Culebras puerto rico: Culebra Island in Puerto Rico — A Complete Guide to Visiting

Culebra Island in Puerto Rico — A Complete Guide to Visiting

Located just off the east coast, Culebra Island, Puerto Rico is full of some of the world’s most stunning beaches with a laid-back atmosphere. It is one of our favorite parts of our trip to Puerto Rico.

We spent the day exploring the island. On our next trip, we are planning on camping at Flamenco Beach, so we have a little more time to enjoy the beautiful island, delicious food, and enjoyable atmosphere.

Working out the logistics of getting to and from the island can be a little tricky depending on your travel plans. If you take some time to do your research and plan, you won’t run into many difficulties. Taking some time to explore Culebra will be well worth your time.

What is Culebra Puerto Rico known for?

Culebra Puerto Rico is known as a beautiful island and home to Flamenco Beach, a beach consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. It is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, calm waters, and active marine life.

When to Visit the Island of Culebra

The best time to visit Culebra Island is from November to March. The climate is dry with mild temperatures, perfect for swimming in the ocean. You will also avoid the monsoon season which usually leads to humid temperatures.

How many days do you need in Culebra?

We recommend spending a couple of days on Culebra Island. This will give you a chance to enjoy the beautiful beaches, head out snorkeling and enjoy the downtown area. Staying on the island overnight will give you a more local and authentic vibe to the island rather than rushing on and off in one day.

Climate on Culebra Island

The weather on the island of Culebra is beautiful year-round. The average temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the afternoon during the summer, highs can reach up to the 90s with average highs being in the 80s over the summer. We visited in January and had wonderful and sunny weather.

It can cool down in the evening so it is a good idea to bring a light jacket.  

How do you get to Culebra Island?

You can get to Culebra, Puerto Rico by either airplane or boat. The major deciding factor in this is cost.

Flights are usually around $40 each way. You will save a lot of time going by airplane. The flight time is about 10 minutes. You can buy tickets through Air Flamenco or Vieques Air Link. It is a good idea to buy tickets ahead of time as each plane only has 10 seats available.

Culebra Ferries

Ferry tickets are $4.50 per person for a round-trip ticket. Traveling on the ferry can be more difficult and requires more flexibility. It is recommended to get to the ferry at least 90 minutes before the ferry leaves to make sure you get a ticket if you are getting them at the ferry terminal.

We got there about an hour early on a weekend. We were able to get tickets for our desired departure time, but the return time was full, so we ended up leaving the island later than we originally planned. Make sure you purchase a round-trip ticket to ensure you have a way to get back to the main island.

Culebra Ferry Tips

Although we didn’t plan on leaving late at night, I am glad we did. The majority of people go back on an earlier ferry before dinner. Because of this, we had Flamenco Beach almost all to ourselves and had some extra time for dinner and to explore more of the island. It gave us much more of a local experience rather than rushing to and from Flamenco Beach.

If you are taking the ferry and experience any sort of motion sickness, it is a good idea to bring some Dramamine. Our ferry ride over was very rough and members of our group got pretty sick. From what we heard, the waters were exceptionally rough that day but it is always a good idea to be prepared.

There are also two different kinds of boats that you can travel on. The first is the passenger’s ferry. The ride takes 45 minutes and the boat travels much faster. The cargo ferry ride takes about 90 minutes with a much slower ride. We did not have any problem with motion sickness on the cargo ferry.

How to get to Culebra from San Juan

The easiest and fastest way to get to Culebra from San Juan is to fly. There are flights leaving out of the airport in San Juan. It is a very short flight with stunning views of Puerto Rico and Culebra Island.

If you are on more of a budget but still want to fly, you can fly out of Fajardo. This will require you to get to Fajardo which is about an hour east of San Juan. You can rent a car to drive over to Fajardo or hire a taxi to take you over.

The ferry which is way cheaper also leaves out of Fajardo. The details above cover everything you need to know about riding on the Culebra ferry.

