Culebra, Puerto Rico

No resorts. Definitely no casinos. Not even a traffic light. Sounds like a deserted island. Or maybe what the Caribbean used to be 30 or 40 years ago. But this little piece of paradise, full of coral beaches, mangrove forests, and bird sanctuaries, still exists. Really. Though the location may surprise you. You’re off to Puerto Rico.

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Culebra is just a quick flight or a rough ferry ride away from the mainland. The small, seven-by-three-mile island is a popular weekend destination for people from San Juan. Rent a Jeep or bikes. Stop at Happy Landings near the airport for a quick Medalla beer, grab sandwiches at El Eden, and head north to Flamenco Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in not only Puerto Rico, but the whole world. Soft sand. Clear, shallow water. Even rusty U.S. Army tanks. The island was used for bombing practice in preparation for World War II.

Flamenco is calm during the week. But if it gets too hectic on the weekend–hectic being a relative term–there are plenty of other beaches to test out. Hike west to Carlos Rosario Beach for some of the best snorkeling on the island. Or head east to crowdless Zoni Beach for nesting leatherback sea turtles and views of St. Thomas in the distance. Brava, Tamarindo, and Larga are other options, though you’ve probably claimed your patch of sand by now.

Photo: Club Seabourne
Photo: Club Seabourne

Your grumbling stomach will alert you when it’s finally time to fold up your beach blanket. Head into town. There’s only one. It’s called Dewey, though you’ll probably hear more people call it Puebla. Stop at Mamacita’s for frozen bushwhackers during happy hour. Sunbathing iguanas are already there. Then head to Susie’s next to the canal for churrasco. Or Juanita Bananas for lobster limojili and margaritas on the terrace.

Finally, you’ll need a place to sleep. The simple cottages at Club Seabourne are surrounded by crotons and palms, and face Fulladoza Bay. Best of all, they’ll pack you a lunch cooler in the morning, so you can reclaim your spot on your new favorite beach. A spot you’re refusing to divulge.

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