Back from two weeks in Vieques and Culebra

Jan 29th, 2007, 02:38 PM
  #1  
owa
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Back from two weeks in Vieques and Culebra

Hi Everyone,

We choose certain islands in the Caribbean because we love to snorkel. We snorkeled every day except the last one in Culebra. Sometimes for four hours without getting out of the water. This was our second time to Vieques and our first to Culebra. I probably will not go in January again because of the temperature of the water. I was cold every single day. I wear a sleeveless vest, but I'm not sure it helps much. I kept wishing for the bath water temperature that we had in St. John in early November.

I am not going to say much about our time in Vieques. If anyone is interested in snorkeling, I gave details in my December '05 trip report. We snorkeled the same places with the addition of the Mosquito Pier and in front of Casa La Lanchita. The Pier would be a great place for beginners wanting calm water and close viewing of the fish. The area in front of CLL was not a good choice for us. In fact, it turned out to be a very scary and uncomfortable attempt. Another couple went in right before we did only to return to shore very quickly. It didn't look THAT rough, but we were in one section where we didn't have any control. Waves would hit us and we couldn't see for seconds except to know we were headed for the rocks. We knew we had to get back to where we had started. The scary part was that there was not any way to help each other. It was not fun. We didn't see anything to ever make us want to go back, but maybe we were in the wrong spot. I'm sure our impression was clouded by our experience!!

One of the highlights on Vieques was meeting up with Caribtraveler, her husband, and their beautiful son Patrick. I only wish Mahobaygirl would have found us. They have both written great reports.

We had a super house with a fabulous location in Vieques. At least for us. It is called Casa Del Marullo or House of Waves. It is on the beach, very quiet, great A/C, clean, and well maintained. In the morning we would scramble around the rocks at the right end of the beach and walk for two hours. We were the only ones out there.
I would stay there again without thinking twice. I would have thought it was a five million dollar mansion if we had reversed weeks and stayed on Culebra first. More on that later. I want to also add that the owner of the house was first class in all transactions. We ate most of our meals at the house. I will also add that if anyone goes to either island (especially Culebra) you need very few clothes. I can't emphasize how few.

I did fairly well with bug bites. I was religious about spraying even to the point of sticking a can in my vest while I snorkeled in order to be able to spray as soon as I exited the water. I don't think my husband had any bites.

We flew from Vieques to Culebra on Isla Nena Air with a nice, nice couple from New Jersey. On small Culebra, we kept meeting on the beach, ended up going to dinner and treating each other to a view of our lodging choices. Carol and I laughed about it in the end, but the beginning was a bit difficult for us. I had a terrible time choosing a place to stay on Culebra because of mixed reviews on almost all lodging. The first morning we met on the beach, I looked at her and said "I didn't choose very well". She said "neither did I". My daughter says I'm spoiled. In defense of myself, I arrived at our ONE ROOM tired and with low blood sugar. After I saw their place, I almost felt lucky. They had a separate kitchen and bedroom. Very rustic. It reminded me of a cabin you would find in the wilderness. Our location in Dewey was convenient to all stores and restaurant. What we disliked about our room was that there wasn't any place to sit and read in comfort. It was very clean. The owners were in the one bedroom unit. They were a super couple. I don't have a clue where I would stay next time. A real estate agent was recommended to contact about houses. If anyone is looking to be pampered in luxury, Culebra is not the place.

We picked Culebra because of the reports of healthy coral and good snorkeling. We were not disappointed. We think it the healthiest we have seen. We snorkeled Tamarindo twice to the left and to the right. It was here that I saw a huge conch shell moving. I couldn't believe my eyes because initially from a distance I couldn't figure out what the heck I was seeing. We finally could see the legs of a very large crab as he moved his home around. When we looked in a snorkeling book, a picture showed exactly what we had seen. It was interesting. They showed a giant hermit crab in what they called their mobile homes in discarded shells. They find bigger ones as they grow. We also saw the strangest creature we have ever seen. It was a Donkey Dung sea cucumber. It was slowly moving when we first saw it. It was still in the same spot when we returned two hours later. This was my favorite beach. We took a picnic lunch each day to eat after we snorkeled. Absolutely wonderful to sit on the beach with a cold beer warmed by the sun. Doesn't get much better. This was a rock beach unlike the beautiful sand beaches such as Flemenco and Zoni. We felt Zoni couldn't be beat for beauty. We also liked snorkeling at Melones and Carlos Rosario. We did take a boat trip to snorkel at Louis Pena with Pat from Culbera Dive.

The groceries were not much more expensive than here in Sioux Falls. Price for fresh fruits and vegetables is more. Quality can be spotty on both islands. My real find was fresh baked whole wheat bread at El Eden. Pandeli was inexpensive for breakfast, sandwiches and daily made sweets. We had good hamburgers at El Batay, and tasty, greasy food at Barbara Rosa's. The best meal of the two weeks was our last night in Culebra at Juanita Bananas. It was pricey with good service. We had a drink outside before dinner to enjoy the great view.

