Naval Officer/Surfer/Photographer
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The Inertia

One of the worst events of 2017 was Hurricane Maria and the devastation it brought to the Caribbean. Specifically, Puerto Rico is one island that was hit the hardest. And in the months following that September disaster, we have heard and been told all about the challenges the island has on its road to recovery. What’s often missing in that narrative, though, is that Puerto Rico is up and running. Believe it or not, right now is a fantastic time to visit. I have visited Rincón, Puerto Rico twice in 2018 so far, and here’s why you should too.

Yes, they do have power, water, internet.
There is still a lot of inaccurate information persisting in the US when it comes to this topic. Leading up to my trips to Rincón, I had many friends and family predictably ask “Why are you going there?!” or “Do they even have power yet?” Despite what you hear, please understand that Puerto Rico does have power, running water, internet, and all of the other amenities you’ve grown to expect. While the island may not be back up to 100%, all of the hotels, condos, businesses, and restaurants are open and running normally. Like many Caribbean islands, power can sometimes be spotty, but almost everyone has generators. The house we rented in April had a generator that ran everything and wasn’t just for emergency power.

It’s cheap.
Really cheap, actually. I have taken a surf trip to Puerto Rico every year for the last four years and this year was by far the cheapest visit. I imagine it has to do with the fact that there are not many people traveling down there right now and believe it or not, tourism is a major contributor to Puerto Rico’s economy. There are a couple hotel options in Rincón and most of the available lodging is condos and homes you can find online through Airbnb, VRBO, and more. You can find great condos for less than $100/night. And as for getting there, I was able to fly down on JetBlue from New York City for just $200 round trip.

There’s a lot to do, like surf world-class waves
If you’re on the east coast, it’s a short flight to Aguadilla, PR and about a 40-minute drive to Rincón. Once you’re there, you’re only steps away from 80-degree, crystal clear blue water and some of the very best waves you can hope to surf around the US. If you stay in the Puntas neighborhood of Rincón, you are walking distance from three different breaks, and a five to ten-minutes drive from every other break Rincón has to offer. There are some great options for diving, fishing, and most other outdoor or water activities. You can also take a short drive to explore places like the Camuy River Cave Park or the Gozalandia Waterfall. Or if you’re the type to relax on the beach, that’s just fine too. And one of my very favorite things about Rincón is the breathtaking sunsets. Make sure you take one in from The Beach House. It’s the best seat in all of Rincón to watch a sunset.

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Most importantly, you’d be helping an entire island population get back on its feet
One of my favorite things about Rincón is its small-town vibes. Most of the businesses are locally owned, as there are no chain businesses here. When you are there, you can feel the sense of community. You always see the same people around town and especially if you go to one of their many events. Every week in the town center, they have an art walk, which I highly recommend for finding souvenirs. Right now, all these wonderful people are still struggling to get back on their feet from the storm. While I was there in April, I was talking with a bartender who said that this time next year there’s a good chance a lot of these businesses would be closed. Rincón is very dependent on tourism and they live season to season. One bad tourist season can be the difference between a business staying open or not. So if you’re someone who has enjoyed Puerto Rico in the past but unsure about going back, or if you’ve never been and you’re looking for a new place to go, don’t cross Puerto Rico off your list. Rincón, as well as the rest of the island, is open for business. And they would be absolutely thrilled to welcome you to their beautiful island.

Editor’s Note: You can find more from photographer Rich Brooks on Instagram here