Located off the coast of Puerto Rico lies one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. And somehow, so many people still miss this absolute gem!
The island is just a quick ferry ride from the mainland, making it really convenient to include Culebra in your Puerto Rico itinerary. Maybe most people don't realise how easy Culebra is to get to, otherwise, they would make the small effort needed to see this untouched beauty.
I'd also say one of the main reasons it's often missed is because the island isn't built up, and it won't be. Most of the island is a wildlife reserve, ensuring mass companies can't come in and put gigantic hotels in the middle of nature.
This ensures that the island maintains its pristine waters and feels like a little slice of heaven for everyone who visits it. This is such an uncommon thing to find in the Caribbean, so don't miss out! Aside from the natural beauty, here are a few more reasons to visit Culebra Island.
When you imagine a Caribbean beach with its shallow, warm, turquoise-coloured waters, white sand, and palm trees, you're imagining Flamenco Beach in Culebra. It's one of the most stunning beaches in the world.
The sand goes on for miles, and it truly feels like you have the whole place to yourself because of how much space the beach has. The water is practically waveless, making it one of the best beaches to swim at and splash around when the Puerto Rican sun has taken its toll on you!
Even though there aren't beach clubs or restaurants offering beach chairs on Flamenco Beach, it still has everything you need for a perfect day. Honestly, I think this is one of the best reasons to visit Culebra.
No one is trying to hustle you to buy something! You can just relax and enjoy the beach, and if you want, you can rent loungers and umbrellas from the kiosks, which typically only cost about $5.
Another cool thing to check out on Flamenco Beach is some of the tanks from the former US Navy base that used to be located in Culebra. They were too heavy to move, so they've just become a part of the beach—like a little museum.
Usually, pristine waters and soft sands mean loads of tanning beds, huge resorts, and people everywhere trying to get a glimpse of the most beautiful blue water. But not in Culebra—thank goodness!
Because of the wildlife reserve, the island is mostly undeveloped, with just a few restaurants and a few villas and guesthouses for people to stay in. You can also camp on the beautiful Flamenco beach if you really want to connect with nature. It's a great place to stay if you want to escape the crowds and feel like you're on your own private island.
The locals are super friendly and welcoming, and you'll find tiny hidden gems around every corner. I love that you can truly relax here without overly loud music or late-night parties disturbing your beauty rest. And don't get me wrong, that's so much fun, and you'll definitely get that when you visit San Juan, but Culebra is all about relaxation.
One main reason to visit Culebra is it's actually very easy to get to, especially if you're already visiting Puerto Rico! The island is just a short one-hour ferry ride from the main island, and you can also get there by plane or boat.
The ferry ticket is less than $3 and leaves from Ceiba, just about an hour's drive from San Juan. Even if you only have three days in the country, I recommend adding Culebra to your itinerary. And because the island is so small, you really can enjoy its highlights in one day.
If you're not feeling super adventurous and don't want to manoeuvre the ferries on your own, you can also join a tour from the mainland. You'll enjoy a full day of snorkeling, enjoying the calm Caribbean waters, and a yummy local lunch!
The coral reefs off the coast of Culebra are one of the oldest in the Caribbean, and they're actually alive and well. It's a protected area, so the coral has really flourished after being free from pollution and overfishing. If you're a snorkeler or diver, then visiting Culebra is a no-brainer.
There are quite a few dive shops around town where you can rent equipment and get some tips on where to go, or you can book a boat tour and go snorkeling or scuba diving with a group.
You can also bring your own snorkel gear and see some reefs just off Flamenco Beach. Another popular beach to snorkel on your own is Playa Tamarindo. It's a bit more pebbly as it's on the other side of the island, but it's blocked by the wind, and a lot of turtles hang out in this area, so I highly recommend heading to this side for at least a little bit.
Seeing sea life on your own, out in the wild, is one of the most extraordinary experiences you can have while on vacation, and it happens so often in Culebra that it genuinely feels like a magical paradise.
But if staying underwater isn't quite your thing, don't worry at all because the water is so clear that even if you're standing on the beach, you can often spot a few turtles or rays swimming by.
The historical museum in Culebra is one of the best-kept secrets on the island. It can easily be missed as it's just a tiny rock house that just kind of blends in! But what's on the inside is super interesting and will give you a great sense of the island's past.
El Polvorin Museum offers an insight into the Culebra peoples' past. Starting with the Taino people, who first inhabited the island, and then moving on to the Spanish colonizers. It's a great way to learn more about this place's culture and why it is so unique today.
The museum isn't just a place for historical artifacts but also preserves the memories of the times when Culebra served as a testing ground for bombings. As you explore the museum, you'll come across different Navy artifacts that vividly portray the captivating history of the island.
On top of that, the museum has a ton of cool photos from as far back as 1930. It's like stepping back in time and seeing the island's incredible history unfold right before your eyes. And if that's not enough, they have some incredible documentaries that tell the stories behind the artifacts. It's like being transported into Culebra's past, and it really makes you appreciate the beauty that it still holds.
Culebra isn't all beach bumming and snorkeling. It's also perfect if you love to hike or go birding. One of the reasons this island has been kept so natural is because it's home to the Culebra National Wildlife Reserve, which is part of the Puerto Rican Archipelago.
When I first visited, I had no idea that over 20% of Culebra is part of an absolutely breathtaking national wildlife refuge. This incredible sanctuary, established over 100 years ago, stretches along the coastline and includes over 20 cays.
It's not just a home to three different ecosystems but also serves as a habitat for endangered sea turtles and the largest seabird nesting grounds in the Caribbean. During certain months of the year, the reserve is closed to visitors for turtle nesting, but once the little guys hatch, you can sometimes see them making their way to the water. They're so cute.
Also within the wildlife reserve is the private Culebrita island, an uninhabited spot where you can take a day trip to explore. You'll need to hire a boat, but you can make a full day of exploring the beautiful coastline and stopping off at some gorgeous swimming spots. And it's known for its massive population of turtles swimming around in the crystal clear water.
My final reason to visit Culebra is, of course, more beaches! It has more than just Flamenco Beach. You can find all types of beach vibes around the island.
Flamenco might be ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world, but that doesn't mean the others are anything to turn your nose up at!
Tamarindo Beach is one of the best spots to catch a breathtaking sunset. And guess what? You can even ride horses along the shore while the sun goes down. It's definitely my favourite beach to end the day at. *Make sure to bring your snorkel gear here.
Zoni Beach is similar to Flamenco Beach with its wide shoreline and crystal-clear waters. But it has even fewer people and will give you that castaway feeling—in a good way!
Seriously, regardless of the beach you choose, you're going to have a dreamy beach escape in Culebra, Puerto Rico!
Planning a trip to Culebra? Stay at Island Charm Culebra Studios & Suites with stunning sea views.
Last Updated 9 September 2023