On Thursday we hired golf cart 100 for the day from Jerry’s Jeep Rentals, just across from the airport. The island isn’t that big, so it was time enough to see everything and spend some hours walking along the amazing beaches.
Taking our snorkel gear and cold drinks, we left our dinghy locked at the Town Dock, where there is no issue about leaving it all day. There is also a bin there and I saw a sign for a business picking up and returning laundry. Not many boats use the bay, the ferry leaves from the other end of the canal and we haven’t heard any music, nor had the boat rocked by wash from passing vessels. Holding is very good.
As we walked along the road at just after 0800, Jerry went by and picked us up. His office has a great design on the front with the door disguised within it. He’s a lovely guy, really helpful and friendly with a great sense of humour. He even understood ours! We had a brand new golf cart in shiny black and were soon off on the road to the first beach, Flamenco. A bus goes there from town for 3US$ daily too. The cart took some getting used to as it cuts out when you take your foot off the accelerator but as I was the only one with a driving licence on me, I had to drive in case we got stopped. It was great fun and another first.
The beaches are quite simply, wonderful. Quiet and spotlessly clean with bins everywhere and no sun loungers, no bars and no stalls. People here are so proud of their island; they even paint their bins with hearts for ‘loving Culebra’. There are free day moorings available in most of the bays we visited and we plan to sail around some of them next week.
You can also camp at Flamenco where there are showers and a basketball pitch. Lots of people seemed to have been camping for a while, with their washing hanging in the trees and it looked idyllic.
We walked all the way along the sandy beach, watching pelicans diving in for their breakfast and found two tanks left here. Spoilt the beach a bit but they had been decorated at least.
Next we took our cart off to Tamarindo Bay to snorkel and find the turtles and rays but although it was lovely to cool off in the clear water, we didn’t see anything exciting. Plenty of sea grass but no turtles eating it. We could see Luis Pena’s Cay, which is a National Wildlife Refuge and Puerto Rico about 12 miles away. There was some swell entering the bay, reducing visibility so we trundled back into town and went to the eastern side of the island. The cart can do 25 miles per hour, which is plenty to get around, as Culebra is only 6 miles by 3 miles, if that.
It was allegedly the haunt of famous pirates in times gone by and we hoped to visit the museum on the eastern road but it is rarely open and probably only at weekends so we didn’t learn too much about Culebra’s past. We did stop at the cemetery as they often give a glimpse of the history of the population. As with most Caribbean islands, the graves are above ground in family plots. We now have Spanish influences in the language, names and colours we see here; quite different to the other islands we have been to, as none had been Spanish.
We were heading for Zoni beach, yet another gorgeous, quiet expanse of soft golden sand lapped by clear turquoise water. I can only hope some of the magic is captured in the photos but I doubt they will do this island justice. From there you can see St Thomas in the distance, as well as Culebrita, Botella Cay and Cayo Norte, some of Culebra’s off lying islets.
We then went southwest from town to look over the Dakity Reef anchorage where there are a number of free moorings. The viewpoint enabled us to see exactly where the shallows are and the deeper water in a neighbouring inlet which you need to access from outside the harbour altogether.
Next we went back into town, past the little airport, through the town centre and past the hospital. On the western coast is a smaller beach called Melones and we cooled off again here. The shore is rockier but there is a small sandy pathway through to the water to save your feet.
In most of the bays we saw empty day moorings or just one boat. No more than that. Jerry told us that this is actually quite busy as especially behind Dakity Reef (on the west as you approach Ensenada Honda, the main bay) there are many more boats than usual for this time of year. Given it seemed quieter in the Saintes, Guadeloupe and Antigua, perhaps people are coming further west. There are pluses to being here. Security is not a problem, the Americans are ‘home’ and we can use their postal service to send mail! I posted three letters to the UK at a cost of £2.30, no doubt cheaper than posting from the UK to the USA.
There is an ATM, several restaurants, plenty of food, including fresh milk and a good butchery department in the Milka supermarket just down the lane east of the bridge in town. Once you have paid for your cruising permit, there are free moorings and acres of space to anchor if you prefer, so it is no wonder many of the cruisers we have met here stay for a long time.
Finally we doodled back into town to get heavy items from the shop and took them all back to the boat, patiently bobbing about in the anchorage. We then filled the fuel tank up for the princely sum of £1.40/2.11 US$, not bad for a day’s motoring ☺
Jerry dropped us back to the Dinghy Dock Bar, where we had a sundowner before a pizza in town at Heather’s. The waitress kindly advised us to have half each of the smallest one with separate toppings and she was right, it was huge and delicious.
We moved anchorage on Friday to just across the bay, where it was very calm, holding was excellent in very sticky mud and a dolphin visited us early next morning. We joined our friends for drinks in the evening in a very busy Dinghy Dock and listened to the live band, had a BBQ onboard ‘Beyzano’ and on Saturday eight of us had drinks on ‘Partners’. ‘Beyzano’ was by then on a mooring in the Dakity Reef anchorage but it was quite close to the visible reef and had we swung around 180 degrees, it would have been a close call, so we moved again the following day. On Monday we played dominoes and had a lovely dinner on ‘Partners’ and today anchored nearer the town again to provision and get WiFi before exploring the smaller islands and bays by boat. If they are marine parks and for day use only, it won’t take long to get back to Dewey.
We know a few boats in the bay, ‘Christopher Robin’ being one and met Steve, on ‘Southern Cross’ who did the World ARC with several ARC 2011 friends of ours in 2012-13. He is still flying the ARC flag, so we introduced ourselves, chatted about mutual friends and are meeting up for dinner. Whenever we see a flag or boat we recognise we dinghy up to say ‘Hi’ as that is often the start of good friendships. Some people feel quite isolated when cruising but we have never been turned away from a boat, usually get invited onboard for a drink straight away, so I would encourage anyone to make the first move. It gets easier after a while! It is also helpful to know a few people in the anchorage in case of a safety issue.
So this week we will check in with the weather net to keep an eye on the northerly swells. This dictates which bays we should use to avoid being rolled around all day. We will also spend weekends at the Dakity Reef anchorage for the clear water and seclusion, as there are lots of huge turtles and starfish to snorkel over and a glorious view over the reef. It is certainly a great place to be, we really like Culebra, it has a lovely feel about it and no hassles. Moving on is not a priority!