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Culebra Overview

If you came to Puerto Rico in search of a picture-perfect beach, look no further than Culebra. The island easily has the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico, and thanks to its crystalline water, it is also home to several superb snorkeling spots. What makes this prime tourist destination unique is the small-town charm it has retained. With just over 2000 inhabitants, this is an island where neighbors stop to chat with each other and the ferry arrival is the big event of the day. Because nearly everyone is employed in the tourist industry, Culebrans are friendly to travelers: from helping change a flat tire to reminding you to wear sunscreen, they go out of their way to make sure you enjoy their island. Tiny Culebra has few cultural attractions, and the dry vegetation is more like that of the Virgin Islands than tropical eastern Puerto Rico, but the beaches alone are reason enough to visit.

Culebra has not always been such a haven of tranquility. In 1901, two years after winning the Spanish-American war, the US government established military bases on Culebra, forcing residents to resettle in the area now known as Dewey. In 1975, after years of using the island as a bombing range, the military moved all exercises to Vieques, but Americans continued to flock to Culebra. The island now houses a significant expat population, composed mostly of Americans who came on vacation and never left. During holidays such as Christmas and Semana Santa, the island’s population can increase by as much as 15,000, as Puerto Ricans head east on their own vacations. In recent years, some locals have complained that a younger generation more interested in rowdy beach antics than peace and quiet has discovered Culebra. But for the majority of the year—and anywhere outside of the road between the ferry landing and Playa Flamenco—Culebra continues at the slow pace to which it is accustomed, where nobody has anything to do but go to the beach.

  • Escape The Crowds with an adventurous hike down to the wild waves at isolated Playa Resaca .
  • Join The Crowds at stunning Playa Flamenco .
  • Dive In at one of Puerto Rico’s best snorkeling sites, Playa Carlos Rosario .
  • Take A Ride to the cays of Isla Peña or Culebrita, with their pristine beaches and prime snorkeling .

Inter-Island Transportation

  • Flights: Aeropuerto Benjamín Rivera Noriega (☎742-0022), 21 mi. north of town at the intersection of Rte. 250 and Rte. 251. A 15min. walk or a $2 taxi ride. All of the airlines flying out of Culebra use tiny 6- to 8-seat planes and leave on demand. For reservations call or stop by the airport at least 1-2 days in advance. During major holidays reserve a few weeks in advance. Open daily 6am-6pm.
    • Air Flamenco (☎742-1040, reservations 724-6464) flies to Fajardo (15min.; 4-5 per day; $30, round-trip $60) and San Juan Isla Grande (30min.; 4 per day; $55, round-trip $110). Open daily 6am-6pm. AmEx/MC/V.
    • Isla Nena (☎742-0972 or 863-4447) flies to Fajardo (15min.; 1-2 per day; $30, round-trip $60) and San Juan International (35min.; 4 per day; $92, round-trip $172). Open daily 6am-6pm. MC/V.
    • Vieques Air Link (☎742-0254, reservations 888-901-9247) flies to Fajardo (15min.; 3 per day; $28, round-trip $54) and San Juan Isla Grande (30min.; 2 per day; $54, round-trip $98). Open M-Sa 6am-6pm. AmEx/MC/V.
  • Ferries: The Puerto Rican Port Authority (☎742-3161 or 800-981-2005) runs ferries between Culebra and Fajardo. In addition to the routes below, a passenger ferry goes between Culebra and Vieques (W only; leaves Vieques 7:30am and 2:30pm, returns from Culebra 9am and 3:30pm; round-trip $4). There is an additional charge for beach equipment, including tents ($2) and sleeping bags ($1). Reservations are required for cars, but are not accepted for passengers. Car reservations should be made at least 3 weeks in advance to secure one of the few spots. Passengers should arrive 1hr. in advance. Reservation office open daily 8-11am and 1-3pm. Ticket window open daily 7:30-11:30am, 12:30-4pm. MC/V.

Ferries

Fajardo-Culebra

Culebra-Fajardo

Price

Passenger

M-Su 9am, 3, 7pm

M-Su 6:30am, 1, 5pm

$2.25

Cargo

M, Tu, Th 4am and 4pm

W and F 4, 9:30am, 4pm

M, Tu, Th 7am and 6pm

W and F 7am, 1, 6pm

$15; round-trip $27

Orientation

Culebra lies 17 mi. east of the port of Fajardo on the east coast of Puerto Rico and 12 mi. west of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Measuring 7 mi. in length and 3 mi. in width, the island is tiny, and seems even smaller because almost all its attractions are concentrated on the eastern side. The ferry arrives at the only town, Dewey, which is located on the southwest corner. From Dewey, Route 251 heads north past the airport to Playa Flamenco. Route 250 goes east, past Fish and Wildlife and the turn-offs for Playa Resaca and Brava, before finally ending up at Playa Zoni. The only other real road, Calle Fulladoza, heads south from town along Ensenada Honda to Punta Soldado. When people refer to Dewey’s “main road” or “calle principal,” they are usually talking about Calle Pedro Márquez, which originates at the ferry terminal and continues through town. Calle Escudero connects the airport with Dewey and is home to several accommodations and restaurants.

