Isla culebras puerto rico: 25 Things to Do + Best Beaches & How to Get There

Vieques vs Culebra Compared (By a Puerto Rico Local)

Vieques vs Culebra, which should you choose? Many travelers find themselves in a tight spot trying to decide which of these two beautiful Puerto Rico destinations they should visit. 

Culebra and Vieques are both outside the main Puerto Rican island, and they both host some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico, so deciding between the two islands is far from easy. 

But worry not! I’m a Puerto Rico local, and I’ll tell you the highlights of each island, so you can decide which to visit for yourself.

Table of Contents

  • Which is Better Vieques or Culebra? 
    • Advantages of Vieques
    • Advantages of Culebra
    • Vieques is Best For
    • Culebra is Best For
  • Culebra vs Vieques – Detailed Comparison 
    • Culebra or Vieques: Which Has More Things to Do?
    • Vieques or Culebra: Which is Cheaper?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Which is Easier to Get To?
    • Vieques vs Culebra: How is the Public Transportation?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Where Are the Best Beaches?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Which Has the Best Gastronomy?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Where Are the Best Hotels?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Where is the Best Spot for Snorkeling?
    • Culebra vs Vieques: Which Has the Best Beaches for Surfing?
    • Vieques versus Culebra: Which Offers the Best Family Vacation?
    • Culebra versus Vieques: Which One is Safer?
    • Culebra or Vieques: Where is the Best Nightlife?
  • Final Verdict – Vieques or Culebra?
  • FAQs About Culebra & Vieques
    • Which is better Vieques or Culebra?
    • Is snorkeling better in Culebra or Vieques?
    • Is Vieques worth visiting?

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Which is Better Vieques or Culebra? 

Culebrita, in Culebra Puerto Rico

Vieques and Culebra are both Puerto Rican municipality islands outside mainland Puerto Rico, and are reachable only by ferry or airplane. Each island has beautiful beaches and pristine nature. Which island you decide to visit depends on your tastes and the kind of vacation you’re looking for.

Of the two Puerto Rican islands, Vieques is more frequented than Culebra. Besides top-notch beaches, Vieques is home to a bioluminescent bay, a rum factory, a historical fort, and museums. The city also features two popular towns, Isabel II and La Esperanza, where you can enjoy the local gastronomy and the island’s nightlife.

On the other hand, Culebra is the perfect destination for beach vacations in the Caribbean. While the island doesn’t offer as many activities as Vieques, Culebra’s beaches are often among the top beaches of Puerto Rico. Culebra is also a better destination for sailing, snorkeling, diving, and turtle watching. The island is popular for its crystal clear water visibility.

Advantages of Vieques

  • Variety of things to do
  • Bioluminescent Bay 
  • Bigger hotels
  • Varied gastronomy
  • Nightlife

Advantages of Culebra

  • Less crowded 
  • Secluded beaches
  • Best for snorkeling and diving
  • Small inns
  • Optimal for beach camping
  • Less pricey

Vieques is Best For

  • Hikers
  • History enthusiasts
  • Watersports lovers
  • Gastronomy travelers
  • Surfing 
  • Animal lovers (wild horses run around Vieques)
  • Family trips

Culebra is Best For

  • Beach bumming
  • Snorkeling and diving
  • Turtle watching
  • Taking a day trip
  • Beach camping
  • Couples 

Culebra vs Vieques – Detailed Comparison 

Both Vieques and Culebra are Puerto Rico municipality islands with some of the best diving, swimming, and snorkeling in Puerto Rico. They’re also both easy to reach from San Juan, have a National Wildlife Refuge, and they’re overall in the same budget range.

In the below table, I compare Culebra vs Vieques in the areas of things to do, cost and budget, how easy it is to get there, public transportation, beaches, gastronomy, hotels, and nightlife:

