As I and every other surfer knows, Endless Summer is a misnomer. The best waves are always in the winter, and given that we’re now in the full swing of summer… well, I’ve been a bit bored. Thankfully Puerto Rico has an abundance of aquatic activities to keep me busy. One of these days there will be a hilarious post of my misadventures in kite surfing, wind surfing, or sailing, but for now I’ve been keeping myself entertained with snorkeling along our reef. There are hundreds of reefs around here; however, one of the unique things about ours is that it almost touches the beach, meaning I can swim to it fairly easily.
Now for a quick soapbox: remember if you’re around reefs to use reef safe sunscreen (those without oxybenzone and octinoxate).
Anyway here’s some video of me playing around on the reef. Disfruta!
I’ve found a new running trail! It (mostly) hugs the beach all through Piñones, and features some pretty sweet views of the ocean and sometimes even the mountains.
I tried to take a video during my last long run during my favorite portion of the trail. I can’t say it turned out great, per se, in that it a bit herky-jerky and I didn’t always control the camera as well as I would’ve liked. In my defense I was also partially concentrating on not tripping and falling on my face.
All the same, this video will give you the gist, and Pat doctored it nicely and added some music (Nellie McKay’s “Caribbean Time,” since you asked). It doesn’t do the trail justice but it’ll have to tide you over until you can come visit.
First and foremost, we hope everyone is healthy and staying safe. Jenn and I have more or less been hunkered down at home for the last two months, only really venturing out for groceries or occasional takeout food. We’ve been pretty bored but otherwise doing well.
As Memorial Day weekend came around we were finally able to get back onto the beaches and into the water. Thankfully for me and all the other surfers, the relaxation of the governor’s orders came right in time for an off-season swell. Being out of the water for about 2 months I was pretty desperate. I woke up around 5 AM to do a surf check to find some pretty mediocre waves at my spot. Thankfully I texted my neighbor Carlos to see what his plans were. He cryptically responded to hang tight we’re going “somewhere”.
Carlos has taken me to a few other surf spots around the area and more or less knows the ins and outs of the best breaks on the island. After waiting for quite some time for his friend Mario to arrive at our condo, we finally got underway. We went to an area of the island to the east about 40 minutes from San Juan and then down a pretty ragged dirt road.
After about 10 minutes down the bumpy road we came to the secret / not so secret surf spot. According to Carlos it was packed, but really it wasn’t bad, it was a huge beach and plenty of space to spread out.
After about 4 to 5 hours of surfing we were all wiped. We drank some water then some beers and started back home. My shoulders are still recovering and my sunburn is still healing, but it was well worth it.
What a difference a year makes. Around this time last year we were just getting settled into our new lives in Puerto Rico and a year later… I guess we’re still settling in but now we can also speak broken Spanish!
So like everyone else at the moment, we’re in COVID-19 lock-down. I know it’s for the best but sitting here and watching waves go unridden feels akin to the episode of “The Twilight Zone” where the book lover breaks his glasses.
Since we’re stuck indoors, I figured it’d be a good time to reflect.. and drink; reflect and drink. For obvious reasons we haven’t had many new adventures but this gives us an opportunity to put up some of the more “interesting” things we’ve found in Puerto Rico. Well at least interesting to us gringos. Let’s get to it.
We snuck one more trip in under the wire before COVID-19 shut everything down. Follow us on a visit to Culebra!
Culebra is an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico; you take a ferry from Ceiba to get there. Pat’s surfing buddy Raymar is a native, and we spent a lovely weekend with him and his family.
A lot of it our trip was surfing-based, of course, with various members of the party engaging in surfing shenanigans whereas various others preferred, say, drinking prosecco on the beach. Also there were some abandoned tanks from the army (parts of Flamenco used to be a bombing range).
We also met Raymar’s extended family’s 4 dogs, which I obviously loved, plus some wild – or possibly escaped – horses, one of which tried to break into our bungalow.
Also also, we went off-roading in Jeeps to Playa Brava, which was so much like an amusement park ride that my dopamine levels soared accordingly, and as usual Pat and friends went surfing.
Add to that an incredible meal at the Dinghy Dock (grilled tuna FTW!) and a late-night dip in a hot tub (cue that dopamine), and it was a very satisfying trip indeed. We’ll definitely be back!
Last week we were graced with the presence of one of my buddies, Julian. As per our usual M.O. we started off the week in our typical disastrous, adventurous style by getting stranded out at La Placita. As a side note for any future visitors, El Coco de Luis in La Placita makes unbelievable mojitos (also with an unbelievable amount of rum).