Local Transportation

Culebra’s diminutive size makes it very easy to get around. Travelers staying in Dewey or Playa Flamenco can get by using only public transportation, but will be relatively stranded after dark. Those who want to explore the island and get to a beach other than Flamenco or Carlos Rosario should rent a Jeep. Don’t bring a rental car to Culebra, as transporting cars over the ferry is difficult and the island terrain is tough on most vehicles without four-wheel drive; instead, rent one when you arrive. Driving a scooter can be fun in the greater Dewey area, but a Jeep or SUV is necessary to brave the potholes on roads leading to beaches beyond Playa Flamenco. In theory, biking seems like a good option, but the combination of hilly roads and the hot afternoon sun can tire even the most athletic travelers.

  • Car Trouble. Culebra police are extraordinarily vigilant about parking violations. Do not park in front of a fire hydrant, along a yellow curb, in a handicapped area, in a public vehicle spot, or along any curve in the road. Also, many streets are one-way or only allow parking on one side of the street, but are not marked as such.
  • Públicos: Carros públicos, or shared taxi vans, run from the ferry terminal past the airport to Playa Flamenco, stopping at Culebra Beach Villa. Any trip between these points should cost $2-3. For an additional fee, vans will go almost anywhere on the island. During the day it is easy to hail down a público along Rte. 251. At night, or from a different location, try one of these: Kiko’s Transportation Services (☎514-0453), Willy’s Taxi (☎742-3537), Rubén Taxi (☎405-1209), José (☎363-2183), or Luis (☎223-3428).
  • Car Rental: Several companies rent Jeeps and other off-road vehicles, but during major holidays you should reserve at least 1 month in advance. Most companies require drivers to be at least 25, but some do not rigidly enforce this requirement. The age and condition of vehicles varies greatly; the condition of the car should be reflected in the rental price. Almost all companies offer airport and ferry pickup service and weekly discounts.
    • Carlos Jeep Rental (☎742-3514 or 613-7049, at airport 742-1111; www.carlosjeeprental.com), on Rte. 250 at Vacation Property Realty. One of Culebra’s more professional operations. $60 per day. Insurance $6 per day. Also rents infant car seats ($5 per day). Discount for weekly rentals $5 per day. 25+. Pickup and dropoff available. Open M-Th and Su 7am-6:30pm, F-Sa 7am-9pm. AmEx/MC/V.
    • Jerry’s Jeep Rental (☎742-0587), on Rte. 251 across from the airport. When you pick up the Jeep, Jerry explains a map of Culebra. $45-50 per day. Discount with weekly rental $5 per day. 25+. Open daily 8am-5pm; arrangements for later arrivals possible. AmEx/MC/V.
    • Dick and Cathie Rentals (☎742-0062), rents VW Things. Standard transmission only. No pickup service. $45 per day. 25+. No office; call ahead. Cash only.
    • Willy’s Jeep Rental (☎742-3537), on Rte. 250. $45 per day. 25+. Open daily 8am-5pm. AmEx/MC/V.
  • Bike Rental: Dick and Cathie Rentals (☎742-0062), delivers bikes. $15 per day. Reservations recommended. Cash only. Club Seabourne (☎742-3169 or 1-800-981-4435), also rents bikes ($15 per day), in addition to kayaks and beach furniture. MC/V.
  • Scooter Rental: JM Rentals (☎742-0521; www.scooterspr.com), on Rte. 251 across from the airport, in the same office as Thrifty Car Rental. 150cc scooters $10 per hr., 9am-5pm $25, $45 per day; 2 helmets included. 7th day free. Liability coverage $6; no insurance for scooter. Ages 21+. Pickup and dropoff service. Open M-Sa 8:30am-6pm, Su 9am-5pm. AmEx/D/MC/V.

Practical Information

  • Tourist Office: The municipal tourist office is a small desk on the semi-outdoor patio of the big building that you see immediately when you get off the ferry. Has standard Puerto Rico tourism booklets. Open M-F 8am-4:30pm, but frequently unattended. Culebra also has several very good tourism websites: www.culebra-island.com, www.islaculebra.com, and www.culebra.org.
  • Bank: Banco Popular (☎742-3572), across from the ferry terminal at the corner of C. Pedro Márquez, is the only bank on the island. ATM. Open M-F 8:30am-3:30pm.
  • Publications: The Culebra Calendar (www.theculebracalendaronline.com), an invaluable monthly island publication, lists local events, advertisements, a tide table, a ferry schedule, classified ads, letters to the editors, and articles on current Culebra issues.
  • Laundry: There are no laundromats on Culebra, but Dick and Cathie Rentals (☎742-0062) provides wash, dry, and fold service ($1.25 per lb.). Call ahead. Cash only.
  • Police: ☎742-3501. On C. Fulladoza, about mi. past Dinghy Dock. Open 24hr.
  • Pharmacy: Culebra has no real pharmacies. The hospital (below) has a pharmacy with prescription drugs only. Superette Mayra (see Food) has a decent selection of over-the-counter remedies, such as Dramamine, for the ferry ride. Bring your own tampons, contact lens supplies, condoms, and any other hard-to-find supplies.
  • Medical Services: Hospital de Culebra (hospital and ambulance service ☎742-3511 or 742-0001) at the end of C. William Font, in the building marked “recetas” (prescriptions) at the top of the hill. Small health clinic. Small pharmacy open M-F 8am-4pm. Emergency room 24hr. Clinic open M-F 8am-4pm.
  • Internet Access: eXcétera, (☎742-0844; fax 742-0826), on C. Escudero between Culebra Gift Shop and the corner with C. Pedro Márquez, offers Internet ($5 per 15min., $15 per hr.), fax service, a long-distance telephone station, Western Union, and a 24hr. ATM. Open M-F 9am-5pm, Sa 9am-1pm. D/MC/V.
  • Post Office: C. Pedro Márquez 26 (☎742-3862). General Delivery available. Open M-F 8am-4:30pm, Sa 8am-noon. Postal Code: 00775.

