A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Rincon, Puerto Rico for a few days Traveling there wasn't hard as it is a US territory and no passports or currency exchange are necessary. We took a flight to San Juan, rented a car and drove along the top of the island to the west coast where Rincon is located.
Now, I will mention that I don't enjoy getting hot, by which I mean anything over 78 degrees basically makes me uncomfortable and searching for a means of cooling off. So you might ask, why are you going to Puerto Rico? Well, I still love traveling and as long as there is water close by, I figure I can deal with the heat.
Rincon was amazingly cool, at least where we stayed. The constant breezes that kick up the waves for the surfers also kept the air amazingly cool. Did I mention the waves? Rincon is a surfing town where experienced surfers come to seek the rough waters for the thrill of riding the waves. It is a quiet area where little boutique shops line the narrow roads that wind around the island.
I happened to stay in a private residence (Caracol Che, which I highly recommend to anyone traveling in a group) that was built with open walls throughout and the breezes never stopped, keeping any bugs at bay. From there we could walk to beaches and restaurants. The walking was easy until we had to go uphill, but then we just walked a little slower. Walking gave us a chance to see the tropical plants like banana trees and coconut palms and beautiful vines that were in bloom all around. Colorful but strange birds and lizards would catch our eye and then we would be fascinated by the sightings of goats or horses or chickens that seem very common in the tropics.
We chose to cook most of our own meals which meant we got to go shopping. Their stores were filled with foods I had never seen or heard of and strangely lacking in some things I would consider a staple, like bread flour. However, I liked the challenge to work with the ingredients offered and had fun trying to correspond with the locals without speaking much Spanish. However, my favorite part of shopping was stopping at roadside stands and buying fresh fruits and vegetables and whole fish from a guy who spoke almost no English.
We visited a few restaurants when we were tired of cooking and most were priced similar to what we were used to at home. Since fresh herbs are in abundance there, cocktails like mint mojitos were fresh and enjoyable.
One spot we found on the beach, blew all the other establishments out of my memory, the Tamboo Tavern Beach Bar. It was a beach bar with casual seating overlooking the ocean and open walls all around. Wind whipped through strong enough to blow the lighter foods off our plates but it was not irritating in any way. We could watch wind surfers playing on the waves while we ate the freshest appetizers of seafood or pork with fruits and vegetables prepared with minimal steps. Don't forget to try the tostones.
I like vacationing where I can interact with the locals as I want and eat the foods they like and Rincon gave us such a great visit. The prices of staying there were almost half of the Virgin Island's and although it is a US owned territory, I felt like we were in a different country.
If you are a traveler that likes to venture beyond the normal American chain hotels and restaurants, I highly recommend Rincon but kind of hope that you don't go so that it can stay the quiet and laid back community that it is. I would like to say that I can't wait to go back, but I still want to visit so many other parts of the world that I haven't seen yet.
I can't write about Rincon without remembering to mention the beach glass. The waves seem to bring up shards of sand-softened colored glass, more than the usual beaches I am used to. When you feel like taking a little walk along the coast, look down and be amazed at what you might find.