Guide To The Best Snorkeling In Culebra, Puerto Rico
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by Kristin Young | Updated On: February 2, 2022 | Culebra
Culebra is the perfect island for travelers who are seeking a chilled-out, lightly developed, peaceful destination for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. The island is located 20 miles (30 km) east of Puerto Rico and fronts the north of the Atlantic Ocean. The island itself is 10 square miles (26 square km) in area. And although it is located not so far from the “big island” of Puerto Rico, you will feel as if it is a million miles away because of the feel and vibe.
The offshore Culebra island is a hidden gem because it’s not ringing with flashy vacation bells and they’ll offer you cozy cottages or villas instead of large hotels for your stay there. For travelers who prefer to be somewhere quiet and visit places that are not jammed with tourists, then snorkel Culebra and have many of the spots nearly to yourself.
Culebra arguably offers some of the best snorkeling available in Puerto Rico. The real charm lies with the wild beaches and their stunning white sand, warm enticing waters, and also its rugged coastline. Snorkeling Puerto Rico Culebra will allow you to see the inviting cays and reefs of Culebra and will guarantee you the best snorkeling and diving experience. Always make sure to check the latest weather and tide reports before setting out, currents, waves, and riptides offshore can be treacherous.
If you like to snorkel, come and experience the best snorkeling in Culebra, Puerto Rico because it’s calling your name! There are also Culebra snorkeling tours options guided by the locals to explore the miles of shoreline, seeing plenty of healthy sea life and coral formations. And what makes it even better is, most of the great snorkeling Culebra Puerto Rico spots are very easy to enter through the beach. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a snorkeling mask, fins, and jump right into Culebra Puerto Rico snorkeling!
Click on each of the Culebra snorkeling spots on the map for more details on each location.
BEST SNORKELING IN CULEBRA SPOTS
Culebra offers some of the best snorkeling experiences that you can have on the Caribbean islands. It varies from the tourist-filled beaches and spots with facilities to very secluded beaches that give you a private island feeling. Culebra, Puerto Rico snorkeling tours are available any time of the year along with boat trip options as well. In this article, you will find out what to expect and look out for when Culebra island snorkeling along the island’s breathtaking beaches.
Flamenco beach is by far the most popular beach in Culebra and happens to be found in several worldwide top 10 beaches lists. It has recently earned the title of one of the Best Escape Beaches by the Travel Channel, and not without reason. The beach is known for its perfect warm, clear, turquoise-tinted water and soft white sand every step of the way.
There’s also another reason why Flamenco beach stands out, and that is a souvenir left from the U.S Navy – a pair of rusting battle tanks that were used for target practice. These graffiti-covered, rusting tanks have been on the beach since World War II. Specifically, they are located back in the bush and on the shoreline on the far west side of the beach.
While the view you get while being on Flamenco beach is no doubt beautiful, you can also go snorkeling on Flamenco beach to experience perhaps even more beautiful sights. Starting from the parking lot, you can head on the main path and see a number of people snorkeling on the reef across the bay. Unfortunately, the area is not as healthy as it was because it has been well-used.
You can get a better Flamenco beach snorkeling experience by doing it on the east end of the beach. This area is called “Muellecito” by the locals, also known as “Shark Cages”. You will need to enter and exit the water near the two rows of concrete rocks. Snorkel around the concrete pilings and then to the right, from there you can see the reef covered with many different types of corals and sea life. For safety reasons, make sure to swim back before you get tired because there’s only one way in and out, and might be swimming against the current when heading back to the beach.
Though there are many great snorkeling spots, nothing can come close to the secluded non-touristy Carlos Rosario Beach. Located on the leeward side of the island, the beach is protected from the northeast winds that sometimes make the water rough at Flamenco Beach. Carlos Rosario has an amazing coral that is teeming with fans, fish, and brain corals.
Carlos Rosario will give you a private beach vibe as there are only very few people on the beach most of the time and it’s quiet there. There are no food stands, kiosks, or any facilities. So be sure to bring your fluids, lunch, backpack, and your snorkel gear.
You can get to Carlos Rosario by following a trail that starts from the Flamenco beach parking lot. Wearing decent footwear would be a great choice because there are rocks and thorns all along the trail. The walk is about 30 minutes and it has pretty views along the way for you to enjoy.
It’s also important to note that because there’s construction going on in the parking lot through 2022, access is currently difficult from shore. You can also get there by renting a boat, kayak, or water taxi in town. The journey is worth it and the experience of swimming in the clear calm water surrounded by beautiful fish is complete bliss.
Entry: Flamenco beach parking lot hike trail
Access: Flamenco beach parking lot
Look out for: sea turtles in the grass, many sea urchins
Tamarindo Grande is sometimes also called Tamarindo II. Here, you will feel as if on a deserted island as it’s very secluded. You can get there by walking from Flamenco beach trail, which takes about 20 minutes but it’s totally worth it.
When you come to Tamarindo Grande, make sure to bring your own snorkel gear. Here, you will definitely see plenty of colorful corals that are very well protected. It’s easy to stay off the corals because the water is calm. There’s also a lot of fish. And if you’re lucky, you can see stingrays, jellyfish, turtles, or perhaps even an octopus!
