Surfing & Other Outdoor Pursuits
There are 8 miles (13km) of beachfront in Rincón, and each little spot seems to have its own name: Las Maria's, Indicator, Domes, the Point, Steps-Tres Palmas, Dog Man's. The reasons behind the names are also varied. One stems from the hulk of an abandoned nuclear power plant just off the beach, another for an old man who lived nearby.
Part of the town's appeal is that it has both rough surfing beaches and tranquil Caribbean coastal areas. Along the north side of Rincón, the Atlantic coast gets large, powerful waves, while other beaches are tranquil, perfect for snorkeling. Yet many beaches provide both, depending on the time of year.
During winter, uninterrupted swells from the North Atlantic form perfect waves, averaging 5 to 6 feet (1.5-1.8m) in height, with rideable rollers sometimes reaching 15 to 20 feet (4.6-6.1m). In 2008, a rare winter storm created 25-foot to 30-foot (7.6-9.1m) waves here that had local surfers musing whether it was the biggest surf ever. On the southern side of Rincón, the ocean is calm, and long, wide sand beaches unfold with swaying palm trees along them.
The best surfing beaches include Las Maria's, Spanish Wall, and Domes near the town lighthouse on the north side. Córcega is probably the best of the Caribbean beaches. Some beaches, meanwhile, can show different faces at different times of the year. For instance, Steps, which is also named Tres Palmas, is a great surfing beach in winter, but in summer is calm and one of the best spots for snorkeling. It was recently named a natural marine reserve.
Visitors need to proceed with caution during winter when venturing into the surf off Rincón, which can be particularly strong, with powerful riptides and undertows that routinely cause drownings. This should not stop visitors from coming here, however. The town has beaches with both tranquil and strong surf. Just proceed with caution and ask locals about surf conditions.
Windsurfing, and increasingly kite-boarding, is also extremely popular here, with Sandy Beach a favored site because it does not have the rocks found on the ocean floor that some of the other beaches in the area have. Also, from December to February it gets almost constant winds every day. Windsurfers wait on the terrace of Tamboo Tavern for the right wind conditions before hitting the beach.
Excellent scuba, snorkeling, parasailing, and sailing are also available in Rincón, making it one of the most active of Caribbean destinations.
Endangered humpback whales winter here, attracting a growing number of whale-watchers from December to March. The lighthouse at El Faro Park is a great place to spot these mammoth mammals.
Rincón remains a mecca for surfing aficionados, but it’s also a great place to learn the sport. Learn from the best, local surfing expert Ramses Morales, through his Surf Lessons Puerto Rico & Adventure Co. (tel. 787/617-4731; www.surflessonspuertorico.com). Rates start at $75 for 2-hours, $100 for half-day, and $175 for a full day. Private lessons start at $90. Ramses is among the most respected local surfers, and he knows where the best spot from among the multitude of surf breaks on any given day, depending on the particular expectations of his clients. He's great with beginners, but can also help kick up the game of the most experienced surfers. He's a serious teacher, who places an emphasis on safety, and has certifications as a surf instructor and in first aid and rescue.
The Rincón Surf School (P.O. Box 1333, Rincón; tel. 787/823-0610) offers beginners lessons or can teach surfers how to improve their performance. One lesson costs $95, and there are also 2-day ($180), 3-day ($260), and 5-day ($390) packages. A private 2-hour lesson is $150, $75 each for two people. The school also arranges surf vacation packages in conjunction with the Casa Verde Guesthouse. Puntas Surf School (P.O. Box 4319, HC-01 Calle Vista del Mar; tel. 787/366-1689 or 939/697-8040) is another great option. Melissa Taylor, and a group of surf professionals whose love of the sport is infectious, they say they can teach would-be surfers of any age, from 5 to 105. Private lessons cost $50 per hour, $85 for 2 hours. Group rates are $40 per person per hour, and package deals are also available. Board rentals are $25 per day, $60 for 3 days, $100 for a week. A professional photographer takes pictures, which you can purchase after your lesson.
You can't get closer to walking on water than on the 2-hour paddleboard tour run out of the Mar Azul Surf Shop, Rte. 413, Km 4.5, Bo Puntas (tel. 787/823-5692). When conditions are right, you can stare into the colorful world of coral reefs and tropical fish shimmering beneath the clear Caribbean Sea that your board gently cuts through. The West Coast Surf Shop, Muñoz Rivera 2E, Rincón (tel. 787/823-3935), is another of the more established of the many surfing outfitters in town. Both are open daily 9am to 6pm. The shops rent surfing equipment and give lessons. Hot Wavz Surf Shop, Maria’s Beach (tel. 787/823-3942), also rents long boards, as well as boogie boards. Prices for board rentals start at around $25 daily. Snorkeling gear can also be rented at these shops.
