Culebrita beach: Culebrita | Discover Puerto Rico

Isla Culebrita | Culebra, Puerto Rico | Attractions

If you need a reason to hire a water taxi, Isla Culebrita (Culebrita Island) is it. This small island, just east of Playa Zoni, is part of the national wildlife refuge. With its six beaches, tide pools, reefs and nesting areas for seabirds, Isla Culebrita has changed little in the past 500 years.

The north beaches, especially the long crescent of Playa Tortuga, are popular nesting grounds for green sea turtles – you might even see them swimming near the reefs just offshore.

The Isla is also home to Faro Culebrita. Built in 1886, it was one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the Caribbean when it was shut down by the US Navy in 1975. Currently in ruins, it is earmarked for extensive repairs. A well-marked path leads you there – the lighthouse itself is off-limits but the vistas are picture-postcard perfect.

Bring a lot of water, sunscreen and a hat if you head for Isla Culebrita – there’s little shade here. And don’t forget snacks and snorkel gear!

How to get to Isla Culebrita

Unless you’ve chartered a boat (or have your own), round-trip water taxis from Culebra are the only way to see Isla Culebrita. These cost around US$65 per person, including beach gear, hammock and snorkel set.

Water taxis

There are a number of reliable water taxis who will take you to Isla Culebrita, but if they are booked, you’ll often find captains along Dewey’s waterfront.

h3O Water Taxi

Captain German offers round-trip boat service to Culebra’s nearby cays. Beach and snorkel gear often included in his rates. Phone 787-685-5815 or email [email protected]

Cayo Norte Water Taxi

Licensed Captain Louis Padrón offers tours and water-taxi services to Isla Culebrita, Cayo Norte and Cayo Luis Peña. Phone 787-376-9988.

Can I stay on Isla Culebrita?

As Isla Culebrita is uninhabited, there are isn’t anywhere else to sleep on the island. The nearest hotels are on Culebra.

Beaches 

There are several beaches on the island, though most people will only visit one or two in a day.

West Beach

This is where the majority of water taxis from Culebra Island will moor up. It’s a lovely narrow stretch of twinkling sand on the west of the island.

Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach)

The diamond-dust sands of this crescent-shaped beach on the north coast is used by sea turtles as a breeding ground, hence its name. At the head of the beach are a number of rocks which absorb the waves and create warm tidal pools, known locally as the Jacuzzi.

Trash Beach

Strong winds and undercurrents can mean that Trash Beach lives up to its name — it’s where flotsam, jetsam, driftwood and plastic tends to end up if the conditions are right.

However, this isn’t always the case. If you’re lucky, it’s a glorious stretch of isolated sand on the east of the island where the waves can boom theatrically.

East Beach

Although it’s close to Trash Beach, this smaller slice of paradise doesn’t suffer from the same issues and has a decent pedigree among snorkelers. You’ll also find two of the lagoons nearby.

South Beach

This secluded stretch of shoreline is the least visited, but affords some of the best snorkeling.

Cayo Luis Peña

It may be less visited than Isla Culebrita, but Cayo Luis Peña can be a good, cheaper alternative. You’ll pass this small cay of peaks, rocks, forests and coves just a few minutes before the ferry arrives at Culebra’s dock. 

This island is part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge and has a collection of small sheltered beaches and snorkeling all around the island. Luis Peña is a short kayak or water-taxi trip (fares from US$40 per person) from Culebra.
 

Tortuga Beach

Culebrita is a small island off the East coast of Culebra. It is part of the Nature Reserve of Culebra and is home to one of the oldest lighthouses in the Caribbean. As a small island, measuring approximately one mile in length, it boasts six different beaches and tidal pools. Accessible only by boat, Culebrita is a small step away from deserted beach paradise.

The main beach in Culebrita is Tortuga Beach or Turtle Beach. As you may have guessed, the name comes from the large number of turtles (hawksbill and leatherback) who visit the island either for nesting or feeding purposes. Tortuga Beach is a horseshoe of white powder-like sand and crystal clear waters. It is a great beach for swimming and amateur snorkeling. The best snorkeling in Culebrita is done on the East and South beaches of the island. Still, you could bump into a hawksbill turtle while snorkeling in Tortuga Beach. We did! Just look our cover.

You might think that once you get to Tortuga Beach, lie on the beach and swim in its pristine waters, you’re  adventure is done. Guess again! From Tortuga you have very different hiking options. There are trails that lead you either to the East to Trash Beach, the West to West Beach, the North to the tidal pools, or the South to the lighthouse. I recommend the shortest and the longest hikes.

The shortest hike is to the tidal pools. If you hike  North of Tortuga Beach for about 10 minutes, you will find yourselves in Culebrita’s tidal pools or the Jacuzzis. These natural pools are kept warm by the Caribbean weather and almost demand that you sit and relax in them. If you’re planning to walk to the tidal pools, don’t leave behind your shoes. Part of the hike involves navigating through some unforgiving rocks.

The longest hike from Tortuga is to the lighthouse. Completed in 1886, it was one of the oldest operating  ighthouses in the Caribbean until it was closed in 1959. Although the hike is long, you will experience some of  Culebrita’s wildlife. You will see birds and different species of cacti. Once you get to the lighthouse itself, you will enjoy views of Culebra, St. Thomas and Cayo Norte, not to mention the views of Culebrita’s own beaches. For this hike, please remember to bring water and a light snack. Don’t forget your camera and please, don’t take souvenirs from this historic building.

When traveling to Tortuga Beach, remember the following tips. Tortuga is a beach on Culebrita island. There are no amenities to speak of so bring all you need for day of fun in the sun, swimming and hiking. Plan ahead either or a water taxi or a Culebrita island tour guide. Reservations are definitely suggested. Remember that Culebrita is  part of the Natural Reserve so tread lightly on the hiking paths and mind the corals while snorkeling. Most importantly, be ready to have fun in this little piece of paradise.


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