Feature/Category Vieques Culebra 🏆 Winner
Things to Do Great beaches, a bio bay, historical forts, museums, and a wildlife refuge Magazine-worthy beaches with high visibility and uncrowded outdoors Vieques
Cost & Budget Touristic hotels, restaurants, and tours are pricey Pricey restaurants, but hotels are under $200 a night. Culebra
Getting There 30-minute a ferry, 25 minutes by plane from San Juan International Airport  45 minutes on a ferry, 25 minutes by plane from Isla Grande Airport  Vieques
Public Transportation Carros públicos take you to the main attractions in Vieques No public transportation. Very few taxis on call Vieques
Beaches Secluded pristine beaches for surfing, snorkeling, hiking, and swimming Crystal-clear beaches for snorkeling, diving, sunbathing, walking, and camping Culebra 
Gastronomy Amazing food options from Puerto Rican gastronomy to American food Restaurants in Dewey town, and a few food trucks around the island Vieques
Hotels Both family-friendly, and adults-only hotels close to nearby attractions Smaller inns with a familiar vibe, mostly budget-friendly  Vieques
Snorkeling Multiple beaches for snorkeling and diving around reefs, seasonal strong currents Clear beaches for snorkeling and diving, with reefs, caves, and shipwrecks Culebra
Surfing Easy access to beaches with strong surf, you can find other surfers  Only two beaches for surfing, reachable after a long hike Vieques 
Family Friendliness Family-friendly activities like horseback riding, kayaking, surfing, and hiking Laid-back romantic atmosphere, with beach-related activities only Vieques
Safety Occasional petty theft in touristic areas Occasional petty theft in main touristy areas, but safe nightlife  Tie
Nightlife  Lively atmosphere and nightlife with live music in bars and restaurants While beautiful all around, Culebra’s only nightlife is stargazing Vieques

Culebra or Vieques: Which Has More Things to Do?

Vieques and Culebra are both municipality islands with mesmerizing beauty and paradisiacal beaches. While Culebra is home to Flamenco Beach, often considered one of the top beaches in the world, Vieques boasts the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. 

Besides great beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing, Vieques’ top attractions include Fortin Conde de Mirasol, sugarcane ruins, military bunkers left behind by the US Navy, the Crab Island Rum Distillery, and Hacienda Tamarindo. Vieques also has two popular towns with restaurants and bars: Isabel II, and La Esperanza.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Vieques or Culebra: Which is Cheaper?

Overall, Culebra is cheaper to visit than Vieques. Since it’s less visited than Vieques, and it doesn’t have any mega-resorts on it, it’s easy to find a place to stay for less than $200 a night. While downtown gastronomy is pricey, you can hunt around for food trucks and local spots for cheaper prices. 

Access to most beaches is also free, and visitors that bring everything on their beach packing list won’t be spending much on food or snorkeling rentals. Vieques towns, Isabel Segunda and La Esperanza, are more touristy and expensive. Taking tours in Vieques could make your trip to the island pricier.

🏆 Winner: Culebra

Culebra vs Vieques: Which is Easier to Get To?

The ferry terminal at Vieques

Whether you’re visiting Culebra or Vieques, you’ll only be able to get to these small islands through a ferry or an airplane. The ferry ride to Culebra usually takes 45 minutes, fifteen minutes more than it takes for Vieques, and they both depart from Ceiba’s ferry terminal. 

While airplanes to Vieques leave directly from the San Juan Airport, visitors that want to travel to Culebra will have to take a ride from the San Juan Airport to Isla Grande Airport, where they can catch a flight. So, in general, it’s easier to reach Vieques than Culebra, Puerto Rico.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Vieques vs Culebra: How is the Public Transportation?

My rental Jeep on Vieques

Culebra doesn’t have public transportation, but visitors can call a taxi to move from one side to another, rent a car through Discover Cars, or a bike.

If you want to get around without a rental car, Vieques is a better option. Vieques island has carros públicos, which are a type of taxi that waits for visitors in the ferry terminal and that are often shared with multiple travelers. Fares are usually under $20 and they take you to Vieques’ most popular spots or where you choose to stay in Vieques.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Culebra vs Vieques: Where Are the Best Beaches?

Deciding which has the best beaches, Culebra or Vieques, is a hard task. If it comes down to clear, calm waters with turtles and coral reefs, then Culebra should be your choice. 

Culebra’s top beaches include Flamenco Beach, Zoni Beach, Playa Tamarindo, and Playa Tortuga, located on one island outside Culebra. On some Culebra beaches, you can even see turtles swimming on the shore. They are also less crowded and often cleaner.

The top Vieques beaches include a beautiful black sand beach known as Playa Negra, as well as other 40 mesmerizing beaches along its shoreline.

🏆 Winner: Culebra 

Culebra vs Vieques: Which Has the Best Gastronomy?

Gastronomy in Vieques and Culebra is fairly similar. With many ex-pats living on both islands, you will find plenty of American-style restaurants on the higher side of the budget in Dewey, a tiny town in Culebra, and La Esperanza in Vieques. 

