*Featured image credit: Chad Zuber / Shutterstock.com
Otherwise known as Isla Culebra, Culebra Island lies just seventeen miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, but has its own distinct character and charm that culturally differentiates it from the mainland. While this quiet and unspoiled island may not have much to offer in terms of nightlife, modern entertainment and sprawling resorts, its white sand beaches, coral reefs and panoramic bays more than make up for this.
Considered to be one of the top three beaches in the world, Flamenco Beach is the most popular beach on Culebra Island, and is the one that attracts the most tourists. Consisting of a half-mile wide stretch of soft white sand on a horseshoe-shaped bay, the beach extends for just over a mile, and contains a number of different amenities. The wide selection of kiosks sell just about everything that you may need on the beach, from snacks to rum punches to beach gear, and there are also a number of instructors available for those who want to have a go at surfing, snorkelling or scuba diving. Visitors to the beach will also notice two rusting US military tanks, an iconic feature of this otherwise pristine beach.
Culebra National Wildlife Refuge
The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge forms the backdrop for Flamenco Beach, which first originated due to the seabird colonies that nest in the area. Each year, over 50,000 seabirds make their way here to nest, hatch and raise their young, while a number of other species call the refuge their permanent home.
Culebra’s Other Beaches
While Flamenco Beach may be the most popular on Culebra Island, its other beaches are definitely worth visiting. The island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, and if you find Flamenco Beach is too busy for a relaxing snorkelling session, head on over to Carlos Rosario Beach, which is literally surrounded by corals, or to Melones Beach, which boasts two outstanding snorkelling spots. For those wanting an exhilarating hike, Resaca Beach provides a steep and rocky trail, while the hike to Brava Beach will reward you with a lush natural forest and the largest waves on the island. If you are simply seeking an isolated and serene stretch of sand for a day of escape, Culebra Island has plenty of those. Tamarindo Beach is stunning yet secluded, while Zoni Beach is so tranquil that it is the chosen nesting spot for a large number of turtles. It is quite easy to visit a few different beaches on Culebra Island in one day, although many tend to prefer picking one beach each day to fully explore and enjoy.
Culebra Island is often considered to be Puerto Rico’s offbeat cousin, and while it may not offer the same facilities that the mainland does, it is able to boast a way of life that is free from the stresses of modern day living. It is the ideal destination to visit for those who want to take a step back in time and experience raw and untouched beauty at its finest.