Culebra’s beauty draws tourists to it year-round, but especially during summer when its tropical climate and enchanting beaches burst with vibrant underwater life to explore. It’s an aquatic playground for snorkelers and diving enthusiasts interested in getting closer to the colorful marine life.
On days when you feel like you want to relax on an island paradise, Culebra is the perfect destination. Mingle with locals at small coffee shops or beach bars, embark on a hike or take a sunset kayaking adventure. Nature walks on sandy beaches provide you with the chance to see nesting sea turtles and wild chickens roaming the shores.
You can take a ferry or small plane to reach the sleepy Culebra island. A change of pace from the beaches in San Juan, nature lovers will have the chance to slow down, visit over 20 cays and get to know the lives of the Caribbean sea creatures. To experience all these wonders, you’ll need to venture to any one of these incredible beaches.
GORGEOUS CULEBRA ISLAND, PUERTO RICO, BEACHES
Culebra has a reputation for being home to some of the world’s best beaches. Part of the appeal is how remote the beaches appear, with the underwater life boasting the best opportunities for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. Flamenco Beach is by far the most popular, yet still offers many long stretches of open sand. Many of the others will seem almost as if they are your own private beach on most days- especially the more adventurous locations like Brava or Resaca Beaches.
- Amenities: Bathroom facilities, food stalls, lifeguard towers, beach accessories – this is the only beach on the island with amenities
- Access: Easy access with paid parking next to the beach
- Nearby accommodation: The beach has a designated camping area for a fee, but if you’re looking for a little more luxury, this spacious villa has the perfect island charm
- Tip: Swimming buoys in the shallow waters make it a safe environment for swimmers and families
Known for its dreamy turquoise shallow shores, Playa Flamenco has been ranked across the world as one of the best beaches. The title comes as no surprise when you discover the gems of the beach. From snorkeling and swimming to beach-bumming and bird-watching, the shores of Flamenco are a haven for nature lovers and water babies.
The crystal-clear waters make snorkeling here one of the most magical experiences on the island. You don’t need to have much experience in the water to explore underwater life. Slip on your flippers and goggles and spy upon blue tang, parrotfish, colorful species of wrasse, and vibrant urchins.
There are around 50,000 seabirds that visit the shores of Flamenco each year, which allows summer visitors to marvel at birds they might not see anywhere else. On rare occasions, travelers have the chance to see leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles nesting on the shores or finding shelter on the seagrass beds.
CARLOS ROSARIO BEACH
- Amenities: Bring along plenty of water and snacks as there are no amenities at this beach
- Access: A short and easy 15-minute hike from Flamenco parking bay
- Nearby accommodation: Palmetto Guesthouse is situated just 2 miles from Flamenco, putting you in a prime spot for snorkeling
- Tip: Powerboats and local fishing boats cross through the boat channel – swimmers need to be on the lookout and remain out of the way
While Flamenco is the island’s most popular shore, Carlos Rosario is a hidden gem that offers the best snorkeling. Snorkeling is made spectacular thanks to a barrier reef that protects the waters from rough water conditions. It’s widely considered one of the best snorkeling spots in Puerto Rico.
Snorkelers and divers can pass through the boat channel at the right-hand side of the beach. The channel provides the opportunity to explore either side of the barrier reef. Rich colors are found throughout the reef, with giant sea fans swaying with the currents. There’s plenty of Caribbean sea life to be discovered in these turquoise waters.
You can also head south of the beach and swim alongside the cliffs, where you’ll find even more of an incredible snorkeling extravaganza. The site is known as the Wall and is only a half-mile walk from the secluded beach of Carlos Rosario.
PLAYA TAMARINDO CULEBRA
- Amenities: You’ll need to bring along supplies like snorkeling gear or an inflatable kayak, and food and water, as there are no amenities at this beach
- Access: There is parking almost immediately off the road, which offers direct access to the beach
- Nearby accommodation: Not even half a mile away are the beautiful Aleli Cottages, with each suite offering balconies with sea views
- Tip: Be careful of walking on the seafloor, as coral, stones, and shells make for a prickly bottom that’ll hurt your bare feet
The waters at Tamarindo are calm and quiet thanks to Cayo Luis Peña island. Taking advantage of the water conditions is a must when visiting these remote shores; snorkeling and kayaking are wonderful recreational activities.
Anyone who visits the beach is going to be blessed with dreamy sunsets. Because of the calm waters, newbie kayakers and snorkelers can splash in the waters as the sun sets in the distance. While there aren’t any amenities, there are shaded areas perfect for afternoon picnics and reading sessions.
Tamarindo is a safe haven for sea turtles, and it’s important to keep a distance that won’t leave them feeling threatened. If you happen to catch one of them waddling on the shores, you can quietly spy on them in their natural habitat.
Adventure seekers can embark on an island tour with kayak journeys and a snorkeling experience with turtles.
- Amenities: There are no bathrooms or food stalls, so be sure to pack well for a day in the sun
- Access: It’s a 15-20 minute drive from Dewey, with a small area for parking
- Nearby accommodation: Relax at this tropical paradise holiday home that’s within walking distance to Zoni Beach
- Tip: Visiting in April or June means you might get lucky and spot some baby leatherback and hawksbill turtles making their way to the waters
The biggest appeal of Zoni Beach is its seclusion. It’s as beautiful as Flamenco, but because of the lack of amenities, travelers tend to head to Flamenco. This gives those looking for peace and tranquility the perfect excuse to spend all day at the beach.
While shallow waters are remarkable, deeper waters have their own appeal. In summer, when the seas are not too rough, the playful waves make kayaking and swimming a pleasure. Towards the west, surfers can catch a few barrels that make the beach particularly exciting.
