An Insider Guide to Rincón with Stoked Coffee’s Dagi Rodríguez

Explore this laid-back Puerto Rican beach town with Rincón resident Dagi Rodríguez, on a slow-paced weekend immersed in the island’s surf scene.

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There's playas aplenty around Rincón. Sat on Puerto Rico's western coast, this laid-back town dips its toes in the Caribbean Sea, while - northwards - the Atlantic rolls at its side. Sandy beaches connect the two shores: Dogman, Indicators, Los Almendros, Domes, Córcega; Almendro; Steps. It's a surf town, and with good reason.

The diversity of these swells pulls in amateurs and experts alike. Visit when the World Surf League takes over town and Rincón buzzes with an infectious energy. Arrive out of season, and you'll find quieter beaches frequented by local barrel riders.

Dagi Rodriguez, owner of Stoked cofee
Town views in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Stoked coffee's Dagi Rodríguez, left, and downtown Rincón.

Stroll into town, weaving through the groups of dominoes players as they match doubles in the dappled shade of almond trees, to find the central plaza, a cultural hub buoyed, but not dependent on, the surfing community down the road. Shops, restaurants, cafés, galleries, breweries - a laid-back community of entrepreneurs has followed the surf to this gentle coastal town, and keeps it running when the swell drops.

Whatever season you choose to visit, we recommend a stop at Stoked, a coffee and surf shop situated on Playa María (María's Beach). The pint-sized counter buzzes from early as surfers pick up their morning brew. This is the place to head for a forecast of the day's waves, and to find out what's happening inland, too.

Order a cortado (island roast only, of course), grab some breakfast and a fin for your board. Owner Dagi Rodríguez opened the shop with her husband, film-maker Pepe García. We sat down over a coffee to hear why the town is more than just a surf season stopover. Her insider tips on exploring all Rincón has to offer include where to find the best waves and more.

Palm-fringed paradise: A local's guide to Rincón, Puerto Rico

Whitewashed archiecture in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Whitewashed buildings, left, and a Sandy Beach hangout.

How would you describe Rincón's vibe?

Rincón is chill and laid-back. Don't come here in a rush or with a fixed mindset. You'll have more fun if you just go with the flow and let this little town surprise you.

What's the best time to visit?

I'm on a mission to change the "Rincón is seasonal" attitude. Being a tropical island, Puerto Rico is perfect to visit any time of year. If you're looking to catch good waves, the best time to head here is between November and December, and April and May. If you're just looking to relax at the beach, go on a hike and watch some beautiful sunsets, then feel free to visit us any time.

Where should we stay in town?

There are superb stays all over town, ranging from Airbnb to boutique hotels. Villa Playa María is one of my favourite places. It's a beautiful property, owned by a great couple, and is conveniently located right on Playa María, so you're in front of all the action during the surf season.

What's the best beach for a sunrise surf?

Playa María, Domes or Sandy, depending on where the wind is blowing. Rincón's surf breaks are world class. Head to Tres Palmas (aka Steps Beach) if you're looking for a pro-level break - the waves can get as high as 30ft. At Dogman's, María's and Domes the waves can also get quite big, but those spots are also fun and inclusive on days when the swell is smaller.

The famous 'Dome' of Domes Beach backdrops a the sandy strip
A man on a surfboard rides a wave in Puerto Rico

Domes Beach, left, and a surfer catching a wave.

And where should we head for breakfast after?

The English Rose is a classic. It's located at the top of a hill overlooking the ocean. The space has a beautiful energy. Another in my top ten is Casa Casa Isleña, its breakfast board always hits the spot. And, of course, you'll need to have breakfast at Stoked at least once. I promise you won't regret it.

How about a low-key lunch?

If you're looking for healthy or vegan options, there's a few places to check out: Passiflora, Cosecha Harvest, Sana Farm to Table. Or, if you're looking to misbehave, (because, hey, you're on a tropical island), then head to El Ancla, a beachside chinchorro [a relaxed, open-air restaurant] at the Black Eagle Marina.

We're meeting you for sunset pina coladas. Where are we heading?

Let's go to Caddy's Calypso.

And for dinner?

Hands down, one of the most memorable dining experiences I've had in the area is Reina Mora. This inconspicuous farm-to-table restaurant is located in the town of Aguada, a 13-minute drive from Rincón. Reservation is required.

For chic yet laid-back beach dining in town, I recommend La Copa Llena. More in a pizza mood? Mi Familias Pizzeria won't disappoint. For fresh pasta, head to Mangia Mi.

A shop in Rincon, Puerto Rico
Small black birds flutter on a wire fence outside a coral-hued house in Puerto Rico

Rincón's colourful architecture.

Any other must-see gourmet spots?

There's a classic farmer's market on Sundays that you should definitely check out. If you're staying in an Airbnb, pick up some sazón [an island spice seasoning for fish and meat] to use in cooking.

Tell us about a place only locals know…

Well, as Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny sings, "Si pongo el location, ya no es un secret spot." ["If I tell you the location, it's no longer a secret."]

No, but really, if what you're looking for is to connect with locals in an untouristy environment, then my recommendation would be to try your own chinchorreo. In other words, go bar-hopping along the beaches, eating, dancing and drinking as you go. Some of the most beautiful ones on the west side worth visiting are Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, Jobos and Shacks in Isabela, and Buyé, Sucia and Las Salinas in Cabo Rojo.

Rum is big around here. Where's best to sample it?

If you're looking for an artisanal rum inspired by the town, check out Rincón Rum.

The best way to spend a Saturday night?

Choose a nice sunset dinner and call it an early night! Or, if you're looking to ease back with a few drinks, head to the bars near the plaza. Try Tinto Wine Shop, La Sirena, La Estación, and even a speakeasy that opens two nights a week and is near the panadería [bakery]… but that's all I can say!

A beach near Rincon, Puerto Rico
A beach bar in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Sandy Beach, left, and a shoreside bar.

And to help with the hangover on Sunday morning?

Try double espressos, tartines [toast] and breakfast empanadas [pastry turnovers] at Stoked. Then go for an ocean dip, followed by laying under a palm tree and sipping on coconut water.

Rincón is known for its beaches, so which is your favourite?

Playa María is special and has a wonderful reef break. It's great for surfing when there's swell, but you can also head there to snorkel and paddle when the water is flat. You'll spot tropical fish and vibrant reefs - and even sea turtles if you're lucky.

Any must-visit artisan boutiques or creatives we should drop in on?

Every Thursday evening at the town plaza, you can catch the Rincón Art Walk, where local artisans and artists display their pieces. Shops around the square stay open till late at night, so you'll get a chance to visit those as well.

Something to bring back as a souvenir?

Specialty Puerto Rican coffee and a tan.

The Lowdown

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