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The current weather in Culebra

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Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Janet Peterson (
Date:   04-11-09 16:56

We just came back from a week’s vacation in Culebra. What can we say? We fell in love with the place. The beaches are truly breathtaking and the island’s atmosphere is wonderfully laid back and friendly. Our only bone to pick is with the Galeria Gift Shop in Dewey. We went there to pick up a couple cheap souvenirs before we left for home. The wall-mounted shelves near the door were so precarious that one of the shelves fell while we were there - and none of us had touched it. The owner quickly ran over to access the “damage”. We helped her pick up the wooden sharks that had slid off and watched while she batted us away and angrily put the shelf’s support back in its slot. When we laid our items on the counter to buy, she growled in her southern drawl that we broke one of the sharks and, therefore, we had to buy it. We were flabbergasted - we didn’t even touch the shelf that fell. We ended up forking over $17.00 bucks for a tiny wooden shark. What makes it worse is that when we arrived back at our house, we saw that it wasn’t even broken! She swindled us into buying it! I want to emphasize that EVERYONE on the island was amazingly nice and friendly. Judging by her drawl, this old gal was from Texas and definitely wasn’t a native Puerto Rican. Why would anyone EVER want to buy a Culebra souvenir from some angry American down there to make a buck??? Just a warning — don’t shop at the Galeria Gift Shop!!!

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: CindyT (
Date:   04-13-09 14:39


I found this type of business-practice common on my visit to Culebra last week, April 3 through 10.

1. Publico drivers: The publico drivers consistently said round drip costs were $10 per person, when actually to PR natives, the cost is $5. One driver claiming a $10 rate even had $5 written on the front of his bus in big black letters.

2. Flamenco beach grill operators: Each operator would quote wildly different prices on the pork/chicken/marlin skewers. A PR native who ordered ahead of me bought two skewers and a pina colada for $6. I was asked to pay $12 for the same order.

3. Culebra scooter operator at the airport: Do not pay the $50 daily rate for scooters. By this day, I was so fed up with the scamming, I had a friend who spoke Spanish, pretend to be PR and get the scooter for us. Guess what rate we got: $40.

4. Parking in Fajardo: Do not pay the $15 per day rate as requested by both parking lots, just 20 seconds north of the docks and the one one minute south of the docks.

Parking can be negotiated down to $5 per day if a PR native speaks for you.

5. Restaurants in Dewey: Heather's Pizza charges an "island tax" on their pizza. Your pizza totals will be illogically higher than listed price. For example our medium pizza with one topping was $16, while listed as $10 with $2.50 topping. On another occasion, this same pizza cost $14.

Potential visitors: There seem to be very few restaurants where dishes are under $10 per person. I suggest staying somewhere with a kitchen and cooking one meal per day.

6. Fruit stand near airport: Fruit per pound prices are calculated based on US or PR citizenship. Buyer beware.

7. Villa operators: Some of the villa operators charge a 9% PR tax as opposed to a 7% PR tax. Buyer beware.

8. Tamarindo beach - Resaca beach - Brava beach - Dakity or Punta Soldado beach: No one seems to "know" how to get to these beaches. The publico drivers only know how to get to these beaches if they take you. The Culebra airport porters don't seem to know either. It doesn't help that the roads don't have signs but still, landmarks would have helped.

I consistently felt veiled messages stating that Culebra locals prefer tourists to stay away from these beaches.

Final comment: I've traveled all over the Caribbean and enjoy bargaining. But negotiations down to the dollar and treatment disparity between mainlanders and PR's was very disappointing.

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Linda H (
Date:   04-13-09 15:02

We were in Culebra the week before Easter week, and I would like to let everyone know we DID NOT encounter any of these types of practices. Yes, prices were a little steep on the island compared to Fajardo or San Juan, but let's remember that nearly everything has to be shipped to Culebra -- it's not made or grown there for the most part. And have none of you ever experienced the sudden increase in prices that occurs during a busy time? In Washington DC over the 4th a few years ago all the street vendors on and near the mall raised their food and ice cream prices by 50-100% on the 4th compared to the days before and after. Why? Because they could, the weather was hot, and there were enough of us suckers with hot, thirsty, hungry kids that we grumbled and paid the price.

We stuck out like a sore thumb in Culebra because we were clearly Anglo and spoke little Spanish, but we felt welcome for the most part. A couple of vendors were somewhat abrupt, but I tend to believe they probably didn't feel comfortable making small talk in English. The one beach we had trouble finding the first time was Melones, and someone pulled over and offered directions when they saw us on our bikes examining a map.

Just wanted to counter some of the negative stuff posted here. And yes, we shopped at the Galeria!

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Michael (
Date:   04-13-09 15:26


The official PR hotel tax is indeed 9%.

And one question: Have you ever travelled through the Dominican Republic?

I am not trying to defend or justify. I myself have often chosen, not to use a certain service, because I felt overcharged.

In my travels I now try to see it as a luxury tax: If I can afford to rent a car, pay the daily fee and have it sitting in a parking lot, I can afford to subsidize whoever is making minimum wage runnning the place (the owner is not going to see that money).

Anywhich way, I think we are in charge of how we perceive certain instances.

