Ahhhhh, Culebra. Just thinking about it right now, I feel more relaxed.
When I decided to spend time in Puerto Rico, I have to say I had some apprehension. Whenever I think of the Caribbean islands, I have visions of huge cruise ships, tropical shirts barely covering protruding bellies, swarms of tourists loudly complaining there are no signs in English, and a general annoyance. Hey, I’m an American, I shouldn’t be so judgmental. But man, we can sure be annoying.
That being said, I set up an itinerary that gave me space from the tourist scenes. I only had a little over a week, so I decided to split that into just two places, with the majority of my time being spent on the small island of Culebra.
For those who like rustic but funky accommodations, leisurely schedules, drinking before noon, and general casualness, I’d recommend this island. It is not fancy. It is not luxurious. But it is beautiful, and friendly, and lively, and slightly odd, and did I mention beautiful?
My suggested Culebra lifestyle is as follows:
Take the flight from the mainland. Air Flamenco has flights from Isla Grande multiple times a day that run about USD $70/roundtrip. It’s a bargain considering the fabulous view from the little eight seater plane that jets you over the sparkling Caribbean waters and lush palm beaches.
When you arrive in Culebra, walk down the road from the airport to the Carlos Jeep Rentals and get yourself a golf cart. It’s super cheap (about USD $25/day) and is all you need to get around the island. It is also SO MUCH DANG FUN!
Next, head to your little home for the week. I used my favorite way to find affordable local accommodations, the peer-to-peer rental website Airbnb. Our house, named Casa SuMarco, was absolutely picturesque and cheaper than any hotel. Plus, look at the view that welcomes you…
Okay, get settled, then get back in your golf cart….it is BEACH TIME! Beaches not to be missed include Flamenco Beach, Tamarindo Beach, Zoni Beach, and Manques Beach.
Flamenco was my favorite, which I did not think it would be. It is the most popular, although even on busy weekend days it is hardly full. Flamenco tops my list not only because it is lively and spacious, but it has food kiosks featuring delicious stuffed mofongos (mashed and friend plantain balls), ensaladas de pulpo (octopus), and ensaldas de concha (conch). And honestly, the best beach drinks I have ever had. Four rum punches later, Flamenco and I were quite good friends.
Zoni is an untouched sanctuary. Don’t plan on swimming or snorkeling, as the tides are strong. Simply walk along the beach and pick a spot to sit and enjoy the view.
Tamarindo wins for its snorkeling opportunities. There were only three other people there the whole day we snorkeled. For USD $12 for a whole day of snorkeling equipment, you can see sea turtles and tropical fish in water the temperature of a soothing bath. Seriously, heaven.
Finish that last rum punch, throw on your sunglasses, and head back for a much “deserved” nap. Bonus points if that nap includes a hammock…
Shower. Back into the golf cart. Dinner. For me, nothing beats the Dinghy Dock for happy hour, salty expat converstaions, chill music, and delicious food. There are definitley some other good options including Zako’s Tacos and Amy’s, but for the best vibe and most memoriable characters, Dinghy Dock has ’em all beat.
Cruise around in that little golf cart a bit more, sit on your porch with a good book, and fall into a sound sleep amidst frogs and the occasional mesquito buzzing.
Wake up. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat…….