Postcard from Culebra

January 30, 2014 in Places,Puerto Rico,United States

My first priority when I booked my trip to Puerto Rico: finding the best beaches. I’ve visited my share of beaches around the world, and even though all I really need is sun and salt water (sand is optional, as discovered in Nice), I definitely judge a place by the quality of the beach. Playa Flamenco kept popping up as being one of the WORLD’s best beaches (funnily, always as the second best beach–where exactly is the number one?)–so, of course, I couldn’t leave without checking it out.

Playa Flamenco on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The best places are always the hardest to get to. Located on the island of Culebra (about an hour ferry ride for around $5 or a 10-minute flight for around $90 from Fajardo), Playa Flamenco is a half-moon bay of soft white sand with gentle waves of crystal-clear water. Surrounded by lush green hills and a stretch of campground, it’s a world away from the high rises and rough waves of San Juan

Although it’s cheap, the ferry is its own kind of trouble. We arrived an hour early for the 9 a.m. ferry only to discover incredibly long lines and ridiculously outdated infrastructure: one ticket window for hundreds, and you’re only allowed to buy a one-way ticket. We ended up taking the 3 p.m. ferry over and the 8 p.m. cargo ship back (which took more than twice as long), and spent our morning at the surprisingly delightful Seven Seas public beach over the hill in Fajardo.

However, we learned that Moonlight Bay Hostel is not only located RIGHT NEXT to the ferry terminal in Fajardo, the sweet hostel staff will also buy your ferry ticket in advance for you! If I could go back, I absolutely would have asked them to purchase our tickets in advance and gone over on the 9 a.m. ferry (with a packed lunch and snacks) and then come back on the 4 p.m. ferry. We stayed at Moonlight Bay the night after Culebra: it’s the perfect affordable option for those doing a day or two on Culebra. Super clean dorms, convenient location, helpful staff, free street parking: it’s not exactly where you want to spend your entire week in Puerto Rico, but it’s very good at being a transitory hostel. And honestly, I think the (cheap) room fee would be worth it if only to secure a ticket on the 9 a.m. ferry.

Christine Amorose and Renee Eggers, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Playa Flamenco on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Playa Flamenco on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset  Playa Flamenco on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Playa Flamenco on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset  Christine Amorose on Culebra, Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Note: Moonlight Bay Hostel kindly offered us a discount on our stay, but all opinions are my own. 

We hitched a ride from the ferry dock to Playa La Flamenco with William Solis of Willy’s Transportation Service. He was fantastic–really friendly and came back when we asked (even though we hadn’t paid him yet for the first ride!). He’s a Culebra local who knows all the ins and the outs of the place, and I highly recommend using him for any transportation needs in Culebra. His number is 787-449-0580. 

  • HippieInHeels

    Such gorgeous photos. I miss water like that… I love living on the beach in Goa but the water isn’t very clear. I especially like the pic with drinks in it! slurrrp

  • Cristina Martinez

    Hi Christine, just wanted to give you a shout out because you do such a great job of finding the authentic places that locals visit when you travel. I’m from Puerto Rico (now live in Maryland) and have enjoyed reading your Puerto Rico series so far. What resources do you look into when researching new locales?

  • Catherine McHugh

    The beach looks amazing, the see is so blue, great photos!

  • What a pain in the ass! Looks so gorgeous though!!!!

  • Karisa Blake

    This looks so gorgeous! 🙂 I’m heading to Puerto Rico with my family next month and just sent them all links to this post! I guess we’ll try to get out there earlier.

  • camorose

    Yes! Those pina coladas were the perfect answer to a long day 🙂

  • camorose

    Oh Cristina, this comment totally made my day! I usually scan Lonely Planet to make sure I’m not missing any “top” experiences, but beyond that–I ask locals! The staff at my hostel in San Juan were Puerto Ricans, and they were awesome at giving their favorite places to visit. I also got super lucky with my trip to Puerto Rico because an acquaintance (via social media!) had worked in PR for a few years, so I took him out to coffee and he told me all about his favorite finds. I usually like to just show up to a place and have locals tell me their favorite places to check out–never too much advance planning 🙂

  • camorose

    Gracias! It was even more beautiful in person, if that’s possible!

  • camorose

    Worth all the hassle!

  • camorose

    Or have someone buy your tickets in advance! It’s worth the trouble, but it can definitely be a hassle at the ferry deck in the morning!

  • Cristina Martinez

    Oh awesome! I’m glad I made your day! I used to have a blog and I miss writing so I really enjoy reading your posts, they brighten my day :). Thanks for the tips!

  • camorose

    Even better! So glad that you’re enjoying reading 🙂

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