Spots like ‘La Ocho’, named after the bus stop that is in front of the Escambrón Beach, bus stop #8, has been a surfing nest for many of today’s experienced surfers. Good left and right waves with a rocky bottom, depending on the weather, provide an easy learning ground for beginners.
Juan Miguel Hernández, has been surfing in ‘La Ocho’ (the eight) pretty much every morning for years. The media executive and skillful surfer hosts the surfing site www.surfingpr.net, where you can check out many surfing beaches through live streaming cameras on site. Having been a passionate surfer since childhood, Hernández knows all the surfing hidden spots around the island, but there is one he actually could highlight because of its magnificent and imposing waves, ‘La Dos y Medio’ (the two and a half). Right across the northern face of the Capitol Building in the fortress city, there is a spot where only experienced surfers could attempt to ride and where a monumental wave is formed. If you are not an experienced surfer, just stick to watching your fellow experts ride and enjoy the phenomenal experience.
But among all the hidden surf spots around the old city, there is a really special yet mystical one not too many people would think of, since it is astride the northern historic city wall of the cobblestone city, right behind the Santa María Magdalena Cemetery in Old San Juan.
“Locals” name the spot simply as ‘La Perla’, referring to the name of the historical community that nests the rocky shore beach, and where no ‘gremo’ should attempt to swim into and try to catch a wave.
“Surfing in ‘La Perla’ is a unique experience, where most of the time you could be riding all on your own, but if you meet with locals to surf, they will welcome you in a friendly manner. The vibe is just cool and relax, just in tune with the waves. “Surfing should be about being cool.” – explains Victor “Vitito” García, a 15-year experienced surfer born and raised in Rio Piedras, and a frequent surfer at ‘La Perla’. “The best experience about surfing outside the Old City is the stunning perspective you get from the water. Is an array of colors, a collage of the blues between the water and the sky, mixed in with all the wonderful colors of the city historic buildings. All this for yourself”- adds “Vitito”.
And to make this exhilarating spot even cooler, a group named “Frente al Barrio” organizes surfing circuits including open men, women and bodyboard categories, where surfers from all over the island and locals from the community, show up in a friendly competition which is inscription free, every couple of months.
So there you have it. Old San Juan, a place where history and urbanism coexist, is also a surfing mecca with more than one choice of set of waves to ride and enjoy the Old City from a whole different magical perspective.
Welcome to active San Juan.
In the Photo: Manuel “Vitito” García, wins a 3rd place representing the island at the Corona Surf Circuit in El Salvador last year. He will be racing again at this year’s circuit this July.