I'm looking into doing a charter in the "Spanish Virgin Islands" (Culebra, Veiques, Palomino, and Icacos). Can anyone suggest an itinerary for a week-long trip? How does it compare the BVI? A bit more open ocean sailing than the BVI doesn't bother me. Are there good anchorages?
Stephen Pavlidis cruising guide is a great place to start. You will probably chartering from Sail Carib in Fajardo. We love the SVI's. The biggest draw back is the only dockage and water is back in Fajardo. Navigation can be a little tricky, if you're skilled you not have a problem.
I can second SailCaribe for the SVIs. We chartered from them a little over a year ago and had a great trip. Good (and growing) fleet of Lagoon cats and Jeanneau monos. Easier to get to than the Virgin Islands (particularly the BVIs) and more convenient if you are planning on staying in the SVIs. We didn't spend much time in the SVIs as we were trying to sail from Puerto Rico to the BVIs and back in ten days - which I wouldn't recommend unless you are focused mostly on the sailing. In any case, from what we did see it was more relaxed and less crowded, but also not as many options when it comes to dining and shopping. Also, as Sail2wind mentioned, no real infrastructure for resupplying once you leave Fajardo, so stock up before you leave and ration your water usage. We didn't find navigation too tough, but there is plenty to watch out for. Keep a close eye on the chartplotter and verify by paper chart and visual fixes when things might be close.
We've done the SVI twice from CYOA in St. Thomas. Much smaller crowds than the BVI, fewer beach bars, more secluded beaches. There are a number of power-boaters that all magically disappear about 4pm, leaving the anchorage to you.
The sailing is more "open ocean" style than the BVI. I found navigation to be fine, but things are maybe not quite so well marked. If you can find a Cruising Guide from about 2002-3 time-frame there's an SVI section.
In general you'll feel a little more "on your own" in the SVI, which I feel is one of the allures.
Probably should add: Tough to do this in 7 days from CYOA, but you certainly can. Ten days preferred, and a stop at Marina Puerto Del Rey around mid-trip to fill up on fuel and water / Heineken as required!
Another thing, it's almost the same distance to Culebra but it's basically down wind and comfortable and after a few days in Culebra you can pull into a marina in Fajardo PR reload and take off to Vieques then from Vieques reach back to Charlotte Amalie