The Spanish Virgins include the main islands of Vieques and Culebra, just east of Puerto Rico.
Look for the term "Spanish Virgin Islands" and you probably won't find it on a map. The term is used locally, because the chain (which is sometimes known as the Passage Islands) are geographically part of the Virgin Islands. Part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, they stretch east toward and St. Thomas in the USVI, which is only 23 miles east of Culebra. Spanish is the primary language.
It used to be tough to find a bareboat or crewed yacht in Puerto Rico to cruise the Spanish Virgin Islands. That's all changing now thanks to the island's governor signing into law the Nautical Tourism Act of 2009. One of the provisions of this Act allows for tax-free purchase of vessels over 30 feet, if contracted for chartering with a Puerto Rico certified charter company for chartering at least six months of the year.
Jose Luis Rivera, Catalina and Dufour dealer for the Caribbean and Central America and owner of the new Nautifull charters and cruising club based in the new 162-slip marina at the Palmas del Mar Resort Community, on the island's southeast coast, says, "We understand Puerto Rico to be currently the only U.S. jurisdiction offering this very attractive deal to promote "hotel rooms in the water" as we have named them. It also creates "tourist marinas" certification if they meet certain service and amenities requirements to properly serve transients and charterers effectively. Other tax and lodging-related benefits and prioritized financing are being negotiated and legislated at the moment."
Nautifull's fleet includes a Baltic 43, Dufour Performance 34 and Dufour Performance yachts. The company offers a mixed bag of customized sailing opportunities from learn-to-sail (U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat, Bareboat Cruising and Coastal Passage Making and Bareboat) packages to overnight and 5- to 7-day bareboat or crewed charters with either USCG-certified captains only or captains and chefs. His company is also the exclusive operator for yacht charters out of the new plush W Retreat & Spa that opened on Vieques in April.