The last option is to join a tour that is going to Culebra. What is very nice and convenient about many of the tours is a lot of them offer pickup and drop-off from the Old San Juan area. If you don’t want to rent a car or aren’t comfortable driving, this is a great solution. We have some information on Culebra tours below.

Best Things to Do in Culebra Island

Culebra Island is best known for its unspoiled beaches and while you should plan on spending lots of time at the beach, there are other fun things to do and places to explore on the island of Culebra. It is a quiet island with lots of activities to enjoy in nature.

Snorkeling on Culebra Island

The island of Culebra has some of the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico. The most popular place to go snorkeling is Flamenco Beach. You can easily get to the first reef from the shore. There are usually quite a few people snorkeling on days with calm waters.

Another popular place to snorkel at Flamenco Beach is Shark Cages. You can find the reef here on the right of the beach where the rocks start. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent it at Flamenco Beach.

If you want to snorkel a little off the beaten path on Culebra, Tamarindo Beach is also a great place to visit. There are calm waters here and a wide range of sea life. It is very common to see turtles and stingrays there as well as a bunch of different kinds of Caribbean fish.

The beach at Carlos Rosario is a secluded yet beautiful place to snorkel on Culebra Island. It is part of the Culebra Nature Reserve which helps protect underwater life. There is a trail from the parking area that goes down to the beach.  

Where can I see turtles in Culebra?

The most popular place to see turtles in Culebra is at Tamarindo beach. It is a safe haven for the turtles so remember to keep your distance! Another popular place to see them is kayaking through the Luis Pena Marine Reserve.

Culebra National Wildlife Refuge

The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge is about 1,480 acres and 23 islands! The refuge makes up more than 20% of the island of Culebra. Visitors to the refuge can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and quiet beaches.

The refuge is also an important habitat for the endangered sea turtles as well as a variety of different seabirds. It is home to more than 50,000 birds

Museum of History

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Culebra, a visit to the Museum of History is well worth your time. The museum has exhibits that focus on the island’s unique history covering the indigenous Taino residents and the military occupation.

It is a free museum, but donations are always welcome.

Best Beaches in Culebra

Culebrita Island

Culebrita Island is a small island off the coast of Culebra. It is an uninhabited island with no public transportation going to it. To get there, you will either need to charter a boat or join a local tour. The boat ride over is about 25 minutes and you may just have the place to yourself.

The beach is similar to Flamenco Beach but much more secluded. You can spend the day snorkeling, laying on the beach, and exploring the island. A unique point of interest on the island is the ruins of an old lighthouse.

The tour also includes the use of snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, and umbrellas. This tour does leave from Culebra so you will need to make sure you have plans to already be on the island by the time the tour leaves.

Book Your Culebrita Boat Day Trip Here

Flamenco Beach

The easiest and most famous place to recommend is Flamenco Beach. It is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and within a few footsteps on the beach, you will see why. It is a horseshoe-shaped beach surrounded by green hills and beautiful blue water.

Because of the limited access to Culebra, Puerto Rico, the beach was not very busy. The waves were the perfect size to let Rowen and Raven swim in the water. Snorkeling is also a popular activity on the beach.

There are bathrooms at the beach and some small changing rooms. Toilet paper was not always stocked in the bathroom so it would be a good idea to bring some of your own. We love taking these compact travel toilet paper rolls.

Just outside the beach gates, there is usually a truck renting chairs, umbrellas, and snorkel gear. There is also a small food court with picnic benches just inside the beach gates.

In addition to playing on the beach, be sure to check out the military tanks. They are found on the west end of the beach and in the brush behind the beach.

>> For more information about visiting Flamenco Beach, read our complete guide here.

Tamarindo Beach

The main highlight of Tamarindo Beach is snorkeling. The water is very calm because it is protected by Cayo Luis Pena. Because of the calm water, it is also a great place for kayaking. Popular sea life in the area is sea turtles, manta rays, and fish. There are beautiful coral reefs.

While there are parts of sandy beach, it is mixed with pebbles and pieces of coral making it not quite as soft and nice as Flamenco Beach. The beach is about a mile long and has beautiful ocean views. The water is pretty shallow for about five feet out but then drops off.

