Surfing Safari: Puerto Rico
THE SURF SPOT: Outer Reefs
Parroting the coastline, the outer reef runs from the east to westernmost tip of Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve (ritzcarlton.com) on the north coast of Puerto Rico. The cavernous Puerto Rican trench amplifies the seasonal North Atlantic storms and low-pressure systems that ignite north swells from October to March. Accessible solely by boat or Jet Ski, the dozen reef breaks are rarely crowded. Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve partners with a local family water sports management company called Goodwinds for surf instruction and boat guides. The tropical, turquoise waters rarely require a wetsuit, but be advised, open ocean swells retain more power and speed than those surfed directly off the beach. Goodwinds offers a tow-in option, alleviating the need to paddle into waves too large or too fast to otherwise catch. If guests prefer a more local experience, Los Tubos to the west and La Ocho to the east are the two closest options.
WHERE TO LAND: San Juan
A year and a half after Hurricane Maria all but devastated the US territory, the capital city, San Juan, is burgeoning after many businesses relocated or rebuilt. Locally owned establishments like La Bombonera and Luca survived. The former freshly bakes sweet, puffy buns that are often transformed into grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches, which should certainly be topped with powdered sugar. For shopping, the Scandinavian-designed Luca stocks island-made artisan jewelry, women’s clothing, and items for the home. Fashionable shade from the Puerto Rican sun can be found at Olé, a hat emporium that fits and customizes Panama hats. Behold the walls of impeccably organized straw hats and rows of ribbons in every shade of the rainbow. Slide into the watermelon mojito at Santaella, the brainchild of Puerto Rican–raised chef José Santaella, a protégé of Eric Ripert and Ferran Adrià.
Book the Lagoon View Mediterranean Suite at O:live Boutique Hotel (oliveboutiquehotel.com) in Condado and enjoy its sweeping private terrace, the ideal setting for an afternoon siesta or sundowner. A beachfront guesthouse run by Puerto Rican couple Loisse Herger and Fernando Davila, O:live mixes Puerto Rican touches like the welcome coquito, a traditional cocktail with Puerto Rican rum and coconut milk, with a European Provençal design aesthetic. At the rooftop pool, find views of Laguna del Condado as well as downtown San Jose, a pastiche of brightly colored houses set upon narrow, winding streets.