Author: Nicole (---.nyc.res.rr.com)
Date: 06-20-05 12:43
Just wanted to tell you all about my experiences in PR.
The first day we flew into San Juan and rented a car from L&M and drove through the rain forest "El Yunque". It was amazing! We stayed at the Casa Cubuy Ecolodge. It was $90 for a room that wasn't fancy, but wow! was it relaxing. We had ceiling fans that kept us cool by circulating the mountain air and we were able to hear two waterfalls that lulled us to sleep that night.
In the morning we took a 20 min hike to see the waterfalls and took a dip in the cool fresh water in the pools there. The rainforest was so lush a beautiful, it was really worth going. Make sure you plan for dinner early in the day since there is not much to eat around there...we searched for a nice seafood or local restaurant but ended up eating pizza.
We stayed in El Yunque 1 night and drove to the Fajardo ferry the next day. It was $2 per person, 1 hour trip, and very bumpy ride...I loved it, but a girl sitting next to me nearly vomited! yikes!
We arrived at Culebra with a plan to camp at Flamenco. Upon arriving we were warned about mosquitos...and boy, were they vicious! Even at the far camp site that was "breezier", I was getting eaten alive. Also, I am allergic, so I was really uncomfortable. Definitely bring long sleeves and pants and something to cover your head with. I covered up as much as possible but still got bit on my head and hands.
Also, my boyfriend's $400 Sunto Observer watch got stolen within an hour of being there. Granted he left it in plain site on the picnic table while we went for a quick dip...it was a nightmare though dealing with a couple of guards that were accusing each other of taking it. Carlos, however, was great. He helped us find another place to stay and was so apologetic and cooperative.
We ended up staying at Club Seaborne. They claimed to be a 4 star resort, but they were kind of faking it. It was nice enough...we had our own villa with great AC and no mosquitos. The food was good, probably the best on the island...but nothing compared to Vieques' cuisine.
We took a private day trip to Culebrita which was our best Culebra experience. We had the whole island almost entirely to ourselves. We were dropped off at 12 and picked up at 5. The whole time we only saw 3 other people. There was a great hike up to a watch tower that we never found...we climbed up the other side in our flip flops, but the cactus sent us down in a hurry. There was a beautiful beach w/ lots of great coral and drift wood on the shore and a natural jacuzzi on the other side of the island.
I guess our purpose for going there was to snorkle, but the snorkeling was so uneventful that I nearly forgot about it. The coral was dead and there weren't many fish. Supposedly Culebrita was the best place for it, but Vieques was much better for snorkeling.
We left Culebra a day earlier than planned via a flight to Vieques with Flamenco air. We stayed at a humble but comfortable Sea Gate hotel. The owner was very nice. She ran a local animal shelter and had many dogs on the hotel grounds and kept beautiful gardens. We ate at Bananas where they were having thai food night then we walked back to the hotel and stopped in for ice cream at scoops. yum!!
We rented a car our second day which you need to do in Vieques and not neccessariliy in Culebra. Our little Suzuki sidekick from Martiza's car rental was $40/day and was not in the best shape...we quickly found out why. The best beaches are down bumpy sand roads and the cars take quite a beating getting there...that is if you drive like my boyfriend does.
The last 2 nights of our trip we stayed at Hix Island House. We absolutely loved it. Both my boyfriend and I are designers so we really appreciated the minimalist style and the form of the concrete buildings. They are also an ecolodge, so not AC and lots of bugs and lizzards at night, but they don't bother you from the comfort of the mosquito net hanging around your bed. There weren't any mosquitos since they are up in the hills....and the views were AMAZING. We had a private roof deck that had a view of the lush green island (much more green than Culebra) and the Carribean ocean.
The grounds were covered in flowering trees and fruit trees (the mangos were almost ripe) and there was even a yoga class there. The pool was also wonderful. We also got to talk to the architect John Hix who is a fascinating man and was very informative. His wife is also great, such a sweet woman. We also loved the managers and inn keepers. They told us about the best beaches and made reservations for us to the best restaurants.
The food in Vieques was amazing. We absolutely LOVED Cafe Media Luna. Monica the chef was a very gracious hostess and her dishes were probably the best food I have ever eaten (which is saying a lot from a spoiled New Yorker!). The flavors were complex yet so delicate. Delicious! Also, Uva was really good food too...they have a really nice and romantic outdoor sitting area.
The snorkeling on Vieques was great! We went to Blue Beach and swam out to an Island where we swam around the west coast of it. We ended up hanging out on the island for a little while and exploring the little cave/natural window there and looking at all of the coral and rock formations.
While snorkeling we saw a puffer fish, eel, a sting ray and tons of other beautiful fish. The coral was alive and well. It was a great experience. We spent nearly 3 hours floating around there.
Also the Bio Bay was incredible. We took a tour from the Blue Caribe where we kayaked with a group of about 30 people and went out into the middle of the bay in the darkness of a night with no moon. The water was so warm, it was like a bath. It was kind of scary to swim at night, but the going with a group made it feel more safe.
Overall, we thought Vieques was the best part of our trip. The beaches felt like they were our own private get-aways, the food was great, the snorkeling was the best, and we loved where we stayed. I miss it already.
Let me know if you have any questions. Hope this was helpful!
p.s. we flew Vieques Air Link back to Old San Juan $45/pp which was cheaper than flying into San Juan. We left our bags at the Sheraton and walked around town and tried to eat at the Blue Parrot or Dragonfly (supposed to be excellent) but we had to leave to catch a flight out of San Juan Intl before they open at 6. Then our flight was delayed so we could have eaten there after all. Call ahead of time to find out about your flights! We waited 3 hours!