There are no rentals and facilities at the beach so you will need to bring your own food and snorkel gear. There are lots of parking spots available at Tamarindo Beach.

Zoni Beach

Zoni Beach is located on the eastern side of the island and is considered the second most popular beach on Culebra Island. It is a beautiful beach with amazing shades of blue. If you’re looking to avoid potential crowds at Flamenco Beach, this is a great option.

The best time to visit the beach is at low tide. The water is calmest from spring until early fall. There are no facilities here so make sure to bring your own food, sunscreen, and snorkeling equipment. There are some rocky parts at the beach and in the water so make sure to bring some good shoes.

Carlos Rosario Beach

Carlos Rosario Beach is often considered the best place to go snorkeling in Puerto Rico. It is usually a pretty quiet beach. At the beach, be prepared for some rocks and other ocean debris on the beach.

The beach at Carlos Rosario Beach is okay but the real highlight is snorkeling. There is a beautiful reef that circles the entire cove. There is usually good snorkeling out by the boat buoys on the left. Be on the lookout for the sign showing the snorkeling areas. Expect to see lots of live corals and Caribbean fish. If you’re lucky, you might see a turtle or stingray.  

If you are walking from Flamenco Beach to Carlos Rosario Beach, there is about a mile walk. It is up a hill and then back down to get to the beach. The other way to get to Carlos Rosario Beach is by hiring a water taxi or renting a kayak.

Culebra Tours

Joining a tour is a great way to visit Culebra. You get the benefit of letting someone else do the planning and you get to sit back and relax. Plus, I also love all of the knowledge and experience guides share during the tours. We always learn so many cool and interesting facts.

If you are interested in joining a tour, there are tours leaving from San Juan or Fajardo or you could meet up with a tour group when you are already on the island of Culebra.

Culebra Tour Leaving from San Juan

This tour includes pickup and drop-off in the San Juan area which is very convenient if you don’t have a rental car. After pickup, you will take a speedboat over to Culebra. You get to visit two different beaches and the use of snorkel equipment and instructions are included. Plus, lunch is included!

Book Your Culebra from San Juan Tour Here

Culebra Tour Leaving from Fajardo

If you have your own transportation or are going to be on the east side of the main island, you can book a tour leaving from Fajardo. Fajardo is about an hour east of San Juan. This tour focuses on the great snorkeling spots around Culebra. You will get to visit two different spots on Culebra.  

Lunch is included as well as some alcoholic beverages. Snorkeling equipment, as well as transportation to Culebra, is included in the tour.

Book Your Culebra from Fajardo Tour Here

Culebra Tour Leaving from Culebra

If you are going to be on the island for at least a night, consider booking a tour departing from Culebra. This is nice because you don’t have to use your tour time going to and from the island. This highly recommended tour will give you the opportunity to kayak and snorkel through some of the prettiest parts of the island of Culebra.

Your tour starts at Tamarindo Beach where you will start your paddle through the Luis Pena Nature Reserve. Then you will get to snorkel through the coral formations and fish near Culebra. After spending time at the beach, you will continue paddling to the seagrass beds where it is common to see the green sea turtles.

Light snacks and refreshments as well as digital photos are included at no extra cost.

Book Your Culebra Tour Here

Culebra Island Restaurants

Before heading over to the beach, we ate lunch at the Dinghy Dock. It is a classic seafood restaurant with a beautiful waterfront dining area. In the water, there is giant tarpon that often eat diners’ leftovers. Rowen and Raven loved watching them swim while eating their lunch.

For dinner, we ate dinner at the Krusty Krab. It is a cash-only restaurant so be prepared. It is well worth a stop in. The Krusty Krab is another seafood restaurant. The menu is written on a chalkboard in the restaurant and is always changing. If the fish tacos are on the menu, order them! They were delicious and came in a very large serving size.

Culebra Island Hotels

There are not any large resorts or hotels on Culebra Island but there are a handful of small hotels and private rentals.