Good snorkeling can be found just off the beach. When conditions are right, Steps/Tres Palmas is a great spot. Scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts will also want to head out to Desecheo Island, the large mass of land seen offshore from Rincón looking west. A quick half-hour boat trip, the small island is a nature reserve with great coral formations and large reef fish. Visibility is 100-plus feet (30m), and average water temperature is between 80 and 86F (27–30C).
One of the most popular local scuba outfitters is Taíno Divers, Calle Black Eagle 564, Black Eagle Marina at Rincón (tel. 787/823-6429; www.tainodivers.com), which offers local boat charters along with scuba and snorkeling trips. A 6-hour snorkeling trip to Desecheo Island is $95; a 2-tank dive is $129, plus $25 for equipment rental; a beginner scuba course is $170. Prices include gourmet sandwiches and drinks. Trips depart at 8am and return at 2pm. They also offer sunset cruises for $50.
Makaira Fishing Charters (tel. 787/823-4391 or 787/299-7374; www.fishrinconpr.com) offers fishing charters from a no-frills, tournament-rigged, 35-foot Contender. Half-day rates for up to four people are $575, full-day $850; for up to six, $629 or $925. Moondog Charters (tel. 787/823-3059) also runs fishing excursions and dive charters aboard a 32-foot Albermarle Express Sport Fisherman.
Katarina Sail Charters (tel. 787/823-7245; www.sailrinconpuertorico.com) has daily sailing trips aboard a 32-foot catamaran. The day sail (from around 10:20am–2:30pm) consists of some fine cruising, a stop for a swim and snorkel, and then lunch. It costs $75, $38 for children 12 and under. The sunset sail ($55 for adults and $28 for kids) leaves at 4:30pm and returns after sunset about 2 hours later. Watching the western sun set while sailing and listening to great music is wonderful, with rum punch, beer, and nonalcoholic drinks included in the price.
Most hotels on the beach have good watersports rentals, but we like Coconut Water Sports (tel. 787/309-9328; www.villacofresi.com/havefun.php), over at Corcega Beach, on the town's southern Caribbean shore. You can do it all, whether you want to jet ski ($60 for a half hour), or paddle board or kayak ($15–$20 per hour). The banana boat ride ($12 per person) is 20 minutes of fun. Flying Fish Parasail (tel. 787/823-2359; www.parasailpr.com) runs parasailing trips ($75 per person) and snorkeling adventures out of the Black Eagle Marina. Capital Water Sports Xtreme Rentals (tel. 787/823-2789) at Sunset Village by the public beach also rents watersports equipment, including jet skis and small boats, and gives banana boat tow rides and runs water skiing trips.
The most visible and sought-after whale-watching panorama in Rincón is Parque El Faro de Rincón (Rincón Lighthouse Park), which lies on El Faro Point peninsula at the extreme western tip of town. Within its fenced-in perimeter are pavilions that sell souvenirs and snack items, rows of binoculars offering views, and a stately looking lighthouse built in 1921. The park is at its most popular from December to March for whale-watching, and in January and February for surfer gazing. The park is locked every evening between midnight and 7am. Otherwise, you’re free to promenade with the locals any time you like.
The park’s snack bar is called Restaurant El Faro, Barrio Puntas, Carretera (Rte.) 413, Km 3.3 (no phone), which serves basic Puerto Rican fare and burgers. Best for a drink or ice cream.
Julie, at Pintos “R” Us (tel. 787/516-7090), is Rincón's resident cowgirl, and she gives a 2-hour ride along beautiful beaches and coastal headland. Julie and her gentle horses also ride through forest and along country roads that wind past cattle grazing on oceanfront plantation fields, as well as such local landmarks as the town's lighthouse and shuttered nuclear plant that today houses a museum. The standard tour is 2 hours, but there are also half-day, full-day, and full-moon rides. Prices range from $55 to $185. Julie is a great tour guide, and because she knows everyone in town, you will meet a lot of them along the way. Julie also runs a nonprofit to care for animals, including horses, who have been rescued from abusive situations. Riders meet at the Black Eagle Marina for tours.
The Rincón Town Skate Park (tel. 787/823-2899) is an indoor skate park downtown that charges $5 per session and rents all needed equipment for $15.
Work out at La Paz Pilates and Yoga Studio (tel. 787/823-2885), a downtown studio offering both affordable group workouts and private lessons. They also give and teach massage. A great, well-run spot where everybody knows what they are doing. It’s located in the heart of downtown, next to the Post Office. Classes are given in the morning and the early evening. Drop-in rate for a class is $10, 3-pack $25, private lesson $45 per hour. A massage is $50 for 30 minutes, or $75 for an hour.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.