Sand, Sun & Surfing in Puerto Rico

Join Sperry Ambassador Siren Williams as she explores the beaches of Aguadilla and Rincón.

April 23, 2018
in Travel

In late 2017, the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was rocked to its core by hurricane Maria. You may have heard of it. But what have you done about it?

That’s the question that Sperry Ambassador, Siren Williams, asked herself when deciding where to travel earlier this year. Never one to run from a challenge – in fact, last year, Siren herself stuck around her hometown off the coast of Florida during one of the many weather events that struck the Orange State – she quickly landed on Puerto Rico. Bags packed (and full of Sperry sandals, of course), Siren was ready to go.

On top of supporting the local people and economy, which had taken a hit from decreased tourism, Siren – a skilled surfer with a love of the ocean – couldn’t wait to catch some serious waves. We caught up with Siren to talk about her trip and learn why, Mother Nature aside, Puerto Rico is still a must-visit destination.

Siren Williams Puerto Rico Travel Diary
Tell us about your recent trip to Puerto Rico. Which cities did you visit?
We went down to Puerto Rico to do a little surfing and also wanted to see if it might be a place we'd want to move. We mostly explored and surfed the stretch from Rincón to Aguadilla on the north-west corner, but visited as far east as Old San Juan.
Why Puerto Rico? What drew you to the island?
The island took a major hit after the two hurricanes last year, and it made sense to support Puerto Rico by taking a trip there, as opposed to a place that wasn't struggling. Many people were forced to move out of their homes, not only from damage but because they relied on their jobs and the tourism industry to pay their mortgages. When visitors stopped coming, it really hurt them. I'd been down before, but it had been around 10 years, and my husband had never been. It's the Hawaii of the Caribbean, with plenty of surf and opportunity. Plus, Puerto Rico is beautiful. There's so much to explore!
What activities did you have planned while there?
We really wanted to do a lot of surfing, hiking to waterfalls, exploring the city, maybe some snorkeling, and boating, and I wanted to take the guys to some of my favorite places, like Las Cuevas del Indio on the north coast.

Much of that didn't really happen! The caves have a private owner now and were gated off; and a HUGE swell arrived while we were there, making the majority of our trip not only un-surfable, but un-snorkelable as well. One of the secluded beach hikes that we tried to do was inaccessible due to the swell filling in the whole beach, but we were still able to do part of the hike, which was amazing.

We never made the waterfalls happen, and no one was taking a boat out into 20'+ seas. But, a huge plus was that we got to see the biggest swell in 10 years hit the island. People were actually saying it was bigger than the one that hit 10 years ago, so that was really something to see!

And of course, the experience of simply exploring such a beautiful island was amazing nonetheless.
As a photographer and creative, what do you typically keep an eye out for when traveling?
As a creative, I'm always on the lookout for beautiful places, blue water, perfect waves, art, architecture, old boats, people, culture, historical areas, interesting textures, uncommon colors, areas with lots of coconut palms, pristine and secluded beaches, and VIEWS! It's all about finding things you want to look at, really.
You're a big-time surfer. Were you able to get out on the water at all?
The surf went from nearly flat to 20'+ almost overnight while we were there. I literally only surfed three days out of 10. One of those days was almost flat, and frankly, the other two weren't that good. We really didn't time it right for swell, but that's just something you deal with as a surfer planning trips. Conditions and forecasts literally change by the minute, so you never know what you're going to get. You know the risk when you book the flight!
Best meal?
Almost every meal was the best meal. Even our AirBnB host brought us home-cooked meals and sangria! There's a great spot called La Papa that serves up amazing local food, specializing in a potato dish where the potato is filled with pretty much everything you could imagine. There are so many little local food trucks too.
Top three items to pack for an island getaway?
A bikini, some sandals, and a blanket. (I get cold!)
If you had to give a friend your No. 1 reason to visit, what would it be?
My number one reason to visit Puerto Rico would be the fact that all around the island, the coastline is literally littered with places to surf. There are so many little points and bays, and the water there is gorgeous. If one spot isn't breaking good, there's usually somewhere within an hour drive that is.

Learn more about Siren Williams on her official Ambassador page here.

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