1. The weather is absolutely perfect. It is always sunny with a constant beautiful breeze. If it rains, it’ll only last for 15 minutes. Nights are too chilly for shorts and crop tops but you won’t die. I’m so dramatic. So jeans or a sweater comes in handy, if you can fit it in your suitcase. I didn’t have that luxury.
2. Get to Culebra by Ferry or Plane from the main island. The cheapest way to get there is to either drive or take a cab from San Juan ($90 one way ~60 min.) to Fajardo and then take a ferry to Culebra (~$4 one way). The cons of this is that it gets very packed on the weekends. Ferries open at 9am and 3pm. Lines are usually very long and it’s first come, first serve. Once you get there, you’ll have to find your way to the main beaches (10-15 min. via car) as well because you’ll be dropped off at the main dock. You can fly from San Juan International airport. It is the most convenient but also the priciest (~$150 one way). You can also leave the San Juan Airport and take a 15 min. uber ride ($6) to Isla Grande Airport for a plane ride there ($73 one way). This is the route I took. All planes to Culebra are charter-like private planes that fit 8 people. It’s FREAKING AMAZING. You get the best view from the top and they allow cell phones for images and FaceTime (although I didn’t try).
3. There are no resorts here. Book an airbnb, guest house, or one of the more intimate hotels. It’s part of the charm. I stayed at Palmetto Guesthouse. Susan, the owner of this six room home, is very accommodating and genuinely very sweet. The space is quaint and cute. All areas of the island are very easy to reach from all hotels, airbnbs, and hotels. So you can’t really go wrong.
4. Rent a golf cart! You MUST experience the golf cart lyfe. It is so much fun. It will also make your island trip so much more convenient. You can not walk everywhere and cabs are sparse. I literally saw two chicks try to hitchhike a ride from the airport. Don’t be those girls.
5. Everyone speaks English and Spanish. You can use your phone endlessly (since it’s US territory). No need to exchange currency because they also use American dollars. Ahhhhh, I love PR. There are no compromises here.
6. But bring cash monayyyyy. Most places are cash only and trust me, you don’t want to starve or god forbid, not afford a Pina Colada by the beach.
7. Go to Flamenco Beach. No, like you need to go rn. It is one of the top ten beaches in the world for a reason! The sand is so soft that you will just melt into it the moment you touch it. The water is blue and the waves are kind to you. Off Flamenco beach are shacks that serve drinks and empanadas. Try a crab meat empanada with a frozen Pina Colada.
8. Take a walk on the beach to the tank. Once you’re done sunbathing on Flamenco beach, take a nice long walk to the Tank sitting on the beach. It is graffiti-ed out and what’s left of American savagery and post-bombing days. Now it is a piece of tourist artifact that makes for great photo ops. And your new phone screensaver.
9. Go Snorkeling. The coral reefs are absolutely stunning and it is so easy to snorkel off Flamenco Beach. You can purchase this deal ($35) or if you’re a pro, rent gear at a bodega/market for $5 and just go at it. Careful because my friends totally stepped on some Sea Urchins. Painful af. If you get a Sea Urchin stuck in you, you'll have to wait 6 hours before extracting it.
10. Go to Zoni Beach. If you have time to explore one more beach, take the 15-20 min golf cart drive to Zoni Beach. But don’t tell your rental place that you went because it’s forbidden. But we’re all little badasses here…so just do it! It’s so worth it. It’s absolutely secluded and only locals tend to go here. Make a few stops along the way. You will get the best view on the way there as you stand on top of the hill overlooking the island. If you stop at the right spot, you can also see the virgin islands (13 miles from Culebra vs the 16 miles distance from San Juan).
11. Explore other beaches to find sea turtles. Don’t limit yourself to just the two beaches I mentioned. Playa Brava apparently has sea turtles and there are so many beaches surrounding this island worth seeing!
12. Drink: Pina Colada, Bushwacker, Frozen Passion Fruit Mojitos, and Medalla beer (duh!). Did you know that the Pina Colada was created in Puerto Rico!? Yup, fun fact. And Bushwhacker is the official Culebra island drink. Medalla is the official Puerto Rican beer. And I just really love the frozen passion fruit mojitos here.
13. Spongebob Squarepants is located off the shore of Culebra. Culebra use to be a base for bomb testing. So they use to take large amount of household products including pans, sponges, etc and then bomb it in the ocean off the island. So…that’s how Spongebob was born. There’s also a Krusty Krab restaurant in Culebra. Hmmm, which came first?
14. Learn Patience – food and service are slow here because they make it per order, guaranteed deliciousness. This took awhile for me to get use to. #newyorkerprobs
15. Breakfast: Vibra Verde for Acai bowls and Egg Sandwiches. The local airport (I am so serious!!) for espressos, coffees, and simple breakfast items. Or the Tiki Grill for their breakfast menu. Yum.
16. Lunch: Zaco Tacos for tacos…omg this place will change your life. It is only open Mon-Fri from 12pm. Nina’s for Mofongo. If you want an authentic Puerto Rican meal in Culebra, then go to Nina’s. Chances are is it Nina who is actually making your meal. Tika Grill got some bomb ass burgers.
17. Dinner: Dinghy Dock for a fresh piece of fish. The view off the dock is phenomenal. Their appetizers are not my fave, I will have to say. But their grilled fish of the day, fried snapper, or mahi mahi is AMAZING. And you can feed your leftover bones and fish to the fishes near the dock. They’re like mini shark size and hella scary but also cool af. Don’t skip out on dessert. Their key lime pie is divine. And if it’s one thing I suggest you must do for dinner, it is to take the trip to Krusty Krab. It gets packed even at 6:30pm but the view is unreal. The sunset here is even more breathtaking. Krusty Krab is a food truck with amazing fish tacos and fancy seating, but very limited.
18. Go Stargazing. New Yorkers don’t really look up. How can we when we can be stepping on dog shit at any second…especially in Bushwick. My friend texted me to look at the stars one late night. And as my boyfriend is knocked out with zero chances of any consciousness, I snuck out and actually looked up. My god, it will surely make you believe in a god if you don’t already. It looks out of this world (pun intended). You honestly feel like you’re in a VR world. It’s so pretty it looks fake. You’ll easily spot the Little and Big Dipper, too. I urge you to stargaze on Culebra.
19. Bring bug spray. I have so many pesky souvenirs on my skin. I am still scratching them we we speak. I probably have Zika now.
20. You can also do a day trip to Culebra from San Juan. Two excursion websites include East Island and Culebra Island Tour. This is how I found out about Culebra in the first place. It is well worth the trip if you can’t stay for an extended period of time. It’s worth it. Trust me!
Visuals by Pedro