Isla Culebra is an island of Puerto Rico off the eastern coast of the main island. This was my second time to Puerto Rico and I had heard amazing things about Culebra, especially the great snorkeling conditions around the island and Flamenco Beach, so I knew I had to check it out. We decided to do a Culebra day trip and it was easily a highlight of our Puerto Rico vacation.
We had a group of 8 and booked an excursion with Kayaking Puerto Rico. I had used the same tour group for a biobay excursion during my last trip and loved the experience with them. This time, our package covered our ferry tickets over to the island and all activities on the island (minus food and drink).
Our itinerary for the day:
7am: We roll out of bed, gather the troops and leave from Old San Juan to drive to Fajardo ferry terminal. There is a parking lot nearby – $5 for the entire day. Once parked, we found the rep from Kayaking Puerto Rico easily and she handed us our ferry tickets. I’m so glad we did this because the line to actually buy the tickets from the terminal was insane, like you-will-not-end-up-making-the-ferry insane. You need to get there at 7am or earlier for the 9am ferry. On the bright side the tickets are only $4.50 round trip.
9am: We manage to get on the ferry in time to find good seats indoors. Despite the beautiful scenery outside, I opted to take a nap.
10am: Yay we’ve arrived! We get off the ferry to meet our tour for a short briefing and some snack time. We get equipped with our gear and head to Tamarindo Beach for our snorkel adventure. When I first got into the waters off the main beach, I was skeptical. The water was not as clear as I had imagined and where the heck was all the fish?! A couple minutes after swimming around I began seeing sea urchins, sting rays, coral, and…sea turtles! They are majestic creatures and it was amazing to see them eating and swimming and chilling.
Next, we kayaked to a private bay near the beach. I hopped out of the kayak into what seemed like a giant tropical fish tank. The fish here are brightly colored tropical fish swimming around their coral reef homes. Stunning.
If you opt out of following a formal tour, you can easily take a car from the ferry terminal to the beach and they have snorkeling equipment and kayaks for rental. I think you can also rent a golf cart to drive around the island since it’s quite small.
2pm: After all that snorkeling and exploring, it was time to hit the beach. We arrived at Flamenco Beach and got some snacks and drinks in the stands next to the parking lot. Tip: only get drinks from the bar! The other food stands served sub-par pina coladas 🙁
When you walk through the foliage and onto the beach, you can see why this beach has been ranked in the top 10 of beaches in the world. The sand here rivals the sand in the Bahamas, which was like walking on cushy pillows. There is nice shade available under the palm trees and the water is incredible. It’s shallow and turquoise clear and calm. I could spend several days here just drinking pina coladas and eating grouper Pasteillos. I love taking walks, so I spent part of my time here walking along the water towards the old Sherman tanks rusting in the sea. These were left behind by the US Army after they left Culebra in the 1970’s.
4:20pm: Unfortunately the time has come to take the bus back to the ferry terminal.
5pm: We hop back onto the ferry taking us back to the main island (aka nap time again).
6pm: We arrive, pick up cars, and drive back to Old San Juan.
Hope this inspires you to take a Culebra day trip next time you’re in the area! It’s truly a beautiful place.