Vieques, being the largest out of the two islands, and the one that receives the most visitors, boasts more restaurants with both American and Puerto Rican cuisines.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Culebra vs Vieques: Where Are the Best Hotels?

Visitors often complain about the lack of large big hotels in Culebra and Vieques. Since both islands have nature reserves and are considered Puerto Rican paradises, locals oppose urbanization on the island’s shoreline as an effort to keep them as they are. 

But, if you’re looking for a variety of hotels, there are more places to stay in Vieques. You’ll find multiple types of hotels on the north and south of the island with diverse price ranges.

🏆 Winner: Vieques 

Culebra vs Vieques: Where is the Best Spot for Snorkeling?

The best beaches for snorkeling are, without a doubt, in Culebra. Flamenco Beach, Playa Carlos Rosario, and Tamarindo Grande offer easy access to reefs. Culebra also has sites with shipwrecks and underwater caves worth exploring.  

Also, Culebrita is a small cay that belongs to Culebra, famous among visitors for its visibility and many sea turtles. While Vieques offers some great good snorkeling sites, none of them compare with Culebra’s clear waters.

🏆 Winner: Culebra 

Culebra vs Vieques: Which Has the Best Beaches for Surfing?

While Culebra boasts the top beaches for snorkeling, it’s not the same with beaches for surfing. Resaca Beach and Brava Beach are the two popular beaches for surfing in Culebra, but you can only reach them after hiking for more than 20 minutes.  

This also means they’re often lonely and if you surf by yourself, no one will come to your rescue in case of emergency.

In contrast, Vieques features plenty of spots with easy access for surfing like Navio Beach, El Gallito Beach, La Chata Beach, and Punta Galindez. Multiple surfers live on the island, so you’ll see a few catching waves in the early morning.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Vieques versus Culebra: Which Offers the Best Family Vacation?

Vieques and Culebra are both beach destinations, and they’re family-friendly too. But, Culebra is often seen as a romantic destination for couples, laid-back nature lovers, or newlyweds planning a Puerto Rico honeymoon. Beaches are lowkey, relaxing, and uncrowded. 

Vieques offers a more lively atmosphere and more things to do with the family including visiting museums, a bio bay, horseback riding, yoga, and diving.

🏆 Winner: Culebra

Culebra versus Vieques: Which One is Safer?

Both Vieques and Culebra are considered tourist-friendly destinations in Puerto Rico, and therefore are as safe as Old San Juan. Occasional petty theft occurs on both Puerto Rico’s islands, but it’s easily preventable by taking common traveling safety measures. 

Check out my Puerto Rico safety guide to know all about the safety measures to take on the island.

🏆 Winner: Tied

Culebra or Vieques: Where is the Best Nightlife?

Night owls and party lovers are better off in Old San Juan. But, if they’re deciding between Culebra and Vieques, then they should visit Vieques. Vieques features two dynamic towns with bars and restaurants: Isabel Segunda, and La Esperanza, which is the perfect stop after a Vieques biobay tour

Depending on the day of the week, and the season you’re visiting Puerto Rico, La Esperanza’s restaurants have live music and fill up with lively backpackers that stay in nearby hostels.

🏆 Winner: Vieques

Final Verdict – Vieques or Culebra?

Flamenco Beach in Culebra

Is Culebra or Vieques better for visiting? The answer will depend on what you’re looking for. Culebra is the best beach destination on the east coast and Puerto Rico. Beaches are crystal clear, full of fine white sand, and uncrowded. Travelers looking for a tranquil experience alongside the beach without the mega-hotels that disturb the peace in some Spanish Virgin Islands should head over to Culebra.

But, Vieques is the island for those who want a combination of beaches, fresh seafood, nature, and history. Besides boasting one of the few black sand beaches in Puerto Rico, Vieques is home to Mosquito Bay, the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay. It also has a beautiful Wildlife Refuge full of hiking trails, hidden beaches, fishing sites, and photography-perfect cliff views.  

While Culebra is the best Puerto Rican island for beach bums, Vieques is best for adventure seekers, nature lovers, and families traveling in groups.

FAQs About Culebra & Vieques

Which is better Vieques or Culebra?

Vieques is a better destination for families or couples looking for a combination of great beaches, kayaking, and horseback riding. The island has museums, a rum distillery, and historical ruins worth visiting. Meanwhile, Culebra is a more laid-back destination for relaxing at the beach, snorkeling, and diving.

Is snorkeling better in Culebra or Vieques?

