Culebra is an Island just off the East Coast of Puerto Rico. If you are visiting Puerto Rico and want to see one of “the best beaches” and have some amazing snorkeling, I highly recommend going for a few days, or even a day trip!
We took the flight out of Jose Arippa Airport to Culebra Island. The plane fit just 9 people including the pilot and it is the quickest way to get to Culebra.
We arrived early to the airport, staying the night before at a Ceiba airbnb about 5 min away. The airport is tiny, fast to check into, and we could take water bottles on the plane (a nice change!). Our flight was late, but with it taking less than 15 minutes to get to Culebra, it wasn’t a big deal.
The other option is the ferry ride from Fajardo. It takes around 1.5 hours but the return ride only took 1hour and 10min. We had to arrive about an hour early, with already purchased tickets, and it was a pretty rocky trip. People got seasick, including Simon, who threw up twice.
GOOD TO KNOW: The parking lot closes at 7pm, and you have to pay for your ticket inside the airport in order to leave the lot. We JUST made it to the airport after catching the 5pm ferry, but I would recommend giving yourself more time in case something comes up. Ferry delays are common I’m told, and there could be traffic and what not.
Where to Snorkel- Tamarindo Beach:
THE place to snorkel on Culebra Island. Tamarindo Beach is by far our favorite snorkeling spot due to the amount and variety of marine life we encountered. We were able to see turtles, squid, lionfish, an eagle ray, lobster, parrot fish, and lots of reef fish.
We snorkeled Tamarindo beach for two days. The first day we parked our motorbike immediately where the road accessed the beach, headed right, and found a shady spot to drop our bag. We hit the water and were amazed at all the beautiful coral fans and fish we saw. Heading further out toward the sea grass we spotted an eagle ray! Heading closer to shore we came across a beautiful, curious little turtle who let me get some great photos! I even got to touch his fin! So cute!
If you go to the end of Tamarindo beach (heading east), there is a small wooden walkway that leads to the shore. Heading slightly to the left in the water straight from there will take you to underwater coral growing stations. When we went we were lucky to spot some turtles hanging in the area, and also a school of fish actually taking shelter in the growing coral.
If you head left around the point, either walking or swimming, (toward the East of Tamarindo Beach), there are more snorkeling opportunities and this is where we spotted turtles, squid, and lobsters. There’s also a hotel situated on the shore there, and we were recommended to snorkel here by some of the guests we met at a restaurant.
Carlos Rosario Beach:
If you head right around the west point of tamarindo beach, you will find Carlos Rosario beach. This is another good snorkeling area, with deeper water closer to shore, and slightly bigger fish. Please beware of cacti as you’re walking along the shore.
I recommend water shoes- there are a lot of rocky areas at this beach and watershoes are a must. Also please do not step on the coral so that you don’t damage any or harm the ecosystem.
The island is pretty small and easy to get around. We rented scooters while the majority of people rented out golf carts. The golf carts were $45 to rent /day, scooter $40/day, and jeeps were in the $70s. We ended up walking from our place near the airport to the ferry dock and it only took about 15-20 minutes.
Definitely check out the main beaches- Tamarindo, Carlos Rosario and Flamenco. Flamenco beach was pretty, but not good for snorkeling. It does have two tanks on/near the beach and food stands nearby.