Known as the Town of Beautiful Sunsets, Rincón is slowly becoming a top destination in Puerto Rico. It is favored not only by tourists but also by expats looking for a relaxed environment by the beach.
Located on the west coast of Puerto Rico, Rincón is famous for its world-class surfing beaches that constantly deliver legendary waves during the winter season.
But even though surfing made Rincón famous, this once sleepy town is now a major destination year-round, offering all kinds of activities that range from the cultural to the historical and adventurous, and a culinary scene that not only digs into its past but also experiments with new flavors.
If you’re visiting Rincón, make sure to give it at least a few days to see the best of it. Here I show you some of the best things you can see, eat, and drink to make the most of your experience there.
1. Ride a Wave in the Surfing Capital of the Caribbean
Rincón has been known for having some of the best surfing in the Caribbean, so there is no shortage of top-grade beaches where you can surf like a pro or test your novice surfing skills.
Maria’s Beach is among the most popular beaches frequented by surfers, especially during the winter when its waves are at their peak.
This beach is also commonly known as Domes Beach, thanks to the decommissioned nuclear reactor nearby. Another beach favored by surfers is Sandy Beach, just north of Domes.
You can start riding the waves with this beginner’s surfing lesson, from one of the best surf shops in the area. Alternatively, there are several surf schools and shops nearby where you can take some lessons or rent a surfboard.
2. Have a Picnic by the Punta Higüeras Lighthouse
This lighthouse and its modest park might look simple, but their location is everything! It sits at the edge of spectacular sea cliffs that offer amazing views of the coast and some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll see in Puerto Rico.
You can picnic at the park with the historic lighthouse as your background, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to see the whales pass by (if in season).
Though the lighthouse was originally built in 1892, it was destroyed during an earthquake in 1918. The lighthouse you see today is from 1922.
3. Go Nuclear at the BONUS Reactor Facility
This is one of the unusual fun facts about Puerto Rico that not many people know about.
The Boiling Nuclear Superheater (BONUS) Reactor Facility, also known as “Domes,” is the first Nuclear Power Plant in the Caribbean.
It was built in 1960 and served as a nuclear testing facility until 1968 when it was decommissioned, making it the precursor to modern nuclear facilities.
Today it is the BONUS Technological Museum run by the local power authority. Don’t worry, the reactor is entombed in concrete, and there’s no more radiation, but visiting it is a hit and miss as the museum opens sporadically.
If you happen to pass by and see it open, I highly recommend checking it out or at least seeing it from the outside. The dome is also listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
4. Drink a “Pirate” at Villa Cofresí while Watching the Sunset
Roberto Cofresí is Puerto Rico’s most famous pirate, and even though it’s been almost two centuries since his death, he still inspires folk tales and adventures.
One more thing inspired by him, or at least loosely named after him, is The Pirate drink at Villa Cofresí.
It is well known Cofresí loved mixing his rum with coconut, so The Pirate is a mix of four rums with coconut and cocoa creams, served in a coconut! Yes, four rums!
So, grab your coconut, sit on the deck by the beach, and relax while watching the sunset. The recipe is a secret, but this YouTube video gives a brief description of the ingredients. This other post has a similar recipe, in case you’d like to try it out at home.
5. Go Scuba Diving by a Pristine Remote Island
The scenic island of Desecheo is a small paradise everyone should experience at least once in their life, especially underwater.
The island, located just 12 miles off the coast of Rincón, was originally discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World.
Today it is a natural reserve only inhabited by a herd of wild goats, but once you go under the sea, you’ll see a diverse, colorful array of marine life, caverns, corals, and even the occasional unexploded artillery that sunk to the ocean floor.
The island has over 20 diving sites, all unique and full of life. Some divers claim these reefs are so alive that you can even hear them crackling.
While there are many diving companies doing trips to Desecheo, one of the most popular ones is Taino Divers.
If you have no diving experience, you can still explore Rincon’s tropical coral reefs by doing this PADI Discover Dive. Trust me; it’s worth it if you’re not a certified diver already!
For non-divers, snorkeling is also an option. You can try this snorkeling adventure, which is a great way to experience the marine life of Puerto Rico, no matter your experience level.
6. Go Deep Sea Fishing
The warm, clear blue waters of the Mona Passage, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, are excellent for fishing year-round.
It’s so good that ESPN’s Billfish Xtreme Release League rated Western Puerto Rico as #3 in the world for blue marlin fishing.
But, Rincón’s great fishing is not limited to blue marlins. Tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and other fish are top-notch as well.
Several companies offer full-day and half-day charters with options for deep-sea fishing, live bait fishing, bottom fishing, trolling, kite fishing, and more.
Among the most popular is Makaira Fishing Charters, which is the longest-running fishing charter in Rincón.
7. Learn about the Surfing History of Puerto Rico
If you’re a surfing enthusiast, spend a quick half-hour checking the Surfing Museum (Galeria del Surfing) located in the downtown area of Rincón.
Here you can see over 100 vintage surfboards from the 1950s and 1960s, in addition to other surfing paraphernalia.
