Home Cruise Culebra Island Guide: Top 10 Must-Visit Spots for a Caribbean Escape

Culebra Island Guide: Top 10 Must-Visit Spots for a Caribbean Escape

So Caribbean you can almost Taste the Rum!

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Do you want to visit an island that feels like the Caribbean from 30-40 years ago with a Spanish flair? Then you want to head to the tiny island of Culebra, 20 miles east of Puerto Rico. Having been based in St Thomas for most of my 12+ year charter career, I have been to Culebra many, many times and I consistently say it is my favorite island in the Caribbean. Let’s dive into my top ten for the island of Culebra.

10. Downtown Culebra –

Make sure you temper your expectations when you read “downtown,” because the island is only 5 by 7 miles in size and the town is only a handful of streets. With that said, it is a great little town to walk around in. The central plaza and church are the highlight and everything seems to revolve around this area. Personally, I love the post office, because it has an old west feel to it. If you sail over in a boat most people anchor in the huge bay of Ensenada Honda on the east side of town. I personally find this bay to be bumpy a lot due to the trade winds and I prefer to anchor on the other side of town in Sardinas Bay. It is always calm and never crowded. You just have the ferry coming in several times a day.

9. Culebra Bridge –

The downtown area is divided by a natural canal that connects Ensenada Honda and Sardinas Bay. You would think you could go from one to the other easily, but the canal is fairly shallow and narrow. Plus there is a lift bridge you would have to deal with. The fun story of the bridge is that when it was built back in the day they had a dedication ceremony showing off the fact it was lifted up to let boats through the canal. Well that first time it got stuck and when they finally got someone out to get it back down they decided to never raise it again. It is fun jumping from the bridge into the canal below though.

8. Las Pelás Bay –

It ain't like we are getting married...

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On the southeast part of Culebra there is a bay behind a barrier reef that runs between Culebra and the tiny island of Pelá before it makes a 90 degree turn to the north. To get into this bay you have to head halfway into Puerto del Manglar before making an almost 180 degree turn around a shoal. Once inside Las Pelás Bay you will find a quiet anchorage with fantastic protection behind the reef…that is until the weekend when boats from Puerto Rico come to party.

7. Point Soldado Bay –

The southernmost bay on the west coast is protected from the easterly trade winds, but a swell seems to usually make it around Point Soldado making this a day time anchorage. That does not matter because snorkeling here is a delight due to the coral farm the university has set up to grow and study various corals.

6. Point Tamarindo Grande –

Further up the west coast past town and Sardinas Bay there is a good overnight anchorage on either side of Point Tamarindo, depending on which way the swell is coming in. Here I have always found great snorkeling that has captured our attention every time I have been here. Beware the next bay to the south is called Bahia Tamarindo and you will get lots of flies due to the island dump, so stay in the anchorages on either side of Point Tamarindo Grande.

5. Luis Pena –

A mile west of Culebra is the small island of Luis Pena, which has been turned into a wildlife preserve. There are four anchorages around the island that provide “ok” to great protection. The snorkeling is spectacular all around the island and the northern anchorage has a beautiful small beach, although you must pay attention to the north swell at this anchorage. 

4. Flamenco Beach –

Located on the north coast, this half moon shaped beach is a mile long and regularly is included in many top beaches list. The bay is somewhat protected and there are some food and drink vendor huts available. This is the one place on the island that can feel a bit crowded, but the beach is worth it. To add a bit of uniqueness, you will find two WW2 Sherman tanks on the beach. They are leftover artifacts from the period between 1939 and 1975 when the US Navy used the island as a gunnery range.

3. Restaurants –

You would not think that an island with a population of 1700 and lacking any resorts or hotels (you will mostly just find guest houses and cottages) would have a great restaurant scene, but you would be wrong. While the food is excellent at many restaurants on the island, they all are very low key as far as atmosphere, which fits right in with the island vibe as a whole. While Mamacitas has the biggest name recognition I feel the Dinghy Dock is the best on the island with Zaco’s Tacos a close second.

2. Dakity anchorage –

Located on the port side as you enter the large Ensenada Honda anchorage you will find a small anchorage behind a barrier reef. I have spent many nights here with absolutely nothing blocking the trade winds. Even when the winds are north of 20 knots the anchorage is flat calm and that breeze is so cool and refreshing. I always find interesting things to see when I snorkel here and the cut in the middle of the reef is very interesting to snorkel. This is one of my all time favorite anchorages due to the protection, quietness, and snorkeling.

1. Culebrita –

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone that does not have Culebrita as their #1 destination around Culebra. This little island off the east coast of Culebra is a deserted gem. There are two anchorages to choose from. The western one offers better protection and snorkeling, but the north one is off the stunning Tortuga Beach which is a small version of Flamenco Beach minus the tanks and vendors. During the week you will be one of the only boats here, but during the weekend it can be overwhelmed with power boats from Puerto Rico and takes on a party atmosphere. If you walk to the far eastern end of the anchorage you will find a notch in the rocks that the swell comes crashing in as you sit in a pool of water that is called the Jacuzzi. A trip to Culebrita would not be complete without a hike up to the lighthouse, which was the last lighthouse built by the Spanish Empire in the Americas. The vantage gives you a spectacular view of the surrounding reefs and you can see St Thomas to the East.

Captain Shane and Lily are back in the Virgin Islands running charters after spending two years cruising the Greater Antilles and Central America. You can read all about them and their travels at svGuidingLight on the web or your favorite social media.

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