Updated: May 15
The two boats on the beach last night were day campers as well and made for some afternoon company. They set up a barbecue grill and shared some of their chicken with me, which was a welcome change from the canned fish. They were good folks, but they sure enjoyed their salsa and merengue songs late into the night.
I left at sunrise while my friends were still asleep and rounded the southwest corner of Puerto Rico. The cape is a double headland separated by a small white sand strip. It was dead calm at 7:00am, but I can imagine that on a stormy day, the breakers here would be as tall as the cliffs. After the incredible clockwork downpours from the past two days, I was surprised that this corner of Puerto Rico is almost a semi desert. Here the trees are short and stumpy, the grasses are brown and scrubby, and there are open plains that roll down to the shore where they are rimmed by mangrove swamps. All the rain, it seems, falls over the hills near Mayaguez just 10 miles to the North. The water was crystal clear, and I could see large coral heads just below the surface. The headwind was punctual for our appointment. At 9:30am a light breeze picked up and by 12:00pm it was gusting very hard. I switched from using the euro blade to the wing paddle which slices more easily through the wind, and my pace improved considerably. The Euro blade, even when feathered at 60 degrees, still catches a lot of the headwind and makes the strokes slow and forceful. The wing paddle, however, is much easier to slice through the wind.
There are a few mangrove islands along this stretch, and the coastline meanders a bit, so it’s possible to find bays hidden from the worst of the headwind. There were also no large swells here as those normally come from the Atlantic.
I made it to a small town called Santa Ana. There looked to be a secluded beach where I could camp, but unfortunately, even though the map called it “jungle beach” it was more of an urban jungle with every inch of sand claimed by weekend trippers grilling pork playing a mixed ballad of salsa. I kept paddling thinking I would need to go past the town, however, just one beach further was an isolated pocket of sand in view of the town but with no one there by me. This was the perfect place. I pitched the tent and paddled to the town to get lunch.
Sea Kayak Puerto Rico Circumnavigation