The air was heavy with humidity and the sounds of tree frogs as we drove the winding roads of northwestern Puerto Rico that night. We arrived at our destination a little after 1am…a town called Rincon with high hopes for an unforgettable adventure. As we settled into our AirBNB, the fatigue of travel started to morph into excitement as we anticipated what the morning would bring. The crashing waves outside the window acted as our alarm clock and the streaming sunlight filled a desperate need. Over the course of those next 2 weeks, we fell so in love with Rincon that we went home, sold most of our stuff, and moved there!
We truly thought we’d be there indefinitely…but after a magical 3 months, we made the hard choice to come back to the states. We left a huge piece of our hearts on the island of enchantment…because what’s not to love? Rincon offers perfect beaches, big waves, small waves, delicious organic food, and a tight knit community committed to living their life to the fullest. They really do know how to have fun!
Because of the time we spent there, I get asked ALL the time about Rincon. People want to know if they should visit and also if Puerto Rico is back up and running after the hurricane. The answers are…YES and YES! We have enjoyed traveling to many locations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii…and we still choose Rincon again and again. In fact, we were just there in November, and will be back again this week!
Why do we keep coming back?
1. The Vibe
2. The Beaches
3. The People
4. The Food
5. The Wardrobe
It was love at first feel. The laid back surfer vibe is in full effect. In fact, surf culture has a huge presence in Rincon because of the competition worthy waves that appear every winter. November - April is considered prime season in Rincon…the waves are big and the town is hoppin’! The nice thing about Rincon is that even though there are big waves, just down the road you will find quiet swimming beaches perfect for the kiddos to swim and a gorgeous reef to snorkel. You get the best of both worlds! This is what makes it the perfect family vacation. It’s definitely a different experience than an all-inclusive resort…but we quite like it!
Speaking of beaches…they are the BEST! The waves on the Stella/Corcega side are almost always perfect little rollers. Easy for small children to navigate and great for boogie boarding. We also love to play in the Marina area…there are always kids to play with there. The energy is high…there are paddleboards to rent and mojitos to drink. A brand new juice/smoothie/acai bar just opened up steps from the sand as well. It just doesn’t get any better!
They are friendly and kind…and many are chasing their dreams! There are brilliant artists, jewelers, yoga instructors, chefs…people who have created a life they love. On Thursday night, you’ll find everyone in the town square for Art Walk. You can find fresh coconut water, sea glass jewelry, clothing, and a host of other unique art and goodies. On Sunday, the farmer’s market is lively and full of organic produce, kombucha to die for, and just a general happy atmosphere!
Rincon may be a small town, but the food options are top notch. One of our favorites is Pool Bar, an open air sushi bar with surf movies playing over a twinkling pool surrounded by lush tropical greenery. La Copa Llena is another that gets our vote for best place to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Check out all of my favorites below in the resource list!
You don’t need to bring much to paradise…and that’s the last on my list of reasons why you will LOVE Rincon! My suitcase (carry-on only, always!) usually has the following:
And that’s it! No need for fancy. Just throw your suit on and wear it all day! Bikini + cover up for beach and then bikini + fancy cover up to go out on the town. LOL ;-)
Scroll through the photo gallery below to get an idea of what life in Rincon looks like! I chose a wide variety to give you a glimpse of different beaches, food, flora, and fauna!
FAQ & Resource List
Is Puerto Rico dangerous?
You’d be surprised how much I get this question! Puerto Rico is like anywhere else in the U.S. You don’t go walking alone at night in big cities. You make good decisions and assume the best. Rincon is extremely safe and I have never felt threatened at all! Of course, exercise the same caution as you would in any new place…but personally, I feel safer there than in Austin!
Do I need to know Spanish?
95% of Rincon speaks English, and we have had no problem with communication.
Do I need a passport?
Nope! Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, so it’s just the same as flying to any other state.
What airport should I fly into?
Aquadilla (BQN): This airport is just 25 minutes from Rincon, but all of the flights come in and out in the middle of the night. It’s a little more challenging with kiddos at that hour, but we’ve done it quite a bit. Insider tip: if you check luggage it can take a LONG time to come off the airplane and it’s freezing cold in the baggage claim (bring a sweater). BQN is definitely the most convenient option.
San Juan (SJU): The other (and fairly popular) option is to fly into San Juan and then rent a car and drive the easy 2 hour drive over to the west side. If you can, plan a day upon arriving or departing to explore historic and colorful Old San Juan. Stay at The Dreamcatcher for a unique & relaxing experience or at the stunning Ritz- Carlton Dorado if luxury accommodations are more your style.
Should I rent a car?
Yes. Rincon isn’t super walkable. Lots of hills and narrow roads. I recommend a smaller car or Jeep for ease of parking.
Where should I stay?
The AirBNB scene is strong in Rincon…as there are currently no large resorts or hotels and because there are many people who live in their condo or home part time and rent it out the other parts of the year. There are so many to choose from…but not all are created equal. Make sure you read reviews and know what area you want to be in. You also might want to make sure the property has a generator and back up water just in case. If you can book it pretty far in advance, you’ll have the best selection.