Eventually Julian and I made it home and the next day we showed him around town. We checked out some of our favorite spots as well as trying out a few new places, such as La Factoría, a hipsterish little bar that makes fancy cocktails with plush seating occupied by children of inattentive parents (the children part may vary by time).
After our outing in Viejo San Juan we packed up our car and headed west. I wanted to check out a new area called Cabo Rojo, which apparently has some of the prettiest beaches in Puerto Rico. I say apparently because we didn’t quite make it to any of the beaches. Our plans changed about 2/3rds of the way there when we lost power steering… driving here is exciting enough without adding extra challenges. Since we were already about 2 hours from home we continued onwards to our Airbnb in Puerto Real. After Julian and I tag-teamed the steering wheel as I parallel parked we got out and found that we were staying in a quaint little marina.
Since I had no intention of moving the car, we decided to take a walk around and get some food and drinks. Eventually we came across 19 Barrios, a brick oven pizza restaurant on the water. Overall it was pretty good for a tiny little marina town. We did find however find that selecting from the menu seemed to be more of a formality and what food came out was really up to to the chef’s discretion.
After finishing up with dinner, Julian and I went out for a few more drinks while Jenn retired to the Airbnb. The neighbors were having some sort of party and Jenn was blessed with hours of prepubescent karaoke which slowly drove her mad. Finally they quieted down and we got some rest. The next day we fought the car up to Ríncon so I could get some surfing in before our trip back east.
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful. I gave Julian a few unsuccessful surfing lessons and spent the rest of my time at work. On Thursday Julian and Jenn attended a party thrown by our Spanish teacher. Then early Friday morning I took Julian to the airport so he could continue his life of leisure in Bonaire. ¡Qué cabrón!
Last weekend Pat and I took an initial trip to El Yunque, just to get an idea of what trails and such are available. Now when all you intrepid explorers extraordinaire visit, we can offer a little guidance.
We’ve found views:
And the tops of trails (we haven’t done the trails yet; we’re waiting for you, so hurry up and get here):
Last weekend we took another trip west. Highlights from the trip include:
We stopped at a scenic overlook!
Lunch at Kai’s at Playa Jobos in Isabela where Pat bought a new board (not at Kai’s but a surfshop down the road)!
We drove up and down (repeatedly) a terrifyingly steep and narrow road to our Airbnb in Rincón! (This photo doesn’t do it justice; to fully comprehend the horror it helps to remember that it is NOT a one way street.)
We frequented Friends Cafe, admired the holiday decorations because Christmas ain’t over ’til it’s over around here, and poked around the Sunday flea market!
We watched big wave surfers tackle Tres Palmas surf break!
Pat took his new board out at the Little Malibu surf break and we drank Don Q and Cokes!
That everything’s fine in Puerto Rico And aside from some power loss we weren’t really affected Forgive us We didn’t anticipate Any concern
With apologies to William Carlos Williams, whose estate is hopefully not litigious
No, but in all seriousness, I’m not even in Puerto Rico right now, and Pat reports that power has returned to our apartment and everything’s a-okay. The epicenter of the earthquake was pretty far from where we live. No cause for concern! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled hijinks as soon as I return from Walt Disney World (unless I refuse to leave, which is always a possibility). Stay tuned!
Last weekend we checked off one of our PR must-do items – scuba diving. (Thank you to Brian, Grecia, and Elizabeth for their generous wedding contributions to this activity!)
Aqua Adventures operates out of the Hilton Caribe just outside Viejo San Juan. We ended up having a private lesson with Luis, our dive master, who kitted us out with masks, fins, and oxygen tanks before taking us to the hotel pool. There we ran through the scuba basics – things like clearing your mask, adjusting your vest inflation, and relocating your regulator if it gets knocked out of your mouth.
With that out of the way, it was off to the lagoon! The area is sheltered from the ocean but accessible to hotel guests; we saw occasional people swimming at random above us. More to the point, though, was the variety of wildlife we were able to encounter: fish, fish, and, well, more fish. But it was definitely a highlight swimming through a school and having them surround you.
After our diving adventure, we grabbed lunch at the hotel pool bar and then poked around some nearby fort ruins. I was crowned queen of the iguanas and then had myself cloned, so that was fun.
Finally we headed over to the La Ocho surf break so that Pat could get some waves in, next to the big rock in the above picture. Diving was cool and all, but we know Pat’s priorities!