When we planned on going to Puerto Rico it was for the sun, stunning beaches and great food. However, I could not forget that it has been just over a year since hurricane Maria hit the island. We knew that visiting Puerto Rico would help support the community and we were pleased to see that there was progress and beauty around the island. Thousands of families lost their homes, blue tarps are still covering some the rubble, especially in the central mountains. I was happy that I was able to travel to this beautiful island and experience all it had to offer during the rebuilding process.
I recommend renting a car, as we were able to find parking most places and it was nice to drive ourselves through the rain forest and to the East Island Excursion. I do not believe Europcar was the best option, as they have "fine print" and you have to take a shuttle to their location.
If you do one thing in Puerto Rico, I recommend booking an excursion with East Island Excursions. We booked the Snorkeling and Flamenco Beach, Culebra Excursion. Flamenco Beach, voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world, is a must see. There are only a couple ways to get there; one can get there by flight (around $200 round trip per person), by public ferry, which you have to wait in line and it breaks down or best way there is which is through East Island's high speed boat excursion.
We decided to drive to Marina Puerto Del Rey in Fajardo, which can be about 65- 70 minutes from the San Juan area, depending on traffic. There is a round-trip shuttle option that you can add onto your trip too for an additional fee. It took about an hour and we pulled up to the beautiful marina with tons of parking ans signs for East Island Excursions. Check in was seamless, we got our snorkeling flippers and bought a waterproof phone protector for $8; highly recommended. Prior to check in we signed the waivers, which I recommend as it allowed quicker check in.
The day we were scheduled to go, there were some high winds and the the Captain suggested that anyone on the boat who is prone to sea sickness should take Dramamine before we set sail or get a seat facing forward. With that said, the crew was extremely attentive as they start offering ice water and sodas as soon as you get on board. Once everyone is settled in, the crew does a safety briefing and tell you various things you need to know (like how to use the bathroom and where the life jackets are located). After the briefing, we got started on the 45-minute trip east to Culebra.
The trip was a bit rocky, however we all know it is the destination, not the journey and I would do it all over again in a minute!
The Island of Culebra
The trips first stopped at a tranquil reef in the Luis Peña Marine Reserve. Here, we got a briefing on the reefs and they gave out the snorkel masks. If you needed a lesson or review on snorkeling, the crew was happy to assist.
As soon as we anchored, the bar opened with all the rum drinks, soda and juices you wanted. However, we decided we should snorkel before partaking. The water warm and very clear which allowed us to see some superb marine life, stingray and coral scattered about. It really was very relaxing and gorgeous. After about 30 minutes we got back on the boat for lunch and then a nice cold local can of Medalla ($3 each)! For lunch we had cold cut sandwiches, pasta salads and chips; pretty great meal. We also enjoyed a couple pina coladas, and I am happy to report, they were not skimpy with the rum! After about 1 hour, and 15 minutes the team called everyone back to the boat and