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Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

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Charlottesville...
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Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

We had a great time scuba diving with Capt. Walter Rieder of culebradivers.com/culebradivers/welcome.html when we visited Culebra in Jan. I have previously posted comments in general about how much we enjoyed diving with Culebra Divers, and I have finally posted photos from our dives. We have been diving at a number of places in the Caribbean over the past 6 years, and the dive sites off Culebra are some of the most beautiful, colorful sites of any place we have dived in the Caribbean. The sites we dove are reasonably shallow, with very good ambient light, excellent visibility and the reef appears to be quite healthy overall. Culebra has very little run off from the island and the water is very clear.

Capt. Walter and his staff, Monika Rieder and Capt. Pat LeRoque, were very easy to work with over the phone (787) 742-0803 as we made our dive plans a couple of months before we left the States. Since we were diving during high season, we wanted to make our reservations in advance, and we are glad we did with this popular and well established dive operation.

Culebra Divers shop is located directly across from the ferry dock in Dewey, and is the authorized dealer of H2Odyssey and SCUBAPRO scuba diving equipment. All of the equipment we rented was in excellent condition. In addition to dive gear, the shop sells lots of items for both divers and non-divers, including t-shirts, hats, jewelry, sun glasses, post cards and all kind of souvenirs. The shelves are loaded with quality merchandise and we all agreed that the dive shop is also one of the best stores in Culebra to purchase items. In addition to scuba diving, the shop offers snorkeling trips on demand. Monika and Pat offered their friendly and courteous assistance in helping everyone fill out the appropriate forms and get ready for diving.

Culebra Divers boat, Nika, is 26’ long, but is 2’ wider than most boats that length, allowing for lots of room for 6 divers and all of their gear (no head). There is also lots of shade on the boat, as well as seats in the stern for those who just can’t get enough sun. The gas motor was a nice change of pace from the smell of diesel we are used to on most dive boats.

We chartered the boat for ourselves for one tank afternoon dives, and I dove with other divers on the 2 tank morning dives. All of the sites we dove were within 15 minutes or so of the harbor. The boat left shortly after 9 a.m., and was back at the dock by 12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. I had plenty of time to relax and eat lunch in Dewey before our 2 p.m. afternoon dives.

Our 2 twenty-something children and their 2 cousins all think Capt. Walter is one of the best Dive Instructors with whom they have ever dived. He has a wonderful sense of humor and an engaging personality that makes him pleasant and easy going, while at the same time, is an excellent diver who is very safety conscious. He learned everyone's names as soon as we were on the boat and engaged each of us in informative and interesting conversations. Walter gave helpful introductions to each site and patiently answered everyone's questions. The 4 children said his love of diving is contagious as he pointed out numerous things to us underwater, and then discussed the sea life with us after each dive. His engaging personality quickly set each person at ease and the children all concurred that Capt. Walter contributed significantly to the best diving experience we have had as a family.

Capt. Walter is also an expert photographer, having worked professionally as a photographer prior to diving, and he continues to take fabulous photos underwater. He offered me the most helpful information about underwater photography that I have received since taking a tutorial with Cathy Church's staff on Grand Cayman in 2007.

After suiting up, we sat at the back of the boat, put on our fins and masks, and Walter carried our BCs to us and assisted us in putting them on. One giant stride off the ladder, and we waited on a line with a clearly marked dive flag for the rest of the group. After diving, we removed our fins and easily got back on the boat via the sturdy ladder.

At the dive site Punta Tamarindo …smugmug.com/gallery/…496118611_nBnK9 I saw the largest turtle I have thus far seen while diving, a 4’ green turtle and I was able to take several shots of it before it sped off. The next day, the group dove with 4 turtles while I was taking photos of some of the healthy and very colorful coral. We also saw a colony of jawfish, schools of porgy and other reef fish, and a stingray nearly completely buried in the sand. Walter pointed out an octopus in a coral head, as well as illuminated a jellyfish with his dive light. We did not go below 30’ on this dive and the visibility was excellent.

The site, Cayo Yerba, AKA, “ the Arch,” …smugmug.com/gallery/…512899037_9Aow8 is a large underwater arch exploding in a technicolor of cup corals and sponges from the bottom of the arch to the top that is so beautiful it is difficult to put into words. A dive light is recommended in order to see under the arch. When you swim through the arch, you are in less than 20’ of water among boulders that are covered with coral. This site has schools of reef fish and several small swim-throughs in less than 40’.

Carlos Rosario …smugmug.com/gallery/…467553268_gtRvW

is a good site for both divers and snorkelers, and 3of our group snorkeled this site while the other 3 dove it. Part of the site is a wall that is exposed to currents and portions of the reef showed the effects of strong storms, with some damage, especially to sea fans. The fairly vertical wall goes down to a sandy bottom in around 50’ of water that creates an interesting contrast to the coral reef. We saw angels, eels, and were greeted by a friendly group of yellow tails at the end of the dive.

At Luis Pena Canal …smugmug.com/gallery/…489730623_WJL6H we encountered a fairly strong current and were not able to swim through the canal very far because of the current on the swim back. The hard and soft corals were very healthy at this site, and there was a colony of garden eels and a ray in the sea grass under the boat at the end of this 30’ dive.

