Sunset on the Beach... "Paradise"

After about 21 hours of sound pollution from people playing reggaeton ( I stopped counting because I fell asleep), I did not wake up early enough to capture most of the chaos left behind by locals and maybe a tourist or two. Clean up efforts started at around 9:30 p.m. and here I am sharing what the beach looks like at around 7:30 a.m. the next day, July 5th, 2014. I was able to capture as much as I could so that I would not put myself at risk and end up being run over by the clean up crews.

I decided to insert some humor into the situation by using a bit of sarcasm of what you and other tourists should expect when visiting a beach during the holidays in Puerto Rico.  

1. You won’t be dehydrated!

There are a variety of tropical drinks for you on the beach.

Drinks for everyone near nature.

2. Left something behind?

Plates anyone? Just a quick wash and you’re on your way to some delicious beach barbecue.

Left Something Behind we probably have you covered. Plates anyon

3. No Need to Bring a Cooler

We have disposable and some slightly used coolers.  Thank you Walgreens for making it so easy for everyone to buy cheap styrofoam. This is a great way to work your branding into tourism.

Thank you Walgreens for year after year making it easier for bea

Another Beach Cooler... for you to choose from.

4. Pitching a Tent

No need to bring your Port-a-Potty. You can pretty much go anywhere (note to those walking around the beach barefoot). Although pitching a tent is illegal to do on most beaches, the cops are too worried about their small paychecks and lack of resources to do something about it.

No need to bring a cooler we have disposable and some slightly u

Pitching a Tent? No need to bring your Port a Potty you can pret

5. No need to take your trash back home.

Someone will come and pick up after you.

No need to take your trash back home.  Someone will come and pi

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6. No Need to know the local laws and rules.

The Beach is yours! Cops are understaffed and they don’t even feel safe dealing with lawless citizens. It’s all about freedom!

No need to worry about laws and rules. The Beach is yours.

7. Taking care of Nature

Look someone even put a blanket over the palm tree in case it got chilly in the evening.

We take care of Nature. Look at how someone put a blanket over t

8.  Get the Real “Island” Experience

Tourists from hotels in Isla Verde like the San Juan Water and Beach Club in the back, can experience the realities of Puerto Rico. No need to take a cab or have a local guide drive you around the island.

No Sterile tourist enviroments here. Tourists can walk directly

9. Did you forget a towel?

There are plenty of towels always left behind by beach goers. You might be able to pick your thread count and favorite colors.

Need to Dry yourself? These have also been slightly used.

10. Don’t worry about beach chairs

We have Grandma’s comfy chaise lounge waiting for you. Don’t like that one? I am sure you can find one slightly used chair of your liking left behind by some other “caring” visitor.

Grandma's Beach Chair waiting for ya.

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raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-27

11. You will feel safe and so will your valuables

Some people might bring a safe to the beach to make sure their valuables are stored safely like their engagement rings or even a weapon or two.

Need a place to keep you valuables. a Weapon Perhaps?

Need a place to keep you valuables. a Weapon Perhaps?

12. Did you forget to bring a snack?

I am sure you can find a variety of options left behind by those who brought more than they could eat. Arroz con Pollo is an island favorite!

You can even find freshly cooked food from yesterday for you and

13. Leave your boom box behind

While you are enjoying the sounds of the ocean, someone will ensure that the soft sounds of the waves are amplified.

Isla Verde Beach Music on the 4th

Bonus Round

Feel free to continue the list but even more importantly, share this post with the following hashtags #TurismoInterno #IslaEstrella #AllStarIsland. The only possible quick solution to start fixing this problem is by giving out fines to those who don’t obey existing laws.

Other than picking up after these people, what other solutions do you see to the problem?

raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-31      raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-25 raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-24 raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-23 raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-22 raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-21  raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-19  raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-17 raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-16   raulcolon-puertorico-blog-5thjuly-13  Set up a Campsite. Don't worry about picking up after.    Pick an item any item.  Left something behind? 

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22 Comments

  1. Samuel Robles on July 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Ok Raul, I’m game. Here are some of my ideas to start changing the ugly trashfest left by beachgoers in Puerto Rico; some of them might even be good ideas:

    1. Put up dumpsters, not only trashbins. Zafacones are easily overflowed, may not be visible in the croud conmotion, and once full, they become part of the problem if not emptied promptly.

    2. The Raymond Arrieta effect: Summon some of the more popular celebrities, best if they are also big on social media, plant them at a big beach, bring TV cameras along and have them encourage people to pick up after them. Some people just need the halo effect of a famous face nearby to find their volunteer gene.