There’s also a large open area that provides the perfect playground for volleyball matches, sunbathing, beach soccer, or tennis. For even more ‘you’ time, you can spend hours wandering along the coast to explore the south and north side of the beach.
- Amenities: There are no amenities at the beach, so come prepared with food for a picnic in the shaded areas
- Access: Access depends on if the gate is closed or open. If it’s closed, you can take a 15-20 minute walk down a rocky dirt road to the parking lot. If it’s open, you’ll take a scenic drive down to Punta Soldado Beach.
- Nearby accommodation: Punta Soldado is situated in a remote area so there aren’t many accommodation spots nearby. Club Seabourne Hotel is a charming tropical spot to stay at if you’ve rented a car on the island.
- Tip: If you’ve got a pair of diving shoes, be sure to bring them along as it’s a pebbly walk to the shore
Bring along your snorkeling mask because the real beauty is found underwater. Known for its colorful underwater life, Punta Soldado has a diverse aquatic life in calm waters, ideal for those looking to learn how to snorkel. Without much effort, you might find yourself swimming alongside mantras, mellow sea turtles, and tropical fish.
You can find the best snorkeling spots on the left side where you can explore more colorful reefs home to octopuses, lobsters, turtles, and tropical fish.
- Amenities: No amenities or food stalls, but you might bump into a local renting snorkeling gear
- Access: An easy to access beach that has parking right next to the shores
- Nearby accommodation: Just a 4-minute drive from the beach is the Mamacitas Guest House that sits right on the water, with each room featuring a balcony
- Tip: Diving shoes are a must here given that the sea has a rocky bottom, as well as parts of the shore
While Melones Beach is still as beautiful as the rest of the Culebra beaches, it’s one of the lesser-known spots. This is probably because it doesn’t have amenities, and it can be rocky in some places. But the underwater life makes up for the shores.
Providing you with some of the best snorkeling on the island, Melones Beach has a reef that isn’t too far out. Along with colorful tropical fish and live coral, the reef has an abundance of seagrass – which happens to be a turtle’s favorite meal.
You’re guaranteed to have a crowd-free adventure on the beach, whether that be parking off on a beach chair you brought along or paddling around the shores. You can even say hi to some of the resident chickens who roam freely around the beach.
- Amenities: Completely isolated with no amenities
- Access: A strenuous 30-minute hike that begins to the left of the “Turtle Nesting Beach” sign
- Nearby accommodation: You’re going to have to drive to the entrance of the Resaca beach. Staying at Vista Bella Apartments allows you to be central to all Culebra beaches and attractions.
- Tip: You’ll need to be cautious of the turtle breeding season – the beach will be closed for their privacy, and it would be unfortunate to make the hike to a closed beach
As one of the most valued natural havens, Resaca Beach is mostly untouched, and a tough hike is the only way of getting to the shores. A narrow and steep trail leads you through Resaca Boulder Forest, making the trek all the more fun for hiking enthusiasts.
Emerge from the mangrove forest, and you’ll be greeted with a completely remote beach with twinkling sand and bright blue waters. Snorkelers aren’t the only ones who get to have fun on Isla de Culebra. Resaca has the best waves on the island, and experienced surfers have the opportunity to ride large waves in an extraordinary setting.
- Amenities: You won’t find any amenities here – which makes the adventure all the more exciting
- Access: It’s a moderate to difficult 30-40 minute long hike to reach Brava Beach – you can park your car at the Playa Brava trailhead
- Nearby accommodation: Villa Ensenada Honda is a beachfront apartment ideal for couples keen on adventuring around the island
- Tip: Wear long pants and bring along bug repellant for the hike down to the beach
Brava Beach is another incredible spot for surfers. But you’ll need to be cautious of the large swell – this isn’t an ideal beach for swimming and the lack of lifeguards means only experienced surfers should head to the waters.
Nestled within the forest, Brava is a protected area that often remains free of tourists, which makes this hidden gem all the more wonderful to explore. Hiking to the shores is all part of the fun – the trail meanders through vegetation and mangroves until you’re led by the sound of crashing waves in the distance.
After building up a sweat on the hike, dip your feet in the waters and wander along the stretch of beach that is almost always empty. If you choose to get in the water in summer, take care and use common sense.
ISLA CULEBRITA, PUERTO RICO, TURTLE BEACH
- Amenities: No amenities on the island – you will need to bring along all the supplies you’ll need for a full day at the beach
- Access: Take a boat or water taxi from Culebra – about 25 minutes
- Nearby accommodation: Accommodation isn’t found on the island – only on the main island of Culebra
- Tip: Instead of renting your own boat, it’s highly recommended that you book a tour with a local guide to get to the island and take care of the logistics
Culebrita is a tiny island right next to Culebra. After exploring around the main island, you can take a boat trip or water taxi to reach Culebrita. Culebrita is surrounded by mountains and green hills. The completely remote island features no amenities and the only man-made structure you’ll come across is an eerie abandoned lighthouse.
With a name like Turtle Beach, you surely can’t miss out on the chance to snorkel among the local sea turtles. The clear blue waters and lack of currents means you can spend all day getting to know the underwater world.
DISCOVERING CULEBRA, PUERTO RICO, BEACHES
Affectionately known as the Spanish Virgin Island, Culebra is a treat for those looking to adventure from Puerto Rico. Providing a quieter atmosphere, the island offers a world of its own – with plenty of remote coasts and secluded beaches that give you the feeling that you’re the only ones on the shores.
The tropical paradise is even more incredible when seeing it from below the waters. With waters teeming with life, snorkelers are left to discover oceans home to hundreds of sea creatures.
Next time you feel yourself itching for a tropical vacation, put Culebra at the top of your travel bucket list!