Do keep in mind that Tamarindo Grande and Tamarindo beach are not the same, but they are just next to each other on either side of Punta Tamarindo. Tamarindo Grande is the Northern bay with Tamarindo beach being the South bay. If you prefer it to be less crowded for snorkeling, then Tamarindo Grande is the better option.
It’s important to note that at the time of writing, the way to get here is through the parking lot from Flamenco Beach is temporarily blocked due to construction through 2022. The solution to this is water access. Get a boat, water taxi, or kayak and get going!
Access: parking on site
Look out for: rocks and pebbles, chickens
One of the best beaches in Culebra that attracts most of the tourists is Tamarindo beach but compared to Flamenco beach, it is less crowded. It’s known as the place to see turtles, and on our last trip, it did not disappoint. Immediately after entering the water, we saw several turtles and a stingray in the seagrass not far from the shore.
The beach is located on the northwest side of Culebra. Instead of soft sand, Tamarindo is a rocky beach so it is more suitable for people who are looking for a place to do snorkeling or diving as there are many things to see under the water here. But if you want to take a walk here, it is recommended to wear sandals/shoes. What makes it unique in Tamarindo beach is there are many chickens running around. If you don’t mind rocky beaches and are looking for something less crowded than Flamenco beach, Tamarindo snorkeling could be it.
The main Tamarindo beach snorkeling attraction is a small reef close to the far left area. The University of Puerto Rico is planting coral over there to help refurbish the reef. You have a very high chance of seeing turtles and stingrays since they’re attracted to the sandy bottom out by the seagrass. The water is actually very clear here to the point you can see marine life without even diving in, but of course, it’s better to be up close and personal. Tamarindo Costa Rica snorkeling is an unforgettable experience.
Access: parking area
Facilities: picnic table
Look out for: chickens
Melones beach is a great choice if you’re in Culebra for a limited time and want to snorkel. It’s really easy to get here as it is part of the Luis Pena Channel Natural Reserve – just drive right up to it and park steps away from the beach. Melones is also a non-busy beach, perfect for snorkeling.
Though Melones is not the prettiest beach by the Caribbean’s high standards, there are swings, a picnic table along the rocky shore. It can be confusing where to go when you arrive, but the beach with the swing and picnic table is just before the snorkeling entry. Continue to drive to the turn around where you will find a small spot to enter the water. Once you’re in front of the ocean, head to the right. Melones isn’t a beach for bathing because you’ll be stepping on coral and stones as soon as you’re in the water, so don’t forget to wear water shoes for protection but try to float at all times so you don’t damage the coral.
The waves here are gentle with crystal clear water. According to the locals, it’s recommended to swim and snorkel to the right side because there are some bigger rock formations with plenty of healthy live colorful corals, vivid purple sea fans, beautiful tropical fish, turtles, and other marine life. Once you’re finished with snorkeling and back on dry land, you can watch the sunset at a picnic table.
Access: parking area
Look out for: sharp rocks
Punta Soldado is located off the southern coast of Culebra. Getting there is a bit of an adventure drive. The unpaved road can be quite rough, so make sure to rent a Jeep while in Culebra.
Punta Soldado is the most arid part of Culebra, so on your way there, you will see many cacti. Once you’ve arrived, be sure to have your sandals on because the beach is more coral than sand.
The beach is very beginner-friendly for those who haven’t had much snorkel or diving experience. The water is very calm and clear. The reefs reach almost all the way to the shore and are used as a habitat for an array of underwater species – fish, lobster, turtles, octopuses, and much more!
The best spot to see the reef is located on the left side of the beach. You can easily reach there by walking about 100 feet to the left side once you’re on the beach. You should be able to see a huge boulder in the center of the shore – this is the marker to start getting in the water and swimming towards the left. Keep this incredible underwater ecosystem healthy by not stepping or touching the reef.
Culebrita Boat Trip
Entry: water access only
Access: water access
Look out for: bees and noseeums
Off the eastern coast of Culebra, there is a small uninhabited island called Isla Culebrita – it’s known as “little Culebra”. The island is approximately one mile in length and is a tourist spot. This tiny island is a must-see!
To reach this little paradise go by boat or water taxi which you can easily rent from Culebra – it takes about only 25 minutes to get here. Find a reliable boat operator to take you and preferably one who provides tours and knows the island inside and out. The price varies depending on the number of your party, whether or not it’s a holiday season, and of course to the operator’s discretion. The locals also love to visit Culebrita, so you will see some boats moored here, especially on the weekends or summer time. But it’s way quieter compared to Culebra and Flamenco beach.
Culebrita has six beaches in total. The beaches are a snorkeler’s paradise and bather’s delight. The water is crystal clear, shallow, and the gentle waves will easily bring you to where the beautiful coral reefs and tropical fish are. Manta rays and sea turtles are common – you might be able to spot more than a few within the first few hours.
There’s a historical lighthouse from the 1800s that is now abandoned and you can do a hike to see it up close. There are no kiosks or facilities whatsoever so remember to bring your own food, plenty of drinks, mosquito repellent, and everything else that’s needed.
Culebra, without a doubt, offers some of the best beaches for snorkeling in the Caribbean and arguably in the world. It comes back to your preference whether you prefer to visit famous touristic beaches with facilities like Flamenco beach or those that feel more private where you need to bring your own necessities like Carlos Rosario. If you have a few days to spend in Culebra, why not try out all of them!