Matt and Britney Weidert

Matt Weidert

Spanish Virgin Islands Charter: From Puerto Rico or the USVIs?

Embarking on a sailing adventure in the Spanish Virgin Islands (SVIs) is like uncovering a hidden treasure of the Caribbean. These islands offer a blend of solitude, pristine beauty, and a sense of discovery reminiscent of the British Virgin Islands two decades ago.

When planning your yacht charter to the SVIs, a key decision is choosing your starting point: Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Both locations offer unique advantages for sailors, and I’ve had the pleasure of setting sail from both. Here’s my perspective on each:

Puerto del Rey, one of the largest, most protected marinas in the Caribbean | Source: Puerto del Rey

Puerto Rico, Puerto del Rey:

  • Ease of Access: With plenty of direct flights from the U.S., getting here is hassle-free.
  • Sailing Conditions: The route offers more protected sailing. Starting counterclockwise with Culebra gives you some lee protection, while the route around Vieques typically has the prevailing wind and current in your favor.
  • Provisioning: Good options are available, but it's more of a do-it-yourself situation, with no delivery services that I know of.
  • Charter Options: The fleet might is smaller just several catamarans and monohulls
  • Travel Time: It's a bit of a trek from the airport to Puerto del Rey marina, taking about 45 minutes or more.
Frenchtown Marina - just a quick 15 minutes from the airport

U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI):

  • Convenience: In St. Thomas, you can be on your catamaran within 15 minutes of leaving the airport - believe me, I've done it!
  • Sailing Route: Expect an easy downwind passage to Culebra. The upwind return to St. Thomas can be challenging, but with luck, you might catch favorable winds, as I did on one trip.
  • Customs: Clearing customs in Culebra is a breeze, especially using the CBP ROAM app, and there's no need to disembark.
  • Provisioning: St. Thomas offers excellent options with delivery services right to your catamaran.
Read about my last trip where I chartered to the Spanish Virgin Islands from St. Thomas, USVI.

The SVIs: A Sailing Haven

The Spanish Virgin Islands have a fascinating history, including military training activities, which is part of why tourism here isn't as developed as in the neighboring Virgin Islands. Despite this, the SVIs offer a sailing experience that’s hard to beat, with untouched beaches, solitude, and superb fishing. You can learn more in this post about sailing in the virgin islands.

Sailing Itinerary

Suggested Itinerary: Opt for a Clockwise Route

Whether you start from Puerto Rico or the USVI, a clockwise itinerary is optimal. Beginning with Culebra, you sail east with some protection from the island's lee. As you head towards Vieques, you’ll often find yourself sailing downwind, making for a smoother ride.

If starting from the USVI, simply check in at Dewey and continue your clockwise adventure. Either way, a remarkable journey awaits.

Learn more about my recommended Spanish Virgin Islands sailing itinerary.

Playa Flamenco in Culebra, a global top 10 beach

Final Thoughts

A yacht charter in the Spanish Virgin Islands promises an unforgettable experience, whether you choose Puerto Rico or the USVI as your starting point. Both offer unique advantages, but regardless of your choice, you're in for a journey filled with natural beauty, tranquility, and adventure. Set your sails and let the trade winds guide you through these hidden gems of the Caribbean.

When is your next yacht charter?
Consider booking with the Yacht Warriors.

Charter. Beyond.

Get fresh ideas for your next yacht charter trip - insider guides, sailing itineraries, planning tips, and more. Subscribe and receive my free BVI Trip Planning Document.

    Genuine sea stories
    From hidden coves to the best anchorages, I share my first-hand experiences to enrich your next voyage.
    Exclusive insights, twice a month
    Our newsletter is your gateway to the secrets of successful chartering, delivered at no cost. Plus, the freedom to unsubscribe anytime.