Accommodations And Camping

Culebra may host a plethora of visitors, but most of its accommodations are either lackluster or severely overpriced. An attractive room here will cost at least $90 per night, and summer offers little relief from high prices. Most accommodations offer discounts for stays over a week or during low season (Aug.-Oct.). Add a 7% realty tax to quotes.

Realtors

The following realtors rent properties equipped with linens, towels, and a kitchen. Check out the houses online, then call for rates and availability.

  • Vacation Planners (☎742-3112, toll-free 866-285-3272; www.allvacationreservations.com), across from the ferry under Hotel Kokomo. Most properties have A/C, and some have TVs. Free pickup. $40-500 per night. 15% discount for week-long stays. Open daily 9am-1pm, 4-6pm, and 7:30-9pm. MC/V.
  • Culebra Island Realty (☎742-0052; www.culebraislandrealty.com), at the intersection of C. Romero and Escudero. Rents a wide range of homes and assists in car rental. Free pickup. Min. stay 1 week. 2- to 8-person homes $900-4500 per week. 50% deposit required. Business conducted primarily over the phone; leave a message. Checks only.
Dewey
  • Villa Boheme, C. Fulladoza 368 (☎742-3508 or 370-4949; www.villaboheme.com), has bright, beautiful grounds, several cheery orange buildings, and a common patio area with elegant furniture and several hammocks, all right on Ensenada Honda Bay. Rooms are very colorful, with a fun aquatic theme. Fully equipped communal kitchen with cable TV and outdoor BBQ area. Rooms for 4 or more people have fridge or kitchen. Check-in noon. Check-out 10:30am. Min. stay 2 nights on weekends; 3 nights on holiday weekends. Doubles $95; quads $130-135; 6-person rooms $135. AmEx/MC/V.
  • Villa Fulladoza (☎742-3576 or 742-3828), on C. Fulladoza. A combination of low prices and large rooms makes this waterside guesthouse a good deal. Sparkling, brightly colored rooms come with a kitchen, fan, balcony, and ocean view. Spacious common patio filled with mango trees. Private dock. Book exchange. Check-in 2:30pm. Check-out 10am. $10 surcharge for 1-night stay. Doubles $65-80; $420-525 per week. Extra child (in larger rooms only) $10. MC/V.
  • Mamacita’s, C. Castelar 64-66 (☎742-0090; www.mamacitaspr.com). Feels like a fun European hostel painted in tropical Caribbean colors. Restaurant below by the same name, though with different ownership, is a popular place at all hours of the day. All rooms come with microwave, fridge, A/C, TV, and DVD player. Check-in 2pm. Check-out 11am. Nov.-June doubles $103; 2-person suites with kitchen $114; 4-person suites $149, with kitchen $179. Prices lower Sept.-Oct. Extra person $15. MC/V.
  • Palmetto Guest House, C. Manuel Vásquez 128 (☎742-0257; www.palmettoculebra.com), in a residential neighborhood a 10min. walk from town. Only 1 block from the airport, 5 newly remodeled rooms come with fridge and A/C. Common kitchen, living room, TV, and DVD collection. Call ahead. Free pickup and dropoff. $20 surcharge for 1-night stay. Doubles Nov. 23-Apr. 30 $95 and $115; May 1-Sept. 3 $90/$110; Sept. 5-Nov. 22 $85/$105. MC/V.
  • Casita Linda (☎742-0360 or 403-5292; www.culebra-sanjuan.com), in the brightly colored house on the right after you cross the bridge. This small 3-room guesthouse was clearly a labor of love. The friendly owners have hand-decorated every room with flowers and unique furniture. All rooms have a full kitchen, a balcony or patio with canal views, a TV, and VCR with videos. No reception office; call ahead. Quad $100; 6-person suite $150; 8-person house $250. Tax included. MC/V.
  • Posada La Hamaca Guest House, C. Castelar 68 (☎742-3516 or 435-0028; www.posada.com). Small guesthouse rooms are standard, with a recent paint touch-up. A/C and ceiling fans. Book exchange. Snorkel gear $10 per 24hr. Free use of beach towels. Check-in 2pm. Check-out 10am. Doubles $92-97; quads $112-146; 8-person room $190. Extra person $11. Tax included. MC/V.
  • Hotel Kokomo (☎742-3112 or 866-285-3272; www.allvacationreservations.com), across from the ferry dock. The great location and clean rooms with A/C make this hotel a good value, though some rooms crave new paint and blinds. Suites on the top floor are huge and have great ocean views and full kitchens. Office is in Vacation Planners . Check-out 11am. Doubles $43, with bath $65; triples $76-87; 4- to 6-person apartments with kitchen $125-150. MC/V.
  • Harbour View Villas (☎742-3855 or 742-3171; www.culebrahotel.com), 1 mi. west of town en route to Playa Melones. Look for the “Bienvenidos” sign and the 3 rustic A-frame houses on the hill. Quiet location with great views, but far from beaches. 1- and 2-bedroom suites have A/C in the bedroom and some sort of kitchen and hot water. Villas are houses with kitchens, but no A/C. No office. Free pickup and dropoff. Suites: doubles in winter $125, in summer $100-125; quads $175/150. Villas: doubles $175/125-150; quads $225/175. Extra person $25/20. Cash only.
  • Culebra Ocean View Guest House, C. María Ortíz 201 (☎742-2601, 360-9807, or 309-4301; www.culebra-ocean-view.com), a simple orange building high in the hills above Dewey. About a 20min. walk or 5min. drive from town. Distant ocean view. New furnishings spruce up otherwise standard budget accommodations. Popular with Puerto Rican vacationers. Common balcony. Fridge, A/C, TV. Check-in 1pm. Check-out 11am. Doubles $84-99; quads $134. MC/V.
North Of Dewey
  • Culebra Beach Villas (☎754-6236 or 767-7575; www.culebrabeachrental.com), on the dirt road off Rte. 251, just before Playa Flamenco. This is the only hotel and villa complex on the beautiful sands of Playa Flamenco. A 3-story wooden hotel faces the beach, and several boldly painted bungalows hide in back. This is the place to be at Playa Flamenco, with a bar out front and barbecues in the back. All rooms are clean and include A/C, TV, and a full kitchen. Book exchange. Reception 10am-1pm and 2-7pm. Check-in 3pm. Check-out 11am. In main building doubles $125, 4-person room $195, 6-person $215 or 225, 8-person $300. In villas $125/175/300. Tax included. MC/V.
  • Villa Flamenco Beach (☎742-0023; www.culebra-island.com). Villa Flamenco Beach, next to Culebra Beach Villas, is the only other accommodation that boasts direct access to Playa Flamenco. With only 6 rooms, Flamenco feels much more personal than its neighbor. Neat and functional rooms. Airy front studios have big windows, balconies, and an ocean view. All rooms have kitchenettes; only doubles have A/C. Communal grill. Reserve several months in advance. Doubles $140; 4-person apartments $190, 6-person $250, 8-person $328. MC/V.
  • Playa Flamenco Campground (☎742-0700 or 742-3525), at Playa Flamenco. Located just 20 ft. from the beach, this campground is easily the best in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, it’s also the most crowded; during high season (Apr.-Sept.), hundreds of people squeeze into the big field. It can get rowdy and liquor-oriented in Area C, but Areas A and E tend to be quieter and more suitable for families. Toilets, outdoor showers, a bike rack, trash cans, and picnic tables. Reservations recommended during high season. Cancellations up to 5 days in advance. Office open 6am-6pm. Check-in 8am. Check-out 4pm. $20 per tent; up to 6 people. MC/V.
South Of Dewey

