Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Tourism)


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What to do in Culebra

With a population of around 2,000, Culebra lies about 18 miles off the western edge of Puerto Rico. Twenty-three tiny islets surround it like a constellation: all are classified as nature reserves—the earliest established by Theodore Roosevelt way back in 1909—where scores of nesting turtles and migrating birds seek refuge. Bone-dry Culebra has no rivers, making the crystal and cloud-free waters around it a haven for snorkelers and divers.

Few parts of the tropical U.S. are as unplugged as the seven-mile long, three-mile wide Culebra. The island has been a well-kept secret of Puerto Ricans: There are no large resorts, no golf courses, no chain restaurants, and miles of bleach-white beaches without a trace of trash. It's hard to believe such a pristine site was the target of U.S. military bombing from 1909 until 1975, but you'll see it's true by the remnants of rusting tanks still left on the island. Now, about 40 percent of the island is park or national reserve, including many of the beaches.

Culebra is populated with sun-baked characters, solitude seekers, and an array of beach bums, giving the island an offbeat charm. There's only one town, Dewey (or "Pueblo" as the locals call it), where most of the isle's infrastructure is found, and quiet vacation rentals and villas are the lodging of choice for those seeking the ultimate chill-out experience. The only thing of size here is Puerto Del Rey Marina, the largest marina in the Caribbean with 1,100 slips for pleasure yachts. Don't leave the islet without soaking up the natural wonders of Zoni and Flamenco beaches, or kayaking to the Luis Peña Channel Marine Reserve.

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