WEST COAST ADVENTURE
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Three days at Rincon on the West Coast with a drive to the southern tip of the island.
With a very early start on a beautiful sunny day, we took a leisurely drive along the north coast in a westerly direction, before we made our way to the eclectic, artistic coastal town of Rincon, where we had reserved a room on the beach at Coconut Palms Inn for $70 per night; we were happy with our little resort that had 10 rooms all occupied with Americans escaping the winter.
We took highway 22 to Arecibo where stopped for coffee at Buen Cafe, which had a big sign stating it had the best coffee- not true!
And then we took the smaller coast roads to appreciate the Atlantic Ocean.
At Quebradillas we found the roadside shop that sells the famous "quesitos de hoja", a delicious fresh cheese that we devoured with bread bought at the nearby bakery- Panaderia Los Cocos; this bakery is the oldest on the island and still uses wood fired ovens to bake pastries and bread.
The combination was so wonderful, we wished we had bought more.
Next stop was the lookout at Guajatica where we admired the Atlantic surging onto the forested cliffs and Kath took a picture of the Puerto Rican flag blowing in the breeze.
We stopped at Isabela and Jobos to stroll along the deserted beaches; there were a few lonely surfers hitting the waves which were low today. These beaches are popular surfing beaches and we noticed some windsurfers taking advantage of the strong breeze.
Sheila said that we just have to stop at Crashboat, despite the fact we had to endure a traffic jam caused by parents collecting kids in cars from a school; by the way a lot of schools do 2 sessions a day to cope with the number of students in the area.
Wow, Crashboat a swimming beach was stunning and a few people were enjoying the warm sun and calm water; the old pier created a special focal point for photos.
As we rounded the north west corner, we drove around a large airport and passed the famous the Punta Borinquen golf course. Our tourist brochure states that some of the best surfing beaches in Puerto Rico are found here.
In the 1960s itinerant surfers discovered this paradise and put it on the world surfing map."Winter storms from the US push monster waves to this coast and when they reach the shallow water of Puerto Rico, they curl into perfect breaks".
In 1968, Rincon hosted the World Amateur surfing Championship.
Originally this area accommodated people in campgrounds and bunkbeds but today Rincon has villas, exclusive resorts and upmarket hotels.
The town is home to a large number of Americans and many retirees and has a Byron Bay feel to it; the hippie cafes, very trendy restaurants and bars and an emphasis on organic produce, along with galleries and a strong feeling of community make it a very special town.
We stopped at Banana Dang, recommended by Trip Advisor, along the scenic 115 into Rincon and had a sandwich and good coffee!
By 4pm we had checked into the Coconut Palms Inn, and pleased with our room, we walked a few paces to the lovely beach. Despite the fact that the beach was lined with holiday villas, resorts etc.
it was never crowded, in fact early morning it was deserted. We met some of the Americans staying with us who had flown in from New York for a one week vacation.
Our second day was spent exploring the west coast to its southern most point at the Cabo Rojo lighthouse. The little seaside towns of Joyuda and Boqueron, famous for their seafood restaurants were very quiet when we passed through mid week and early afternoon. We did encounter a coupe of places trading in Boqueron.
Sheila remembered the Combate beach from her university days but it is much more developed now and home to acres of "caravan parks" where you can buy a permanent van but can only stay on weekends; the vans were parked so close together and the parks had no landscaping-ugly!
But the really magnificent surprise was the crescent beach near the lighthouse. La Playuela is accessed on foot from the lighthouse car park and you have no idea until you turn a corner what beauty lies there.It is calm and the Caribbean Sea laps at the pure white sandy shores- just beautiful! We walked the track to the lighthouse that gave us views across the bay.
Kath declares that this beach is the highlight of her adventure never to be forgotten!
The trip from Rincon to the lighthouse was about 50 kms with some side trips, and now we made our way back to Rincon for a swim and sunset drinks on the balcony! Marvellous!
Dinner at Tropical Rincon was a treat and reasonably priced- rice and beans for Kath, whole fried local snapper for Sheila + two beers= less than $30; best of all it was a 5mins drive from our Inn.
On our last day we left Rincon early to drive to Mayaguez and take the Ruta Panoramica through the central hills of the island. The road was slow and winding and in some place there really was not room for oncoming cars to pass; the forests and villages that we drove through were interesting and in the high places coffee and other crops are stil grown.
Kath experienced minor motion sickness for the first time so when we reached Adjuntas we headed north.
We took highway 2 back to San Juan and experienced the typical Friday evening traffic congestion; oh well never mind we had enjoyed a happy 3 days away from the city.