Author: Doug (---.dsl.stlsmo.swbell.net)
Date: 01-10-06 12:31
OK, Culebra fans! By popular demand, here is my trip report.
We had a group of five guys, all of us friends since high school (class of NO WAY I'M TELLIN'). We flew into San Juan on US Air. Since we had five, we chartered with AirAmerica who had the plane ready when we arrived. Three guys went straight to gate 31A while the other two went to get our checked luggage and then up to the AirAmerica counter for credentials to pass through security again. Rudy, who I assume is German, was our friendly pilot. He had a small cooler with cold Heinikens for the flight. The Piper Aztec was a bit faster than the Brittany Islanders we're used to flying to Culebra. We checked in at La Casita and Posada, whose close proximity made it perfect for our purposes.
After hooking up with our friends at CORALations, we dined at the Dinghy Dock, where we enjoyed the first of four nights of music by a combo that had 2 keyboards and a constantly changing percussion section, including your humble, but enthusiastic, author. Compadres and I danced with all who didn't tell us to get lost and enjoyed broiled cobia for dinner along with uncounted Presidentes.
The next morning was New Years eve. We made a bee-line to Milka, where they had some nice strip steaks which we bought for dinner later. My group is blessed with three professionally trained cooks, so we 'ate in' a total of three times. My contribution is usually prepper/dishwasher/bus boy. I also picked up breakfast and lunch (Jamon, queso y huevos and Cubanos) and bread for dinner, at El Patio. Then out to Zoni with our Culebrense friends. Big surf, rough snorkling.
After supper (with very tasty Rioja from El Eden) we got spiffed up and headed for the ferry plaza. I was very excited about meeting several forum folks, including Debbie, the forum's favorite diver, at Culebra Divers, strategically located in party central. Unfortunately proprieters Walter and Monika had not opened up for the party and I turned back to the street party, disappointed, but not for long. I had brought a couple of portable percussion instruments and everywhere you turned were drum circles, where I was welcomed. When my drink emptied I headed to Heathers for a refill. Fireworks were fun and so was the street dance. Finally, pleasantly buzzed and tuckered out, I headed back to Posada.
New Years day, I stopped by the dive shop early to find out that the dive boat had just left with Debbie and her husband on board. After picking up supplies and mask repair items, we headed out to Punta Soldado, where we decided to stay for the sunset. And oh, what a beauty. There was a sailboat moored on a buoy that made for some of the best pictures I've ever taken. The light was a photographer's dream. Saw squid, jellies and the usual undersea suspects snorkling.
The next day was the first of three days we rented a boat from Butch at Culebra Boat Rentals. Our routine was Cubanos, Presidentes snorkling gear and the lee side of the island, because with five guys aboard, it was just too rough to think about going to Culebrita. We did head to Dakity on our first day to check it out for the first time and because I wanted to see the controversial refreshment stand that seemed to vex certain posters here. We found it to be a flats area, probably good bonefishing there, but not a lot of healthy reef near where we found an open mooring. The moored boats were pretty crowded, but all seemed to be conscious of good eco-practices and the place was pleasantly clean. The Dakity bar was closed and the tables and chairs were battened down. It appears as a dock moored to the back of a 35-40 foot motor yacht, where I imagine they keep the supplies. I would have liked seeing it in operation, so I could judge for myself whether it was such a bad thing for the island as some say, but the meter was running on the boat rental, so we headed for Luis Pena and calmer seas.
We found the reef in the northwest corner of the island to be gorgeous, as was the reef near the northernmost mooring buoys at Carlos Rosario. At this location we saw Walter's dive boat so I swam over to see if I could say hello to Debbie. Walter told me she was below, diving. The current was pretty strong, so I left my regards and headed back to our area.
We repeated our leeward side boat trips each day for the remainder of our rental. Snorkle, rest, rinse salt with Presidente, repeat. We explored the entire west coast of Culebra and Luis Pena. There were two beaches on the north side of Luis Pena which were very crowded with what appeared to be boats from Fajardo. We made one pass, and avoided thereafter.
Finally on Tuesday or Wednesday night Debbie and her husband and I hooked up for a drink at Heathers, and walked over to Dinghy for a nightcap. We swapped Culebra tales and promised to stay in touch. I could tell from how the folks at Heather's reacted that both are considered to be top divers.
Thursday and Friday were Zoni days. Our friends at CORALations were caring for a couple Culebrense teenage boys who came along and opened some coconuts for us to enjoy the water and milk. They (and we!) were further entertained by occasional female anatomy lessons at the far end of the beach.
During the week, we ate once more at Dinghy...love that Cobia; once at BarbaraRosa's (excellent criollo), and once at Juanita Bananas where the sushi was awesome. Juanita Bananas was a bit short staffed and disorganized, but Jean-Francois kept us in cold Heinikens while we waited for things to settle down.
Other highlights? In our almost nightly visits to nearby Dinghy Dock, we made friends with a Connecticut lady who went by Sparky or Sparkle, and who, like us, was a dancing fool. With the band alternating between kitchy anglo dance music and the Latin beat stuff I love, the place was freaking rockin'. When it was time to head home, Sparkle did something I've seen several times in my 10 years of coming to Culebra. She called in well; and told us she may or may not ever go back. Last I heard she was headed to St. Croix.
Other than that it was no fun at all.