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Our Favorite Things to Do & See In Rincon

Nestled on the edge of Puerto Rico’s west coast, Rincón is the “town with beautiful sunsets.” With that said, people don’t just come here for the sunsets. During the day, surfers head to Rincón’s beaches to ride some of the island’s best waves. And on dry land, travelers wander around town and discover a wealth of hidden gems and no big shopping malls in sight.

Rincón may not be Puerto Rico’s flashiest destination, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. Rather, Rincón’s laid-back vibes make for a refreshing alternative to the typical Caribbean resort town. Let’s explore how you can plan your perfect trip to Puerto Rico’s crown jewel of Rincón.

Rincón: What Makes It So Special?

Ariel view of Rincon. While Puerto Rico has many amazing beaches, Rincón looks and feels so unique with its incredible scenery and its gnarly waves. Located in Rincón, Domes Beach may be Puerto Rico’s top surfing beach: It hosts the Corona Pro Surf competition and several more surf meets every year, and surfers specially make pilgrimages here during the winter season to enjoy the warm weather and some of the biggest waves of the entire Caribbean.

For a different kind of coastal experience, the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve is perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, and many more activities on land and at sea. Also known as Steps Beach, this protected park stretches out for some 1,400 acres and provides shelter for animal species including humpback whales, sea turtles, octopuses, and eagle rays. You can also find many species of tropical fish here, including parrotfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish.

For those who prefer exploring on dry land, the Faro de Punta Higüera (lighthouse) near Domes Beach offers amazing views of Puerto Rico’s west coast and a unique window to the history of this side of the island. Meanwhile, the downtown area overflows with cool and unique shops and restaurants, plus you can find some boutique hotels and vacation rentals that offer a relaxing stay while providing a different experience from the usual big, brand-name resort vacation.

Where is Rincón?

Beach at sunset. Rincón is on the western edge of Puerto Rico. It’s about 152 kilometers (or roughly 95 miles) west of San Juan, and it’s usually about a two-and-a-half-hour drive here from Puerto Rico’s capital.

On your way to Rincón, you’ll likely drive past some of Puerto Rico’s most popular and built-up tourist areas. As you drive farther west, the San Juan traffic eventually fades away, and the landscape opens up to lovely mountain and coastal views.

Though Rincón doesn’t feel all that isolated, it definitely offers a distinct experience, and it makes an ideal base camp for travelers who really want to take their time exploring the west side of the island. Keep in mind that Rincón is a particularly long drive from Puerto Rico’s major landmarks on the east side of the island, such as El Yunque National Forest and (the ferry to) Vieques Island. On the flip side, it’s much easier to go town-hopping and discover the pink salt flats of Cabo Rojo, the unique dry forest of Guánica State Forest that’s been named a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve, and the nearby beaches of Aguada and Aguadilla.

The History of Rincón

ocean waves Spanish settler Don Luis de Añasco founded Rincón in 1771, some 38 years after he founded the nearby village of Añasco. The name actually comes from Don Gonzalo de Rincón, who inherited this land after working as a butler for Don Tomás de Castellano in the 16th century.

In 1892, the Faro de Punta Higüera was built to cover the distance between the west coast’s two other lighthouses. By the turn of the 20th century, just over 6,600 people called Rincón home. By the mid-20th century, Rincón started to gain notoriety for its great beaches and big waves. In 1968, Rincón hosted the ISA World Surfing Games at Domes and Maria's Beaches. This officially put Rincón on the map as a world-class surfing destination.

Rincón then began to attract a growing crowd of surfers, and that eventually led to a larger crowd of expats moving in for natural beauty and easy living. This has eventually led to higher prices, as well as concerns about gentrification. Nonetheless, Rincón remains a place where people can come and experience a naturally wilder side of Puerto Rico.

Visiting Rincón Today

puerto rican flag on the beach Not only is Rincón still Puerto Rico’s premier surf town, but it’s really a place where you can go and enjoy the cool vibes regardless of your surfing skills. Here’s all you need to know about making the most of your visit to Rincón.

