If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Rico, you cannot miss a trip to this stunning island. There aren’t exactly a ton of things to do in Culebra. For me, this little slice of paradise is about the act of not-doing. There is a very small town, a few restaurants and bars that shut by 11pm, and tons of wonderful beaches to keep you busy.
What I enjoyed most about my time on Culebra was sitting on the beach all day, swimming in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, and reading an entire book in only a few days. There’s plenty of delicious food to be had pretty much everywhere on the island, but you can also stock up on your own things and bring them with you on the ferry.
Where to Stay in Culebra
The island of Culebra is quite small, but getting around can be pretty expensive. There are two main ways to get around Culebra – shared taxis or renting a Jeep. The taxis charge per person (between $5 and $10 per trip depending on how far you want to go and what time of day it is). Car rentals start at about $30 USD per day.
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on taxis or renting a car, I suggest staying nearest to where you’ll spend most of your time. For me, that was the beach.
My friend and I stayed at the Villa Flamenco Hotel. There are only two hotels on Flamenco Beach and this is one of them. It’s the more reasonably priced option, but the other Culebra Beach Villas, are actual villas with kitchens so better if you’re interested in self-catering.
Alternatively, you could stay in the town which is known as Dewey. This is where the ferry terminal is and where the majority of the islands bars and restaurants are. If you plan to do day trips around the island and don’t want to spend all your time at Flamenco Beach, then this is the better place to base yourself.
A few nice hotels in Dewey are:
- Mamacita’s Guesthouse: This is a more budget option and is attached to the popular Mamacita’s restaurant. This was actually one of my favorite places to eat and on the weekends there’s live music. It’s very centrally located and it’s easy to get a taxi from here. Rooms start at $89 per night. Book a stay at Mamacita’s Guesthouse here.
- Hotel Kokomo: This is another centrally located hotel that is affordable, but has a few more amenities than the above. It’s also a better option if you don’t want to hear the noise from the town after dark. Rooms start at $100 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Kokomo here.
- Palmetto Guest House: This is just outside of the town, but still easily walkable. This is a great option if you want to rent a car because there is parking available. This is the perfect place if you plan to stay for a while, want to self-cater, or simply don’t want to stay in a crowded or noisy hotel. Book a stay at Palmetto Guest House here.
How to Get to Culebra – The Culebra Ferry
Perhaps the most asked question (which I asked a lot as well) is how to get to Culebra. There are two main ways to get to Culebra: ferry or flight.
You can pre-book your ferry using the new government ferry website. Just note that the website only sells 20% of the tickets for each ferry. So when it says “sold out” it does not mean that that particular ferry is completely full, just that the pre-sale tickets are sold out.
In order to get a ticket on the day of the ferry, you have to get there one hour before the ferry leaves. They do not open the ticket off before then and they do not allow people to line up until one hour before. It’s a bit chaotic and if you plan to go on a weekend or busy holiday time, just be aware it could be very, very busy.
The ferry terminal that takes you to Culebra is at Cieba, NOT Fajardo. That terminal has not been available for ferries to Culebra since the hurricane a few years ago.
Your ferry ticket includes one back per person. If you are bringing additional bags, coolers, beach chairs or anything like that, you pay extra (about $1 or $2 per bag).
Alternatively, Cape Air fly from San Juan airport to Culebra airport. This is the option I chose because we went over Easter weekend and we were worried we wouldn’t be able to get a ferry back for our connecting flights. If you book far enough in advance you can fly for as little as $50 each way.
Things to Do in Culebra
While I may have enjoyed doing nothing in Culebra, there are actually several really great things to do in Culebra that most people will enjoy. This is a really popular spot for Puerto Ricans to come on vacation. There are families, couples, big groups of friends, and people traveling solo here. There’s enough to keep kids busy and enough piña coladas on standby to keep parents happy.
Playa Flamenco (and the US Tanks)
Playa Flamenco is the most famous beach in Culebra. It has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, making it the #1 thing to do in Culebra for most people. It’s a huge stretch of sand and if you are just visiting for the day, you’ll have to pay a few dollars entrance since it’s a national park. They’ll give you a bracelet to wear to make sure you’ve paid.
If you come into the main entrance and turn left after entering the sand, you’ll eventually spot the Sherman tanks that have been left on the sand. The US Navy used to use Culebra as a weapons testing ground. In the ’70s, after 30 years of use, they finally stopped. But they left a few things behind. The most obvious are these two large tanks. The less obvious things are the unused ammunition that has been known to float up onto the beach. Be aware that it exists and if you see something, do not touch it.
Playa Flamenco is a nice place to spend the day because there are tons of places to eat here. Most places open around 10am, so you can enjoy a coffee and empanada, head back out to the stands for lunch and ice cold Medallas, and even grab some grilled fish before it gets dark and the beach closes. The food was pretty reasonably priced with most main dishes costing less than $10.
Playa Tamarindo (Swim with Turtles!)
If you want to swim with sea turtles (and who doesn’t?!) as well as see some of the other wild life in this natural reserve, this is the beach to head. There is actually a nice hotel here where you can stay if this is your main priority. It’s called Tamarindo Estates and has little villas and hotel rooms that you can stay in. It’s within walking distance of the beach. Book a stay at Tamarindo Estates here.
There are people on the beach who will take you right out off the sand so that you can snorkel. There are two tour companies with stands right on the beach, Culebra Island Adventures and Kayaking Culebra. Culebra Island Adventures has a ton of great reviews on Trip Advisor, so that would probably be my pick. I also met one of the guys who runs the tours there and he was incredibly knowledgable about the area.
You came to the island of Puerto Rico to head to the smaller island of Culebra and now you can visit the even smaller island of Culebrita. This little island is actually packed with quite a lot of history. You take a water taxi here or you can take a tour here using one of the many tour companies near the ferry terminal in Dewey.
The main reason to go to Isla Culebrita is Playa Tortuga (turtle beach). There are actually six beautiful beaches to explore on this tiny island and most are completely deserted. Be sure to check out the lighthouse while you’re there, too.
Culebra History Museum
If you want to learn more about what this island has experienced in its past, the Culebra History Museum is definitely worth a visit. The museum is housed in a former naval munitions warehouse. Inside you’ll find exhibits about the ecology and formation of Culebra. It also offers a really fascinating look at the eco-system here and what the locals are doing to help preserve the endangered species that call Culebra home.
Eat and Drink
If beach going was my number one priority while on Culebra, my second (and third) priority was enjoying a ton of local seafood and perhaps a few bushwhackers (the popular local cocktail).
These are my absolute favorite places for food and drink in Culebra:
- Mamacita’s – one of my favorite places for classic Puerto Rican food and really fantastic seafood. They also make a mean piña colada and they have live music well into the night on the weekends. This is probably the bar that’s opened the latest on weekends (and also serves food the latest)
- Dinghy’s Dock – this is a super popular spot for tourists. All of the staff speak English and there’s always really great music playing. It’s a bar most of the day, but they serve dinner from 6pm until about 9pm. We sat at the bar and enjoyed several bushwhackers as well as lots of delicious fish.
- Zaco’s Tacos – I didn’t get a chance to try this place because they were closed for the Easter holiday, but everyone raved about it.
- El Eden – If you want a more upscale dinner spot, this is the place. They have tons of great seafood and Caribbean flavors.
- Krusty Krab – A cheaper option for lunch and dinner, this is where to head for fried fish and other quick seafood options.
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