Puerto Rico Sailing Trip
After many trips to exotic places over the past 12 years, Puerto Rico did not disappoint us! We were excited to be going to an American territory to see what it had to offer. Since we had heard about some fun and exciting places inland, our trip began with a land piece before boarding our charter sailboat. We spent 4 days (via a rental car) covering some highlights of the mainland. These included Old San Juan, Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy and Arecibo Observatory (in Karst Country), Hacienda Buena Vista, and Cerro el Toro in El Yunque. After these wonderful adventures (as well as having trouble finding things along the way), we were having a great deal of trouble finding the marina. Maria from Sail Caribe came to our rescue, though, driving out and meeting us at a local gas station. She also informed us that they had been trying to reach us. The boat we originally chartered, “Do Over,” had been broken by the charter people before us. Sail Caribe graciously upgraded us from this 40’ catamaran to the 45’ Sherman’s Lagoon. Since it needed to be in a day earlier, they had been trying to reach us to start our charter a day early. Although this didn’t happen (our cell phones weren’t turned on), the upgraded boat made up for the missed day. Once found, the marina was quite comfortable, as was our sleep-aboard before doing the check-out and provisioning the following morning. The only “complaint” that we had was the advice to perhaps skip going to Viequez (by Pedro, our boat check-out person), due to the “higher crime rate” there. We were very thankful that we chose to take our chances on this perspective, as we actually liked Viequez better than Culebra.
La Mina Waterfall in El Yunque – Crowded but pretty area. Larger falls not shown.
Day Two – We began the day motoring a short distance around a point to the town (Dewey), where we had reservations for a dive. Since the dive wasn’t scheduled until 2:00, we had fun taking the dinghy into town through the mangrove-lined channel. The dive was wonderful – great flowing coral, lion fish, lobster and much more created a delightful time, even just for snorkeling. After the dive, a quick, smooth 45-minute sail took us to Ensanada Honda, our next overnight destination. This coral-reef-encircled lagoon was more crowded than the first night’s location, but definitely a great place.
Day Three – Before setting sail for our next overnight destination, we took a short sail to a great snorkeling site. Although Bahia Tamarinda had what looked like a dump site just inland, the rest of the area was picturesque. A couple of barracuda, a sea turtle, a ray accompanied by a scavenger fish and a black-tipped reef shark under a ledge were highlights of this area, along with great flowing coral and an array of fish again. Our favorite sail so far followed, hitting 9 knots on calm seas, as we made our way over to Culebrita. A white sand beach with a hill at one end was dotted with washed up coral mixed with emerald green rock. This, along with the blooming cacti, made for a pretty hike. Also, a short path led across the island to a bay that was being pounded by the surf, in contrast to the quiet bay where we had dropped anchor.
Day Four – Another great sail for about 3 ½ hours, mostly a nice beam reach until coming before the wind toward the end, took us to our anchorage by Blue Beach on the Island of Viequez. Although we didn’t snorkel here, another pristine beach and shallow water made for fun kayaking and water play. This was also the location of our “token” sand castle building. The night ended with some great viewing of phos-phorescent plankton right alongside our boat.
Day Five – After about an hour sail to the town of Esperanza, it took us 3 tries to get where we wanted to anchor, as there were 3 adjacent bays connected by areas of shallow coral. This turned out to be our favorite little town for shopping, lunch and a tour to the Bioluminescent Bay. We were reluctant, since we had heard that this was also called Mosquito Bay, but were pleasantly surprised! We didn’t have any difficulty with mosquitos, although we did put on repellant just in case. The “journey” to the bay via a very rickety van was quite the adventure, but well worth the trip!
Day Seven – This day was dedicated to getting back to the marina, turning in the boat, and switching to another boat for a sleep aboard on our last remaining night (due to the boat debacle at the beginning of the trip). Again, Sail Caribe was very accommodating as they worked out this last night’s stay for us. We met Jim, a sales person filling in for Pedro, at the fuel dock; and he took us into the slip and did the boat debriefing. By 10 am, we were shuttling our belongings over to the Hunter 49 that was prepared for us. With a good part of the day left, we were able to do some further site-seeing in the area.
Day Eight – Solely a travel day from Marina del Rey, Fajardo, Puerto Rico to San Juan, Puerto Rico to JFK to Phoenix to Flagstaff. In the future, we hope to get direct flights to and from Phoenix and San Juan. Otherwise, as stated in the beginning, this was a totally delightful trip with no regrets!
If you plan to do hiking in El Yunque, good supportive-soled footwear is recommended. The rocky trails we encountered were hard on our feet with the soft-soled “toe-type” hiking shoes. Although great for the wetness and mud, we got quite sore feet from the long rocky trail.
Sherman’s Lagoon June 2012
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