Author: Buzz (---.triad.rr.com)
Date: 02-11-05 21:19
We went to Culebra in October 2004. At that time we were able to catch a flight from San Juan International (Marin) Airport. It went to Vieques first, dropped off a few folks, then took my wife and I on to Culebra. For this flight we used Isla Nena Air Service , Inc. Their web site is www.islanena.8m.com and the toll free phone is 877-812-5144 Be patient, one person may tell you one thing, only to have someone else tell you the opposite. We went in the off season, and they don't fly as often, but we were still able to get on time service. Just make sure that you talk to someone "in the know", this being Ramona. On the way back it flies to Culebra, then Vieques, then to San Juan Int'l, in other words the reverse of the trip over.
Don't rent a car and try and bring it over. See Jerry Beaubein at Jerry's Jeep Rentals and tell him to rent you a Samurai. They're beaten up, and old, and just the thing that you need for Culebra. Some of the roads over there are in poor condition, and I cannot overemphasize this. Jerry has the perfect vehicle to rent for these roads. Don't let the looks of his Samurai's fool you, they're in good running condition. We had no mechanical problems during the week that we used one. Jerry can reached by calling 787-742-0587, and his facility is located across the road from the Culebra airfield, a whole whopping 50 yards. Ask Jerry to freehand draw you one of his island maps, they are legendary, and have gone on E- Bay for as much as $50. He is a good source of local island knowledge and is willing to share it.
As to what you MUST do....relax. Life moves slower there. Check out a trip over to Culebrita on the glass bottom boat Tanama with Capt's Pat and Jack. It's fun and informative, and the Captains have a wealth of local knowledge. Or, if you are the hardier sort, you can kayak over with Jim Andersen (hope I spelled correctly). Pat and Jack can be reached at 787-501-0011 or 787-397-7494, Jim's number is 787-379-1973. Ride around the island and check out all the beaches, perhaps picnic or snorkel. Carlos Rosario has some really good snorkeling in the reef between it and Cayo Luis Pena. There's a trail from the parking lot at Flamenco Beach, but it's fenced to keep people out. This is due to unexploded ordinance leftover from when the island was a bombing range. You can go in by foot along the shore from the road that goes into Tamarindo Estates, but I highly recommend diving booties, or some sort of toe enclosed footwear. The shoreline has lot's of sharp coral and rock there, but the snorkeling is worth it. Or, you could just put in from the beach over at Tamarindo and swim around to it. My wife and I are past 40, so we walked around the shoreline and climbed a few rocks. That was easiest for us. Zoni Beach is a nice place to visit, and seldom has many people. You may even see semi-wild local horses walking on the beach over there.
You will need to eat. For breakfast, might I suggest that you purchase a loaf of Pan de Agua from the panaderia (bakery) next to the airport. Just slice it into thin strips, butter, and fry on a flat iron or skillet. This, along with Puerto Rican coffee made my mornings complete. For lunch you can find sandwiches at Cafe Isola (down at the ferry landing, also sells breakfast items), and at the Dinghy Dock (also serves a decent breakfast and dinner). Eat at least one dinner with Jim and Barbara at Barbara Rosas. The shrimp is great, the crab cakes are to die for. I spent a lot of time on the NC and SC coasts, and never had crab cakes as good as those made by Barbara. Don't let the looks of the place fool you, it's open air, and small, and very good. Barbara runs the kitchen, and Jim serves as your dinner conversation. This is an evening well spent, don't pass it by. There is also a good place to get cheeseburgers called El Batey, it's on the way into town. On the weekends go back to the panaderia and look for a tall, silver haired gentleman named Joe. You'll find him outside with a gas grill cooking pinchos. A pincho is a strip of boneless chicken that is marinated in either a hot or mild sauce, and cooked over the grill on a skewer. My wife and I would get two skewers each, and make it a meal. They come with small strips of Pan de Agua, and Joe will wrap them up in foil for you to take out.
There are other good places to eat, some of which I'm sure have opened since we visited.
At least once while you're there, you should see the sun set from hill above the hospital. This is an area overlooking a beach called Melones, at least I seem to recall it that way, but check locally. We went by the Oasis Pizzeria first, and bought a pizza for our dinner and carried up with us. It's a neat sort of thing to do, and you have a nice view of the harbor, as well as Vieques and Fajardo.