Author: Charles Allen (170.143.252.---)
Date: 07-05-05 16:11
Just got back from an 11-day stay in Culebra, and stayed at Tamarindo Estates. First, the nice things about TE - it was very convenient in walking to the rocky beach for snorkeling; a dip in the pool was refreshing after being in the ocean (it was nice to get the salt off) and my wife and I had the pool all to ourselves every time we used it; if you went left at the beachfront, and around the end of Tamarindo Beach, you could find some really nice shells, although most were very small; the place was nicely kept up and the rooms were clean; the bedroom was air-conditioned with a wall unit and if you kept the door closed, was a nice little escape from the heat and humidity; Some things about TE which could use some improvement included better water pressure in the shower and better temperature control for the shower - Nancy used the shower first and said to watch out 'cause you could scald yourself if you weren't paying close attention (to avoid this problem, I just took showers using cold water during the entire stay, however, I have to say that the cold showers felt pretty good considering the outside temperatures); the TV set did not get any reception, even local channels, but the note near the TV said that video tapes were available at the main office in the video room - we tried several videos during our stay, and most of them did not work 'cause they looked pretty old and well used (I'm surprised that the rooms aren't hooked up to satellite or that the VCRs haven't been replaced with DVD players, considering the price of the rooms); we took books to read, but some television would have been nice or even videos that played, 'cause night came rather quickly (around 7:30); one of the reasons we choose TE was its proximity to the beachfront as well as its restaurant, which would have been convenient and nice; however, just a month or so before we arrived, the chef left and the restaurant closed, and was still closed throughout our stay (we left on July 3rd) - that wasn't cool.
As for the rest of the stay, the sand beaches were beautiful and the ocean wonderful to swim in; the rocky beaches offered snorkeling which was okay, but nothing spectacular, even at the Carlos Rosario beach (a couple spots were neat, but nothing to really write home about). We only ate at a couple of places, Mamacita's and El Eden; we tried a couple of others - we saw people sitting around at tables, but after 15 minutes waiting for somebody to notice us at each place, we left, free will and all; Mamacita's was a nice place, the iguanas are really neat, the food was pretty good and service hit and miss (what do you expect in the islands?), one day good, the next day not so good; El Eden was a nice place and the people there were very nice and friendly - I've seen a lot of comments on this forum about El Eden, especially their prices, but we weren't on a shoe-string budget (nor a lavish one) and we really didn't have a problem with the prices (considering supply and demand in the islands, the prices were reasonable); El Eden had great cold-cut sandwiches and desserts, and a decent wine/alcohol selection; we did want to use the wireless internet connections I've read about on the forum, but the two places which were supposed to have them, El Eden and Mamacita's, did not ... none ... nada; El Eden said that the arrangement did not work out with the person who was going to provide the service at their place, and Mamacita's staff had no idea if they had it or not (everytime we went there, NO signal could be had, whatsoever).
One day we took a day trip to Vieques; the ferry hours have recently changed - only Wednesdays to Vieques, and the ferry leaves Culebra at 9:00 am, and returns from Vieques at 2:30 pm - not much time to do anything; the good side - it's very inexpensive at $8 total, roundtrip for two.
Another day, we took a day trip to Culebrita; the sandy beach in the cove was beautiful and secluded - only a couple of sailboats were there when we went; but why Culebra Water Taxi dropped up off on the other side of the island and we had to walk about 15 minutes through mosquito-ridden paths to and from the cove beach is beyond me - all the guy had to do was go around the island and drop us off at the nice beach - maybe three more minutes of his time - go figure; by the way, we used a lot of deet during our stay - it was an absolute necessity in the evenings and on certain paths about the island; we knew this going in, so no surprise.
When we left and turned in the car to Carlos Jeeps, the total price for 11 days rental was $650, and that was a deal because they tried to tack on about $20 a day charge for additional liability insurance [even though I had my insurance card, and my agent (who I had to get on the phone) also reiterated that I was covered in Culebra] because I needed proof that I was covered which meant the actual document stating such - I had to have it faxed in to Carlos Jeeps from my insurance company; this is a bit of a shock when you're not expecting it; everything was made easier by my having my cell phone with me (I thought it might come in handy); this same charge was assessed against the couple staying in the room next to us, but the company was different than Carlos Jeeps; this appears to be a common charge among the various car rental places, so be aware.
Anyway, the trip was nice, but a bit too long and pricey for 11 days. It's good to be back home.