Culebra Island in Puerto Rico, small but with tons of charms

Culebra Island in Puerto Rico

Beautiful and relatively undeveloped, Culebra island in Puerto Rico has tons of charms. Yet don’t expect luxury resorts as on Puerto Rico however a family can enjoy a comfortable, no-frills vacation here.

In the northwestern corner of the island lies Culebra’s most famous landmark: Flamenco Beach.

Flamenco is undeniably gorgeous, as a result it regularly appears on top-global-beaches lists. Its mile-long white crescent seems like it hugs a clear, calm bay. Only the concession and a small hotel interrupt the palm trees flanking the sand.

At Flamenco’s western end, two old tanks, relics of the military exercises, rest on the beach. Graffiti has turned these once-lethal hulks into surreal art installations, a colorful reminder of the island’s controversial past.

Finally across the island, at the Zoni Beach entrance, you can take a self-powered day trip to Culebrita, a one-square-mile island, less than two miles off Culebra, that’s part of the national wildlife refuge. Culebrita Lighthouse, one of the Caribbean’s oldest, crowns its top.

GETTING THERE

Cape Air offers four daily flights on smallplanes from San Juan, about 35 minutes one way, starting at $200 round-trip. A ferry from Fajardo, on the east coast of Puerto Rico, is $4.50 round-trip, with a taxi from San Juan to Fajardo costing about $80.

WHERE TO STAY

Club Seaborne is a clean, well-reviewed hotel with rooms and villas overlooking the bay, free daily breakfast plus kayaks and bicycles for guest use. Doubles from $169, 787-742-3169, clubseabourne.com.
Check out VRBO (vrbo.com) for a list of vacation rentals on Culebra.

WHERE TO EAT

Mamacita’s Restaurant and Bar, 66 Calle Castelar. Get a seat by the stream at twilight and watch tarpons swim in the water and bats hunt for mosquitoes. Entrees $15-$25. 787-742-0090, mamacitasguesthouse.com.

Dinghy Dock, Calle Fulladoza. A popular bar and restaurant on the dock where the water taxi comes and goes. Steaks, hamburgers and daily seafood specials, $12-$30. 787-742-0581
Zaco’s Tacos, 21 Calle Pedro Marquez. Tacos, burritos and more for less than $10. 787-742-0243, zacostacos.com.

WHAT TO DO

Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center, Plaza del Mercado. Offers kayak rentals ($40/day) and because of the area, also paddle board rentals ($75/day), as well as tours and a retail shop that carries beach and snorkeling gear. 787-435-3662,culebrasnorkelingcenter.com.
Culebra Divers, Calle Pedro Marquez #4. The dive shop across from the ferry terminal offers snorkeling trips (from $60), scuba trips (from $85) and scuba classes. 787-742-0803,culebradivers.com.

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