Quiet C. Fulladoza receives little traffic, and the accommodations on the hill offer tranquility and beautiful bay views. Unfortunately, there are no sandy beaches and it’s quite a walk to town; if you’re staying here, it’s a good idea to rent a car.

  • Bahía Marina Condo-Resort, Punta Soldado Road Km 2.4 (742-0535 or 1-866-285-3272; www.bahiamarina.net), on a secluded inlet with gorgeous view of greenery and sparkling water. Very reasonable group prices, beautiful views, and endless amenities give this new resort strong appeal. 2 pools, wading pool and hot tub. 1-bedroom and 2-bathroom suites with fully equipped kitchen, ocean view balcony or patio. All rooms have A/C, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. Wheelchair-accessible. Doubles weekdays $139, weekends $179; quad $179/205. MC/V.

Food

Food in Culebra tends to be expensive. Luckily, many accommodations offer kitchen facilities; it’s more affordable to cook at home. Superette Mayra, C. Escudero 118, is Culebra’s largest grocery store and has a good selection of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. (☎742-3888. Open M-Sa 9am-1:30pm, 3:30-6:30pm. MC/V.) Colmado Milka, C. Escudero, Barrio Sardinas 2, across the bridge and to the right, is Culebra’s second-largest grocery store and has a small butcher shop and fresh fruits and vegetables. (☎742-2253. Open M-Sa 7am-7pm, Su 7am-1pm. MC/V.) To reach Isla del Sol Minimarket, located on a side street off Rte. 251, turn left immediately after Jerry’s Jeep Rental and follow the signs. The market has a small selection of groceries and fresh hot bread. (☎742-0886. Open M-Sa 7am-7pm, Su 8am-5pm. MC/V.)

