1. Where to Stay
Sleep in an open-air bamboo hut at Tropical Treehouse (from $100). Each two-story structure, called a “hooch,” includes running water, a private flush toilet, and a queen-size bed with a view of the ocean.
Get off the grid at the Horned Dorset Primavera (from $360), a largely TV- and Internet-free resort where regional dishes like root-vegetable fries and coconut-crab chowder are delivered to you on the beach. Each of the simply adorned, white-stucco suites has a small private pool.
Hang with surfers at the Lazy Parrot ($165), popular for its affable poolside bar crowd and proximity to Marias and Domes beaches. Request a “superior” room for a private balcony overlooking the pool and La Cadena Hills.
2. Where to Eat
Eat breakfast with an ocean view at the English Rose. The specialty is the Full Monty, a traditional English breakfast featuring toms (stewed tomatoes), bubble and squeak (fried potatoes and vegetables), mushrooms, bacon, sausage, toast, and eggs for just $9.
Order the catch of the day at El Fogón de la Curva (a mile south of town on 115; 787-826-0096), that also sells fish in an adjacent market. The jukebox is heavy on Marvin Gay and someone’s always up for a game of dominoes.
Tackle a heaping plate of pork in the marina’s open air at Shipwreck ’s Sunday pig roast (564 Black Eagle Road, $14).
3. What to Do
Check out the party scene at the two Puntas beaches—Antonio’s and Sandy—on the North Coast. During the day, experienced surfers revere the area waves that can rise 25 feet. In the evening, join the beach-bum set at three of the local late-night bars: Bunger’s Inn, a rollicking spot for live music or karaoke; Rock Bottom Bar and Grill, a second-story, in-the-round bar surrounded by palms and surfboards; and Tamboo, a beachside bar where you can sip tropical drinks in the sand.
Watch for whales from the shoreline of Maria’s beach, a narrow strip of sand popular among surfers for its six-foot swells in spring. Watch the sun set from the deck of the Calypso Café, one of the only beachfront businesses in this stretch of the town.
Snorkel in the calmer waters along the southern Caribbean Coast. Scuba divers should explore the area around Desecheo Island, a national wildlife refuge known for its vivid array of angelfish (Charter boats fromTaino Divers; $95).
Soak up the scenery at Tres Palmas, a federally protected nature reserve where wild cows and horses graze in the fields. Beaches in this downtown area are largely uninhabited by tourists, save a mellow crowd of surfers and beachgoers who don’t mind the lack of snack bars and public bathrooms. Cross the street to the pinchera—a kebab stand—for chicken-on-a-stick for $1.50.
4. Insider’s Tip
Rincón’s narrow roads are poorly marked and rarely have proper street names or numbers, making waterfront restaurants and palm-shielded beaches difficult to find. Most businesses describe their location by referencing another nearby business and the route number, “on 413 by the Brasas bar,” for example, making it easy for visitors to get lost. Before you set out on a beach crawl, program their coordinates into a GPS device—find the latitude and longitude of some of Rincón’s popular surf beaches at puertoricodaytrips.com.
5. Oddball Day
Time travel as you head south along Route 2, through the tiny cities dotting the southern coast. Stop at the hill town of San Germán, 28 miles southeast of Rincón, for the Porta Coeli Religious Art Museum. The weathered seventeenth-century former convent now houses paintings and elaborate carved wooden statues from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Continue sixteen miles south to the tiny sixteenth-century town of Guánica, where you can hike among cacti and 400-year-old Guayacán trees in the Guánica Dry Forest, the largest dry tropical coastal forest in the world. The six-mile Fuerte trail takes visitors to the ruins of Fort Caprón, an abandoned military outpost with views of Guánica and water below. Afterward, stop at Copamarina, the town’s single hotel, for upscale seafood dishes embellished with local flavors: Sauces incorporate native fruits and rum, and the seafood for the paella is caught fresh daily. Cap off the evening by touring the bioluminescent bay in La Parguera, a small fishing village just west of Guanica. The water is filled with harmless single-celled organisms called phosphorescent dinoflagellates that cast off a hazy blue glow, making bay to appear a luminous, electric blue by night. (Boats leave hourly from the La Parguera dock; 787-899-1660, $30 per person)
Nonprofit site Surfrider provides updates on activities and surfing conditions.
Rincón.org has detailed descriptions of local beaches, hotels, and restaurants.
El Coqui de Rincón, the bilingual local rag, keeps track of concerts and local festivals.
The owners of beachfront rental Villa Orleans keep a blog detailing events and life in Rincón.