Hemmed in between the coast and a ridge of lush, flower-strewn hills, RINCÓN has managed to hang onto its small town roots, despite being one of the most popular resorts in Puerto Rico and justly celebrated for its bellos atardeceres (beautiful sunsets). Perhaps best known to outsiders as the premier surfing destination in the Caribbean, its northern barrio of Puntas is a maze of narrow lanes and steep slopes dotted with chilled-out guesthouses, bars and cafés, all booming thanks to “surf tourism”. US expats (many of them surfers) dominate businesses in the area, providing an easy-going, international feel similar to Vieques. In contrast, the southern beaches of the Caribbean Coast area are lined with gleaming beach resorts, condos and hotels attracting thousands of overseas and Puerto Rican sun-seekers. This area in particular has been experiencing a mini-construction boom, prompting some disapproving locals to refer to the town as “Rin-condo”. Development has not gone unprotested however, and thanks to environmental groups, particularly the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Rincón is at the forefront of ecological activism on the island.
In addition to some serious surfing, you can do just about any outdoor activity here, with nearby Isla Desecheo offering some of the best diving in the region, and horseriding along the beach for those who prefer to stay dry. During the winter season hordes of surfers descend on the town, while the blazing summer months are dominated by Puerto Rican vacationers who tend to huddle in the southern resorts – with the waves flattening off, this is the best period for snorkelling and swimming.