In 2015 we aimed to visit some new islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were our destinations in February and March. The posts under Archives have more information and photos.
As we had already cleared into Culebra, part of Puerto Rico and therefore territory of the USA, we didn’t need to clear in when we arrived in Puerto del Rey. Nor would you have to if you used Sunbay Marina or anyway near Fajardo as they all come under the same area. So does Vieques.
If you leave the Fajardo area for Salinas or Ponce, you would have to clear in there. Several people advised us not to sail along the south coast because it would be difficult to get back east. Should we be carrying on west to the Dominican Republic, then it would have been fine but this time we had to return to Antigua for Classics in April and decided to take their advice, rent a car and visit Ponce, Arecibo, Camuy Caves and the El Yunque Rainforest that way instead.
Shopping is excellent, fuel prices are very low and the road system is quick and easy. The hire car cost us just over 30 GBP a day, with over 250 miles of motoring costing just 10 pounds. The selection and quality of food is good and the car enabled us to load up with heavy and frozen items. West Marina have a large chandlery not far north of the marina and we spent far too much money during our 12 day stay!
The Puerto del Rey marina was OK, a bit expensive and not close to any shopping or entertainment though making a car a necessity. They had excellent showers and laundry, plus a small supermarket and chandlery on site. Thrifty Car Rentals were also on site. The marina is huge, some 1000 slips so they provide a free golf cart service to ferry you around. Water was free so we used plenty to clean everything on the boat and fill up our cans as well as tanks. The slips are alongside high concrete docks with a big metal post half way between the 2 docks and they are narrow! The aisles are also narrow, so not the easiest berths to manoeuvre out of.
From a tourism point of view, Puerto Rico is wonderful. Old San Juan is delightful, so is Ponce and the observatory at Arecibo was a real highlight. For hikers, there is endless rainforest, guided tours and long zip lines. It would take a few days to see everything but it was well worth it.
We felt safe in Puerto Rico, the people were very friendly and the local food stalls at the sides of the roads serve great food. All in all it was a good trip, despite not sailing for 12 days.