A great hotel option in the heart of Culebra is El Navegante de Culebra. It is two miles from Flamenco Beach. There is an onsite restaurant and bar. Plus, each room comes with air conditioning and WiFi.

They offer a variety of modern rooms ranging from standard queen bedrooms to standard triple rooms which have a twin bed and full bed. It is also close to restaurants and is a quiet area.

If you’re looking for a place outside the city, Club Seabourne Hotel is another great option. It is two miles from the town center and four miles from Flamenco Beach. There’s also an outdoor pool and hammock, perfect for relaxing in the beautiful Culebra weather.

Club Seabourne Hotel also has water sports rentals and massage services! If you’re traveling with a larger group, you can book a two-bedroom villa that has a queen bed and two twin beds. We love having a second bedroom when we stay in a hotel with our kids.

Transportation on Culebra Island

If you are just looking to see Flamenco Beach, there are shuttles that will take you from the ferry terminal to the beach. The shuttle prices are about $5.00 per person, per way. Depending on how many people you have and how you want to spend your time on the island, this is a simple option.

We rented a jeep for about $45 from Carlos Jeep Rental. In addition to car rentals, they have golf carts available. The golf cart rental costs less money but if you have a car seat aged child, you are not able to rent the golf carts. It is nice to have air conditioning in the jeep.

There is a shuttle that will take you from the ferry terminal to Carlos Jeep Rental. It isn’t a bad walk either if you want to have some time to spend wandering the streets of Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Public transportation does not really exist on the island. Taxis operate throughout the island and charge $3-5 depending on the length of the ride.

Internet and Phone Coverage on Culebra Island

Most United States phone providers will work on the island and fall under your US plan.

Safety and Health

Mosquitos can carry Dengue as well as Zika in Puerto Rico so make sure you bring adequate bug repellent.

We used Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent while we were there and it worked great. We did not get any mosquito bites and had a good user experience. They carry both spray and lotion versions.

Other Tips for Visiting Culebra Island

– Bring some toilet paper because most of the restrooms we visited did not have any. We love the compact rolls that easily fit in a backpack or purse.

– You can expect power outages on the island. While we were eating dinner, the power went out. The restaurant continued running as normal.

– There is only one ATM on the Culebra, Puerto Rico so bring some cash with you. Some places only accept cash. Some of the grocers and shops do accept Visa and MasterCard.

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How to Get to Culebra & Vieques from Puerto Rico’s Main Island

Are you planning to stay on the main island during your visit to Puerto Rico? Or are you visiting the popular islands of Culebra and Vieques?

If you ask us, it’s a no-brainer. Commonly known as the Spanish Virgin Islands, Culebra and Vieques are home to some of the most beautiful beaches, world-class snorkeling and diving spots, and one of Puerto Rico’s world-renowned bioluminescent bays. These are just a few of the reasons why you can’t skip a visit to these sparkling gems of the Isle of Enchantment.

You might already be overwhelmed with planning your flight and accommodations for your Puerto Rico trip, but luckily it’s easy to add in a stop to one of these islands. Read on to learn how to get from San Juan to Culebra or Vieques and score some tips on planning your visit.

Culebra is one of the most popular islands in the Puerto Rico archipelago thanks to its stunning white sand beaches, coral reef, and marine life such as turtles. Travelers often take a day or weekend trip to Culebra to enjoy its unparalleled snorkel and dive sites, like the barrier reefs off Playa Carlos Rosario and Playa Tamarindo. Other popular attractions include Flamenco Beach (one of the most beautiful in the world), Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve, and Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.

Just 6 miles from the main island, Vieques is known for its many beautiful beaches, wildlife refuge, and bio bay. Mosquito Bay holds the Guiness World Record for the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, so if you dream of boating or paddling through shimmering water, add this destination to your itinerary. Much of the island is part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, protecting its mangrove forests, salt flats, and beaches. You can explore them on a hiking trail, horseback ride, or on a beach-hopping adventure.

While there’s plenty to see, the main lure of these islands is that they’re relatively deserted, meaning you have plenty of space and time for relaxation. This is your chance to unplug and soak in all the best of nature. Learn more about what to do and where to eat on Culebra and Vieques in our guide to Puerto Rico’s smaller islands.