When to Visit Rincón

Though there’s hardly ever a wrong time to visit Rincón, you should keep the local climate in mind when planning your trip. (See below.) Puerto Rico’s wet season runs May through October, and hurricane season is typically at its worst in August and September. If you plan on a summer trip to Rincón, definitely bring your umbrella, and keep your plans flexible in case the weather gets too stormy outside.

On the flip side, though, one advantage of booking a summer trip is lower prices! Due to the drier weather here on the island and the colder weather on the U.S. mainland, winter is Puerto Rico’s high season for tourism. This means that the winter (and early spring) months are the most expensive time to do a Puerto Rico trip.

What You'll See When You Arrive at Rincón

As we discussed earlier, Rincón has many of Puerto Rico’s best beaches for surfing. Domes Beach certainly draws the most surfers, but since it’s so expansive, it hardly ever feels super crowded. If you’re a grom (or beginner surfer), Sandy and Maria’s Beaches are also great to hone your skills. If you’re a more experienced surfer who wants a more exhilarating challenge, Tres Palmas and Little Malibu offer quite the natural thrill ride.

Back on dry land, Downtown Rincón has plenty for you to see and do. If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, stick around for Rincón’s weekly art walk: You can check out local artwork and artisan goods, along with street food vendors and live music performances. Even if you’re here any other day of the week, the town center is still worth visiting, as you’ll find plenty of cool indie boutiques, funky art galleries, and restaurants serving everything from Brazilian cuisine to Italian-style pizzas.

Staying Safe & Fitting In While Visiting Rincón

Fortunately for travelers, Puerto Rico is one of the safest islands of the Caribbean. That doesn’t mean nothing bad ever happens here, but it does mean you don’t have to worry too much about your personal safety. Just as you should for any other place you visit, it helps to take some basic precautions, such as keeping your valuables stored somewhere safe, not wearing your most expensive jewelry and accessories out in public, and visiting beaches and other major attractions during the day.

Though Rincón does have a large expat population, it still helps to know some Spanish, especially if you’re planning to take some road trips to other towns. While Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, Spanish is the island’s primary language, so locals really appreciate it when visitors put in some effort to learn the local language and culture.

Rincón Weather & Climate

As mentioned above, Rincón and most of the rest of Puerto Rico have a wet tropical climate. Though temperatures don’t fluctuate too much year-round, the rainfall does. Daytime highs average in the mid 80s to low 90s (Fahrenheit), while nighttime lows range from the high 60s to low 70s. January, February, and March are the driest months of the year, while August is the wettest.

Not only does Rincón get a lot of rain during the summer (and early fall), but like the rest of Puerto Rico, there’s always the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes during this time of the year. If you’re coming to Rincón during hurricane season, make sure to come prepared, and that means preparing to change your plans if Puerto Rico gets a hurricane warning during your trip.

Getting To & Around Rincón

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to navigate Rincón by car. Take Highway 115 north or south to reach Highway 2. You can then take Highway 2 north and east to San Juan, or south and east to Ponce. More locally, take 115 north to Tres Palmas and Domes Beach, as well as the nearby towns of Aguada and Aguadilla.

The bad news is that public transportation options are quite limited outside San Juan. If you really want or need to travel car-free, you’ll likely need to call in advance for taxi and/or shuttle rides in advance… Or, of course, you can come to Tourbase and book your excursions with us!

Your Rincon Adventure Awaits!

No matter whether you come to ride the epic waves, see the amazing sights, dive into the local arts and crafts scene, or simply enjoy a chill vacation at the beach, Rincón truly has all you need for a great trip.

Whether you need help figuring out your big outings during your next Puerto Rico trip, or you simply want to get out and explore more of the island, we at Tourbase are always here to help. Feel free to check out our full offering of Puerto Rico tours, outings, and experiences. We’re sure you’ll find something you like, and we guarantee you will love heading out with us to discover more of what Puerto Rico has to offer.

Andrew D
Local Writer, Global Traveler
Andrew Davey is a writer who has spent a long time in "hard news" journalism, but who has also pursued interests in food and drinks, travel, entertainment, and wellness. Andrew particularly enjoys long walks along the beach, discovering new hiking trails, trying new restaurants, and getting a good night's sleep.

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