The Caribbean is comprised of a huge area, though when most people think of the Caribbean they think only of the Lesser Antilles – from the Virgin Islands in the North, down to Trinidad and Tobago in the South.  But there is so much more in the Caribbean.  The Greater Antilles of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispanola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico.  Not to mention all of the countries which border the Caribbean sea on the mainland of North, Central and South America…

We will only see a fraction of the Caribbean, and we will miss the Lesser Antilles entirely.  And we’re OK with that.  We have visited the “path less traveled” – meaning the Greater Antilles including Jamaica and Puerto Rico.  And we have also been lucky enough to spend several weeks in the San Blas Islands, an unspoiled paradise, mostly accessible only to cruisers.

But Puerto Rico has a lot to offer – more than we ever knew.  First, there is the city of San Juan (and historic Old San Juan).  Viejo San Juan was an entirely walled city, and most of the city’s fortification still exists including most of the city wall and two amazing and enormous forts.  One San Juan resident told me that her city is like Toledo in Spain (also walled), and the residents of the city certainly seem to have a strong kinship with their European roots.

We spent 10 days with Darold’s good friend Erik Blois and two of his boys, Lukas and Lanse.  We explored the forts in Old San Juan, imagining how the Spanish combatted attacks from the Dutch and English including Sir Francis Drake.  We even got to take a seaplane flight over the city to see Old San Juan from the sky (check out Seaplanes in Paradise.)  Then, we sailed to Isla Palomino and Isla Palominito, idyllic white sand and palm-dotted islands off the east coast of Puerto Rico.  From there we sailed to Culebra, a small island known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back attitude. We spent several days exploring the island’s beaches  – said to be some of the most beautiful in the entire Caribbean – and got in some excellent snorkeling.  We took a day trip over to Culebrita with them, which is a smaller sister island to Culebra and visited the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen.  Hawksbill sea turtles meandered through the anchorage, popping their heads to give us disinterested stares.  While snorkeling around the boat and cleaning her undersides, we saw what we thought were sharks but turned out to be remoras (sucker sharks), who helped us with the cleaning.

After the Blois family left, we decided to spend time catching up on boat projects and homeschooling – as well as sleep.  It’s been nice to go an entire month without a night passage!  We stayed another two weeks between Culebra and Culebrita.

From there it was a short sail to Fajardo, on the east coast of Puerto Rico.  This was the first sail we had in 1,500 miles that wasn’t “beating to weather” (meaning going into the wind and seas.)  Fajardo had just built a new West Marine so we made a pilgrimage.  I think I heard angels singing when we crossed the threshold.

We also took a day trip into the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest system – El Yunque.  Despite the fact that we were going into a rainforest, we didn’t bring jackets and spent an awesome but drizzly/rainy day walking the trails and listening to the Coqui frogs croak out their mating calls.

We met some wonderful folks in Fajardo, including the crews of Meridian, Baidarka and Shunda.

Sadly, we had to move on from Puerto Rico in order to see some of the Bahamas before making it over to Florida.  Our insurance requires us to be in Georgia by June 1, so we have some tracks to make!

For more photos click here: