"The grandeur of a country is not measured by the extension of its territory, but by the greatness of its people.", said a wise Puerto Rican. Puerto Rico is a small country and Puerto Ricans are a great people, especially those in Rincon. They are fun-loving, good-natured, very friendly and generous with their hospitality. Since the late 1950s, a small colony of US ex-pats resides and does business in Rincon.
Rincon history starts with our first residents were the Taíno tribes, a peaceful people, who cultivated the land, hunted and fished. According to local historians, our first guest was Christopher Columbus, who showed up in 1493, for what the natives thought was an unreserved, short stay. Five hundred years later, during a celebration of Columbus' discovery, the captain of a visiting ship from Spain, asked a local host where the original Puerto Ricans could be found. The host responded: "Nowhere, they all died." When the captain insisted on prodding the host about what exactly happened, she responded with a quiet voice: "Well, it seems that you killed them all when you ran the island." Indeed, evidence of Taíno ownership of the island can only be found in archeological digs and in the DNA of most Puerto Ricans. When African slaves were brought in to cultivate the land, the fertile seaside fields of Rincon were deemed perfect for sugar cane production. The township, which is named after one of the first sugar plantation heads, was incorporated in 1770.
In the early 1800s Rincon was frequently attacked by English and French invaders, corsairs and pirates, who would plunder and kill at will. The most valuable ocean view property in Rincon was a watch station on its highest peak, aptly named Atalaya (Watchtower). Our most famous native pirate, Roberto Cofresí, loved Rincon and supposedly buried the bulk of his treasure in our shores and hills. After the pirate era, things went quiet in Rincon, except for small smuggling operations that continued for centuries. In 1986, a shipwreck dating to the 1600s was discovered off the coast of Rincon. It contained lots of intact historical treasures, including one of the most complete astrolabes ever found.
In 1893, the Spaniards built a lighthouse to mark the westernmost point of the island and to warn passing ships of the shallow reefs that stretched out for miles. In 1898, after four hundred years of Spanish rule, American troops invaded Puerto Rico, established a military government and made it a US Possession. For Rincon, life under the new regime continued to be idyllic and sleepy, and while English became the official language of the Colony, the locals continued to speak Spanish and keep their own customs and culture. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were made American citizens and many men were drafted to fight and die in Europe. At the height of the economic depression of the 1930s and during World War II, most of the young men were forced to leave Rincon, either to work abroad or because they were drafted into the US military for combat duty, which also occurred during the Viet Nam war. The population hardly increased (from 6,641 in 1899 to 9,094 in 1970). The current population of Rincon is around 15,000.
Puerto Rico is a Free Associated State and part of the US Territories and Possessions. What this convoluted political lingo means is that when you are in Puerto Rico, you are on US soil and that your hosts are also American Citizens, so no US Passports are required in Puerto Rico. If you are visiting us from another country, you will be required to meet passport and visa requirements. Several countries have consulates in the capital city, San Juan.
In the late 1950s, the Sea Beach Colony became our first tourist destination. In the 1960s, Villa Cofresí became the first beachfront hotel. Rubén Caro, then a young teacher, saw the merits of tourism in the area and became the visionary who jump-started the industry in Rincon. He went on to occupy the Mayor's office. To this day, Villa Cofresí continues to be a popular spot with international and local tourists. The 1968 international surfing competition literally put Rincon on the map (up to then, you could not find Rincon on some maps). Shortly after, a trickle of surfers decided to become permanent guests and began to invite their friends over. Several of them opened local tourist-related businesses. Local trepidation about the "Hippie Gringo" colony dissipated when most adapted to our island lifestyle and remained neutral about local affairs.
Today, it's all good in Rincon. In fact, during the Winter season, over 1,000 accommodations are usually filled. During the Summer season, local tourists travel from the large cities for weekend and holiday stays. The municipal government, led by a mayor with a plan to bring tourism to the next natural level, has been able to obtain funding for infrastructure and capital improvements that will help create and maintain a higher level of interest towards Rincon as a unique destination.
Traveling to Rincon, PR is like visiting any other part of the USA, no American Passports are ever needed in Rincon, PR. Most US cell phones work in Rincon. ATM's disburse US dollars. Spanish and English are widely spoken in Rincon. Jet Blue, Spirit Air & Continental provide non-stop jet service between the US and nearby Aguadilla airport (BQN), a 30 minute drive. Many other flights arrive at San Juan International (SJU), about a 2 hour drive. Rental car companies, like Hertz and Avis, offer service at airports. Pre-arranged airport transportation service is also available. Tour and taxi services are available.
While the language of Puerto Rico is Spanish, many in Rincon speak English. It helps to initially learn at least two phrases: "por favor" (please) and "gracias" (thanks). It is also good to learn the Spanish names of your favorite drinks and dishes. It may not be wise to repeat Spanish words without knowing their full meaning; with one simple phrase, you could be telling your male waiter or bartender that he is not the son of his father nor the father of his children.
Our tropical temperature averages 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). The evening temperatures can be cooler in the winter months, especially in the hills. The Summer daytime temperatures can be higher, so we highly recommend that your accommodation has air conditioning. Dress as you would for Miami Beach. You may want to bring long pants and a dress for the casinos and upscale restaurants. We recommend bringing more than one swimsuit. On some Winter nights, a light sweater or jacket may be required.
Rincon and the rest of Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST). In late Fall and Winter, we are an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. The rest of the year, we are in synch with Eastern Daylight time.