    3. Have the big summer brands reward people for taking trash OUT of the beach. Maybe they can provide branded bags and take their pics as they come to the branded dumpster, make a contest out of it. Or contestants could post selfies dumping their trash into the branded dumpster and post it to the brand’s social page.

    4. Have a pick-up-trash party starting at midnight, bring a crew of friends, wear identical t-shirts, post results (a clean strip of beach) on social media. These crews could have sponsorships paying for costs & incentives, either the summer brand companies or nearby hotels, or they could bid for the sponsorship, with the proceeds going to a non-profit after covering for volunteer sustainance costs.

    5. Have “undercover operatives” document, surprise and reward volunteers that are observed picking up after other people. Another fun initiative for summer brands, especially media outlets.

    BTW, by “summer brands” I mean the businesses that market to beachgoers and that benefit from the crowd activities that cause the trashfest afterwards: Beers, soft drinks, beachwear, suntan products, radio stations, hotels, airlines, etc. They already make money contributing to the waste, might as well get some more $$$ while creatively modifying the behavior of their customers.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/orange-crush-clean-up-at-the-beach-plenty-of-volunteers-help-clean-up-the-mess

    Anyone out there cares to act on any of these, try them out for size? We still got a couple of holidays ahead and four or five weeks of summer. Let’s see if we can turn the tide around (pun intended) and start seeing cleaner Puerto Rican beaches the morning after.



    • Betzaida on July 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Excellent ideas, the halo effect must create a big impact in our society, the dumpsters also…



      • highlandbird on July 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        Have a news crew step out from behind a dumpster and give a $100 to some responsible person who is taking care of their own trash. Do this every week for a year, all over the island. Cost $5200; worth – priceless. Our oceans are suffocating in plastic. Our seabirds are dying, our whales are being found dead with plastic in their stomachs.



    • Jose on July 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      The best ideas are 3 and 5… 4 won’t work because that will preserve our current mentality of “someone else will clean up after me”. We need to REWARD those who do good and that’s a great way to do it (ideas 3 & 5)



  2. sharon on July 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Some communities have had success by teaching the problems caused by the trash in schools, and the young children then end up teaching the parents to do better. That has worked quite a bit in the continental US, but the family dynamics between parents and children are different here too. I agree there needs to be enforcement and fines for littering, so maybe you could get volunteers who are concerned about it in a cooperation with the police so that citizens could write the tickets since the police do not have the time and numbers necessary to deal with it. Just two ideas. I am sure there are lots more coming from others? It must feel really hopeless and defeating when it is this bad. More trash cans, but that won’t help in the cases of those who just don’t bother to try to put it in a trash can.



    • Jose on July 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      I’m sorry Sharon but if a private citizen tries to write a ticket to another Puerto Rican citizen, someone is going to get hurt or killed… and that will double up the workload for the Police 🙁



  3. @ecopelicano on July 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

    We really need a way to make the polluter pay for leaving his/her trash behind. I’m not talking about fines b/c those already exist and we all know that it’s unenforced and dead letter law.
    A Deposit Law on Beverage Containers (a.k.a. “bottle bill”) is the most effective/efficient tool for this. Making everyone pay a 5 cent per container deposit at the point of sale provides an incentive to bring those containers back and get back your deposit. So if you pollute (leave your containers behind) you pay b/c you forfeit your deposit. Not only does this address the litter problem, but the material from the containers is also sorted and recycled. US jurisdictions that have bottle bills in place have close to a 70% average recycling rate for the containers covered under the bottle bill (typically aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles for beer and soda/pop). vs. other jurisdictions that don’t have a bottle bill in place. The ten states that have bottle bills account for 46% of the recycled containers in the US despite only comprising 28% of the population.
    Moreover, and perhaps more importantly a bottle bill is also a tool for conduct modification. If you are taking back your containers you are a lot more likely to also take back the rest of your waste with you.



  4. Mary on July 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I agree with Jose about # 3 and #5. I have personally been in the ‘why bother,someone else will pick up after me’ conversation. Ugh. Just from a quick look at the photos though, I would agree with #1, the dumpsters could be bigger as a small step towards rewarding people who try to do the right thing then find the little trash cans full. What a beautiful beach, what a shame.



  5. GoldtriggerDude . on July 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I was visiting my family on vacation the night of the event. Yes people made a colossal mess. What you neglect to tell everyone is that all the garbage was picked up by 8am the next morning. Let me know if you want pictures because I have them.

    You do the island a tremendous injustice. You know why? Because that beach is clean the other 364 days out of the year. But you create the impression that what’s being displayed here is the norm. Shame on you.



    • Raul Colon on July 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      @goldtriggerdude:disqus the Island is not clean 364 days of the year. I live on the beach and every day I take pictures of how people leave a mess. Your making yourself and others an injustice by trying to act like there is no problem to resolve.



