Author: alashas (---.dyn.embarqhsd.net)
Date: 06-04-09 20:53
We had a great time scuba diving with Capt. Walter Rieder of http://www.culebradivers.com/culebradivers/welcome.html when we visited Culebra in Jan. I have previously posted comments in general about how much we enjoyed diving with Culebra Divers, and I have finally posted photos from our dives. We have been diving at a number of places in the Caribbean over the past 6 years, and the dive sites off Culebra are some of the most beautiful, colorful sites of any place we have dived in the Caribbean. The sites we dove are reasonably shallow, with very good ambient light, excellent visibility and the reef appears to be quite healthy overall. Culebra has very little run off from the island and the water is very clear.
Capt. Walter and his staff, Monika Rieder and Capt. Pat LeRoque, were very easy to work with over the phone (787) 742-0803 as we made our dive plans a couple of months before we left the States. Since we were diving during high season, we wanted to make our reservations in advance, and we are glad we did with this popular and well established dive operation.
Culebra Divers shop is located directly across from the ferry dock in Dewey, and is the authorized dealer of H2Odyssey and SCUBAPRO scuba diving equipment. All of the equipment we rented was in excellent condition. In addition to dive gear, the shop sells lots of items for both divers and non-divers, including t-shirts, hats, jewelry, sun glasses, post cards and all kind of souvenirs. The shelves are loaded with quality merchandise and we all agreed that the dive shop is also one of the best stores in Culebra to purchase items. In addition to scuba diving, the shop offers snorkeling trips on demand. Monika and Pat offered their friendly and courteous assistance in helping everyone fill out the appropriate forms and get ready for diving.
Culebra Divers boat, Nika, is 26’ long, but is 2’ wider than most boats that length, allowing for lots of room for 6 divers and all of their gear (no head). There is also lots of shade on the boat, as well as seats in the stern for those who just can’t get enough sun. The gas motor was a nice change of pace from the smell of diesel we are used to on most dive boats.
We chartered the boat for ourselves for one tank afternoon dives, and I dove with other divers on the 2 tank morning dives. All of the sites we dove were within 15 minutes or so of the harbor. The boat left shortly after 9 a.m., and was back at the dock by 12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. I had plenty of time to relax and eat lunch in Dewey before our 2 p.m. afternoon dives.
Our 2 twenty-something children and their 2 cousins all think Capt. Walter is one of the best Dive Instructors with whom they have ever dived. He has a wonderful sense of humor and an engaging personality that makes him pleasant and easy going, while at the same time, is an excellent diver who is very safety conscious. He learned everyone's names as soon as we were on the boat and engaged each of us in informative and interesting conversations. Walter gave helpful introductions to each site and patiently answered everyone's questions. The 4 children said his love of diving is contagious as he pointed out numerous things to us underwater, and then discussed the sea life with us after each dive. His engaging personality quickly set each person at ease and the children all concurred that Capt. Walter contributed significantly to the best diving experience we have had as a family.
Capt. Walter is also an expert photographer, having worked professionally as a photographer prior to diving, and he continues to take fabulous photos underwater. He offered me the most helpful information about underwater photography that I have received since taking a tutorial with Cathy Church's staff on Grand Cayman in 2007.
After suiting up, we sat at the back of the boat, put on our fins and masks, and Walter carried our BCs to us and assisted us in putting them on. One giant stride off the ladder, and we waited on a line with a clearly marked dive flag for the rest of the group. After diving, we removed our fins and easily got back on the boat via the sturdy ladder.
At the dive site Punta Tamarindo http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/gallery/7681733_TJL7E#496118611_nBnK9 I saw the largest turtle I have thus far seen while diving, a 4’ green turtle and I was able to take several shots of it before it sped off. The next day, the group dove with 4 turtles while I was taking photos of some of the healthy and very colorful coral. We also saw a colony of jawfish, schools of porgy and other reef fish, and a stingray nearly completely buried in the sand. Walter pointed out an octopus in a coral head, as well as illuminated a jellyfish with his dive light. We did not go below 30’ on this dive and the visibility was excellent.
The site, Cayo Yerba, AKA, “ the Arch,” http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/gallery/7907846_fi7D5#512899037_9Aow8 is a large underwater arch exploding in a technicolor of cup corals and sponges from the bottom of the arch to the top that is so beautiful it is difficult to put into words. A dive light is recommended in order to see under the arch. When you swim through the arch, you are in less than 20’ of water among boulders that are covered with coral. This site has schools of reef fish and several small swim-throughs in less than 40’.
Carlos Rosario http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/gallery/7272858_JrgDg#467553268_gtRvW
is a good site for both divers and snorkelers, and 3 of our group snorkeled this site while the other 3 dove it. Part of the site is a wall that is exposed to currents and portions of the reef showed the effects of strong storms, with some damage, especially to sea fans. The fairly vertical wall goes down to a sandy bottom in around 50’ of water that creates an interesting contrast to the coral reef. We saw angels, eels, and were greeted by a friendly group of yellow tails at the end of the dive.
At Luis Pena Canal http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/gallery/7272858_JrgDg#489730623_WJL6H we encountered a fairly strong current and were not able to swim through the canal very far because of the current on the swim back. The hard and soft corals were very healthy at this site, and there was a colony of garden eels and a ray in the sea grass under the boat at the end of this 30’ dive.
We had an excellent stay at the new Bahia Marina condos http://www.bahiamarina.net/ Located just a few miles from “Town,” and from the beaches, these fully furnished units have very comfortable beds, an adequate kitchen/dining area, a living room with TV, excellent AC in every room, and a large deck that overlooks a 100 acre nature preserve:
We rented 2 adjacent 2nd floor 2 bedroom “villas” and the friendly, courteous and accommodating staff removed the gate betwhealthyeen the 2 decks so that we could be adjoining. The large pool was refreshing and the restaurant serves some of the best food on Culebra. We ate breakfast in our condos and enjoyed local restaurants for lunch and dinner.
We flew Delta RIC – ATL – SJU and had no problems with our fights. We chartered our SVI flights with M&N Aviation http://www.mnaviation.com/ including a flight from SJU to Vieques, where we spent our first week, then Vieques to Culebra, and finally Culebra to SJU. The staff and pilots were pleasant, the views were stunning, and the flights were comfortable and on time, except for the Vieques to Culebra flight which was about 30 minutes late. Somehow, someone in the main office thought we were flying from Culebra to Vieques, instead of the other way. The friendly M&N staff on Vieques was apologetic and quickly got the plane over to Vieques for us. 2 of our group flew with us from Vieques to Culebra and then back to SJU that same day and still had plenty of time to catch their Delta flight home. You need to leave as much time as possible for inter-island flights.
What a beautiful island Culebra is! For most of us, Virgin Gorda in the BVI is our favorite island, and Culebra is right up there with stunning beaches, a variety of pleasant accommodations, outstanding restaurants and well stocked grocery stores, and friendly, caring, conservation minded people who take pride in their island home and enjoy sharing it with others. We felt very safe on Culebra and we give the island of Culebra as well as Culebra divers our highest recommendation.
You can see more of our Culebra photos here:
all the best, alashas http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/