Given that this is such a small and very niche museum, it only opens sporadically. But, appointments to visit the museum can be made by calling +1-787-823-1088.
8. Drink a Delicious Mojito at One of the Best Beach Bars in the World
There are plenty of bars in Rincón where you can relax with a drink, but Tamboo Tavern deserves mention as it’s often named among the top beach bars in the Caribbean and the world, according to CNN, Travel & Leisure and USA Today.
Tamboo offers a culinary experience that blends traditional Puerto Rican cuisine with a tropical version of American light cooking.
Add to that a refreshing mojito while sitting on its open wooden deck along Sandy Beach, and all you’ll wish is that you had discovered this place sooner.
Get cozy while watching the sunset and spotting humpback whales, or hit the dance floor to the rhythm of new and classic Latin beats.
9. Keep an Eye Out on the Humpback Whales
Humpback whales are among the many magnificent sea creatures that’ll keep you in awe when you see them.
These whales, which can grow up to 50 feet in length, are known for and other distinctive surface behaviors, making them popular with whale watchers.
From December to mid-April, they migrate to the warm Caribbean waters to mate and calve before heading back to the cold North Atlantic waters during the summer.
Luckily for us, one of their preferred areas is the Mona Passage, which is just off the coast of Rincón.
To set realistic expectations, humpback whales are known to be elusive creatures, but sightings happen almost on a daily basis. With enough luck, you could spot them from Sandy Beach and Domes Beach or any other beach facing the Mona Passage.
The best time to go whale watching is either really early in the morning or during sunset.
10. Try a Different Kind of Food Truck
Food Trucks are everywhere, and many of them offer something new to the culinary scene, but CHRISin Limites (which roughly translates to Chris without Limits) is a special food truck worth trying out.
Its chef is Chris, a guy born with Down Syndrome challenging the limits often associated with his condition.
Try its delicious “bowls” made with wheat, corn, or spinach. Fill it with chicken, pork, or vegetable and top it with your choice of vegetables and dressings. He also prepares pastries based on the season.
11. Enjoy some delicious street food at Gastropark@115
I already mentioned CHRISin Limites, but this is not the only excellent food truck in the area.
As the first indoor food truck park in Puerto Rico, Gastropark@115 is the perfect dining option for anyone looking to eat a variety of good food in Rincon.
Keeping with Rincon’s chill vibe, over ten food trucks are set in a way that creates a communal area for you to sit and eat while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the place.
I suggest you check all the trucks and what they have to offer before picking your winner.
There’s ice cream, BBQ, bistro, Italian, sushi, burgers, Mexican, and Puerto Rican food, among others. Plus, there are a few liquor and beverage truck bars too!
Some favorites there are Chago and Charl’s fish tacos and Las Cookies Chicken BBQ Cheddar sandwich.
Gastropark@115 opens from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 pm to 12 am.
12. Go Horseback Riding by the Beach
In Rincón you can surf, relax, do watersports, and of course, go horseback riding by the beach.
Pintos “R” Us offers guided horseback riding tours along Rincón’s spectacular beaches, past the lighthouse and whale-watching park, and through other lush tropical trails that descend onto cliffs overlooking the historic Spanish Wall and the beautiful beach behind it.
13. Feel like at Your own Private Beach at the Spanish Wall
The Spanish Wall Beach is named after the old railroad built by the Spanish that used to run along Rincón’s coast. You can still see the remains of the railroad tracks and the wall that ran along with it.
Given that this beach is shallow, not surfing-friendly, and only accessible via a coastal trail from Pools Beach on the north or from Domes Beach on the south, it rarely draws a crowd, so chances are you’ll have it all for yourself!
14. Do Yoga at the Beach
Re-center yourself in Rincon while taking in the amazing ocean views.
Take a yoga class to connect to yourself, restore your energy, and stretch your body, all while being surrounded by nature and listening to the sounds of tropical waves bathing the beach.
There are plenty of yoga by the beach options in Rincon, but I recommend checking Barefoot Yoga & Ayurveda.
Rincon might be considered a sleepy town compared to San Juan and other cities in Puerto Rico, but as you can see, there’s nothing sleepy about it!
There are so many things to do and ways to relax in the sunset and surf capital of the island that you’ll never want to leave.
Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip to Rincon
HOW TO GET TO RINCON
The easiest way to reach Rincon is by flying to Puerto Rico’s international airport in San Juan and, from there, renting a car to drive two hours west along Highway 22 and Highway 2 to Rincon. Puerto Rico’s public transportation system is abysmal, so you must rent a car to explore the island.
Alternatively, you could fly directly to Aguadilla Airport, which is much closer (about 30 minutes away), but flights are more limited and sometimes more expensive.
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Kayak. These are two of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.
WHERE TO STAY IN RINCON
There are plenty of places to stay in Rincon, and no matter the area you stay in, you’ll be close enough to the beach and main attractions. Still, there are a few recommended hotels for you to stay in.
Lastly, Airbnb has hundred of apartment options for you to rent during your trip.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads to insure my trips.
If you’re a nomad and travel often or long term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on travel insurance.
FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.
OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.
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