Rincón Surf and Board
Rincón, Puerto Rico
I feared the exorbitantly high room and board prices that typically surround major holidays, so based off of a recommendation in Torn Tree (the Lonely Planet forums) I paid in advance for accommodations at the Rincón Surf and Board through the New Year.
Getting to the Surf and Board was an interesting experience. The sun was setting as I pulled off the expressway on my first day in Puerto Rico. After passing through the city of Augada I found myself twisting and turning on undivided two-way road that cut through an unexpectedly dense, mountainous jungle.
After (what seemed to be) nearly a half dozen u-turns I arrived, but to my surprise the guest house was trucked away at the top of a hill—neither close to town or the beach. I later discovered the walk into town takes a good hour and a half, and about 20 minutes by foot to a decent spot at the beach.
The Surf and Board is not really a hostel, but a collection of comfortable suites and apartment-style rooms (most of which offer plenty of amenities and privacy). Only a single room is currently configured for dorm life (holding four people in bunk beds and one in a cot). I'm told that the grounds can accommodate about 50 people when operating at capacity.
One of the hardest things that I've faced living here has been adjusting to the social aspects of my shoestring budget. It seems that majority of the people who are staying at the Surf and Board are 20-something, from the northeastern part of the U.S., and have attended (or are currently attending) an Ivy League school. Something as simple as $10 for beer or a bottle of rum doesn't really give them much pause (as it shouldn't), but it's a lot for someone in my situation. Buying good groceries to cook with and drinking in the common area or at the bars with other surfers is something that I can't really participate in. I'm restricted to odd canned meats, rice/ramen, gallons of water, and an occasional drink or meal shared by fellow traveler.
The guys here (women in this town seem to be few and far between) are generally good people, and easy to get along with. Since I'm here for much longer than a quick jaunt down from a frozen east coast state, I've had the experience of watching people come and go with some frequency. It's odd sensation to hit the metaphorical reset button every few days and begin the process of getting to know someone new all over again.
I've got to tell you, one of the best decisions I made before heading down here has to be clipper cutting my hair—it's fabulous. The Surf and Board is technically located in Puntas (which is essentially the rural outskirts of Rincón). I was warned when I arrived that the town water supply goes out occasionally—and they were right. I would gather it's been out of commission at least 30% of the time I've been here.
When the water is out here the guests have to go into conservation mode (no showers, flushing unless necessary, etc). It's during these times that it's great being able to wake up and go about your day without having to look in a mirror.
The Surf and Board has about everything you'd look for in a place to stay. At times it feels like a fraternity dropped into the middle of nowhere, but it's definitely a nice little spot for those seeking to escape to a rural, secluded part of the island (…and surf).