The Spanish Virgins Islands:
Culebrita, Culebra, Tamarindo, Louis de Pena, and Soldado.
Written By Ioannis Pashakis
The second day at sea on the research boat started early with the boat docked at Puerto Manglar, Culebra. Guides and interns alike took a morning snorkel in waters quite different from what they are going to see for the rest of the trip. We took our dingy from the sail boat to an island surrounded by mangrove trees. Snorkeling close to the mangroves proved difficult. With the water shallow at the roots of the mangroves, the team snorkeled in water less than three feet deep. It was successful however when we had emerged back into open water to see a stingray, sea anemones and jellyfish.
Boarding back on the sail boat, the ship made its way to Bahia de Soldado in Culebra and the three groups of interns steeled themselves for a full day of research. Joey, Courtney and Eric, the interns mapping out trails in GIS, planned to hike trails to Flamenco beach. Emily and Chloe are studying marine life and sailed with guides Kyle and Caylan to prime snorkeling spots. Emily however, feeling sea sickness from the long journey, joined Yanni, Molly and their guide Stefanie in exploring Dewey: the only town in Culebra.
The interns hiking the trails of Culebra stumbled upon a murky lagoon covered in a dense forest of trees and learned that the orange tags along certain trails were warnings of unexploded ordinances from Culebra’s past as a Navy base, beyond the trail.
Emily, Stefanie, Molly and Yanni talked up the locals in Dewey, finding a place to eat and a delicious candy shop on the way. The French-Canadian couple who own Sweet and Naughty will satisfy your sweet tooth. “It’s a Regional concept with fresh baked donuts,” says Simon, co-owner. Their best dessert is the light, coconut and banana filled “monkey balls.”
Chloe, the only intern studying marine life for the day, sailed along with Kyle and Caylan from Bahia de Soldado, to the south side of Tamarindo point. “It’s the best snorkeling in the Spanish Virgin Islands,” said Kyle. “But make sure you know it is a nude beach.”
While snorkeling, Chloe found that there was coral restoration underway in Bahia de Soldado. Although there was restoration underway in Bahio de Soldado and the hard coral showed evidence of bleaching, the snorkelers found plenty of vibrant sea life elsewhere. “It was really sick to see soft coral and it was vibrant and healthy,” said Chloe.
From Tamarindo point, the ship sailed completely around Cayo de Luis Penak, an island off the coast of Culebra, to the northern bay of Tamarindo point, then sailed to Dewey to pick up Emily, Yanni, Molly and Stefanie, and finally tied to a mooring ball for the night at Bahio de Soldado.