel but removed from city nightlife. When choosing a location, keep in mind your taste and preferences. If you are a history buff, stay in the Old City. If you are looking for a resort experience, Isla Verde is your best bet. If you like shopping, nightlife, and an urban experience without having to rent a car, Condado is the best option.
Condado is Puerto Rico's most affluent address. Jennifer Lopez maintains a luxury condo in Condado.
Condado is a shoppers delight. The shops range from high end retailers such as Cartier to small gift stores. Most activity occurs along Ashford Avenue, a long street whcih begins at Condado's western tip and proceeds through to Ocean Park. In addition to stores, Ashford has many restaurants and bars. For diners, the choices are wide ranging, from sushi to creole to Puerto Rican.
Condado has a few beaches, specifically La Playita, the gay beach, and a stretch of beach near the Marriott. Condado's beaches tend to be a bit rockier than neighboring Ocean Park.
La Playita is a lagoon separating Puerto de Tierra from Condado. It is excellent for children and swimmers who don't wish to fight currents and waves.
The beach near the Condado Marriott is known for its surfing and bodyboarding. A peculiar break in San Juan's protective reef drives higher tides to this area allowing for larger waves.
Between Naim and Candida streets, the beach is rocky and not suited for swimming, although the walking path is excellent for strolling.
Just past Calle Naim is what could arguablly be San Juan's most idyllic stretch of beach. This portion of the beach extends for two miles to Punta Las Marias, through the residential area of Ocean Park.
Drinking is permitted on all of the beaches. Vendors in fact sell beer (and water). You will hear "cerveza, agua" on occasion. You also might hear "jueyes, pollo". Food vendors walk the beaches most days selling mostly home made fried meat foods.
Seaweed pops up in San Juan occasion, drifting from the nearby Sargasso Sea. It generally only lasts a day. If your beach is discolored by seaweed, try another location. The seaweed tends to be localized and infrequent.
Ashford is Condado's main thoroughfare. The streets are grid patterned and tend to be residential with mixed commercial space. Since Condado is extremely affluent, you will rarely see trash or unkempt buildings. You will see homeless people on occasion. These folks are protected by Puerto Rico's strong civil rights laws.
The southern part of Condado is marked by the Baldorioty Expressway which is easy access to the airport.
Puerto Rico has many American chain stores. In Condado, you will find Walgreens, Luis Vuitton, Ferregamo, and Cartier. Supermax is the island's largest grocery store, and the Condado location has an excellent wine collection and organic food aisle.
For beach supplies, the best selection is at the Walgreens on Calle Condado.
Open air restaurants are abundant in Condado. There are chains such as the ubiquitous Starbucks and Wendy's, as well as Subway and McDonalds. There are numerous seafood and sushi restaurants, ethnic cuisine ranging from Chinese to Middle-Eastern, and dozes of Puerto Rican style restaurants.
Condado also has casinos. The Raddison, La Concha, and the Marriott each have a casino.
The majority of hotels and inns in San Juan's Tourist Zone are in Condado.