Dewey
  • Mamacita’s, C. Castelar 66 (☎742-0322). Hands-down the most popular dinner destination and nightspot in Dewey, Mamacita’s is located just around the corner from the ferry dock’s main street. Covered patio seating right on the channel, under the guest house by the same name. Breakfasts include sandwiches ($3-5) and omelets ($5-7), and lunches feature burgers and fajitas ($7-9). However, the main draw is the relatively upscale dining that offers large, delicious daily seafood specials ($15-19). The patio bar rouses dancers with live conga drums on Sa nights from 9pm on. Open daily 8am-3pm and 6-9pm. MC/V.
  • Dinghy Dock Bar-B-Q Restaurant (☎742-0233), on C. Fulladoza. Dinghies actually dock beside your table as you enjoy tasty Puerto Rican, American, and Mexican food at this relaxed and colorful local favorite. Big breakfasts $5-10. Sandwiches, grill items, and Mexican entrees $5-25. Seafood dinners $14-30. Open daily 8am-2:30pm and 6:30-9:30pm. Bar open daily 8am-midnight. MC/V.
  • El Edén Liquor Store and Deli Cafe (☎742-0509). Turn left on the gravel drive just beyond Colmado Milka and follow the signs. This sit-down cafe with gourmet breads and sandwiches is concealed in a very simple, unassuming building removed from the road. Construct your own sandwich ($6.50-7) by choosing from various meats, breads, cheeses, and toppings, or devour a large plate of homemade lasagna (vegetarian $9.50, meat $12). All sandwiches are on fresh homemade bread, and scrumptious desserts are also homemade ($2.50-4.50). Also a deli and liquor store. Open M-Sa 7am-7pm, Su 7am-2pm. MC/V.
  • Heather’s (☎742-3175), on C. Pedro Márquez. It’s difficult to walk past Heather’s in the evening; if the smell doesn’t draw you in, the rowdy crowd will. Indulge in an extra big pizza ($10 medium is really a large; toppings $1.50-2) or go for a sandwich ($7) or pasta ($8) instead. Maybe even join the locals for a beer ($1.75-3). Open M and Th-Su 6-10pm; may stay open later F-Sa. Kitchen closes 9:30pm. Cash only.
  • Barbara Rosa’s, C. Escudero 189 (☎742-0773). Chef Barbara Rosa’s restaurant has the perfect budget dining formula: a relaxed vibe, counter service (no tip), and BYOB. The wooden cabin with patio is removed from the highway and serves up simple but delicious entrees such as vegetarian spaghetti ($7), shark nuggets ($9) and calamari in red wine sauce ($13). Gets buggy at night. Lunch entrees $6-12. Dinner $7-16. Open Nov.-Apr. Tu-Sa 11:30am-9:30pm; May-Oct. M and Th-Su 5-9:30pm. Cash only.
  • Pan Deli, C. Pedro Márquez 17 (☎742-0296). Centrally located on Dewey’s main street, this bakery sells fresh food at very affordable prices. A new local favorite for delicious breakfasts including traditional mallorca sweet buns, pancakes, eggs, ham and toast ($1.25-4), sandwiches ($3-6), and salads ($3-5). Lattes $1. Open M-Sa 5:30am-5pm, Su 6:30am-5pm. AmEx/MC/V.
  • Chiqui’s, C. Pedro Márquez 30 near the post office. The only store in Dewey devoted to iced delights. 1-topping sundaes are ludicrously cheap ($1.35). Batidas and “Black Cow” milkshakes $3.75. Also serves piraguas (flavored shaved ice; $1), nachos ($2), and packaged snacks. Open daily approximately 11am-10pm. Cash only.
  • El Batey, Rte. 250 Km 1.1 (☎742-3828), mi. north of town, next to Parque de Pelota. Choose between a dim, aquatic-themed wood interior and a patio with harbor view from across the road. Casino games, music and pool tables give this popular local bar a relaxed feel. Appetizers $5-5.50. Meaty sandwiches $5.50-7.50. Burgers $6-6.50. Dinner $9-17. Open daily 11am-11pm. Cash only.
  • Dakity Restaurant (☎742-0535). Drive south on C. Fulladoza; near the end, turn left up the steep hill. One of the nicer places on the island but has a surprisingly relaxed, cottage-like atmosphere in a wooden loft above the Shipwreck Bar & Grill. Incredible views of the entire island. Wi-Fi at bar patio. Lunch $10-12. Seafood $17-26. Steak, pork, and chicken entrees $16-19. Open daily 12:30-3pm and 6:30-9:30pm. MC/V.
  • Panadería El Patio (☎742-0374), at the end of the airport runway. A typical Puerto Rican sandwich counter in a convenience store. The restaurant has an outdoor seating area, but the sandwiches ($3-4) taste even better as a beach picnic. Serves sandwiches until 11:30am. Shop open daily 5:30am-7pm. Cash only.
  • El Caobo (☎742-0505 and 409-0872), on C. Luis Muñoz Marín in the residential neighborhood adjacent to the airport. Rustic charm, complete with handwritten menu and big plates of genuine Puerto Rican food; however, more expensive than the casual atmosphere might suggest. Entrees $9-20. Open M-Sa 4-10pm. Cash only.
  • Golden China (☎742-0060), C. Pedro Márquez 16. A large seating area where patrons enjoy inexpensive Chinese food with mofongo. Also serves seafood ($7-8) and meat ($5-8) entrees, mofongo ($7.50), and ice cream ($1.50). Open daily 11am-10pm. Cash only.

Beaches

The water around the island is a translucent aqua that looks unmistakably Caribbean and invites swimmers to float in the sun for hours. While popular Playa Flamenco is amazing, it is worthwhile to venture out to other, less populated beaches, especially if you have access to a car, preferably one with four-wheel drive. Regardless of where you travel, don’t search for palm-tree-lined beaches. Culebra has a very dry landscape and there are only a few scattered palms; shade-lovers should grab a spot early.

 

Beaches

Accessibility From Dewey

Crowds

Activities

Facilities

Flamenco

8min. drive

Large

Swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding

Bathrooms, picnic tables, trash cans, outdoor showers, grills, lifeguards

Carlos Rosario

25min. walk from Flamenco

Medium

Swimming, snorkeling

None

Culebrita

25min. boat ride

Small-Med.

Swimming, snorkeling, turtle-watching

None

Luis Peña

15min. boat ride

Small-Med.

Swimming, snorkeling

None

Zoni

15min. drive

Small-Med.

