IMG_7318It’s a weird feeling when you’re sitting on a beach in a remote tropical land and realize you recognize half the beach. Surf trips are often used as an escape of “reality.” It seems like I wasn’t the only one escaping the “harsh” Jacksonville winter in search of warm waves and coconut drinks.

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Surfer: Piper Austin

Jacksonville Beach invaded Puerto Rico this winter. “Domes,” the most popular surf break in Rincon, was overpopulated with Jacksonville locals. The waves were small, 3-feet at best, but the vibe kept everyone stoked.

The invasion continued to the bars, where locals claimed us to be the “Gringa takeover.” The trip wouldn’t have been possible without local shredder Caity Riordan, not only giving us a place to stay but taking us on endless adventures. The beauty of this trip was there were just as many girl surfers coming from Jacksonville as boys. Piper Austin, Emily Ruppert and Katie Hunt were making all the locals turn their heads in and out of the water.

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This being my first trip to Puerto Rico, I was lucky to be introduced to locals who immediately took me in and made me feel like family. The island is filled with welcoming people just looking to share a drink and have a good time.

As my week in Puerto Rico came to an end, the idea of cold water and the Christmas season was distant in my mind. I was on island time, consuming way too many coconut drinks.

Thoughts of not coming home for Christmas definitely crossed my mind. Bikinis and waterfalls just seemed so much sweeter than Christmas cookies and sweaters.

“I’ll be home for Christmas,” replayed in my head as I downed my final coconut drink on the beach.

I have no doubt Jacksonville Beach will continue the legendary season of Christmas in Rincon. We came, we saw, and we conquered … until next time Puerto Rico.

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#gringatakeover #rinconforgivetheboys2k14

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 My Gringo Guide To Rincon

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Surfer: Kyle Ladako

My favorite breaks to surf in Rincon?
Domes – If the waves are small, Domes will likely be the only place breaking. Always expect a heavy crowd.
Tres Palmas – The best surfing spot in the Caribbean. It has to be a decent swell for the wave to work.
Maria’s – My favorite wave that is super fun for more of the intermediate surfer. Typically blocked from the wind.
Indicators – Very rocky and shallow. Fun wave that only the locals typically surf.
Pools – Typically rights, not as crowded as other spots.
Sandy Beach – One of the only breaks with a sandy bottom. The wave is pretty consistent and a good place for beginners.

What airport to fly into?
Aguadilla. The only flights are Red Eyes, so be ready to be running on no sleep your first day in Puerto Rico. Cab rides to Rincon are about $45 each way. We were a little worried when we realized our cab driver was driving through all the red lights. Turns out, after midnight it is legal to ignore red lights.

How to get around?
Walk. Everything you need is within 3 miles of each other. Catching rides is also super easy; everyone is willing to help fellow surfers out.
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Who to get a new board shaped by?
Jose Munioz, legendary shaper from Puerto Rico and used to shape with Ricky Carroll in Florida. He knows his stuff!

Best Ding Repair and “Go to Guy” on the island?
Blake Quistad. Originally from Florida, Blake is the best in Rincon at fixing boards. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without meeting Blake. He knows everyone and everything about the surf community.
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Who to watch in the lineup?
Brandon Lopez, currently Puerto Rico’s Junior Champion. Watch for him landing every air reverse he attempts. Plus, he’s super chill and easy on the eyes, ladies.
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The waves are flat, what do I do?
Only 45 minutes away from Rincon is a beautiful waterfall in San Sebastian. It is fairly easy to find and will leave you breathless. The waterfall is safe to jump off, but one should probably leave the very top jump to the boys.
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Where to go on a Wednesday night?
Casa Verde. Can’t say much. Jacksonville took over the bar and most of us don’t remember much. I have heard the bar typically has live music.
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Thursday Night?
The town of Rincon has an art walk every Thursday night. Local artisans come together to display and sell their crafts. Perfect place to buy gifts and truly feel the local vibe of Puerto Rico.
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Friday or Saturday night?
Tamboo. People say, “If you haven’t been to Tamboo, you haven’t been to Rincon.” Weekend nights are packed and the bar turns into a club atmosphere. Tamboo seemed to always be the “go to place.” Let’s just say, “What happens at Tamboo, stays at Tamboo.”
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Gringo Mania?
Once a month there is a party in the town of Rincon called, “Gringo Mania.” I know the name sounds crazy, and the party follows suit. It is held at a “hole in the wall” bar and people typically just party in the streets. The place is packed with the whole town of Rincon, not just “gringos.”

Happy Hour?
Almost every bar has Happy Hour rum punches and beer from 5 p.m. till 7 p.m. The best place for Happy Hour is El Bohio, located at Maria’s Beach. You will find most of the island there after a surf session, due to beers only being a dollar!
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I’m on a budget, what should I drink?
Gasolinas, also known as a “Party in a Pouch.” They taste as bad as they sound, but will make you feel “some type of way” fast. Only $3 dollars at almost every gas station, they are the equivalent of a Four Loko.

What must I drink?
Beware of the Coconut Drink, deadly and so good. Villa Cofresi sells coconuts with six different types of rum in them. These legendary drinks will guarantee you having a good night. After two, say “goodnight.”
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Will the 2016 Winter Invasion Top This Year?

…you be the judge!

Surfer: Emily Ruppert

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