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SVI Trip Report #261829
08/03/2021 08:59 PM
08/03/2021 08:59 PM
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Matt W Offline OP
Traveler
Matt W  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
We visited the Spanish Virgin Islands in early November of 2020 for a week long bareboat quarantine on a Bali 4.3. A bit late with this report, but hope it’s helpful nonetheless if you are looking at this destination!

We LOVED the SVIs. We had the place to ourselves, I think in some part due to Covid. Beautiful surroundings, epic sunsets, outstanding fishing, plenty of day activities, and really good snorkeling. When comparing to say, BVI, don’t expect as many bars/restaurants and plan to anchor more (just as we like it!).

Our trip had been planned to Key West/Dry Tortugas since we wanted to remain stateside with Covid travel restriction challenges. We knew the tropical risks with a trip this time of year, but it was all we could manage for dates to get the crew together. Alas, Hurricane/TS Eta moved up from Central America and we changed destinations to Puerto Rico 72 hours before we left.

We do a lot of cooking, so we had our driver stop at Costco and Ralphs along the way. Made for an after dark arrival to Puerto del Rey, but it was time well spent. Costco has a full selection of beer/wine/and liquor too btw.

Puerto del Rey services were great – didn’t take long to load our gear in golf carts and be driven down to the cat for the first night onboard.

First day on the water – made our way south to Green Beach (Punta Arenas). Trolled further south on our way to test the drop, but no luck. Hooked up on a yellowtail snapper on the reefs just outside the anchorage – turned this into some tasty ceviche. We anchored south of the point you can see on the charts. Several day boats were present when we arrived but after an hour we achieved solitude. Spectacular sunset over Puerto Rico. Excellent snorkeling towards the beach.

We traveled counterclockwise around Vieques and then up to Culebra- teeth to wind for this section.

Fishing: we crushed the fish for these couple days south of Vieques in 100-300 feet of water. Followed those areas on the charts with mounds and drop offs. Caught mahi, mutton snapper, king mackerel, jacks, and way too many barracuda. Trolled with 2 rods – used mostly artificial diving lures (Rapala X-Rap magnum for example), but also had some success with Ilander rigged mahi belly and a single live bait we were able to catch.

Day 2 – stopped at Sun Bay near Ensenada. They advised us not to visit the town due to Covid. Didn’t attempt a Mosquito Bay kayak tour because of some rain, but the tour operators could meet you right on the beach. We moved to Puerto Ferro for the night to see if we could see the bioluminescence there (nope!). There was also swell was wrapping around into Sun Bay. If you stay in there, tuck up as close to the NE corner as you can.

Day 3 – spent the morning fishing and then a lunch stop at Isla Chiva. We anchored on the W side of the island where there is some great snorkeling. Beaches looked awesome but didn’t try and go ashore. If you’re lucky you can see some wild horses! Spent the night in Ensenada Honda just around the corner – very well protected anchorage. Some say the approach is tricky, but we proceeded slowly with the course marked on charts and were just fine. Water is somewhat murky so it's tough to read the bottom.

Day 4 – onwards to Culebra. A tropical wave was passing to our north, so had a couple days of off and on squalls. Made a pit stop at the public dock at Dewey to grab some supplies at a little market. Overnight at Ensenada Dakity on a ball where we rode out some more rain.

Day 5 – early departure to fit in a day stop at Culebrita. This anchorage is north facing and we could see why it’s considered day stop only. Some wind wave swell was wrapping in and it was very rolly. Postcard worthy, white sandy beach lined with coconut palms – beautiful. Picked up a ball and took the dinghy ashore to hike up to the lighthouse. It’s less than a mile and takes about 30 mins. Lots of puddles and goat droppings - don't wear your favorite shoes! Skies cleared for us just in time and we had a fantastic 360 view from the top. Such a beautiful area.

Travelling north of Culebra was off limits, so we backtracked and sailed up the west side of Culebra for our overnight at Carlos Rosarion. Grabbed a ball here in ~30 feet of water.

