Rincon Travel Guide

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"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. They are fun-loving, good-natured, very friendly and generous with their hospitality. Since the late 1950's, a small colony of U.S. Americans resides and does business in Rincon.

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 at Córcega Beach 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 killed them, she responded with a quiet voice: "Well, it seems that your ancestors 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 faces of some 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 owners, was incorporated in 1770.

In the early 1800's Rincon was frequently attacked by English and French invaders, corsairs and pirates, who would plunder and kill at will. The key 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 1892, 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. After four hundred years of Spanish rule, Puerto Rico became a U.S. Territory, at the end of the Spanish- American War. For Rincon, life under the new regime continued to be idyllic and sleepy. At the height of the economic depression of the 1930's 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 U.S. Army, for combat duty. The population hardly increased (from 6,641, in 1899 to 9,094, in 1970). The current population of Rincon is around 15,000.

In the late 1950's, the Sea Beach Colony became our first tourist destination. Later in the 1960's, 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 successful businesses. Local trepidation about the "Hippie Gringo" colony was dissipated, when they adapted to our island lifestyle and remained neutral about local affairs.

  Rincon Today
   Today, it's all good in Rincon. During the Winter season, over 1,000 accommodations are usually filled. During the Summer season, local tourists travel from the big cities for weekend and holiday stays. The new municipal government, led by a proactive mayor with a solid plan to bring tourism to the next natural level, has already obtained funding for infrastructure and capital improvements that will help create and maintain a higher level of interest towards Rincon as a unique destination.

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 waiter or bartender that he is not the son of his father, nor the father of his children.

Our tropical temperature averages 82 degrees, F. (28 degrees, C.). The evening temperatures can be cooler in the winter months, especially in the hills (colinas). The Summer daytime temperatures can be higher, so we highly recommend that your accommodations have air conditioning.  Dress as you would for Miami. 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.

Puerto Rico is a Free Associated State and part of the U.S. Territories and Possessions. What this convoluted political lingo means is that when you are in Puerto Rico, you are in U.S. territory and your hosts are American Citizens. If you are visiting us from another country, you will be required to meet U.S. passport and visa requirements. We recommend that U.S. Citizens bring their passports. Several countries have Consulates in the capital city, San Juan.

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.

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