Culebra is a sleepy village without much in the way of nightlife, ritzy resorts, and high-end elaborate entertainment options ... and that's just the way the locals like it. But that doesn't mean it's a boring place. Here are eight things you can do to have fun on the island.
Head to Flamenco Beach
The easiest one on the list, Flamenco Beach draws everyone who comes to the island, whether they're Sanjuaneros looking for a weekend escape or campers planning a three-month sojourn in the beachs extensive campgrounds. Framed by green hills, this deep horseshoe-shaped beach is a breathtaking natural wonder. It's received the eco-label known as the Blue Flag for its clean waters, which are a remarkable aquatic tapestry of blues and greens. It has more facilities than any other beach in Culebra, and it’s the most accessible by público from the town of Dewey.
And let's not forget the two tanks mired in the sand. Rusted monuments to a prior military occupation of Culebra, the tanks, now painted, remain partly submerged in the water.
Culebra is a great place to dive, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned vet. Beneath the water is a smorgasbord of sea life, from turtles to eels to sharks. Head out with an experienced team like Walter and Monica of Culebra Divers, and you won't regret the experience. My first ever diving experience was with Walter, and I was lucky enough to spot a moray eel, a baby lobster, and more fish than I could count. If diving is not your thing, you can go snorkeling with them instead.
My favorite island in Puerto Rico might just be this unspoiled gem called Culebrita, the affectionate "little sister" of Culebra. From Culebra, you can take a water taxi to this smaller island, which will give you plenty of reasons to stick around for the day. Playa Tortuga, or Turtle Beach is the most popular beach on the island, a beautiful, wide crescent of sand and temperate waters shallow enough to let your children bathe in peace. The Culebrita lighthouse, a rather annoying hike away, is closed to the public but does offer nice views. And West Beach is a narrow strip of sand with excellent snorkeling. And the Culebrita Reef, called Los Corchos by the locals, is another favored spot for snorkeling and diving.
This is a tricky one, because Juanita Banana's is only open Friday to Monday from December to July (high season), and reservations are an absolute must because the place gets booked weeks in advance. But all that effort will be worth it for the hands-down favorite restaurant in Culebra. With everything organically grown in their backyard, an inventive menu that includes surprisingly creative and sushi rolls, and decadent desserts, the restaurant deserves its lofty accolades. It's pleasant ambience, fresh and delicious menu, and friendly hosts make it a must-visit ... if you're lucky enough to get in.
Check out Carlos Rosario
Carlos Rosario is not a handsome Culebra native, but rather another beach a short hike from Flamenco Beach. It has none of its neighbor's glamor; in fact, it's nothing spectacular, and you might even be tempted to run straight back to Flamenco Beach when you get here. But then you'd miss the best snorkeling on the island. If you swim out to the channel marker and turn right, you’ll discover a coral reef bursting with marine life that will make you (perhaps) forget about any other place on the island.
Nesting turtles swarm the beaches of Culebra through the year (depending on the species), but particularly from April to June. Leatherback and Hawksbill are the most common. The locals take good care of their hard-shell friends, and beaches where turtles are known to nest are closed from sunset to sunrise during the season. If you're interested in taking part in the experience, contact the Department of Natural Resources, which sometimes runs a volunteer program that offers up-close access to hatching Leatherbacks. You can also check with the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge on general information on turtles and how best to enjoy their presence without impacting the environment.
Located right on Castelar Street in Dewey (it's impossible to get lost in Dewey), Mamacita's is the best place to be when the sun goes down. The food is good, the adjacent bar is a popular hangout, and the live band only adds to the friendly, fun-loving ambience. Even during the day, this is a great place to chill out. During lunchtime, boats pull up and passengers disembark for a quick drink or a light meal, and even iguanas saunter over to sunbathe on the deck.
Explore the Island
Whether you're looking for a small beach to call your own for the day, spectacular views, or just a trip around Culebra, I recommend jumping in your rental car or scooter and hitting the open road. The island is so small and safe that you'll never be lost for long and you'll eventually hit a point of interest ... from the roads, there are trails to lovely beaches like Brava and Resaca, if you're into challenging hikes, or Tamarindo and Zoni if you just want a change of scene. Either way, it's an easy and fun day around the island.