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A haven for nature enthusiasts and escape artists, Culebra is an easily accessed tropical island just 20 miles east of Puerto Rico and 15 miles west of St. Thomas. Although you may be so lulled into a sense of peace that you’ll want for nothing but a white-sand beach and a frothy cocktail, take the time to explore the wilderness for which the isle is known. President Theodore Roosevelt established a bird refuge here in 1909 and the island, and its 23 surrounding islets, is protected as a nature preserve – in fact, the islands are one of just two nesting sites in the United States for giant sea turtles, including the leatherback.
Of course, your first order of business upon arriving in lovely Culebra is to find the closest beach, stretch out and take in the sea views and the warm tropical breezes. While there are countless beaches from which to choose, you’ll definitely want to visit Flamenco Beach, ranked number two in the top-ten most exotic beaches in the world. Others to check out include Brava Beach, Las Vacas Beach and Larga Beach.
Burn off some of those daiquiri calories with a snorkeling excursion at Melones or Carlos Rosario Beach, or Luis Peña, the second-largest cay near Culebra. Water taxis can quickly whisk you to remote smaller islands, including Culebrita, where hiking and nature photography provide a nice alternative to sunbathing. Several festivals are held year-round; consider visiting in time for the windsurfing competition in February or the fishing tournament in March.
There are several vacation rental options in Culebra, depending on the size of your group and your interests. If you love to cook, and who wouldn’t want to experiment with the local ingredients (think coriander, papaya, plantains and more), consider a large beachfront house with a fully equipped kitchen. Great for kids, a beach rental is often the best choice – you’ll have direct access to the water and a quick getaway when naptime rolls around or the munchies hit. From expansive guest houses to cozy studio apartments, you’ll find every choice of amenity – some even include use of a car, bicycles, kayaks or other watersports equipment.