Swimming, boogie boarding

None

Brava

15min. drive plus 20min. hike

Small

Boogie boarding, tutle-watching

None

Resaca

15min. drive plus 30min. hike

Small

Boogie boarding, turtle watching

None

Punta Soldado

15min. drive

Small-Med.

Snorkeling

None

Melones

15min. walk

Medium

Swimming

Trash cans

 Playa Flamenco. In comparison to this exquisite beach, every balneario on mainland Puerto Rico looks like a dirty swimming pool. Numerous media outlets, including the Travel Channel, have listed Flamenco among the best beaches in the world—with good reason. Playa Flamenco is Culebra’s largest, most popular, and most accessible beach. It is also the only beach on the island with facilities, including lifeguards (on duty 9am-5:30pm), bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, a campground, and a selection of kiosks offering typical beach fare. Because of these amenities, and because Flamenco looks like it was created to be on a postcard, the beach can get crowded, especially on holidays when thousands of Puerto Ricans descend from the mainland. Luckily Flamenco is huge and there’s more than enough room for everyone. Near the parking lot, there is a tourist information kiosk (open daily 10am-2pm) that distributes copious amounts of literature. (☎742-0700. Drive north on Rte. 251 until the road ends. A público from Dewey costs $2-3. Públicos line up at a special stand in the parking lot, so it should not be difficult to catch one going back to Dewey. Tourist office at entrance to parking.)

  • Swim With The Fishes. Many locals claim that Flamenco Beach offers more than picture-perfect sands to the adventure-hungry explorer: For good snorkeling, swim out from the right end of the beach to visit a gorgeous reef nicknamed “Shark’s Teeth,” or kick out from the waters at the brightly painted old army tanks on the left end to see a wide variety of tropical fishes.

 Playa Carlos Rosario. Culebra’s premier snorkeling beach requires a bit of effort to reach, and therefore tends to have far smaller crowds than Flamenco. The crescent-shaped beach has coral on the right and boulders on the left, a sandy passageway in the center, and the clearest ocean water you’ve ever seen. Enter the water in the middle, then swim about 15-30 ft. in either direction to find amazing schools of blue tang, sergeant majors, and the occasional barracuda. Don’t forget to bring water and a snack, as Carlos Rosario has no facilities. (From the back left corner gate of the Playa Flamenco parking lot, walk 25min. on the dirt path over the hill. Carlos Rosario is the second beach; Playa Tamarindo, a popular kayakers’ gateway to Luis Peña, is the first.)

 Culebrita. If you’re looking for a deserted island, and Culebra doesn’t quite do the trick, continue east to the tiny island of Culebrita. With adequate hiking, gorgeous beaches, and a lighthouse, Culebra’s little sister easily merits a day of exploration. Most water taxis drop passengers at the pier on the west side of the island. This beach has great snorkeling, best done in the numerous tide pools and in the coral reefs that surround much of the island. Continue along the marked trail for 10min. to reach Bahía Tortuga, the biggest and best beach on Culebrita. Few people make it out here during the week, so it’s not uncommon to share the brilliant waters only with the other people on your boat. Culebrita is a protected wildlife refuge and popular turtle breeding ground. From the pier, a different trail leads 15-20min. uphill to the lighthouse. This relic of the Spanish occupation was condemned in 2003, but conservation groups are working to have it restored. The peninsula on northeast Culebrita known as The Baths also has some great snorkeling, although the water can sometimes be a bit rough as it crashes against the rocks. Culebrita is worth the transportation costs, but avoid the little island on weekends and holidays, when it turns into a zoo of private boats. (From Dewey, water taxis, take 25min. to reach Culebrita and cost $40. No facilities.)

 Luis Peña. For yet another quasi-deserted Caribbean beach with white sand, blue water, and lots of fish, head out to Luis Peña, a short water taxi ride from Dewey. On weekdays, the long, narrow beaches surrounding the island are almost always empty and the water is as calm as a lake. The snorkeling is superb all the way around the little island, especially in the channel facing Culebra. The best beach is Luis Peña beach, located on the north side of the island. Like Culebrita, Luis Peña is a designated wildlife refuge, and there are several marked nature walks on the island. (15min. from Dewey or a short kayak ride from Playa Tamarindo. Tanamá, charges $35. No facilities.)

 Playa Zoni. Not many people make it out to the eastern side of the island, but those who do will be rewarded with acres of undeveloped land at Culebra’s second-most-popular swimming beach, Playa Zoni. It seems impossible, but the water here tends to be an even more impressive aquamarine than the water at Flamenco. The waves are a bit bigger, too, making for some excellent boogie boarding. There are no facilities, and crowds are generally rather small. The long, narrow, sandy beach is lined with palm trees and affords views of numerous tiny cays, the Culebrita lighthouse and, in the distance, St. Thomas. (Take Rte. 250 all the way east to the end: At fork after Hacienda de los Sueños, bear right on narrow, steep road. No signs for beach. Continue straight to the small parking lot.)