While both Culebra and Vieques have top-notch beaches for snorkeling, Culebra beaches offer the best visibility, as well as easy access to reefs with marine life. Culebra is also one of the best spots in Puerto Rico to see sea turtles while snorkeling. 

Is Vieques worth visiting?

Vieques is one of Puerto Rico’s best places to visit. Vieques is home to the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay, as well as a National Wildlife Refuge that hosts multiple of the best beaches in Puerto Rico. The municipality island also has a rum distillery worth visiting.

***

Now you know everything you need to know about Vieques and Culebra, and you can decide for yourself which one you should visit.  If you’ve already been to Vieques and Culebra, check out my list of these other amazing places in Puerto Rico you can visit.  

Have fun in Vieques or Culebra!

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Tourists head to Puerto Rican island, Culebra, not knowing it lacks lifeguards and medical solutions

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Puerto Ricans have been protesting to dissuade tourists from entering and destroying the island’s beaches. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images.

Known for its crystal clear beaches, Culebra has been gaining the attention of Americans from the Mainland, but it can be dangerous.

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Flamenco Beach, Tamarindo Beach, and Larga Beach, are all located in the small, but beautiful island of Culebra, a municipality of Puerto Rico. The island has no hotels or big named restaurants, just wildlife, such as chickens and sea turtles.

CBS News reported that between 500,000 and 700,000 tourists visit the island yearly to do some snorkeling and relax on the island’s beaches.

The quaint island, just 17 miles outside of Puerto Rico and home to 1,800 residents, lacks medical emergency support or lifeguards for its locals. 

Culebra’s mayor, Edilberto Romero Llovet, explained that the high cost of living on the island, such as inflation and high rent, has been making it hard to employ proper EMTs and medical professionals so its residents and tourists stay safe.

“I need paramedics, I need a doctor, and I need technical emergency services. I need those people to come work for us in Culebra,” he said to CBS News.

However, the mayor has been taking steps in order to protect its people. For example, there are bilingual signs anchored on its beaches to ensure that non-Spanish visitors know that there are no lifeguards on duty.

As Culebra continues to host tourists from all over the world, its mainland, Puerto Rico, has been demonstrating protests to dissuade tourists from entering and destroying its beaches.

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Local environmental activists have been heading to Los Almendros beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico, in early July to protest the development of a condominium that is in the process of being completed.

The construction of the condo originally began last year, making this occurrence a devastating one for local residents.

Protestors from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez spoke with The Guardian, to discuss the upsetting betrayal from developers who are continuingly plotting to create condos and other real estate schemes.

The protestors destroyed parts of Sol Y Playa condominium complex, which is being developed illegally due to improper environmental impact studies. 

Puerto Rico is still reeling from both Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma in 2017, which caused damage throughout the island. Protestors are furious that developers not only have no remorse for the citizens of Puerto Rico, but are continuing to build on their land.

“Construction in the coast not only puts the marine-terrestrial zones and public domain in danger, but you’re also risking people’s lives in the properties,” Wilmar Vázquez, a member of the group In Defense of Our Beaches, said to The Guardian. “Hurricane María was an eye-opener and a step toward change.”

Protestors continue to stand up for the island’s beaches and urge developers to seize operations.

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Puerto Rico Islands (USA) — beaches and attractions

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Puerto Rico Islands (USA) — Beaches & Attractions

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Puerto Rico is an amazing place that combines the typical features of the United States, Latin America, a tropical island that attracts lazy vacationers and adventurers. And it’s all thanks to his amazing story.

Puerto Rico — a free territory administered by the United States — unites many islands, not all of which are inhabited. The largest is the island of Puerto Rico. This island can be safely called cosmopolitan, there are no conventions and prejudices. For this, he is loved primarily by US citizens and, of course, numerous tourists from many other countries of the world.

It is recommended to go here for a long vacation — from a week or more. At the same time, you need to take luggage that is as durable as possible — a plastic suitcase on wheels of a suitable size and a good city backpack with comfortable straps.

Absolutely incompatible things are combined on the island. A huge ultra-modern shopping center is located in the thickets of the jungle. Next to an ancient fortress, the trendy club has a vibrant nightlife. On the paradise beach, there is a casino where vacationers leave a lot of money. It is unlikely that such an insane combination of modernity with wild nature is possible anywhere else.

