Culebra is an island that belongs to the Puerto Rico Archipelago, and forms the Spanish Virgin Islands along with Vieques. It was a US naval base in the past, therefore has barely been touched by the hands of development. With its stunning unspoiled miles of coastline, it boasts reams of healthy coral formations and abundant sea life to enjoy. This is why guides and locals alike agree that the island’s beaches belong to the finest Puerto Rico snorkeling places. Should you decide to go snorkeling in Culebra -that we highly recommend doing- here we list the best places to visit that are encircled by coral reefs and overflowing with tropical fish, rays, and of course sea turtles!
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Flamenco has an envied and justifiable reputation of being one of the most beautiful beaches of Culebra. Its white-colored sand and incredible Caribbean blue shade of water attract tourists to come and spend the day here enjoying the sun and sea. As a local attraction, you will find two abandoned army tanks too so it is not a surprise why it is often called The Tank Beach.
But Flamenco is not only famous for its tanks but also because it is a prime place to go snorkeling in Culebra. The first reef is easily reachable from the shore, it lies a bit to the left of the beach when facing the water. The crowd of snorkeling enthusiasts there makes it hard to miss. Although the 2017 hurricanes caused damage on the reefs near the shore, but the large corals survived and there are signs of recovery in the shallows too.
A better reef is situated more to the left as you leave from the tank along the beach. The very best part lies along the extreme right of the beach where the rocks start. The locals call this place the Shark Cages.
All types of beach gear are available to rent at Flamenco like chairs, sun umbrellas and also water sports equipment, but it is always better to bring your own snorkeling googles, snorkel and flippers due to hygienic and safety reason.
Tamarindo, just a short drive away from Flamenco, is known for the incredible vistas of Cay Luis Pena and also for being one of the best spots to go snorkeling in Culebra Puerto Rico. Locals consider this spot to be beloved because of its protected, calm waters, moderate depths and wide range of submarine life.
You will find here various coral species and many kinds of Caribbean fish such as trumpetfish, trunkfish, but also octopus, squids, sea stars. And the best is that stingrays and sea turtles are almost guaranteed!
The spot is not only ideal Culebra snorkeling spot, but perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking too so the whole family can have fun. Although it is good if you bring swim shoes because there are many pebbles and rocks on the shore and also sea urchins.
Tip: it is a common question which is better, Vieques or Culebra for snorkeling? Well, it is difficult to decide, the best is to visit both islands, so make sure to read our Vieques snorkeling guide too!
Playa Carlos Rosario
The secluded stretch of sand at Carlos Rosario has a deserved reputation for being the most fantastic Culebra snorkeling spot. Its secluded location and the fact that it is part of the Culebra Nature Reserve explain why the underwater life is so amazing here.
Reaching this beach requires a boat trip, but you can reach it from Flamenco too. In this case, you need to hike in down a trail that leads here from the parking lot. There are also great picnic facilities so make sure to bring some snacks and drinks to recharge your batteries after you finish your exciting snorkeling expedition.
Once you make it down to the water, head right until it turns sandy. The better reef lies is to the right of this sandy spot. There is a huge variety of colorful fish and a diverse collection of corals and sea fans in relatively shallow water. The max depth is about 40ft/12m.
Tip: Culebra doesn’t relay have big fancy resorts but lovely small hotels, B&B and guest hoses. Should you look for a place to stay, we recommend Aleli Cottages that offers villas with fantastic view and that is Casa Robinson Guest House that is situated near Ensenada Honda bay.
The Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve includes a stunning stretch of sand called Melones. Entering the water to snorkel off the beach is easy here from behind the picnic table.
If you swim over towards the right heading to the rocks emerging from the water there are stunning submarine rock formations and accompanying coral reef to enjoy here. The bottom is covered over by soft coral and sea fans as well as hard coral in about 15-25ft/4.5-7.5m deep water. There are also seagrass fields nearby that attract all types of turtles.
Melones is also convenient in being an easy quick drive away from the island ferry terminal. While it is an ideal Culebra snorkeling spot, swimmers will not especially enjoy it because of the rocky bottom. The beach itself is narrower and comprised of pebbles, coral, and sand. A little shade comes from the few trees here.
Those who look for a quiet place to relax and snorkel should check out Playa Sardinas. Visitors can enjoy the thrilling combination of natural beauty, peace, and pristine water.
The sand may be narrow but it stretches in a beautiful snaky crescent shape that provides enough front to the water to launch a great snorkeling expedition directly from the beach. Thanks to the calm waters, Playa Sardinas is a prime location for paddle boarding too!
It is worth remembering that the bottom is rocky so swimmers will want to bring water shoes. If you have time, stay after sunset too to enjoy the serenade of the birds, coquis, and waves merging in a magical combination.
Luis Pena Beach – Cayo Luis Pena
Thanks to the marine reserve status that Cayo Luis Pena has enjoyed since 1999 as the first such designated protected natural area in the commonwealth, the small yet beautiful Luis Pena Beach on it is one of the most stunning places to snorkeling in Culebra. You need to take a boat to get here, but it is definitely worth the time and effort.
The coral and sea flora are extremely healthy and harbor a wealth of sea creatures including eagle rays and barracudas. You can count on enjoying sea grass beds, coral reefs, and mangroves all sheltering and supporting an enormous amount of submarine life here.
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