Playa Brava And Playa Resaca. It’s just you and the turtles at these two bays on Culebra’s northern coast. Visitors rarely make the long, hot trek out to these secluded beaches, but those who do will be rewarded with long stretches of beautiful tan sand and azure water. Both Brava and Resaca have strong waves that create conditions bad for swimming but decent for surfing and boogie boarding. There are reefs on both sides of Resaca’s bay, but the water is generally much too rough to snorkel. From March to August, leatherback turtles lay their eggs on Resaca and Brava, as you will see from the numerous marked turtle nesting sites; never stay at these beaches after dark and if you see tracks during the day, try not to disturb them. (To reach Playa Brava drive east on Rte. 250, past the cemetery on the left, continue uphill and turn left on the road just after the red-roofed, stone house engraved with “1905.” Park at the end of the pavement, then follow the dirt road for 20min. Turn right at the fork. To reach Playa Resaca, drive east on Rte. 250 and turn left on the road directly after the airport. Drive to the top, stopping at the landing just before the radio tower. Follow the narrow trail through the brush and mangroves for 30min. until you reach the beach. Call Fish and Wildlife ☎742-0115 before attempting the difficult hike; if it hasn’t been marked recently, you may get lost.)

Punta Soldado. Located on the southern tip of Culebra, the coral beach at Punta Soldado has excellent snorkeling; the best site is on the left-hand side of the beach, but reefs line the entire shore. Many adventurers also enjoy night diving here. However, if you just want to lie on the sand, it’s best that you go elsewhere, as the beach is covered with rocks and coral. (Drive all the way down C. Fulladoza, and down the dirt road until the end.)

Playa Melones. Melones’s claim to fame is that it is the most easily accessible beach from Dewey. The rocky, coral-laden location on the Luis Peña Channel makes for decent snorkeling, but the water is not as clear as it is on Carlos Rosario. There are few shady areas and no facilities, so come prepared with lots of sunblock. The best snorkeling is on the right side of the beach. Swim all the way north, past the peninsula, and you’ll end up at Playa Tamarindo, another good snorkeling beach and the kayakers’ gateway to Luis Peña. (From town, walk uphill past the tourist office, veer left, and continue walking for 15min. Melones is the second beach at the end of the road.)

Sights And Festivals

Apart from the condemned lighthouse on Culebrita, Culebra does not have many sights. However, the Culebra Foundation has been working to preserve the island’s history by renovating abandoned buildings and promoting island culture. The first fruit of this project is the Museum of San Ildefonso, Rte. 250 Km 4, just behind the DRNA office. Located in a 1905 US Navy magazine, the museum contains historical pictures and some pre-Taíno artifacts. The Foundation plans to add an art museum and more historical markers. (In the building with the “1905” sign, next to the water. Open daily M-F 8am-noon and 1-3pm, Sa-Su on request. Free.) Culebra does not celebrate fiestas patronales, but Dewey hosts a large artisans festival every year over a weekend in late July. For information contact the tourist office (☎742-3116, ext. 441 or 442).

Outdoor Activities

  • Ocean Safari Kayaks (☎379-1973), rents single kayaks for $30 per day (until 5:30pm) and tandem kayaks for $60, including a free lesson; $75 for 3 people. Most people go from Playa Tamarindo to Luis Peña. Free pickup and delivery.
  • Club Seabourne (☎742-3169 or 800-981-4435; www.clubseabourne.com), on State Road No. 252, rents beach equipment at steep prices. Tandem kayaks ($20 per hr., $30 per 3hr., $40 per day). Snorkel and mask $13 for adults, $11 for children. Also rents beach chairs and umbrellas ($5 each). MC/V.
Diving And Snorkeling

Over 50 attractive dive sights surround Culebra and its cays. Conditions here are very similar to those in Fajardo, with visibility around 30-60 ft. and plenty of shallow dives for beginners, making this a great place to get certified. Many beaches around Culebra have amazing snorkeling (see Beaches, p. 194 ).

  • Culebra Divers, C. Pedro Márquez 4 (☎742-0803; www.culebradivers.com), across from the ferry terminal, has two 26 ft. boats that make dive trips in the morning (1-tank dive $60, 2-tank dive $85, equipment rental $15) and 3hr. snorkel trips in the afternoon ($45, children ages 6-12 $30; min. 2 people). 1-tank night dive $70. 1-dive first-time instruction package $95. 3hr. week-long NAUI Scuba Diver certification $575. All trips include beverages. Snorkel rental $13 for 1st day, $10 per each additional day. During high season reserve up to 1 month in advance. High season open daily 9am-noon and 2-5:30pm; low season call for hours. MC/V.
Hiking

While most of Culebra’s land is privately held, the US Fish & Wildlife Service protects over 1500 acres of the island, including all of the off-shore cays (except Cayo Norte), the majority of the Flamenco Peninsula, a large section of land around Playa Resaca, and all of the wetlands and mangroves. The trail down to Playa Resaca is more than just a beach path; this intense 30min. hike descends Culebra’s tallest hill. You must crawl over boulders and claw your way through a mangrove grove before reaching the beach. The trail to Playa Brava is also quite an adventure, although it is somewhat less strenuous. Another path leads across Culebrita from the boat landing to Bahía Tortuga. The friendly staff at the US Fish and Wildlife Service is happy to answer questions about hikes, beaches, or the turtle-watching program. (Drive east on Rte. 250 and look for the sign just after the cemetery. ☎742-0115; www.fws.gov. Open M-F 7am-4:30pm.)

Surfing

Culebra’s surf can’t compete with the mainland’s northern coast, but if you have your own board there are a few waves to be found. It’s best to hit the beach from May to July, the beginning of hurricane season, when heavier winds create larger waves. Locals recommend Brava, Resaca, Carlos Rosario, Punta Soldado, and Zoni as some of the best surfing beaches. Almost all of the beaches along the northern coast occasionally have big waves that are great for boogie boarding.

