A Perfect Weekend in Culebra
Situated about 27km (17 miles) east of the mainland of Puerto Rico, Culebra is the epitome of a laid-back paradise. It’s an archipelago comprising the main island and 23 smaller ones that lie off its coast. Though the main island of Culebra takes up just about 10 square miles, its charms are almost limitless. Pristine beaches, impossibly blue waters that teem with sea turtles, an unpretentious island vibe and many other characteristics make Culebra an ideal weekend getaway.
What to do in Culebra
Culebra is truly a beach lover’s dream. From stretches of sand complete with ample facilities to blissfully remote beaches that require a hike to access, there’s something for everyone.
Travelers from all over the world have dubbed Flamenco Beach one of the planet’s most beautiful beaches, and comfortably places near the top of our of best beaches in Puerto Rico. It’s a crescent shaped bay with powder white sand and sparkling turquoise water. There are restrooms and changing facilities, as well as picnic tables under pine trees for a shaded lunch. You can also rent umbrellas and lounge chairs just outside the gates to the beach. Kiosks serving Puerto Rican street food are plentiful. Don’t miss a photo opportunity with the painted tank that rests in the sand. It’s a remnant of the U.S. Navy’s bombing and gunnery practice range that took place until 1975.
Zoni Beach is another popular beach on Culebra, offering a totally different vibe than that of Flamenco Beach. It’s quieter and more remote, and boasts views of St. Thomas, Tortola and Culebra’s archipelago.
The golden sands of Tamarindo Beach are the launching point for many kayaking and snorkeling tours. Tamarindo Beach is part of the Luis Peña Natural Reserve, Puerto Rico’s first marine reserve. A 50-foot (15-m) coral wall offshore teems with colorful marine life. The water is gentle, too, making this beach a great option for families with small children.
Other beaches within the marine reserve area include Carlos Rosario and Melones beaches, both providing rich snorkeling opportunities. Melones Beach is also known for its awe-inspiring sunset views. Isolated beaches Brava and Resaca are nesting sites for the endangered leatherback sea turtle. They nest from April to early June. Round out your beach experience at Larga, Punta Soldado and Las Vacas beaches.
In addition to the above mentioned snorkeling opportunities, Culebra offers more ways to explore the pristine water that surrounds it. Because the island is semi-arid with no fresh water streams, no surface runoff ends in the ocean. As a result, Culebra’s year-round ocean visibility is among the clearest in the world. Various dive sites accommodate novice to experienced divers—thriving coral reefs, caves, deep water drop-offs and sunken boats. Check out Culebra Divers, a fully insured Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) 5-star Dive Center that’s been around since 1987.
- Address: 4 Cll Pedro Marquez, Culebra
- Hours: Tues–Sat, 9am–4pm
- Phone: 787-742-0803
More than 20% of Culebra is a designated national wildlife refuge. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt established it in 1909, making it one of the oldest refuges in the system. The designation helped protect about 85 species of seabirds. Mangrove forests are part of the refuge, and a kayaking tour through the mangrove channels can reveal an abundance of wildlife. The mangroves serve as roosting spots and nesting sites for scaly-naped pigeons, egrets, night herons and endangered brown pelicans. The mangroves also create bountiful nurseries for varied marine life. Culebra Island Adventures and Kayaking Puerto Rico Culebra Kayak & Snorkel are two local kayak outfitters to consider.
Culebra Island Adventures
- Address: Posada del Coronel, Cll 2 #31, General Delivery, Culebra
- Hours: Wed–Sun, 11am–3pm; Closed Mon–Tues
- Phone: 787-529-3536
Kayaking Puerto Rico Culebra Kayak & Snorkel
- Address: Tamarindo Beach, Culebra
- Hours: Daily, 8am–5pm
- Phone: 787-245-4545
Hikers will find plenty of places to roam throughout Culebra. Some hiking trails lead to beaches like Carlos Rosario, Brava and Resaca. You can also take a water taxi to Culebrita, the small uninhabited island off the east coast of Culebra. Hiking trails lead to the Culebrita Lighthouse ruins, the only remaining Spanish-era structure in the Culebra archipelago. Culebrita’s Tortuga Beach is pretty spectacular, too.
It’s small, but Culebra’s historical El Polvorin Museum is definitely worth visiting. The museum provides insight into the history of native Taínos. Documentaries, artifacts and historical photographs document the U.S. Navy occupation, and there are displays on the island’s ecology.
- Address: 8P68+5P4, Fraile
- Hours: Fri–Sun, 10am–3pm
- Phone: 787-742-3832
Where to eat
The restaurant list for Culebra isn’t extensive, but there are solid options. Most restaurants are a casual affair. Caracoles Restaurant labels itself as a fine dining establishment, but it’s more of a food descriptor than a recommendation to wear a coat and tie. Mamacita’s Restaurant and Bar is located within the guesthouse of the same name. Stop by Cafeteria Sanquel for a quick breakfast or lunch. Enjoy pie, calzones, pasta and more at Heather’s Pizza. Dinghy Dock Bar serves up fresh local seafood and gorgeous water views.