To travel back to the era of the development of America by Europeans, you should go to San Juan. This city, built during the colonial period, has retained many buildings from that time. The city has two fortresses built in the 15th century. In addition, here you can visit museums, learn a lot of interesting things about the history of the city and the island, as well as about the older period preceding the discovery of the American continent by Columbus. Before this event, the Indians of the Tiano tribe lived here. Surprisingly, the traditions and culture of this people are still alive today.

Going to the neighboring islands, you can get impressions of a different kind. On the island of Isla Mola, seeing flocks of bats, huge iguanas, unusual geological formations, tourists will feel like time travelers. It is worth visiting Culebra Island to see the huge waves 15 meters high, which all surfers dream of. You can also try to stand on the board or dive in the coral reefs.

Numerous beaches are ready to accept vacationers with different preferences. Seekers of secluded relaxation are better off heading to Resaca Beach on Culebra Island, Mar Chiquita Beach in Manati, or one of the quiet beaches of Puerto Rico Island, where there are quite a few of them. Surfers, apart from the island of Culebra, can catch the perfect waves by heading to San Juan, Manati or Luquilla.

On the island of Vieques, the beaches of Blue Beach and Playa Esperanza are excellent conditions for scuba diving. The rich underwater world can also be seen by diving on the south coast of Culebra Island. Having settled on the Palomino resort island, you can enjoy all kinds of active beach holidays, including excursions, walks, sports, parties. Incorrigible adventurers can try to find treasures at Puerto Hermina beach in Quebradillas, where pirates and smugglers used to like to stop.

Visiting restaurants in between various types of recreation, tourists will get a gastronomic experience. The local cuisine has combined Mexican, Spanish, Cuban culinary traditions and the preferences of the native Indians. Chicken and fish are the most used in the preparation of local dishes. Favorite drinks are beer and rum. By the way, in Puerto Rico there is the world’s largest rum factory, where you can go on a tour that includes a tasting of this drink.

Everyone who gets to Puerto Rico gets the impression that this place is specially created for tourists. There is entertainment for every taste, no one will be left without impressions.

Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico

08 June 2022

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Puerto Rico, a US dependent territory in the West Indies, occupies the island of Puerto Rico, as well as the islands of Vieques, Culebra, Mona and others from the Greater Antilles group.

The total area of ​​Puerto Rico is 9.1 thousand km². From west to east of the main island, the Cordillera Central ridge stretches up to 1338 m high, along the northern and southern coasts — lowlands.

Puerto Rico has a tropical trade wind climate. Average monthly temperatures fluctuate slightly: from 24°С to 28°С. Precipitation falls from 800 to 2500 mm per year. The island is covered with evergreen and mixed forests; drought-resistant shrubs and woodlands predominate in the south and west. Samples of the virgin nature of Puerto Rico are preserved in the Luquillo Reserve.

Puerto Rican population 3. 2 million, mostly Puerto Ricans; of these, Creoles (descendants of Spanish settlers) — 73%, mulattoes — 23%, blacks — 4%. The capital of the country is San Juan. The urban population is 71%. In addition, more than 2 million Puerto Ricans live in the United States, 1.1 million of them in New York. The official languages ​​on the island are Spanish and English.

The peak tourist season falls on the first quarter of the year, however, this is more due to the climatic features of Europe and North America than to the weather in Puerto Rico itself. If you want to avoid the influx of tourists and sky-high prices, take a chance and go on a trip in the summer when tropical hurricanes hit the island.

Puerto Rico is a good place to shop because, unlike the US, there is no sales tax on the island (except for jewelry). It is better to arrange a «hunt for things» in the business district of San Juan Hato Ray, where the most solid shopping center in the Caribbean, Plaza Las Americas, is located. There are 190 shops and boutiques of world famous brands here. Prices for goods are in most cases lower than in Europe and the USA. By the way, according to the American Tourism Industry Association, nine out of ten foreigners consider shopping to be the undoubted advantage of Puerto Rican tours.

We advise you to buy souvenirs and handicrafts in the shops and galleries of the Old Town (you can bargain there). Among the souvenirs, the most interesting are grotesque masks made of coconut and wooden, elegantly painted figurines of a religious nature — «santo». The island is also famous for its beautiful hammocks, macrame and ceramics.

Each city in Puerto Rico celebrates the day of its guardian angel — a religious festival with an admixture of African, Spanish and Indian traditions. The brightest of these celebrations are in San Juan (July John the Baptist Day), Mayaguez (February Day of the Virgin of Candelaria) and Loiza (July St. James Day). Among the other events of the cultural calendar worthy of mention are the January St.

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