If there is the slightest chance that you did not have enough of beaches in Puerto Rico, a visit to one of the nearby islands off the northeastern coast will most certainly appease your heart. Actually, you might want to go otherwise too!
Culebra is a smaller island with some of the best beaches in the world and I was beginning to lean towards it after watching some travel channel clips on YouTube. ‘P’ decided almost instantaneously on vieques after getting to know that it had the best bio-luminescent bays in the world. Alas, I gave in finally because we could make it to only one. On the morning we were to catch our ferry to Vieques, we withdrew enough cash to last us a couple of days, found a place safe enough to park our car overnight and trudged with our stuff to the Fajardo ferry terminal. Two valuable lessons while we waited with our fellow passengers for the next 4-5 hours. #1 – Ferry times are a suggested estimate; follow an eastern (more so, Indian) sense of time. #2 – It is a government organization; any information disbursed about the change of schedule will be in Spanish.
The sea was quite rough, the day we were to set sail and all the ferry trips were cancelled in the morning. Some half-baked rumours spread that there might be a cargo vessel that would make a trip later in the evening but nothing was for certain. We could have paid some $50 to fly to vieques but we chose not to. After making sure the hotel and the biobay tour could be cancelled with no charge, it was back to glorias’ in El Yunque for the night.
And, we just hopped onto a 9 AM ferry to Culebra the next day J. It was a stomach churning one and half hour boat ride from Fajardo to Culebra. Still grumpy with sea-sickness and wondering how much worse I would get with the return journey, I got on to a publico (local taxi) to get to somewhere on the island. There were many other destinations; but since weren’t really informed to make a decision, we just followed the crowd and landed on the famed playa flamenco. Stunningly beautiful chalk-white sands and turquoise blue waters of the beach made the entire journey totally worth it! How often are you dubious when told a random fact about a place? Often I am, and I did not find it hard to believe that Flamenco could be one of the best beaches in the world.
The long stretch of the mile-long coastline makes Culebra a famous destination for on-the beach camping; a European couple traveling with us was all enthused about the idea. With a change in the ferry times, we barely had a couple of hours in Culebra. Had we had more time, there was a small hiking trail leading from Flamenco beach to a private beach on the other side of the island, which we would have explored.
The publico comes in handy when you need it the most. They have local service between the big towns and some limited service between the east and the west coasts. We had a rental car for most of our trip, but we did venture out in a publico between Rio Pedres in San Juan to Aguadilla. The journey was bit weird because we could not converse with any of the locals in the same van and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to doze off. We sat, silent and stoic. It was only 80 miles, but we are not on great American roads to make the trip in one hour. A modest 5 hours later, we got dropped off!