We rented a jeep on both islands for the two weeks. I can't imagine doing it any other way. We didn't exactly leave Culebra in the best way. We had a flight with Air Flamenco to San Juan at noon to catch a 4PM flight to Minneapolis. I overheard someone talking about too much weight. When they called us to board, I went to check that our luggage was on the plane. It was still outside behind the terminal. I said I wasn't leaving without it. I knew we'd never see it again. We asked to be transferred to another airline that was leaving in thirty minutes. They said they couldn't and wouldn't do that. Why I don't know. We had to my regret, get insistent. Lucky for us there were two planes and two pilots. They were on a cell phone trying to get approval to fly both planes. It had to cost more to fly another plane than to transfer us. I was ready to just buy a new ticket. All turned out ok.

We will go back to Culebra eventually. Owa






,

 
Jan 29th, 2007, 05:05 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Hi owa,
I enjoyed reading your trip report. Glad you,caribtraveler and family got to meet
brenandg is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 04:30 AM
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Thanks for the great trip report, owa. Enjoyable as always.

Were there other places you saw on Culebra that you would recommend staying, based on their location alone?

How does Culebra rank in your snorkeling experiences overall?
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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do you think it would be easy enough to rent snorkel equiptment on vieques?
luluk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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owa
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EJ, We did look at one house right above Zoni Beach. My husband thought it would be fine. Fantastic view. I would have to accept the fact that the wind would be constant. I thought it would be difficult to have a cup of coffee outside in the morning while admiring the view. Most places are pretty basic on Culebra. At least that is what I was told. Many do not have A/C, telephones, or TV. When we decide to go back, I'll have a problem.

We enjoyed the snorkeling a great deal. One of our favorites so far. We love to go snorkel a new island for the first time. We will go back to Bonaire because we didn't get to all the sites.

luluk, I know I have read about renting snorkel gear, but I don't remember where. Maybe someone else will chime in. We take our own equipment.
 
Jan 30th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Thanks owa, for the trip report.
May I ask where you stayed in Culebra? I got a laugh out of the cabin in the wilderness. Where we had stayed when we went I told my hubby I felt like we were camping.
Also, did you take a boat to get to Carlos Rosario?

To anyone considering Culebra -
Be prepared. This is not the typical island that appears to be what folks on this forum are used to. The island has that rustic feel and it is how the caribbean used to be probably 20 years ago. There is 1 "resort" that is newer, though it had a lot of probs and was not well-received locally. I don't know if they have re-opened.

Restaurants for nighttime dining is limited. Unless you get to the restaurants early, sometimes you'll be out of luck.

This is not to discourage anyone from going, just to make you aware of what awaits you. If you find this kind of place charming, then you will enjoy the island. Flamenco and Zoni are beautiful beaches.
mymoosie is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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owa
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Mymoosie, The resort you referred to is not open. Many, many problems we were told. We stayed at Casa Ensenada. If we had been able to rent the one bedroom unit, we would have been much more comfortable. I did adjust to what we had by the end of our stay.

The first day at Flemenco we hiked over the hill to what we were told was CR. We later found out it was probably Little Tamarindo. We did go to CR on the boat trip with Pat. Where did you stay? Owa
 
Jan 30th, 2007, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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owa -
We stayed at Palmetto Guest House. We knew it was simple heading in, but the no real door (just a half-curtain) on the bathroom (inside the room) was a little too weird for us. LOL.
Did you try the quesito(sp?) - cheese pastry - at Pandeli? I still miss those.

The Zoni villa looked real nice from the outside.
mymoosie is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 04:20 AM
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Hi Owa
Thanks for the TR!! Very well written as always.
You were brave to try the snorkeling off La Lanchita. That side of the island has been very rough.

I don't know how I missed you guys!! I got there a little early, misjudged where the bar was, so wandered around a bit then when I found it, I saw only one table occupied and I was watching for a child and did not see one! Oh well, another time. I did have a nice leisurely walk around the grounds!

We stayed for one night on CUL and it was a last minute decision, we ended up at this "studio" which was connected to the main house where someone lived. it was on the hill across the street overlooking Melones Beach. Nice view of vieques, but very rustic!!! One room with a bed, bath, kitchenette... the inside walls were not even finished. But luckily we are not too picky!!

Anyone coming to Vieques soon, there have been lots of iguanas this year. They are fun to see. Lots of tiny foals, baby chicks. It must be spring here!!
We got up first thing this morning to a very loud very tiny little black chick chirping. It seemed to hav lost her mom. DH caught her and put her with another group of chicks in the yard and they promptly let her know that she was not part of the family. I picked her up and tried to feed her and decided to see if our 7 y.o. neighbor would like to take her in, I called her over and she came over with a box of her own with an abandoned baby chick!! So now the 2 are together!! Ah, life in the islands!!
soggydollar is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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Owa, thanks for your great, detailed, trip report. It will be a big help on our upcoming trip.
Maggi
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