Puerto Rico: Puntas, Playas, and Plantains

WHERE: The easternmost island in the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, just east of the Dominican Republic.

WHAT: Point, reef, and beach breaks that suit the tastes of all levels of surfers. PR gets plenty of surf thanks to the 27,000-foot-deep Puerto Rico Trench off the north shore.

WHEN: September through April is when the island receives hurricane and Eastern Seaboard-generated cold-front swells.

WHY: Ideal water temperature, beautiful scenery, historical architecture, Latina goddesses, and it’s a U.S. protectorate, meaning they use our currency.

HOW: Fly directly from Miami or Fort Lauderdale. A round-trip ticket will cost between 150 to 350 dollars for the two-and-a-half-hour flight.

BEST PLACE TO STAY: On the northwest coast. There are plenty of guesthouses and mid-range hotels that are surfer-friendly and won’t break the bank. Check out Dario’s (guest house), La Cima Hotel, and El Faro Hotel.

EATS: Caribbean-style food–rice, beans, bistec, and plantain chips rule the menus. Check out the Longboard Café, Aguadilla, and in Rincon, try Otto Flores’ favorite, Pools.

BEST PLACE TO MEET J-LO’S SEXY COUSIN: On the north shore, check out Calypso, The Landing (Monday night is college night), JD’s, Brisas Café, and Pools. Go to the discothèques in San Juan if you really want to get nuts.

CROWD FACTOR: The popular spots are crowded on the good days, but get out early during the week and you can score waves by yourself.

WHAT GEAR TO BRING: Trunks, sunscreen, leashes, Lycra rash guards, and reef walkers if you’re a dork and are prone to stepping on urchins.

IF THE SURF IS FLAT: Puerto Rico is filled with natural beauty. Las Cuevas De Camuy, near Lares, are natural caverns with stalagmites, stalactites, and a freshwater river running through them. Check out El Canuelo Fort in San Juan, first built in 1638 for a lesson in pre-United States history.–Justin Coté/Otto Flores