How dose the pincho vendor differ from your neighbour who bought his house for 100K then sold it to you for 200K and now it's worth 90?

Enjoy Culebra!


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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Frank (
Date:   04-13-09 20:26

Man, it would bum me out to buy a house for $200,000 and have it only be worth $90.

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: charles h (
Date:   04-14-09 04:17

oh frank,please don't bum out.You simply need to take charge of how you "perceive certain instances".Just look at it as a "luxury tax" and you are "subsidizing" your neighbor....see? doesn't that make everything smell all nice and flowery?

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Debbie (
Date:   04-14-09 08:00

At the risk of incurring CharlieBoy's wrath, I've been to Culebra dozens of times, shopped in all of the shops on numerous occasions and have never experienced this. Perhaps it's a matter of attitude. If you look around at the Puerto Ricans, they come in all skin shades and hair textures - from fair skinned redheads to coarse haired, very black skin. It's not until any of us opens our mouth on Culebra that one can be absolutely identified as a gringo. Taking the originals comments one by one:

1. Publico drivers: The rate from the ferry dock to Flamenco Beach is $3. Period.

2. Flamenco beach grill operators: Did you ask why and refuse to pay? Maybe the person before you asked for less meat, or no alcohol in their drink

3. Culebra scooter operator at the airport: Can't comment on this one, as I've never rented a scooter.

4. Parking in Fajardo: The rate at both parking lots is $5. Were you at the gated lots just around the corner (to the left if you are looking at the terminal from the water?) There's no negotiating necessary there. It's $5. Period.

5. Restaurants in Dewey: Did you ask why? Maybe a different person worked on your orders and one wasn't familiar with the prices.

Potential visitors: Not true. El Batey has a hamburger that's less than $10 and Dinghy Dock has a quesadilla that's around $6.95. If you are talking about dinner - had you done your research before you went, you would know that dinner entrees at most restaurants run $10 - $20. No different than in the mainland States when eating at something better than McDonalds.

6. Fruit stand near airport: I have never experienced this in my 5-6 times at the veggie stand.

7. Villa operators: The tax is 9%. Period.

8. Tamarindo beach - Resaca beach - Brava beach - Dakity or Punta Soldado beach: There is a guide and a tourist map in every gift shop on island. The guides are $3. I think the maps are free. You have no excuse for not being able to find these beaches.

Happy Diving!

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Frank S. (
Date:   04-14-09 09:51

this is an interesting thread.

to make a general statement that everyone tries to get over on americans is obviously worng. but so is making a general statement that it does not exist.

saying theres no way for a native PR to tell a gringo from them until they speak is naive.
like it or not, it's pretty easy to tell, for most tourists.

and it does happen.
although i find it mostly with the taxi drivers.
and sometimes with the food vendors.

and no matter what you think, its never justified.
minimum wage or not. who is to say the person getting ripped off doesnt pay minimum wage.
and pay taxes on it.
i doubt the vendors are paying taxes.

and Debbie,
its easy to say the rate is $3, period.
but its not "period"
when youre at a pincho stand or paying the publico and they start going on about this or that and prices and so on, what are you supposed to do?
in thier land where they know everyone and you just want to have a good time, you pay because you dont want drama or trouble.

and they have you at a disadvantage.
so, whoever thinks this doesnt happen, open your eyes.

and lets remember, Susans post was about a gringo. and someone should let that store owner know.

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: wirvier (
Date:   04-14-09 20:30

I have to drop my 2 cents about taxis from SJU to & from Isla Grande based on our experience in January '09...on the topic of being taken advantage of. When you take the taxi from SJU to Isla Grande (where Flamenco flies out of for all those who are unfarmiliar), you receive an "order form" from the taxi stand that clearly states the price...$15?? (something close to that - can't remember exactly) We were warned that when taking the taxi FROM Isla Grande to SJU (where there are NO taxi stands), the taxis will try to get $25.00 for the same trip. This exact thing happened to us, but because we were prepared, we asked him right away what it would cost. When he told us "$25.00", we flashed the receipt from the way over, and told him we would only pay $15. He reluctantly agreed, and probably wished he wasn't taking us. Understandably, as a tourist, one would normally just suck it up and not want to make a big deal about it. I'm sure they cash in on a lot of uninformed people.

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Re: Shopping
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Debbie (
Date:   04-14-09 20:49

"you pay because you dont want drama or trouble." Why make drama? Just ask questions and make your point gently. The friendlier you are, the more likely you are to get your way. Get to know the taxi drivers personally on the way to Flamenco and ask if the prices are the same on the return. Armed with the correct info, they are not going to turn you away if you press them on it and remind them of the earlier conversation. You would likely argue these points in the mainland States if you felt like you were being swindled; why not on Culebra? Example - I and three friends got a taxi in Atlanta last Thursday afternoon, and as we pulled out onto Peachtree one of our party noticed that the meter wasn't running. He pushed the point - there is no flat rate service in Buckhead - he pushed the point until we came up with an agreed rate. Had the four of us been tourists, the taxi driver may have gotten away with charging whatever he wanted. To me, it's the same as safety in a foreign place - act as you would and be as aware as you would be at home.

And apologies - my responses were to CindyT, not the original poster.

Happy Diving!

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