Surf Spotlight: Rincon, Puerto Rico

By Michaela McNamara

The ideal getaway for a tropical holiday filled with relaxation and the pursuit of serenity can be found on the island of Puerto Rico. The island’s crowned jewel of beach towns is Rincon, where emerald hills kiss the golden beaches and crystal ocean waters.

Each time I walk off the airplane into the warm tropical winds, a feeling of peace and pleasure hits me like the island’s rolling waves. The walk from the tarmac to the small airport is a leisurely one because I know that there is no need to rush. For the next two weeks, the days will blend together, because in Rincon time isn’t measured by hours and minutes. It’s determined by the position of the sun, the height of the tides and direction of the wind. The roosters’ crows and the smell of fresh bread and coffee can also signal it’s time to wake up. Weather-beaten cars driving inland with surfboards on their roofs indicate that night has begun.

My family and I have been taking holidays to this sleepy beach village for the past 20 years. While adapting ourselves to the sun-drenched days and starry nights, we’ve enjoyed everything that Rincon has to offer. The waves and beaches always supply perfect conditions for snorkel or surf. The authentic restaurants serve generous portions of empañadillas (seafood turnovers) and mofongos relleños (stuffed plantains) at bargain prices. The friendly “Hólas” from the locals and the sound of waves crashing on the beach only meters from where you sleep is enough to keep anyone coming back year after year.

Rincon, which means “corner” in Spanish, is located in the northwest area of Puerto Rico. The small island is caught between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, giving the tropical vibes without feeling too far off the beaten track. Cars are the only way to get around, since there is no public transportation. The nearby Aguadilla airport is small and only offers two international non-stop flights per day from Continental and Jet Blue, but a two-hour drive to San Juan is the island’s largest airport. Rincon can boast that it’s the perfect combination of paradise and the modern world since Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the U.S. The U.S. dollar is used here and English is widely spoken as a second language after Spanish, but the physical distance and beloved seclusion from the rest of the world is what makes Rincon unique.

The town’s mellow island aura cannot be matched by many other destinations, but I return each year because of its range of beaches. There is a beach to suit every sea lover’s taste in this small village.

The Balneario area is ideal for children and those who love to walk along the shoreline. The waters are calm here most of the time, making it the perfect place for families to swim and sunbathe. It’s best to get down to the beach early with the local fishermen and pelicans before the sand gets too hot and being forced to run off and grab the nearest beer is the only way to be rescued. No day can be spent at the Balneario beaches without a trip to the Bohio bar at the Villa Cofresi. Nicknamed the Tiki Bar by its loyal customers, it’s a hut is situated directly on the beach that serves Rincon’s best pina coladas and burgers. I can remember many afternoons spent here with my mom and grandmother enjoying lunches and laughs while the boys surfed. There doesn’t seem a better way to spend an afternoon than to be covered in sand and salt drinking Medallas, the local beer, only meters from the waves. A quick siesta in a hammock afterwards always completes the transition from day to night

Balneario is situated at the southern end of the town center and is home to some of Rincon’s larger and more family-friendly hotels. While there are no resorts, Rincon of the Seas, Villa Antonio, and Villa Cofresi are all beachfront accommodations that have full amenities. Rates begin at $100 AUD. Many rental homes also dot the shoreline, and can start as low as $400 AUD per week.

A five-minute drive north up Route 413 to Playa Marias and Domes Beach is where the waves and action start to pick up. Veteran surfers come to these beaches to catch world-renowned breaks created by perfect trade winds and the ideal positioning of reefs. The waves can get big and the rip currents can be dangerous, so swimming is risky. The best way to enjoy the ocean here is with a surfboard or bodyboard. West Coast Surf Shop has an array of surfboard rentals for visitors who’d like to test their skills. It’s hard not wanting to try after watching some expert surfers effortlessly ride the waves. I’ve always preferred sunbathing and inhaling the fresh salty wind like an elixir to unwind, relax and enjoy paradise.

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