We had an excellent stay at the new Bahia Marina condos http://www.bahiamarina.net/ Located just a few miles from “Town,” and from the beaches, these fully furnished units have very comfortable beds, an adequate kitchen/dining area, a living room with TV, excellent AC in every room, and a large deck that overlooks a 100 acre nature preserve:

…smugmug.com/gallery/…452605140_P7kjX

We rented 2 adjacent 2nd floor 2 bedroom “villas” and the friendly, courteous and accommodating staff removed the gate between the 2 decks so that we could be adjoining. The large pool was refreshing and the restaurant serves some of the best food on Culebra. We ate breakfast in our condos and enjoyed local restaurants for lunch and dinner.

We flew Delta RIC – ATL – SJU and had no problems with our fights. We chartered our SVI flights with M&N Aviation http://www.mnaviation.com/ including a flight from SJU to Vieques, where we spent our first week, then Vieques to Culebra, and finally Culebra to SJU. The staff and pilots were pleasant, the views were stunning, and the flights were comfortable and on time, except for the Vieques to Culebra flight which was about 30 minutes late. Somehow, someone in the main office thought we were flying from Culebra to Vieques, instead of the other way. The friendly M&N staff on Vieques was apologetic and quickly got the plane over to Vieques for us. 2 of our group flew with us from Vieques to Culebra and then back to SJU that same day and still had plenty of time to catch their Delta flight home. You need to leave as much time as possible for inter-island flights.

What a beautiful island Culebra is! For most of us, Virgin Gorda in the BVI is our favorite island, and Culebra is right up there with stunning beaches, a variety of pleasant accommodations, outstanding restaurants and well stocked grocery stores, and friendly, caring, conservation minded people who take pride in their island home and enjoy sharing it with others. We felt very safe on Culebra and we give the island of Culebra as well as Culebra divers our highest recommendation.

You can see more of our Culebra photos here:

…smugmug.com/gallery/…452599851_QfWHS

and here:

…smugmug.com/gallery/…454957770_DEg7K

all the best, alashas http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/

Tennessee
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1. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

Great uw pics. What type camera and strobe did you use?

San Juan
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2. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

Great report! Thanks for sharing your BEAUTIFUL photos with us! Muchas gracias!

cypress, tx
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3. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

How did you like Vieques? What did you do there? Also what airline did you fly from Vieques to Culebra? We are going in a week to Vieques and want to take a day trip to Culebra. We don't scuba, we're beach bums who snorkel. Could you also tell me the cost for the airfare from Vieques to Culebra. Thanks for the info!

Charlottesville...
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4. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

ScubaGirl,

I used an Oly SP350 with a Sea& Sea YS110TTL strobe that I purchased from Cathy Church on Grand Cayman 2 yrs ago:

www.cathychurch.com/latestdv.html#Oly350 Both the camera and strobe have been discontinued, but I think Cathy is still selling refurbished models. It's a great little set up that takes a lot of good shots.

SunMoodStars, thank you for your gracious comments. We really enjoyed Culebra and the reef is as healthy there as any place we have been in the Caribbean. I'm sure we will be back.

islandaB, sorry I did not answer your message until now, you may already be on Vieques. We chartered our flights (SJU - Vieques - Culebra - SJU) with M&N Aviation http://www.mnaviation.com/ and had a very positive experience with them. I've looked through my notes and did not break the rate down for the portion between each island, so am not certain what the charter was from Vieques - Culebra. We did the same things on Vieques that we did on Culebra, which was scuba dive, snorkel, hang out on lots of great beaches, eat at delicious restaurants, and meet a lot of interesting people. On Vieques, I would definitely recommend snorkeling the BioBay http://www.biobay.com/ with as little moonlight as possible - it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives!

I've posted a sample of my favorite Culebra scuba diving shots here: www.islaculebra.com/pictures/culebra.htm

Take care, alashas http://honeymoon2.smugmug.com/

Rockford, Illinois
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5. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

Your photos are absolutely breath-taking! Thank you so much for posting these and sharing!

Raleigh, North...
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6. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

WOW!!! Very nice photos! Enjoyed your report....

Thanks for posting.........

Mobile, Alabama
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7. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

alashas-

just now seeing your underwater photos from Culebra (I have not looked at this forum in quite a while but went back to look after you suggested on the VG forum that the family from OK look at Culebra for their next adventure)- great pictures!! I agree with you that Culebra is a great spot and look forward to VG next April for the comparison. You make me want to get back to PR! Thanks again- I enjoyed it.

New Hampshire
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8. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

Hi there. I've been researching Isla de Vieques and have just started looking at Culebra now. I see you have great things to say about Culebra and the diving sounds wonderful. My husband and I both dive and enjoy low-key islands with local flavor. I am in love with Vieques... and think Culebra would also be fantastic. Could you provide a comparison of the two islands for me? Or, if you posted on the Vieques forum, perhaps you could post a link to that review?

Thank you so much!

9. Re: Culebra Scuba Diving Trip Report with Photos

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