While the BVI will remain the sailing capital of the Caribbean just 25 miles away sits a secret little gem, the Spanish Virgin Islands. Made up of 2 large islands Culebra and Vieques and several other smaller islands including Culebrita, Isla Palominos, and Cayo Luis Pena. There are many ways to charter this area based on weather. Your crew will know how to make the most of your sailing week but here’s a sample itinerary.
Sailing the Spanish Virgin Islands means an easy flight into San Juan Puerto Rico. Since Puerto Rico is an American territory you won’t need a passport or need to exchange money if you are a US Citizen. However, some form of ID is advisable. An ID with a birth certificate is ok. When you arrive take a 50min cab to Marina del Rey in Fajardo. This marina puts you just 6 miles from the Spanish Virgin’s, it was also where Captain Ron was filmed. It’s a silly movie with Kurt Russel and Martin Short about chartering a boat and if you haven’t seen it, well it’s a must-see for anyone who’s going to charter the Spanish Virgin’s or anywhere for that matter.
Leaving the marina your first stop might be Isla Icacos for lunch and then onto Isla Palominos for the first night. If it’s a weekend you’ll be lucky to be part of the Puerto Rican festivities. Puerto Ricans are known for their love of family and good times. Grab a Medalla (local beer) or a Pina Colada (also from Puerto Rico) and enjoy the local vibe. If it’s not a weekend then you are going to be alone on a beautiful white sand beach, not bad either way.
Expatriate Island of Vieques
Wake up in front of the beautiful beaches of Palominos and set sail for Puta Arenas (also known as Green Beach) on Vieques. Don’t forget to toss out a fishing line as this area is great for fishing and your crew would love to make your fresh fish for dinner. This remote section of Vieques will treat you to another beautiful beach with very few people. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling. Spend the night here looking back as the dark clouds start to form over El Yunque for a daily dose of rain.
After breakfast and a quick snorkel, your charter boat might motor down the south side Vieques to Esperanza where you should spend the day ashore. Rent some scooters and tour the island. Try to find the wild horses called “Paso Fino” ponies left on the island by Spanish Conquistadors. Keep in mind a large portion of this island was managed by the US Military and they used it for munitions testing until 2003 when they closed due to protests. Now it’s been deemed a Wild Life Refuge.
This would be a great day to have a little local lunch. Be sure to try Mofongo, a mash of fried plantains, crunchy pork skin, and garlic or Pasteles which combine soft dough of root vegetables and plantains seasoned with achiote or sofrito and a meat filling that is steamed in banana leaves for a flavorful little pack of yum. If you’re wanting just a quick bite then grab an Empanada to go.
While you are on Vieques you can’t miss taking a tour of Mosquito Bay. This is truly a special experience so if the water is too choppy for your crew to take you then make sure you book a trip with a local guide. There are only 5 Bioluminescent bays in the whole world! Three of those bays are in Puerto Rico. (The other places are Vietnam and Jamaica in case you are wondering) The brightest of them all is Mosquito Bay so don’t pass up this opportunity.
The Bay gets its light from creatures called Dinoflagellates. When they are agitated by a paddle, fish or just a wave they emit light. If you tip your paddle in the water it looks like you just dipped it in pixie dust as the little creatures blink all along your oar.
Casual Culebra and the surrounding islands
After such an eventful day you’ll spend the next morning motoring down the rest of Vieques around the Eastern tip and setting sail for Bahia Del Almodovar on Culebra. A beautiful little bay where you are protected from the waves by the reef but still get a nice onshore breeze. Lobster season runs year-round in the Spanish Vigin’s so talk to your crew about finding some of the delectable shellfish for the dinner table.
This is a great place to paddle or kayak through the mangroves that line the anchorage. Jump in the water to view Cassiopea jellyfish (nonstinging), also known as the upside-down jellyfish. It has a symbiotic relationship with an algae (called zooxanthellae) that lives in its tentacles. It sits upside down so the algae get plenty of sunlight producing nutrients as the algae photosynthesize.
If you are very very very very lucky you might see a manatee while in the bays around Culebra. There are only a few manatees left in Puerto Rico so if you get to see one of these stunning creatures then count yourself very fortunate.
From Bahia Del Almodovar your crew may either opt to take a tender or the big boat over to Culebrita for the day. Culebrita is a wildlife refuge and you can find lots of nesting birds. The island has six beaches so plenty of places to layout and read a book or go snorkeling to see sea turtles. The island is also known to be a nesting spot to 4 types of sea turtles including the large Leatherback. If you’re more of an active type than lay on the beach type you can also hike to see an old lighthouse, mostly in ruins. On the East side of the island, a bunch of boulders tumble into the sea creating a natural jacuzzi as the waves pour over the rocks.
Spend the evening in Ensenada Honda the main bay of Culebra. Grab a sunset cocktail at Mamacita’s or Zacos Tacos!! Zaco’s is also a great place for excellent Mexican food! Wander the streets of the little town of Dewey and if you’re lucky you might find some live music at the Dingy Dock for some evening entertainment or at the very least feed the tarpon.
Sailing the Spanish Virgin Islands means lots of beach time. Rise and shine it’s time for yet another top 10 beach! Motor around the west end of Culebra to Flamenco Beach. This beach is a mile long and horseshoe-shaped. It’s turquoise waters make for great snorkeling or just sitting with your mouth agape in awe of the pristine beauty. Back around the west side to Cayo Luis Pena Nature Reserve where you can get in the last snorkel.
It’s time to go home. Your last downwind sail of the trip. But wait…if you do this right you’ll stay an extra couple of days to explore some of the amazing wonders Puerto Rico has to offer.
The adventures that can be had on the island of Puerto Rico could be a whole article in itself but since vacation can’t last forever we’ll just give you our 4 favorites.
If you love to hike then El Yunque needs to be on your list. Even if you don’t like hiking the ride to the top is breathtaking. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest Service. The actual rainforest is only at the very top and there are stunning hiking trails. With over 240in of rain a year the waterfalls are stunning. You’ll be surrounded in a cacophony of sound as you’ll hear the noisy coqui frogs and squawking parrots flying overhead.
If you need one more adventure before heading back to the office then Toro Verde Adventure Park, in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, has the world’s longest zip line. It is 7234ft long and sits 1200ft above the ground.
Arecibo Observatory, which is in Puerto Rico, is the location of the world’s second-largest single-dish radio telescope. It only lost it’s top title in 2016. It runs 24hrs a day and does mostly astronomy work but has also been known to be used in our search for extraterrestrial life. Arecibo is known for being the location of a climactic fight in “Goldeneye,” starring Pierce Brosnan and “Contact” with Jodi Foster.
Since you’ll be flying out of San Juan you should spend your last day wandering the streets of Old San Juan. View the colorful old-world Spanish architecture, Tour El Morro and walk Fortaleza street, to see the
Umbrella Sky Project.
Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands offer something for the historian, the naturalist,the adventurer and the sun worshiper. Contact Us today for discover which yachts are available to charter the Spanish Virgin Islands.