Rincon And La Ruta Panoramica
Caribbean & Bermuda,
Puerto Rico’s wild and wonderful west coast is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, and its town of Rincon was put on the map when the World Surfing Championship were hold here on Domes Beach i n 1968. Rincon means “corner” – this is where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, giving rise to waves that can break at heights of up to 25 feet. The secret has long been out – this California-vibe town attracts a steady flow of transient surfers from around the globe – but it’s a revelation to most.
Standings in contrast to Rincon casual beach culture is the elegant and curiously named Horned Dorset, a sumptuous gateway for the smart set from San Juan. Situated on 7 acres with its own secluded beach, the 39-suit Spanish Neocolonial property maintains an ambience of quiet papering. You’ll feel as if this were the aristocratic home of a Spanish grandee whose coddled houseguests lounging exotic gardens by a beautiful palm-flanked freshwater pool, between one superb meal and the next.
In nearby Mayaguez begins La Ruta Panoramica, a 165-mile drive that traverses the island, twisting and turning its way through lush, mountainous Corillera Central, dipping into valleys and passing small villages and farms before ending at Maunabo in the east. Plan at least 2 days for a one-way trip, with lots of photo ops of both the Atlantic and the Caribbean; brown ruta (“route”) sings connect an assemblage of 40-plus roads. A good midway resting place is the charming Hacienda Gripinas, an 1858 plantation house turned inn that helps steep you in the coffee culture that still thrives along this route. Just up the hill on one of the island’s hill on one of the island’s highest peaks, visit the forest preserve Toro Negro, more remote and less crowded than EI Yunque. Take a hike, then head back to the inn for dinner – perhaps choosing their excellent carne guisada, a traditional beef stew made with tomatoes and pigeon peas.
WHERE: Rincon is 100 miles/161 km west of San Juan.
BEST TIME: Nov – Apr for surfing and good weather; Feb for whale-watching; mid-Feb for the Coffee Festival in Maricao; Mar for Whale Festival in Rincon.
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