Culebrita — Paradise!

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!

We passed this island as we were making our way into Culebrita.  It is named Sombrero Island.  The wearer apparently has a tiny head.  We came up with more apt names.

We passed this island as we were making our way into Culebrita. It is named Sombrero Island. The wearer apparently has a tiny head. We came up with more apt names.

A sailing vessel heading northward around the shoals west of Culebrita.  We were there just a few minutes before.

A sailing vessel heading northward around the shoals west of Culebrita. We were there just a few minutes before.

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!

A look out from our anchorage in Bahia Tortuga.  (There are likely turtles visible in this picture, but would require zooming in and perhaps a little imagination to find them.)

A look out from our anchorage in Bahia Tortuga. (There are likely turtles visible in this picture, but would require zooming in and perhaps a little imagination to find them.)

I on the bimini, photographing the crew looking out at the turtles from the stern of Beatitude.

I on the bimini, photographing the crew looking out at the turtles from the stern of Beatitude.

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!

A wave approaches the Baths.

A wave approaches the Baths.

An Indian Face we notice in the rocks at the Jacuzzis.

An Indian Face we notice in the rocks at the Jacuzzis.

The ladies in the Jacuzzi

The ladies in the Jacuzzi

Thirty-six years of true love in the Jacuzzis

Thirty-six years of true love in the Jacuzzis

The Jacuzzis

The Jacuzzis

Cindy and Shera in the Jacuzzis (this looks back towards Tortuga Bay)

Cindy and Shera in the Jacuzzis (this looks back towards Tortuga Bay)

A peek out into the ocean side of the Baths.

A peek out into the ocean side of the Baths.

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.

A "family" of crabs.  They were walking across the path until we approached.  Then, they all stop suddenly and hide in their shells as if they are just rocks.

A “family” of crabs. They were walking across the path until we approached. Then, they all stop suddenly and hide in their shells as if they are just rocks.

Our approach to the Lighthouse after about one mile of hiking up the peak.

Our approach to the Lighthouse after about one mile of hiking up the peak.

Culebrita Lighthouse

Culebrita Lighthouse

We had seen animal footprints in the sand by our chairs when we returned from the Baths.  The mystery was solved when we noticed the goats on our hike to the lighthouse.  Three kids playing on a rock.

We had seen animal footprints in the sand by our chairs when we returned from the Baths. The mystery was solved when we noticed the goats on our hike to the lighthouse. Three kids playing on a rock.

A view of Treasure Beach from the lighthouse peak.

A view of Treasure Beach from the lighthouse peak.

We could enter the structure of the lighthouse, but could not climb the tower as the spiral staircase was all rusted out.

We could enter the structure of the lighthouse, but could not climb the tower as the spiral staircase was all rusted out.

The lighthouse would have been beautiful when built   There were marble floors and beautifully colored walls.

The lighthouse would have been beautiful when built There were marble floors and beautifully colored walls.

Another view from within the lighthouse.

Another view from within the lighthouse.

Momma goat and kid.

Momma goat and kid.

Another view from atop the lighthouse hill.

Another view from atop the lighthouse hill.

Looking down on the ladies relaxing on the beach (as seen from the base of the lighthouse)

Looking down on the ladies relaxing on the beach (as seen from the base of the lighthouse)

Returning from our hike to the Lighthouse and ready for a dip in the refreshing waters of Tortuga Bay

Returning from our hike to the Lighthouse and ready for a dip in the refreshing waters of Tortuga Bay

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.

Dalí's landing spot on Tortuga Beach

Dalí’s landing spot on Tortuga Beach

Inviting?

Inviting?

Forty years of true love on Tortuga Beach.

Forty years of true love on Tortuga Beach.

Wonderful swimming in the  bay.

Wonderful swimming in the bay.

Cindy in Tortuga Bay

Cindy in Tortuga Bay

A view of the Culebra hillside from Beatitude.  Numerous goats can be seen roaming on the mountainside.

A view of the Culebra hillside from Beatitude. Numerous goats can be seen roaming on the mountainside.

Sunset on a day in Paradise!

Sunset on a day in Paradise!

2 thoughts on “Culebrita — Paradise!

  1. So glad you had beautiful weather…beautiful beaches & scenery for Shera & Justin’s Anniversary vacation! Memories made they will never forget ❤️

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