      • GoldtriggerDude . on July 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        Ok. My parents have lived right on Tartak Street for over 30 years, so I think I do have some credibility on this matter. So let’s agree to disagree. Isla Verde beach is not in a perpetual state of destruction and garbage as you posit.

        My question is as follows: with all of PRs more serious issues, namely its crushing debt crisis, chronic unemployment, police corruption, drug cartels, and crime, why not use your photography skills to showcase the true beauty of Puerto Rico and its people? Why focus on uncollected garbage, and even worse, give the impression to the world that this is what they should expect when they visit?



        • Raul Colon on July 17, 2014 at 10:33 am

          Did you say again your speaking from a third person perspective? Unless your a Tartak your family members should be my neighbors.

          Your state of denial and that of many is why the problem is not fixed. If you look around this is the first post I take a different approach and caught your attention.

          Having transparency and not living in your world where supposedly Unicorns and leprechauns roam Isla Verde. Any day of the week you can walk around and see the deterioration and garbage on our beaches. So why instead of helping me fix it by creating awareness of the reality are you being a bitch by using an Alias and not using your real name.



          • GoldtriggerDude . on July 17, 2014 at 11:59 am

            Do you always have such anger issues when someone disagrees with you? Name calling? Really? Do you beat you kids when they disagree with you? Or your husband?

            Hey whatever man, you’re the one who lives in a garbage infested shithole.

            And I know who you are.

            PS your website sucks. Expect to be hacked in the very near future.



        • Raul Colon on July 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

          Morons like you don’t understand that the trash should have not been there in the first place.



      • chuito malave on January 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        Raul colon why you dont do something for solving the problem y dejas de hablar mierdas cabron esa playa esta limpia todo el año cabron pa q tu estes dando mala publicidad ala isla de seguro eres de otro pais cabron ok



  6. Puerto Rico Police department on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    About #6, I worked 15 hours straight, just to bring safety to all people at Isla Verde beaches that day. The day went through without major incidents thanks to the state and local police department staff.

    So please don’t try to scare off tourism from this beautiful Island that obviously you hate so much.

    If you had the opportunity to take those pictures, know that the airport was 5 minutes away from where you took them, so please do us all a favor and take the first flight from here to wherever the hell you prefer…



    • Raul Colon on July 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Feel free to identify yourself. I have collaborated with top leadership of Municipal and State police officers and sadly they did not respond to many of our requests.

      Would love to hear your input on why you don’t enforce many of the state laws and their is excuse after excuse even when you have citizens supporting each other.



      • chuito malave on January 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm

        Cabron espero ahigas hecho ese favor y te ahigas largado pal carajo de aqui de la isla ok huele bicho MORON !!!



    • Raul Colon on July 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      We also have video , audio, and written communications with cops where we requested help and they pretty much confirmed that they could not help.



  7. Ligia Maldonado on July 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Raúl: I have lived in New York for 34 years, but I am from Manatí. My husband and I visit Puerto Rico practically every summer, usually in August. I haven’t had the “pleasure” of seeing our beaches look like that. I guess it’s because we go on weekdays when there are fewer people. During those days we see mostly people who are vacationing like us. We’ve had bad experiences though with noise pollution. When you mentioned how you had to endure hours of loud music, I sympathized with you. Often while at Cerro Gordo, young guys play their music so loud that we can’t even hear each other talking. I was horrified when I saw the pictures you posted. How can our people care so little about the environment and about the impression they’re giving to tourists? I agree with you 100%. I think that if people were fined, they would get the message. You have to hit them where it really hurts, and that’s in their pockets. If they want to be inconsiderate and irresponsible, make them pay. Why is that so hard to see by the people in the government? Por eso es que el país va de mal en peor. Samuel Robles has some very good suggestions.



  8. Samuel Robles on July 19, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I’ve come back to the discussion two weeks later and wow… first thing I notice is that this issue raises passions! Some posters are bringing anger into the discussion toward the statements of others. Not sure how this will help move the solutions along. Props to ecopelicano for the Beverage Containers deposit bill… God knows the Legislature has been kicking that can along for some time (terrible pun). Thanks to those who saw some merit in the ideas I shared with you. Now how do you propose we get them in front of the people who need to act on this?



  9. Susan K. F. on January 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Living in PR for the last 13 years, on the south west side of the “rock”, what saddens me is that easily 90%of the trash is left by locals. Tourists are shocked by the mess left behind because most of them would never do that. They have been taught to clean up after themselves or risk getting a ticket. Tickets in PR would not work for the locals because everyone knows someone who can get them out of it. Pride in their island is a thing of the past. Our only chance is to teach the kids in school the consequences on the environment then. …..maybe there will be a chance