Updated: Jun 12, 2021
We spent a month in San Juan in February and a weekend in Rincon. That weekend was certainly a respite from frenetic San Juan. so, we decided to give a month in Rincon its due. Trust when I say we were not disappointed a bit. Who knew that a this chill vibe actually exists two hours from the U.S. mainland; and you don't even need a passport.
Los Almendros Beach
Playa Dona Lala
Beach House Los Almendros Beach
Road to the Rincon Lighthouse with Desecheo Island in the distance. (courtesy of #peoplerazzi)
Rincon is a surfer hub, and it has plenty of sights and activities for the non-surfer crowd. Also, forgot about the totally turned up scene in glitzy San Juan. This scene is in chill mode. It is not for the hyperactive, the conformist, or the turn upper. The slower laid back pace creates contentment.
It has everything the modern hipster and cool retiree needs: Organic juice bars, farm to table cuisine, yoga studios, food trucks, local crafts, expensive real estate, and of course...coffee shops. And as with any locale experiencing gentrification, it has it has fair share of resentful locals who must contend with this evolving landscape. Luckily, one can carve out an interesting livelihood here once you find your niche.
Rincon Over San Juan Hands Down
One ventures out to Rincon either because you have time to spare, or you really can do without the party and cosmopolitan feel of San Juan. Granted San Juan's historical and cultural significance (pre and post Columbus) is fascinating. However, San Juan is essentially a warmup or an introduction to Puerto Rican Culture. To absorb the island's natural beauty and to experience "laid back" Puerto Rico...head west.
If you have even more time to spare, Rincon is a jumping off point to explore other
laid back spots such as Aguadilla, Aguada, Cabo Rojo, Boriquen, Play Sucia, Playa Buye, Crashboat Beach and Anasco. Furthermore, no need to fly into chaotic San Juan Airport. Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla is 30 minutes away with flights arriving from New York, Newark, and Fort Lauderdale. Yes, typically flights arrive and depart at odd hours in the morning but if you can swing accommodations that can flex with these strange hours by all means do it.
A Word to the Wise
Puerto Rico as well as other tourist dependent destinations is still struggling post Hurricane Maria, post-COVID, and government mismanagement. I would be dishonest in projecting a rosy picture particularly concerning interactions between locals, tourists, and expats. Tensions exist but are not insurmountable nor are they the norm. We all are adjusting to a post COVID world and with this shift comes new lessons, new horizons, and new opportunities.
Remember: Be Kind, Be Patient, Be Wise, Be Respectful, and Enjoy This Beautiful Island