Author: Kathleen Zuelsdorff (---.dsl.airstreamcomm.net)
Date: 04-19-07 19:49
We (my husband and I) just returned from Culebra on 4/17 and also did lots of snorkeling at many of the different beaches. Our two favorites were Tamarindo and Melones. My daughter had been to Culebra twice within the past 5 years and raved about Carlos Rosario, so we did check it out (twice), but I thought that both the coral and the variety of fish were better at Tamarindo.
Based on some anecdotes that I heard Pat (Tanama boat and Culebra Dive Shop) relate, warm water temperatures two summers ago, bleached out much of the coral in the general Culebra area. Perhaps Carlos Rosario was hit a little harder than Tamarindo.
When starting at the sign just off the path, going out to the left or to the right (toward the rocky point separating Tam from Carlos Rosario) the coral was very good. The purple and green sea fans going out to the left are marvelous. You can float over and among them as they're rocked by the waves and feel like you're part of the reef. While at Tamarindo over a couple of days we saw an octopus, a hawksbill sea turtle, some squid, a southern sting ray, and dozens of great reef fish.
From my perusings of the forum for several months before our trip, Melones is definitely underrated for snorkeling. Going out toward the right, the coral gets really good just past the "rocks" and the shelf and patch reef harbor lots of great fish, including a reclusive porcupine fish that hid out in the same spot all week. I also got a great look at another hawksbill turtle here- it was somewhat curious about me and swam parallel to me for a short time in fairly shallow water.
I am jealous that you were able to kayak. We contacted Jim (Ocean Safari) to kayak out to Luis Pena several times, but the weather was always a little too windy. We'll have to save that for next time, we can't wait to return!