Ready for your island getaway? Here’s how to get there.

Take the Ferry from Ceiba

The most affordable way to get to Vieques or Culebra is by taking the ferry from Ceiba, but it’s not necessarily the easiest. Ferry tickets only cost about $2 – $3 per passenger each way, so it’s definitely accessible for those traveling on a budget. However, you need to find transportation from San Juan (or wherever you’re staying) to Ceiba, which is about an hour and a half from the city.

If you have a car rental, getting there is easy, but note that you’ll have to park your rental at the ferry terminal and coordinate separate transportation to get around Culebra or Vieques. If you choose a taxi or other form of transportation to get to the ferry terminal, it can get a little pricey.

Something to keep in mind is that residents of the island are given priority over tourists to buy tickets, so you should be sure to secure them in advance (more on this in the tips below). Even with a pre-booked ferry ride, potential delays or cancellations due to weather or other factors could derail your plans.

The ferry runs daily from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and if you’d like to visit both islands, you can ferry between them as well. You can review itineraries, rates, and book your tickets at Porferry.

Fly from San Juan, Fajardo, or Ceiba

Getting to the islands by plane is quicker and more reliable than the ferry, but of course, it comes at a higher cost. Local airlines like Vieques Air Link offer direct flights to Culebra and Vieques from various regional airports, with prices typically around $90. You can fly to the islands from San Juan, Fajardo, or Ceiba (the flight from Ceiba is the shortest at about 15 – 20 minutes).

Another option is to book through a major airline while purchasing your flight to Puerto Rico. You can usually get a combined fare, and you can easily make your connection flight. Just note that you have to leave the international San Juan Airport and board your flight at the Isla Grande Airport, which is just a few minutes away.

If you’re looking for a luxury experience, you can opt for a charter flight from Taxi Aereo, with prices starting at almost $900 for four passengers.

Take a Boat Charter or Tour from Fajardo

The most stress-free way to make your way to Culebra or Vieques and enjoy everything these islands have to offer is on an all-inclusive boat tour or charter. Often departing from Fajardo, these tours make your experience easy. All you have to do is board the boat and let the captain take it from there!

BOOK TOUR TO VIEQUES
BOOK TOUR TO VIEQUES

In addition to transportation, these full-day tours often include lunch, drinks, and snacks, so you don’t have to figure out your meals while you’re visiting the islands. If you’re looking to do some snorkeling, snuba or scuba diving, or beach hopping, you’re covered with all the equipment and expert guidance you need to have a great day in the water.

BOOK TOUR TO CULEBRA
BOOK TOUR TO CULEBRA

When traveling with the whole family or a large group, a boat tour can be the easiest option. Forget about figuring out transportation, dealing with delays at the ferry terminal, or pricey plane tickets — the cost of getting to the island is often included in the price of your tour. Find the perfect Culebra or Vieques tour for your group.

Tips for a Smooth Trip

No matter which option you choose to get to one of the islands, there are a few mistakes you want to avoid to make your trip as headache-free as possible. Follow these tips for an easy, fun experience.

  • Book a tour in advance. If you really want to make the most of your time on Culebra or Vieques, you’re better off exploring with an experienced tour guide. Make sure to book your tour well in advance — they tend to fill up fast, especially during the busy season.
  • If you choose to take the ferry, be sure to purchase your ticket in advance as well. With such low prices, they sell out quickly. And remember, residents get priority access to purchase tickets. You can either purchase them online or go to the terminal a few days before your planned trip and buy them there. If you have no choice but to buy them on the same day, make your way to the terminal as early in the morning as possible.
  • If you choose to rent a car during your vacation, you should also book this ahead of time. If taking the ferry, remember you can’t take your rental car with you — you’ll have to book another one to use on Culebra or Vieques. Don’t get stranded without a car! Planning ahead will guarantee the smoothest trip.
  • If possible, try to visit the islands on a weekday for a more peaceful, uncrowded trip.

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