Some readers may be familiar with the Island of Culebra and specifically Flamenco Beach. Consistently rated one of the top-ten beach in the world, Flamenco beach on the island of Culebra is a less than two hours away by public ferry. Many people visiting Puerto Rico for the first time, and even repeat visitors, are unaware the one of the planet’s most remarkable beaches is easily accessible from the east side of the island.
Although relatively simple, having some information beforehand can add significantly to the overall experience. My sister and I combined have been to Culebra around a dozen times and have learned something new about traveling there every time, here is some advice:
What To Bring
Locals and veterans may warn visitors about the level of sun exposure on Flamenco Beach and encourage them to wear sunblock, find shade, stay hydrated, and reapply sunscreen throughout the day. We agree entirely and would like to emphasize the point, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and/or a plan for sun protection. Every time we have been there we have seen at least one person whose skin has been uncomfortably burned, and we have even observed this before 12 PM!
The ocean villa we stayed in was incredibly equipped with beach gear. We were able to use the folding chairs, rolling cooler, and towels provided inside of the unit. Depending on the time of year and the day of the week, there may be very few options to purchase food and drinks on the island. We filled the cooler with food and beverages to maximize the amount of time we spent actually on the beach.
With those items, plus both of us brought a book, we had everything we needed to relish the day. If you enjoy photography or would like to capture some spectacular videos, I encourage that you consider bringing GoPros and other photography gear with you, so that you can have a chance to capture images like this one:
Getting to The Ferry Terminal in Fajardo
Unless you are chartering a private catamaran or flying from San Juan, your journey will most likely start at the ferry port in Fajardo. The majority of the trip is a straight-shot on PR-3 South, we used Google navigation and it took us approximately 35 minutes from the Wyndham Resort. Once you are in the general vicinity of the terminal, you will see parking lots offering parking for $5 – $10. There may also be free spots to park on the street, but park there at your own risk.
The public ferry usually departs punctually at 8:30 am on most days and returns to the ferry terminal in Fajardo at about 5:30 pm. The roundtrip cost about $6 per person (heck of a deal!) and are purchased directly in front of the entrance for the ferry. There are also other, less-frequent ferries that allow passengers to bring their vehicles as well.
There is a catch, on weekends and during holidays, we have read and been told that the line to board the ferry starts around 6 am and once the ferry has sold-out the tickets for that trip, there is very little that can be done. One of the most frustrating aspects is that the tickets can only be bought in person (not online or over the phone). There exist servcies where people go on your behalf to purchase tickets, but there still is no guarantee unless you personally go in person to the port. All this considered, we decided to wait to go on a Wednesday.
After Arriving to the Port in Culebra
After gathering your belongings and exiting the ferry, you will find many drivers offering you a ride to Flamenco and other services on the beach. You can typically negotiate with them a little, but we encourage you not to waste too much time doing this as you are potentially missing beach time. On average the transportation from the ferry terminal in Culebra to Flamenco Beach should cost around $5 and take about 20 minutes. Often times the drivers will try to cross/up-sell excursions and other services on the island. If you are interested in travel packages, including snorkeling and other water sports, this can be a great opportunity to plan the activities for the day and they are usually less-expensive than the prices you hear at the ferry terminal. The driver will let you know when and where they will pick you up to bring you back.
We had another amazing experience visiting Flamenco Beach and we hope that readers are able to as well!