Water Taxis

Small motor boats take visitors on daytrips primarily to Luis Peña and Culebrita, but also to other parts of Culebra. All certified boat captains charge $35 round-trip to Luis Peña and $45 to Culebrita. Trips do not leave every day; call ahead.

  • Tanamá (☎501-0011). Culebra’s only glass-bottom boat. Tanamá does a 2-3hr. harbor cruise ($40), a mi. cruise over the reefs ($25), a 3-4 hr. snorkeling trip ($50; equipment not included), and other trips upon request. Also sails to Culebrita ($55) and Luis Peña ($35). Typically leaves from Dinghy Dock. Cash only.
  • Culebra Water Taxi (☎360-9807). 1hr. tour of the bay $20. Full-day trip (10am-3:30pm) to Dakity with BBQ lunch $59. Also drops off at Culebrita ($45) and Luis Peña ($35). MC/V.

Shopping

Over the past few years Culebra has experienced an influx of little shops full of assorted gifts and gadgets.

  • Butiki (☎708-935-2542 or 708-267-7284; www.butikiculebra.com), on C. Romero, next to Superette Mayra. Colorful handicrafts and local art, jewelry, high-quality clothing and excellent photography, paintings, and prints made by the owner. Also a wide selection of women’s islandwear. Open M and Th-Su 9am-1pm and 3-6pm.
  • On Island, C. Pedro Márquez 4 (☎742-0439), at the ferry landing; 2nd location at C. Fulladoza 372 (☎742-0704). The typical mix of tchotchkes and jewelry at the C. Pedro Márquez location, but higher quality islandwear, linens, and artwork at the store on Calle Fulladoza. Oceanfront store open daily 10am-1:30pm and 3-5:30pm. Fulladoza store open daily 11am-7pm. MC/V.
  • Paradise Gift Shop, C. Sallisburry 110 (☎742-3569), has an excellent selection of locally made items, from artwork to clothing. Open M-Tu and Th-Su 9am-6pm. MC/V.
  • Culebra Gift Shop (☎742-0566), on C. Escudero near the corner with C. Sallisburry, sells the usual mix of clothes, Culebra-themed knick-knacks, and local art. The biggest souvenir shop on the island sets itself apart with general store products including meats, fish fillets, and ice cream. Open daily 9am-6pm. AmEx/D/MC/V.
  • Galería de Regalos Souvenir Shop (☎742-2294), on C. Pedro Márquez, has a small room with Culebra T-shirts, some women’s clothing and men’s beachwear, and a larger room full of souvenirs. The only souvenir shop on the main road, so it’s often packed. Open M-F 9:30am-5pm and Sa-Su 9am-5:30pm. AmEx/MC/V.
  • Culebra Beach House, C. Fulladoza 372 (☎742-0602). Sells island-themed houseware, beach gear, and toys. Rents beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers ($6 per day, $5 for multiple days, $30 per week). Open M and Th-Su 9:30am-5:30pm. MC/V.

Nightlife

Don’t come to Culebra specifically for its nightlife. On weeknights the loudest sound is the song of crickets, and even on weekends, most of the more popular bars double as restaurants during the day and are shut down by 11pm. During summer weekends and holidays, the biggest party may be at Flamenco’s campground.

  • Mamacita’s, C. Castelar 64-66 (☎742-0090). On weekend nights Mamacita’s is hugely popular with foreigners and young locals. The trendy tropical bar is straight out of a travel brochure. Come on F when a DJ mixes from 8:30pm-11pm and Sa when conga drummers shake the place up (9-11pm). House mixed drinks include the Iguana Colada ($6). Beer $2.50-3. 18+. Happy hour daily 3-6pm. Open M-Th and Su 8am-10pm, F-Sa 8am-11pm. MC/V.
  • El Batey, Rte. 250 Km 1.1 (☎742-3828). A 5min. walk from town, next to Parque de Pelota, this is the only place on the island to bust a move—or stay out past 11pm. This local favorite dominates the nightlife scene with a large dance floor and cheap beer. But don’t expect glamour and glitz; the walls are decorated with giant fake fish. Beer $1.50-2. Mixed drinks from $3. Open daily 11am-11pm. Club open F-Sa 10pm-2am. Cash only.
  • El Patio (☎724-0374), at the end of the airport runway next to small parking lot. Panadería El Patio opens bar at night and hosts Karaoke nightly from 8pm-1:30am. A popular post-dinner destination for locals and the crowd of tourists that befriends them. Beer $1.75-2.25. Mixed drinks from $3.50. Cash only.
  • Heather’s (☎742-3175), on C. Pedro Márquez. A long bar dominates the front of this popular pizzeria . Join the locals and watch TV with a bottle of Medalla or chat with the friendly bartenders. Beer $1.50-3. Mixed drinks $3-7. Open M, Th, Su 6-10pm; F-Sa 6-11pm. Cash only.
  • Happy Landing, at the end of the airport strip. When even El Batey gets too touristy, there’s always Happy Landing, Culebra’s own dive. Local men gather here all day long. Just about the one place on Culebra you’ll hear only Spanish. Jukebox, electronic slot machines, and 2 pool tables. Beer $2-3. Mixed drinks $3-4. Open daily 8am-midnight. Cash only.



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For 52 years, we have published the world’s favorite budget travel guides, written entirely by students and updated every year. With pen and notebook in hand and a few changes of underwear stuffed in our backpacks, we spend months roaming the globe in search of travel bargains.

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