Old San Juan is something - but I prefer the relaxed quiet island feel of the western coast of Puerto Rico.
It came a little earlier than Christmas this year.
Growing up I always wanted to dig into surfing, I thought I'd move to Cali (I said it like this in my head) one day and become one of those "surfer girls." Well, I never moved to Cali but, I tried surfing a handful of times in the Atlantic waters of Maine and then met a nice guy in Wyoming who just so happened to like surf travel in the off seasons. Perfect.
Two surf trips later and I'm ready to uproot for the beach.
After our trip to Panama in April we knew we would be going back to the ocean this Fall. Flights were cheap and east coast swell was looking up so we dropped in on Puerto Rico - and so did the entire G family.
We flew into San Juan (Check out Jetblue out of SLC, they own the night in the sky) jumped in the car and headed to Mishell's (yes, like the seashell) in Rincon.
Rincon is a town of tiny streets and several breaks. Navigating isn't the easiest but once you find the lighthouse you'll run into a handful of waves.
Dropping our bags like hot potatoes we scrambled for bikinis, board shorts and fin keys. The sky was turning black and the sun was disappearing west. With 45 minutes of daylight left and fins barely screwed on, we scrambled to Parking Lots break and paddled out to the dwindling line up. Just as we sat up on our boards it started pouring warm Caribbean rain.
I think this was one of my favorite moments of the trip- with a few days of restless waiting in Salt Lake City we made it to the beach and got in the water to an amazing warm rain. Coming from the Tetons, rain typically means survival mode. You would be frozen and shivering in moments even on a warm summer afternoon. But, as the sun set and it continued to rain we stood in the parking lot barefoot and barely clothed, drinking beers and letting the warm rain thaw our mountain skin.
We spent two nights in Rincon exploring the different breaks and checking out the local brew pub and eateries. Then headed east to Isabella where we took up residence at Casa Azul, an amazingly beautiful blue house with bedrooms for up to 20 people. The family poured in, the pool filled up with little chickens and the group grocery shop began.
Once we arrived at Casa Azul in Isabela, we really settled in. Walking distance from the beach and a house with a dozen hiding nooks we fell into our groove of 5:30am alarms for morning surf sessions and half dozen hammocks to choose from for an afternoon siesta.
We were short driving distance from all of our go to breaks. Here is a run down of our favorite spots
Jobos: We really liked this wedge break for the first day or two. One of the easiest waves to paddle out to, it has a legitimate treadmill current out to the peak. But after a few sessions the local crowd got to us and we decided we would migrate elsewhere.
Wilderness: our favorite break of the trip was 15 minutes away (20 if you made a pit stop at the bakery, a Puerto Rican Persephone) via a road through the golf course. Getting in and out of the water here is a bit tricky but we quickly got the hang of it. By far my favorite waves of the trip.
Surfers: We went to surfers several morning and it was occasionally flat - but that was good for me. It is a shallow break with a decent amount of reef and sea urchins. The current and wind were a bit of a problem here a few days as well. Stop by the surf shop at the top of the hill (the one with the sign asking people to stop having sex in their parking lot) they have a great selection of mens and women's suits, flops and beach wear.
Middles & Secret Spot: These waves looked amazing (I say looked because I wouldn't dare paddling out). The boys paddled out here a day or two but the waves weren't standing up well while we were there.
Morning sessions were quiet with cleaner waves - afternoon sessions tended to be more crowded and the wind made the waves a little challenging but if you stayed in the water til dusk it mellowed out.
And then -- The Wedding!
Brady's brother got married while we were there. Really low key on a beautiful beach you had to four-wheel to... check out the beautiful photos from the talented Andy Bardon.
Where We Stayed:
[Sign up to Airbnb via this link and receive $20 towards your first booking!]
Where to Eat
Aquadilla / Isabella Area
One-Ten Thai - really great thai food inspired by Jackson, WY's Teton Thai!
The Reef - two words: fish. sandwich.
Westcoast Wheatgrass - smoothies! and the ice didn't make us poop.
Coffee Masters [Drive-Up] - real espresso and iced americanos!
Levian Bakery - quiche & coffee on the way to Surfers Beach and Wilderness (or on the way home)!
The Eclipse - upscale, fancy in a resort but a great splurge night spot right on the beach with brick oven pizza and delicious ceviche.