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Our Favorite Things to Do & See in Culebra

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The Caribbean is a mosaic of shimmering blue waters, balmy breezes, and islands that offer a slice of paradise on Earth. Amongst this mosaic is an often overlooked gem, the enchanting island of Culebra. Far from the madding crowds, this slice of paradise nestled near Puerto Rico is more than just another dot on the map. With its rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty, Culebra beckons travelers looking for a more authentic, tranquil Caribbean experience.

So, if the idea of sunbathing on pristine beaches, exploring vibrant marine life, and soaking up island rhythms sounds tempting, let's dive deeper into what makes Culebra so irresistibly special.

Culebra: What Makes It So Special

Swimming in the Caribbean Ocean at sunset. If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean, Culebra may not even be on your vacay radar. But it should be! This beautiful tropical island off the Puerto Rican coast is the perfect retreat for some well-earned R&R.

You can relax and unwind on sun-kissed beaches, dive into turquoise waters teeming with marine life, or explore palm-fringed landscapes and the colorful island town of Culebra Pueblo (also known as Dewey).

Whether you’re combining your trip to Culebra with a stay in San Juan or plan to spend your entire vacation here, there’s much to see and do. Hop aboard a boat trip to explore hidden coves hard to reach by land. Take a kayak tour or paddleboard to explore the coastline and neighboring cays. Discover the island’s rich history in the local museum or connect with nature at Culebra National Wildlife Refuge – a haven for birdlife and rare lizard species.

In the evenings, sip margaritas or feast on mouthwatering seafood while watching spectacular sunsets. Afterwards, find a local bar with live music and get to know the island residents. It’s a blissful end to a day in paradise!

Where is Culebra

Culebra's location on a map. Culebra is super easy to reach. The island is located 20 miles off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico near Fajardo. If you’re a U.S. citizen and plan to spend time in Culebra, you’re in luck too! You don’t need to obtain a visa, nor are you even required to have a passport to visit, as the island is a U.S. territory!

So, what’s so special about Culebra? I’m glad you asked! This tiny island is just 10 square miles in size and surrounded by 20+ cays perfect for diving and snorkelling. It is a haven for marine life and birdlife and your trip can be as activity-driven or as laid-back as you choose. The beaches here are some of the finest in the Caribbean, if not the world. In fact, they frequently rank in the world’s top 50!

The History of Culebra

Culebra island is known by many names. Isla Chiquita (Little Island) and Ultima Virgin (Last Virgin) -due to its position as the last island in the Virgin Island archipelago. But my personal favorite is Cuna del Sol Borincano with its poetic meaning “Cradle of the Puerto Rican Sun”.

The island has a rich history which can be discovered at the Museo Histórico de Culebra. Here you’ll learn all about the indigenous Taino people – who once lived on Culebra. Discover what happened when the Spanish fleet arrived and delve into the culture, ecology and ecosystems that make this tiny island special.

All across the island you can see remnants of Culebra’s past life – from when it was governed by the Spanish, to when it became a territory of the United States. One such highlight is the graffiti-covered tank abandoned on Flamenco Beach, providing a unique opportunity for selfies.

Visiting Culebra Today

Baby blue sea turtle on the beach. If you are thinking about visiting the island of Culebra today, what can you expect? Well, you’ll be pleased to learn that Culebra is both safe and welcoming for tourists. It caters to solo travelers, couples, families, and groups of friends seeking sun, sea, and outdoor fun.

If you’re looking for theme parks, big cities, shopping malls, and buzzing nightclubs, this place may not be for you. But if you want to unplug from the outside world for a while and relax in nature, enjoy outdoor activities, watersports and discover rare marinelife and wildlife, you’ll adore this place.

Culebra Pueblo (Dewey) boasts a selection of small shops, a small performing arts theatre, cool cafes and restaurants.

Suppose you’re a bit of a foodie. In that case, Culebra has some great casual dining restaurants specializing in seafood – Krusty Krab (great for watching the sunset), Zaco’s Tacos, Susie’s Restaurant and Dinghy Dock are a few local favorites. In these eateries menus change daily, depending on the fresh produce available. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of seafood dishes though. In addition to fish tacos, shrimp and mahi-mahi, most restaurants also serve burgers, pizzas, BBQ ribs, steak, and yummy desserts!

When to Visit Culebra

If you wish to immerse yourself in local culture, the island hosts a variety of events throughout the year.

