Hello friends! The last time you heard from me, I shared the details of my last minute flight purchase to Puerto Rico. The opportunity felt like fate, and sure enough my six days in Rincón visiting my college friend, Amy, were nothing short of amazing.
During my visit with Amy, her boyfriend Matt, and their sweet pup Canela (Spanish for “cinnamon”) we hiked to some of the island’s most beautiful waterfalls, rented a boat to explore La Parguera’s mangroves, and swam in bio-luminescence. I got to hop back on a surfboard after a year and a half, and after some flailing, I caught a few good waves!
The moments that I will most remember, however, include Amy and I teaching the Cupid Shuffle (a staple of our cultural education at the University of South Carolina) to her local neighbor, making whale calls during a dawn patrol surf session with a pro-surfer (his status in the surfing community unbeknownst to me!), and learning to make the local dish mofongo during a power outage from culinary extraordinaire, Matt.
As someone who usually meticulously plans out the details of my travel, this trip was an exception because I knew that in visiting Amy and Matt, who have lived on the island for 5 years, no such planning would be needed! Check out what I did and what I ate, during my six days in Rincón!
Things to Do
Explore the nearby waterfalls!
There are several stunning waterfalls and crisp, refreshing swimming holes just an hour or hour and a half away from Rincón!
- Gozalandia offers both an upper and a lower waterfall – both stunning and offering different things! The trails to the waterfalls are well-marked and paved, so the hike is very straightforward. Bring $5 for parking, and bring some food for a picnic lunch!
- The waterfall at Maricao is a bit more off-the-beaten-path as you need to hike up a riverbed to access it. Wear appropriate footwear as the going gets tough if you go for the barefoot option – mine were hurtin’ by the end of it!
Check out the Thursday night Art Walk and Sunday’s Farmers Market in the town square.
Both of these events were lovely. Thursday night was especially lively with drums and music playing, and the square was packed with artisans and vendors. On Sunday, you can purchase fresh produce as well as made-to-order dishes. Don’t miss the chocolate chip banana bread!
Rent a boat at La Parguera and visit the Mangrove Cay!
There are several companies in Parguera that allow you to rent little skiffs to better explore the mangroves. We rented one of the larger, 15-foot boats, and Matt navigated us around the islands. No captain/boat license was necessary – this was an excellent way to spend the day! For more info on boat options, check out this site.
Check out the salt flats and catch a sunset at Cabo Rojo
Las Salinas de Cabo Rojo are beautiful and unlike other salt flats that I’ve seen as they have a pink hue to them. Enjoy a stop in to the Interpretive Center (check their hours first, as the center was closed during our visit), and walk around the flats.
Another 10 minutes down the road is where you’ll find the Cabo Rojo lighthouse. This is an excellent sunset viewing spot. It reminded me very much of Australia’s 12 Apostles as free-standing rocks dotted the jagged coastline.
Swim in bio luminescence!
Fun fact: Puerto Rico has 3 out of the 5 bio-luminescent bays in the world. I had kayaked in bio-luminescence before on a family trip to Puerto Rico back in 2011 – this was in Fajardo. When Amy informed me that we could swim in this bay – and that it is the only bio-luminescent bay you can do so – I was game!
Matt gave us an excellent tip that made us feel as though we were in outer space rather than a bay 😛 If you just barely open your eyes while swimming underwater, you can see the bio-luminescent particles shoot past you. It looks like you are soaring through space as comets and stars fly by!
Rent Surfboards/Paddleboards from RD2H
Road to Happiness is Amy’s employer. This is a wonderful company that provides rentals and lessons just steps away from excellent surf at Maria’s Beach. They have several other locations at Sandy’s and the Marina – great rates and even better people!
Go to a yoga class at Barefoot Yoga!
This is a beautiful, outdoor space with an ocean-front view. I loved practicing yoga with the sound of ocean waves surrounding me! Our teacher, Adi, was excellent. It was the perfect type of yoga class for our Sunday afternoon and I did some poses/stretches that I had never done before. I left the studio in a state of bliss and my body was very happy!
Things to Eat
Empanadillas. After a lovely afternoon at some waterfalls, Amy and Matt suggested we stop for some delicious fried goodness at their favorite empanadilla shop on the island: Kaplash. One of the few eateries that makes their own empanadilla shells, these were AMAZING. Located in
Añasco – treat yo’ self!
Limbers. This sweet, refreshing treat is to Puerto Rico what shave ice is to Hawaii (but MUCH better, in my opinion!). It got its name from Charles Lindbergh when he flew to Puerto Rico in 1928. Locals offered him frozen fruit juice, and the delicacy stuck. We shared pistachio, nutella, corn, peanut, cheese flavored limbers (yes, cheese!). Unlike shave ice, these come in both non-dairy traditional versions and dairy, creamier varieties.
Fish Tacos. The best fish tacos I ate were at El Patio by Road to Happiness – right near the downtown square! El Patio offers $1.50 fish tacos on Thursday nights, which is convenient to enjoying the adjacent Art Walk!
Bacalaitos. Amy insisted that I try one of these. These cod fish fritters can be found at the Sunday Farmers’ Market. This local fried treat was unlike anything I had ever had!
La Cambija. This might be the best fish restaurant in Rincón! The grouper was melt-in-your-mouth, and the shrimp empanadas were delicious! There’s a great ambiance at this restaurant as well. Muy rico!
On my last day in Rincón, I finally laid out on the beach after combing the sand for sea glass with Amy. I looked out at the waves and saw sea spray coming from 300 yards offshore – whales – putting on a big show! This was the one thing I had yet to see during my time in Puerto Rico. I excitedly told Amy during one final sunset happy hour, and she confessed that my visit felt fated. Once again I’m in awe of a friendship that picked up right where we left it despite a four and a half year hiatus. Thank you for a wonderful visit, Amy, Matt, and Canela!