Areas we have stayed: Ensenada (central and fairly quiet), Stella/Corcega (quiet residential) , Puntas (up in the hills offers amazing views), and the Sandy Beach strip (party central…be prepared for a lot of weekend noise, especially near Tamboo). Overall, we prefer the Stella/Corcega area or way up high in Puntas.
Some favorite AirBNBs (we know all of these owners):
Concha Azul Pequeña
Yoga + Wellness Apt
Barefoot Surf & Yoga
Tres Sirenas - gorgeous boutique hotel right on our favorite beach. Lisa owns two AirBNBs behind the hotel and we have stayed at both. Beautiful!
Villa Playa Maria - perfect for a large groups
Horned Dorset - the only 5 star hotel in Rincon
Boarding House - my sweet friend Vanessa and her hubby Greg own the Boarding House. This well-cared for hideaway offers one of the most stunning panoramic views in town. The apartments are super adorable and well-stocked. And Vanessa will make you coffee every morning! I highly recommend!
Where should I eat?
Eating is my personal favorite past time in Rincon…LOL! The food is SO good. Here are some of our favorites:
Jack’s Shack: Food truck by the beach serving organic fare…gluten free and veg friendly. This is high quality deliciousness. Not to be missed. I could honestly eat here every meal!
La Copa Llena: Perfect for a date night or just a drink on the beach while you watch the sunset.
Sana Farm Restaurant: Oh my heavens. This is a recently opened spot…they used to just have a little shed and now they have a full (albeit tiny) restaurant. The parcha sangria changed my life. And the pad thai. And spring rolls. Ok everything.
Karibe Kombucha: Megan was one of the first people I met when we arrived in Rincon. Her kombucha is hands down, the best I’ve ever had. We used to be on her subscription service…and my girls would blow through it in just a few days! And now she has the Karibe Kitchen…serving up all kinds of healthy fare.
Oh Carta Buena. This sweet little food cart + garden + banana tree lined walk from heaven captured my heart immediately. It quickly became a daily stop for us! Fresh juices, spring rolls, smoothies, and more!
Pool Bar Sushi
One of my favorite things is parking down by the ocean and walking the sidewalk to the restaurant...the twinkle lights and frog songs draw me in. I’m GIDDY with excitement as I think about the atmosphere an delicious sushi I’m about to experience. Fave spot in town.
De La Tierra Cocina Vegana
If you’re a vegan (and even if you’re not)…you’re gonna love this place! Located inside the Centro La Paz, they make delicious and super fresh healthy eats!
Delicious Italian restaurant downtown…handmade pastas, award winning chef. Make reservations!
Right in the marina…try the mussels and fish tacos!
Cafe 2 Go
This is where you’ll grab your coffee every morning and afternoon! Friendly staff and hand-written inspirational messages with each cup!
Or…maybe you’re looking for a private chef to bring amazing food to your hungry family and friends? Be sure to contact Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’s an experienced chef who is super easy to work with and has incredible menus!
Best Beach Bars
This sweet truck is just steps from Maria’s Beach and is a local favorite! They make their drinks with freshly squeezed juices…only the BEST drinks here!
Great views on Sandy Beach! Be sure to go up to the top balcony if it’s open. Weekend nights are quite loud…better for the adult crowd.
La Copa Llena
Our house was right across the street, so we were here a lot! Perfect beach for sunsets…and the food is sophisticated and delicious! They have a nice brunch as well.
Where is the best place to watch the sunset?
La Copa Llena
Any beach area in Stella/Corcega
What are the best beaches?
To lounge and swim:
Sea Beach / Stella
To snorkle and paddleboard:
Marina - rent gear from Damiano and Chicago, our friends who own Rincon Paddleboards.
Katarina Sail Charters - Grab a spot and take a ride out to the best snorkeling spots!
Rent surf boards and take lessons:
Rincon Surf School
Skudin Surf Shack
Where should I shop?
Ocean State of Mind - my happy place! Everything from the perfect bikini to crystals/sage to gorgeous jewelry. Jules is your girl. She has a fabulous eye for the wonderful and it’s ALL in her shop.
Surf Town - Lots of Billabong and other beachy apparel. This is where we pick up our sunscreen!
Where can I get groceries?
Edwards - small grocery store, easy to get around and find what you need. Produce is always fresh, friendly staff. This was our regular stop for food!
Econo - large grocery store
Where should I get a massage?
With Vivienne at La Paz (she can come directly to your rental or you can go to La Paz)
Where should I practice yoga?
Centro La Paz / Private - beautiful space right in the middle of town. All different styles and at all hours.
Barefoot Yoga - yoga right on the water. Downdog while you listen to the crashing waves!
Did you buy too many goodies?
The post office is right in town (because PR is a US Territory, the mail system is identical to the mainland states). Just grab a priority box and ship it back!
And there ya have it…my Rincon round up! I cannot wait to get back…I can almost hear those frogs singing right now! I will continue to build memories there for the rest of my life…and I know you will fall madly in love as well!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram to check out my Puerto Rico goodness (especially this week!)