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Beaches of Culebra

Culebra, which is divided into six districts known as “barrios,” is where visitors will find some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Flamenco beach, which regularly lands on “best beaches” lists, has soft white sand and crystalline waters, making it ideal for snorkeling, swimming and photography. Also on Culebra are Carlos Rosario beach and Tamarindo beach, outstanding spots for snorkeling and turtle-watching. To really get away from it all, head to Isla Culebrita, an even smaller uninhabited island with six small beaches and a lighthouse, the island’s only man-made structure.

 

Beaches of Vieques

You’ll likely never forget a visit to Vieques’ Mosquito Bay. The brightest bioluminescent bay in the world twinkles at night thanks to the abundance of glowing algae called dinoflagellates. It can be explored via kayak or boat (no swimming allowed). During the day, pull up a towel under a palm tree at family-friendly and beautiful Sun Bay. Or, experience the unique sensation of walking along the Black Sand beach, so-named for its sand created from volcanic materials.

 

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

More than 60 percent of Vieques is actually a national wildlife refuge, occupying 7,284 hectares that was once used by the U.S. military. It is home to some of the island’s finest beaches and gives visitors the chance to experience many different ecosystems, including bays, mangrove forests, salt flats and trails. There’s much to do here, from hiking and horseback riding to bird-watching, diving and paddle boarding.

 

Cultural Landmarks

The rich history of these islands comes to life in Vieques at Fortín Conde de Marisol, the last Spanish fort built in the Americas. The Colonial-style building, built around 1850, houses an art gallery with indigenous artifacts. It sits on a hill, making it a prime spot for island views. The Punta Mulas Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1895, now serves as a museum dedicated to the island’s history. The lighthouse was restored in 1992 and offers majestic views of Puerto Rico and Culebra.

Island food is part of the culture, too. Combine the freshest seafood with farm-to-table ingredients, and it’s no surprise these islands have such a vibrant culinary scene. On Culebra, head to Dinghy Dock for fresh seafood or Susie’s for Asian-Puerto Rican fusion dishes like seared tuna and lobster salad.

Fun Fact

Overlooking Mosquito Bay during the day
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The best time to visit Mosquito Bay is closer to the new moon, when there’s little moonlight, to allow the bioluminescence to shine brightly.

A pristine, empty beach on Culebra
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True island getaway: You can only reach these islands by boat, ferry, water taxis or small planes.