Day 6 – The landscape at Carlos Rosarion is raw and rugged with excellent sunsets to the west over the uninhabited Cayos. Had some light roll from the trade swell that made it’s way up from the South. Wasn’t enough to scare us off. We took the dingy ashore for another hike – this time to famous Playa Flamenco. The hike again is about 30 mins and under a mile. You end up in the back of a parking lot.

Play Flamenco had a South Pacific feel to me (although I have never been). I understand why it has been ranked as a top beach globally! We made sure to get our pictures with some of the abandoned tanks the US Navy once used for target practice. I believe there are some restroom facilities and some food vendors, but we didn’t check it out. Once back on our cat, we took an evening cruise around the cayos and put the fishing lines back in the water. Highly recommend – the area is so beautiful. We weren’t, however, worried about losing our mooring ball since we were the only boat in the area.

Day 7 – our last day. On our way back we went north of Cayos de la Cordillera to have a shot at fishing in some deeper water again. We stopped at Isla Palominos for lunch to cook up some fresh mahi fish tacos. We could have stayed here overnight and motored in early the next morning. We decided to hit the fuel dock and put back in the slip for the night since we had an earlyish morning trip back to the airport.

Feel free to reach out with questions! Would love to help if I can.

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Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: Matt W] #261851
08/04/2021 10:04 AM
08/04/2021 10:04 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,821
St. John, USVI
RickG Offline
Traveler
RickG  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,821
St. John, USVI
I love it. This is why we live in the USVI, but like to cruise the SVI. What color Rapala X-Rap magnum were you using?

Cheers, RickG


S/V Echoes, 2003 Benetau 423
St. John, USVI
Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: RickG] #262158
08/10/2021 09:44 AM
08/10/2021 09:44 AM
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Matt W Offline OP
Traveler
Matt W  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Hey RickG! That's great, what are your favorite spots in the SVI? We were using purple mackerel and hot pink UV on the x-raps.

Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: Matt W] #262170
08/10/2021 10:25 AM
08/10/2021 10:25 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,821
St. John, USVI
RickG Offline
Traveler
RickG  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,821
St. John, USVI
Thanks.

We usually hook a Mahi between Sail Rock and Culebra. Favorite anchorages are Bahia de Almodovar, Dakiti, Ensenada Honda on Culebra; we hit the west coast bays during the day along with Luis Pena. We like to rent a car for the day from Carlos's and hit the turtle nesting sites at Zoni Beach.

The eastern side of Ensenada Honda on Vieques is awesome; Sun Bay in settled weather. We do not eat fish from around Vieques due to high incidence of ciguatera.

There are other anchorages that work in calm weather, but we are on a monohull and The Admiral does not like a rolly anchorage.

Cheers, RickG


S/V Echoes, 2003 Benetau 423
St. John, USVI
Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: RickG] #262731
08/17/2021 11:13 AM
08/17/2021 11:13 AM
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Matt W Offline OP
Traveler
Matt W  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Great intel - look forward to checking out Almodovar and Zoni Beach next time we return.

Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: Matt W] #265843
Yesterday at 11:08 AM
Yesterday at 11:08 AM
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Matt W Offline OP
Traveler
Matt W  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 16
Houston, TX
Not a lot of info on the web about sailing in the SVIs so I dropped my experience into a guide on my site. Hope it helps if you're interested in sailing there! Not too many drone photos since I sent mine swimming unfortunately.

https://yachtwarriors.com/sailing-in-puerto-rico-spanish-virgin-islands-cruising-guide/

Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: Matt W] #265894
Yesterday at 08:32 PM
Yesterday at 08:32 PM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 41
Charlotte, NC
T
TC42 Offline
Traveler
TC42  Offline
Traveler
T
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 41
Charlotte, NC
Great info Matt. I’ve often considered a trip to the SVIs. One question regarding fishing: regarding the snapper, we’re you worried about Ciguatera? We’ve generally avoided eating reef fish for concerns about the disease.

Re: SVI Trip Report [Re: Matt W] #265900
9 hours ago
9 hours ago
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 20
C
cbf Offline
Traveler
cbf  Offline
Traveler
C
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 20
Thanks for great report Matt. I will definitely consider the SVIs more for a future charter.


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