Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Island Staycation ~ Culebra The OTHER Island

The ferry boats are really nice inside!
A perk of NOT having a boat anymore, is that we can take the money we used to spend on boat projects, and put it toward B&B rentals in various parts of our island!  We love our area, but there are so many things to see and do in other parts of Puerto Rico. So our plan is to take two or three nights at a time, in the different parts of the island so that we can really enjoy a new area at leisure!  Our first choice for an island staycation is a place that is already very familiar to us...  We spent quite a lot of time here in Culebra, PR on our boat!  Maybe this is sort of a transition from doing boat things... to doing land things!  But first, we have to get there.  BY BOAT!

We felt right at home with the navigation map!
While we used to just sail there and anchor in the bay ourselves... now we have to depend upon the public transportation system.  There is ferry service between the islands, and they make several trips per day.  Of course, the early and late runs are the most popular.  But check-in at our condo wasn't until 3:00 pm, so we didn't get in a hurry to get here.  We had a leisurely morning back home, then drove to the ferry landing, where we took an early afternoon ferry.  

They sell some 20% of the tickets online, but most are held for first-come-first-served sale, with island residents receiving preferred service. In a perfect world, I would have been able to go online and book our car for transport to the island and back... but noooooo... That would have been too easy!  Sadly, our ferry service here in Puerto Rico is in a constant state of flux.  If you can get a transport ticket TO Culebra... chances are not always good that you can also get reliable transport tickets BACK to the main island... So for this reason, we decided to just go Full-Tourist by leaving our car at the ferry landing. I was able to go online two weeks in advance and buy our ferry passage, and then I just booked an island golf cart rental!  A word to the wise:  If you're planning a trip to Culebra, get your transportation secured in advance.  Under normal circumstances, these golf cart rentals are booked solid for weeks!

The view was distorted from the salt spray sliding down the windows

Our first glimpse of the island and the sailboats!  

The ferry ride was an event in itself!  It was such a luxury to NOT be in charge of the navigation.  We relaxed in air conditioned comfort, and watched out the windows as our boat bounced along across Vieques Sound.  What used to take us about 10 hours, took less than one hour!!!  We watched our progress by the navigational chart on the big screen, as we practically flew from our home island, back in time to the familiar island of Culebra.  I have to say that while we're very happy living in our nice condo... this is bringing back memories that make us very nostalgic for our old cruising lifestyle.  Seeing the sailboats swinging off of the mooring balls in prime locations... even if it is through the salt water distorted glass... floods our minds with the good times. We do miss that freedom.  But we do not miss that responsibility, or the constant maintenance that goes along with it!  Here we are, arriving in comfort.  DRY and excited to explore this island in a different way!

We disembarked from the ferry at the landing, and trundled our bags to the waiting vans, ready to whisk us away to the rental company to pick up our cart.  It's really a pretty well run operation, and very easy to navigate.  After a short time checking in, Bruce and I were on our way!

We've rented golf carts before, but only by the hour!  This time, we're taking this rad ride to our condo, where it will be at our service for the duration of our visit!  This is another "event" that goes on the do-again list.  We had such a good time lurching and straining in this buggy...  While a jeep would allow access to a couple of other beaches where our cart could not go, this was definitely fun!

As we laughed our way down the narrow road that runs along the shores of the bay, we remembered again how small this island is. While here on our boat, we had plenty of time to gaze at the shore from all angles, and we wondered how it would be to stay in the nice condos at the other side of the harbor entrance.  We mused about what a nice view they must have... Today, we get to find out!

The clubhouse and office at Costa Bonita Villas

The road to Costa Bonita Villas can hardly be called that.  It is very pitted and some of it is just dirt.  But we were on an adventure, so each pothole brought peals of laughter that only serve to make this more fun.  We parked in front of the office and wondered where the people driving these other cars could be.  We found NO people!  We walked into the clubhouse and it seemed like it must have been a lively place at some time... but now, it was deserted.  The furniture was sparse and the cute little bar was empty. The pool looked really nice though!!

Kind of wishing we had an extra day just to devote to lounging by this pool!

I called out and eventually, someone came to hand us a key.  That was pretty much it!  No orientation... nothing.  So we went back out to the cart and went off in search of our unit.  It seems like this is a private condo property, so maybe most of the people here are owners.  Obviously there are quite a few in the Air B&B pool, so someone has to be in charge of handing out keys, but I guess after that, it is up to the individual owners to deal with their guests...

There were a few people around, but the place was by no means jumpin'!  We found our spot and bypassed the front row parking because it was a launch pad and we didn't trust our golf cart brakes... but there was a small lot just up the hill where we found a rock to wedge behind the wheel... all directed by a very brazen rooster.  We remember that this island is ruled by roosters and chickens of all sizes... 

But he seemed harmless, so we eventually ignored him and got busy lugging our bags back down the hill and into our condo!  We were delighted to find the place to be very nice.  The little kitchen is kind of sparse, but I think that is pretty common with rental units.  We settled in and found everything we needed, then we went immediately back out!  

Nice living area, with the glass doors to the patio.

Small kitchen, but plenty of room in the fridge.

The view!  That's Dakiti across the channel.  We stayed there on our boat!!

Looking back into Ensenada Honda

This is where we will drink our morning coffee... Ahhh can't wait!

So far, all of my planning has worked out beautifully!  We arrived here just in time for check-in at the condo, but still had plenty of time to go back out for some groceries!  

We drove back around the bay to town, and pulled up to shop at the same tiny local market where we used to buy groceries while living here on our boat.  Milka's is small, but they have just about everything we could need... as long as we only needed what they have!  But hey, that's life on a tiny island! 

The Tarpon milling around the Dinghy Dock
Just down the road from Milka's is another of the places we remember so fondly... The Dinghy Dock!  Tonight I've arranged to meet up with some Cruiser friends we met somewhere long ago, and have followed on Facebook.  But this wasn't on the original plan.... Kate sent me a message when she saw on Facebook that we were in Culebra!  Of course we will rearrange our itinerary and come for happy hour!

Ahhh, we've missed the cruising life...

Taken moments later... What a change!

Kate and Lee at the Dinghy Dock!
As often happens when cruisers get together... Happy hour turns into dinner!  We are always amazed at how comfortable we are with other cruisers.  That is one of the things that I miss the most about our time living on the boat.  I really hope that I can maintain that connection with these folks as we all continue on through wherever life takes us.  

With full hearts and tummies, we said goodbye to our friends.  They boarded their dinghy and sped away, while we made our way back along the darkened streets of this sleepy island.  

We are so excited to see what tomorrow brings us, and so happy that we have this opportunity to revisit a favorite place!  Stay tuned, to see what we did as island dwellers here on the tiny island of Culebra!

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