The mountainous interior, national rainforest, caves, and volcanic rock environment, plus waves that break all around, the island of Puerto Rico (in a length of which is just shy of the distance between LA to San Diego), resembles something like a Hawaiian island of the Caribbean Sea.
San Diego-based surfer Sormarie Nieves grew up in San Lorenzo, on the east side of Puerto Rico up to the age of 15-years-old. “All of my family, except for my sister, still lives in Puerto Rico. I love living in San Diego! But will always consider Puerto Rico home,” she says. There at Pine Grove in Isla Verde, Sormarie learned how to surf on her older sister’s shortboard. But after landing in San Diego and sizing up the line-up, she was inspired to take up another form of wavecraft: longboarding.
“I remember seeing Skip Frye and all the locals at Tourmaline cruising and doing all the fancy footwork. There’s nothing prettier in my eyes than someone gracefully sliding on a wave,” she explained.
As the number of women in the water rises every time Sormarie returns to Puerto Rico, she shared with us her insider advice to navigating the island's plentifully green tropics and warm waves. “The woman scene in Puerto Rico is definitely growing! It’s a very welcoming place and everyone is nice and encouraging. After every visit, I come home with new friends that I’ve met while surfing,” she says.
All Photos of Sormarie Nieves in Puerto Rico by Chris Grant for Jettygirl.com.
See more wanderlust images of Sormarie and friends in Puerto Rico in the "Mi Amor, Mi Isla" Jettygirl Swimwear Guide!
Her favorite surf spots:
“When I’m at my parents house on the East Side, I love to surf Inches which is a perfect long left. I love going backside!! This is one of my all time favorite waves. When on the West Coast, its all about Surfers, Wilderness, and Bridges. All these spots are beautiful and easy to relax at. Water is super clean and you can always spot the occasional sea turtle in the line up.
The surf breaks are mostly reef and they could get pretty powerful at times. There’s a lot of sea urchins too. The climate is very hot and humid in the summers, and the waves are flat, but winter months are perfect.”
Other attractions to hit in between sessions:
“You definitely need to check out old San Juan if you visit. Near there is the El Yunque Rainforest, and the bio-illuminescent bay, which is amazing at night! The most popular and well-known area to surf and stay is Rincon on the west side of the island. Plenty of rentals and hotels. No matter where you go, the locals know English, and will help you find your way.”
What to eat: street food and fresh fruit.
“Eat where the locals eat. The food trucks on the side of the road are a must! They sell all the typical food like rice and beans, arroz con gandules, rotisserie chicken and all the local roots. Another must is the Pinchos! Pinchos are like kabobs. Guys will put up a bbq and start grilling them up. Don’t pass on Pinchos, Mofongos or tostones. There’s an excellent pincho guy who typically parks at Wilderness and Surfers. There also is enough fruit and veggies to live off of too. Coconuts, mangos, pineapples, avocados, plantains, bananas, oranges, and whatever else you can think of.”
Same rules apply on any surf trip: respect the locals, and you may make a friend.
“Like anywhere, be yourself but show respect to the locals and they will welcome you into their world and probably even offer to show you secret breaks, good places to eat, even invite you to their homes! Which happens quite a bit!
If you go surfing make sure you watch where the locals paddle in and out and where they don’t. Puerto Rico’s waves are powerful, lots of reefs, strong currents and sea urchins. Stay safe and keep a watchful eye. Like anywhere, there are places you don’t want to be when its dark. Get some drinks and enjoy the music, surf, and special vibe that only Puerto Rico can provide. We are very welcoming and friendly people.”