Wednesday morning, just before 9 am, we raised our anchor and journeyed the short 7.2 nautical miles from Ensenada Honda Bay on Culebra to Bahia Tortuga (Tortuga Bay) on the nearby island of Culebrita. We picked up a free mooring just off the beach of this Caribbean gem, a small uninhabited island off the eastern coast of Culebra. The island is a nature reserve and part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. On its highest peak is found the Culebrita Lighthouse, one of the oldest in the Caribbean, dating to 1882. The only way to arrive at Culebrita is by private boat. We were in luck!
Just after we picked up our mooring, we noticed several sea turtles swimming in the bay nearby. The bay and beach are, after all, named for the large number of hawksbill and leatherback turtles who visit the island for nesting or feeding purposes. After throwing a few unused filets of fish over the stern, we also noticed several small(ish) sharks swimming beneath Beatitude, showing themselves for a free meal. They did not, of course, stop me from jumping in the water with my GoPro to swim over to the sea turtles for pictures. Unfortunately, the water was a little cloudy and I couldn’t find any to photograph. But, on the positive side, I was not eaten by the sharks!
After an early lunch, we took Dalí over to the eastern portion of Tortuga Beach. After dragging her up onto the beach, we took a hike along the rocks to the east to visit the Baths or the Jacuzzis. I had known of a similar site I’ve read about in the British Virgin Islands, but I was unaware of the “Baths” on Culebrita until a little pre-arrival research. The Jacuzzis are small tidal pools north of Tortuga beach which are kept warm by the Caribbean weather. The “bubbles” are supplied by the crashing of the incoming waves against the rocks on the ocean side of the pools. The seas were pretty high on the afternoon we visited. It was impressive to watch the incoming waves surge into the warm pools of water, displaying brilliant hues of blue as they mounted the surrounding rocks. We loved it!
After relaxing in the Jacuzzis, we walked back to the beach. Cindy and Shera proceeded to set up beach chairs on the gorgeous, crescent, white sand beach. Justin and I continued onward to hike the trails up to the Culebrita Lighthouse. Along the way, we marched through a (very slow) army of sand crabs wearying their armor on their backs and making their way across the trail. Although the day was hot, the bugs were biting, and the upslope was a little challenging, the reward was worthy of the effort expended. The lighthouse, built by the Spanish in the late 1800s is a beautiful ruin. Our imaginations ran wild with visions of how this must have looked when originally constructed. It was closed in 1959 and has fallen into a state of general disrepair. That is truly unfortunate. Efforts are underway to restore it, but little progress has been made at this time.
When Justin and I rejoined the ladies, we spent a while relaxing in the calm clear waters of this island paradise before returning to Beatitude. Culebrita is definitely one of the most beautiful, breath-taking places we’ve visited in our 19 month-long cruising odyssey. To finish off a wonderful day, we had burgers and hot dogs for dinner and then settled in for a restless night of sleep. It was restless because of the northern swell which enters this bay. It is said that this is a dangerous place to be in a decent northeasterly breeze. We had wind from the ESE, however, which kept our boat pointed in that direction. The northerly swells which rolled in however, kept us rocking from side to side. This rocking was accompanied by the creaks of the wood as our floating home flexes with the waves. The one consolation was that we could have been in a monohull. The monohulls in the bay definitely had it worse. Despite this “minor” inconvenience, we wouldn’t have missed this stop.