Mamacita’s is well known for their popular drink, the bushwacker. Dinghy Dock Bar is popular and very good. Heather’s Pizza is a great place to eat, too! – Gigí Nieves Bosch
As with restaurants all over the world, COVID-19 has altered days and hours of operation. Call ahead to confirm.
- Address: Calle Villa pesquera sector Playa, 655
- Hours: Open Tues–Sun, 5–10pm
- Phone: 787-206-8686
- Menu: They don’t have a menu anywhere, but here’s their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Caracoles-Restaurante-714014902081480/
Mamacita’s Restaurant and Bar
- Address: 66 Calle Castelar
- Hours: Mon–Wed, 11am–10pm; Fri–Sat 8am–11pm; Sun, 8am–10pm
- Phone: 787-742-0090
- Menu: No menu online, but here’s the FB link: https://www.facebook.com/Mamacitas-Bar-Grill-Culebra-Puerto-Rico-153985444645911/?ref=page_internal
- Address: 8M3X+3GJ
- Hours: Mon–Fri, 6am–2:30pm; Closed Sat and Sun
- Phone: 787-358-6828
- Menu: No menu online
- Address: Cll Pedro Marquez
- Hours: Mon–Sat,11am–10pm; Closed Sun
- Phone: 787-742-3175
- Menu: https://www.facebook.com/heatherpizza
Dinghy Dock Bar
- Address: Calle Fulladoza
- Hours: Tues–Sun, 2:30pm–8:30pm
- Phone: 787-599-6429
- Menu: No menu online, but here’s the FB link: https://www.facebook.com/Dinghy-Dock-Culebra-970553193101653/?ref=page_internal
A ferry service runs out of the East Coast town of Ceiba at the Roosevelt Roads Waterfront. While it’s an affordable way to get there (one-way tickets for adults are just $2.50 and $1 for kids), it’s also the least reliable. The ferry leaves three times a day, but routes are sometimes cancelled or full. Your best chance of securing passage is to try and make the first departure at 6am. Don’t forget to factor in your drive time to Ceiba from your current location. Ceiba is a little over an hour drive from San Juan (depending on traffic).
Cape Air, JetBlue and Silver Airways (operated by Vieques Air Link) offer direct flights to Culebra from San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Air Flamenco flies direct from the José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba.
The main part of town is easy enough to get around on foot. However, if you want convenient access to beaches and more remote locations on the island, rent a Jeep or golf cart. Scooters and bicycles are also available for rent.
Carlos Jeep Rental
- Address: Carr. #250 Comunidad Clark
- Hours: Sun–Fri, 6:30am–5pm
- Phone: 787-742-3514
Jerry’s Jeep Rental
- Address: 139 Escudero Airport Road, Culebra
- Hours: Daily, 8am–5pm
- Phone: 787-742-0526
Please note: Hours of operation may change depending on time of year and other factors. Call business to confirm.
Where to stay
There’s a variety of ways to overnight it on Culebra—from basic stays to luxury accommodations. Currently, Airbnb provides 258 listings for Culebra. Prices range from $30/night to $599/night, with categories that include villas, apartments and homes.
You can also book a stay at one of the island hotels. Hotel Kokomo is a boutique hotel conveniently located near the ferry terminal, restaurants and shops. Choose from eight guestrooms, each appointed with Caribbean artwork and bohemian-style furnishings. Guests can also rent the hotel’s private dock (by reservation only).
- Address: 6 Cll Pedro Marquez
- Phone: 607-734-4311
The blue bungalows of Club Seabourne Hotel dot the hillside across from Fulladoza Bay. Guests rest in four-poster beds and enjoy private balconies. A two-bedroom villa is available for larger families. They serve breakfast every morning. The on-site restaurant and bar is open Thurs–Sun for dinner service only.
- Address: Rte. 250
- Phone: 787-742-3169
If you just have one day to spare but still want to experience the unparalleled beauty of Culebra, book a day tour. Many outfitters offer snorkel, beach and kayak tours.
- Address: Dock M-21, Catamaran, Getaway, Villa Marina Yacht Harbor, Fajardo
- Hours: Departures every day starting at 9:30am
- Phone: 787-860-7327
Locals say: “A stress-free way to get to Culebra is through the companies offering catamaran or boat tours. I booked one through Sail Getaways and it was completely hassle free. They provided everything—food, drinks, snorkeling gear and sunblock (that one really saved my life).”
– Che Cimadevilla
If a weekend in Culebra isn’t enough time, consider extending your stay for an entire week. Culebra is the perfect backdrop to do as much — or as little — as you want during your Puerto Rico vacation.