  • February: A thrilling windsurfing competition takes place on the island.
  • March: There’s an island fishing tournament.
  • July: Culebra Festival is a huge party, dedicated to the island’s patron saint. It’s held in Culebra Pueblo every year, with parades, street food, live music, costumes, and dancing.
  • November: A fun crafts festival is often held during this month.
  • New Year’s Eve: Gather for a huge fireworks display with live music by the ferry port to mark the year’s end.

Aside from these events, you can also visit Culebra at any time of year for excellent snorkeling, diving, photography, great food, and beach fun!

What You’ll See When You Arrive at Culebra

Street festival in Puerto Rico. If you’re planning to visit the idyllic Puerto Rican island of Culebra, what can you expect to see?

  • Sun-Drenched Beaches: Relax on the soft powdery sands of Playa Flamenco, Taramindo Beach (safe haven for sea turtles), Zoni Beach, and Carlos Rosario Beach (both great for snorkeling).
  • Underwater Treasures: While diving or snorkeling, discover angel fish, bluetail fish, stingrays, and sea turtles, alongside thriving coral reefs, sunken boats, and cave tunnels.
  • Lush Mountain Landscapes: Culebra is covered in lush, tropical vegetation with ancient forests, cacti, and walking trails.
  • Culebra National Wildlife Reserve: Explore unique and diverse ecosystems – home to 50,000 seabirds, endangered sea turtles, and a rare lizard species named in honor of Theodore Roosevelt Jr - a former governor of Puerto Rico.
  • Paradise Islands & Cays: Book a boat charter to see Playa Tortuga and idyllic cays off the shores of Culebra. Visit Isla Culebrita with its historic lighthouse and wildlife or enjoy a kayaking tour to Luis Peña Marine Reserve.
  • The Island Museum of History: Learn all about the history of this diminutive Caribbean island inside a former munitions warehouse once occupied by the Navy. Discover local exhibits and artifacts and explore the lives of the island’s indigenous Taino people and their heritage.
  • Vibrant Local Culture: Uncover a culture steeped in centuries-old traditions. Attend colorful festivals and listen to live music – a combination of sultry salsa, bomba, and reggaeton rhythms.

Staying Safe & Fitting In While Visiting Culebra

It’s pretty easy to stay safe in Culebra. On an island where everyone knows everybody else, the crime rate is really low. Obviously, while in any new destination, it’s always wise to remain vigilant. Keep jewelry and valuables to a minimum while out and about, as you would anywhere else, and always be respectful of local traditions and culture, particularly when entering sacred spaces or places of worship.

Culebra Weather & Climate

Beach on Culebra. Pack your beach gear because the weather on Culebra is usually hot, hot, hot! Between November and March, expect dry and sunny days with daily temperatures averaging a baking 29°C/ 84°F.

From June until October, it’s a little hotter, and there’s a greater chance of showers in the later months. It can also be pretty humid especially in July and August. However, if you can stand the heat, you can attend the fantastic Culebra Festival, and these are great times for diving.

In the shoulder season months of April, May, or June, it’s possible to gain cheaper flights and accommodation. Temperatures are warm and humid, although you may receive the odd rain shower during your stay.

Getting To & Around Culebra

The best ways to reach Culebra are by small airplane or ferry from the Puerto Rican mainland.

Flying to Culebra from Puerto Rico: You can do so from Isla Grande or SJU airports. The cost is around $70-90 per person for a return trip.

Ferry to Culebra from Ceiba Ferry Terminal: For a more cost-effective approach, hop aboard the local passenger ferry, the journey time is 45 minutes and tickets cost less than $5 per person. It’s worth noting that rental cars can’t be brought onto the island (since January 2023), however you can rent a vehicle on Culebra. All visitors to the island also now pay a $2 fee regardless of transportation method.

Want to know how to get around while on the island? It’s easy. You can actually walk from one coast of the island to another or rent a car, jeep, scooter, mountain bike or golf cart. There are shared shuttles operating to beaches too. Alternatively, book a tour to your chosen destination!

Discover the Magic of Culebra

Culebra, the 'Cradle of the Puerto Rican Sun', is not just another destination – it's an experience waiting to be cherished. Whether you're an adventurer, a history buff, or someone seeking solace away from the hustle and bustle, this island offers a unique Caribbean embrace. With its world-renowned beaches, intriguing history, and the genuine warmth of its locals, Culebra is more than just a travel destination – it's a call to experience life at its most serene and authentic. So, next time you're charting a course for the Caribbean, let Culebra's sun-kissed shores and turquoise waters guide your way.

AW
Angela W

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