There have been too many debates, lists and opinions for as long as I have travelled about the best beaches in the world. Frankly, it all depends on your taste, budget and countless other factors. I have travelled far and wide and been to many that always pop up on lists that claim best beaches in the world and I will tell you they are all great. Now, let me tell you about one that is rarely talked about, off the grid, not that expensive and worth every dime and ounce of sunscreen to go there. Its name is Flamenco.
Nestled between Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands lie two tiny islands that are owned by Puerto Rico and are little specs on the map. Their names are Vieques and Culebra. Culebra, the smaller of the two, is home to one of the most glorious beaches in the western hemisphere, if not the world, and only occasionally have I seen it on lists about the worlds best beaches. This oasis that runs across its north coast is pure heaven.
First of all, Culebra is only 5×7 miles. I almost found that the best part of my small vacation here was not just the beaches, but the fact that you can rent golf carts and that can be your mode of transportation all over the miniature island. The island itself is a small volcano and if you take your rental, either jeep or golf cart(I recommend golf cart), to the highest point of the island on a clear day, you have a lovely view of St Thomas just 12 miles to the east, the closest of the Virgin Islands.
Getting there is a breeze, it only depends on your price and time. There are tiny airlines like Air Flamenco that operate daily flight from a few places on the main island of Puerto Rico, including San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin. And these airplanes are not your regular spacious aircrafts. My wife got to sit copilot and have a front row seat to the most breath taking views on the quick 15 minute flight. So either way you have to get to Puerto Rico first. Also if you happen to be on Puerto Rico’s east coast there is a ferry service from the port of Fajardo that makes a few passes a day for around $3 USD one way and takes about 2 hours.
The town on the island is also a spec in the wind. It has a population of just under 2000. There is a small taxi system if you arrive by ferry or air to get you to your accommodations. If you pre-booked something a lot of places have a pick up service to get you settled down. Once settled, I do recommend contacting Jerry at Jerrys Jeep rental. He is located across the street from the small airport and has one of the larger varieties of both jeeps and golf carts on the island. Plus he is a great talker and always likes to sit down to tell or listen to a good story.
For activities and things to do other than the beach there is a darling little cove called playa el Tamarindo. This is a small stone beach but you go here for snorkeling. There are many places to rent some gear on the island, even a little one right beside Jerry’s, where you can get goggles, snorkels, fins, boogie boards among other stuff. We spend a lovely afternoon on Tamarindo just floating about in search for turtles, rays and a wild assortment of tropical fish. Definitely a stop you should make.
There are a good handful of places to stay and eat. I definitely suggest dinner and drinks at Dingy Dock. Great grub and part of the dining floor is hanging over the water where barracudas are lite up and swarming around waiting for you to toss them some scraps of dinner. Also, Mamacitas is great for lunch and usually has a few iguanas trying to take bites right off your plate.
I have been to Dominican, Mexico, Thailand, Egypt, and Spain just to name a few. This beach and atmosphere are top notch. Flamenco beach is a one mile strip of pure bliss surrounded by lovely green foliage and charming people that want to enjoy it as much as you do. The only people on the beach are usually the Puerto Ricans who come over for a weekend getaway. The island was once used by the US Navy, so if you take a hike up the beach to the western tip, there is a cool abandoned tank sitting on the sand that over the years has been covered in graffiti by folks. Makes for a different photo op to make the memories last and post on your wall at home. Take my advice and add this place to your bucket lists of beaches to explore.