Travelling to Rincon was not what I expected. My wife and I have fled the cold northeast winters in search of warmth many times, so we’ve grown accustom to what most islands are like-the pampering, the catering, the tourism. Yet, when we slid into our rental car and headed toward Road Two that leads from Aguadilla to Rincon, we had no idea that what we thought would happen would not.
Although not a Caribbean island per say, the truth is that when people travel south into that region of the world, the expectations are generally the same: resorts, pools, swim-up bars, jet skis, etc. And while all these luxuries do exist on some level in Rincon, they simple aren’t the best reasons to go. In fact, they fade into the backdrop once you experience what this little twenty-nine mile long stretch of land on the western shore of Puerto Rico actually offers.
Here’s why you should go.
Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla, the closest one at a twenty-minute ride from Rincon (San Juan is a two-and-a-half hour drive), is small, somewhat refurbished, and efficient enough, and it does a nice job of previewing what’s in store. Once you drive into Rincon and get settled, you’ll understand its peacefulness, one that is refreshing and simple. People are not in a hurry. Tour leaders do not hound you. There is no main strip with shops galore. Shuttle buses do not clutter hotel driveways. Instead, there is just you, a rental car, and the sights. Small bars and restaurants, quaint hotels and villas, soft sand and rolling waves populate Rincon, and provide you with a sense of normalcy and peace.
Commercialized it is not. While you’ll see a few recognizable names-Texaco, Burger King, Chuck’s, you’ll be hard pressed to fall back into your normal routines and practices like you can in other more developed vacation spots. Here, life goes on around you, almost like you don’t matter. The locals go about their business, and nothing is hidden or tucked away. The good, the bad, and the ugly exist along the roadsides, in yards, bars, and restaurants all along Route 115. And anything man-made exists inside a natural landscape that is both sad and mesmerizing. Burned out fields with semi-anorexic cows and horses lead to plush villas nestled into mountainsides that bring million dollar views. In the end, it is what it is, and that’s what it should be.
It’s Not About You
In reality, it’s a surfer’s destination, one that revolves around the best wave and the next beer. So, it is more self-reliant than it is pampering. The culture there reflects that of the surfer: calm, relaxed, unworried yet eager for experience. As a result, people are kind, but they don’t fawn over you. They give you your space, your time to be and do whatever you want. Rincon, in essence, is about pursuing what you want, not about following what others have set up for you.
Overall, I’m not the type of traveler who wants to soak up the culture of a place, to become one with the locals. Not even close. But I do like something different and unexpected. So, for that, I’d return to Rincon right now if I could.