Hello, dear readers! I know it’s been a while, but I want to let you in on a new vacation destination that – happily – few travelers know about: Rincón, Puerto Rico. I’ve been fascinated with Rincón since I learned it was a prime surfing destination. Although I am a pretty terrible surfer myself, I’ve developed something of an obsession with the sport. (Side note: Did you know that you can surf in Sheboygan, Wisconsin?)
So when I got the chance to join my family for a few days on an excursion to the gorgeous west coast of the Isle of Enchantment, I jumped at the chance. Although I was only able to only stay for about four full days, I was still able to pick out a few top spots. And, here they are!
Crash Boat Beach. Crash Boat is north, up the coast from Rincón. But it’s in the vicinity, so it goes on the list. The beach surrounds an abandoned pier which extends out into the perfect azure water (aren’t you sold already?), with two sections that fell away from the pier entirely and are now their own tiny islands. And nearly the whole pier is painted lime green.
But the pier is more than just scenic. You are able to jump the 10 or 15 feet off the pier straight into the water. It’s a local hot spot, and locals crowd the pier from end to end, doing backflips, sometimes to land on top of a wave rolling in. If you’re a a thrill-seeker like me, you’ll be hooked.
The second Crash Boat spectacle: a man selling jewelry who has trained a flock of pelicans (and a frigate bird) to do tricks. Buy a piece of jewelry, he will have a pelican do a trick for you. For instance, a pelican will hop up onto the arm of your beach chair, and pose with you for a photo. Or allow you to pet its head. As we left the beach, he called a frigate bird down from the sky, by name, and had it pause midair for a treat. In case you aren’t familiar, these birds are known for almost never landing.
Steps Beach. Steps Beach is one of those gorgeous out-of-the way beaches that, if you are lucky, you can have all to yourself. It was named for a set of concrete steps that landed on the beach years ago during a hurricane, and that have never been removed. It’s fun to guess where the steps came from, since there are no houses for a few hundred yards. I have heard the beach offers good snorkeling, but be prepared to climb down some slippery rocks on your way in. That said, if you are looking for a private, sunny beach all to yourself, Steps is your beach.
Maria’s and Domes Beach. I would have loved to become more familiar with Maria’s Beach. It’s a surfer’s haven for talented men and women who can navigate its many rock outcroppings to catch its perfect waves. There’s a restaurant and bar there, as well as a privately-owned shop by a graphic designer who used to design for companies like O’Neil and Roxy. I found a shirt that says “Rincón: a Sunny Place for Shady People”, and I can’t stop wearing it.
The weekend after I left, Domes Beach played host to the 1st Annual Legend Surf Classic. I missed the fun, but my family went, and they were kind enough to buy me back a t-shirt. One of the sponsors from Ocean Potion (my favorite sunscreen) promised my sister a gallon jug of sunscreen free to have for the pool she lifeguards at. We are waiting to see if it arrives.
Sandy Beach. Sandy Beach seemed to me the best place to learn to surf (despite the occasional rip tide). Besides having plenty of waves, it has a mostly sandy bottom – rare for the beaches of Rincón. (Also, I have to mention, surfboard rentals are incredibly cheap to rent in Rincón compared to other surfing destinations: around $10-25 per day – or what an hour would cost in California.) Addicted to the waves, clear water, and soft sand, I spent most of my beach time here. My sister and I – both notices, but unafraid of the water – rented surfboards and spent hours trying to catch a wave. We both got thrown around, and she had more success than I did – but I’ll be back to try again.
And some local attractions that don’t only involve the ocean:
Balnearios. Puerto Rico has many public beaches that serve as party grounds for locals. They’re known as balnearios. Locals get together for food, music, and drinks, and party into the night. If that’s up your alley, stop by one.
La Cambija. This was a local Rincón restaurant my family and I loved. They have all fresh, cheap food that is to die for after a long day at the beach – from seafood and chicken to pinchas (kabobs) and empanadillas (turnovers), it was all delicious. They also serve a great watermelon mojito.
Panaderías (bakeries) in general. We bought dessert almost every day at one of the local panaderías. They’re open late into the night and always have an authentic and delicious selection. It’s also cheap. We would buy four pieces of pastry for only about $2.50. Now that’s a treat that can – and should – fit in just about any travel budget.