The Spanish Virgin Islands: Culebra and Vieques in Puerto Rico
Culebra Island, better known as one of the Spanish Virgin Islands along with the island of Vieques, is located 17 miles east of Puerto Rico. Surrounded by 23 offshore islands, the area is a picturesque archipelago, best known for its unspoiled beaches and crystal-clear waters, wildlife refuges, and laidback atmosphere.
Culebra’s most popular tourist attractions are:
Playa Flamenco, a popular hotspot for European and Americans travelers visiting Puerto Rico, this horseshoe-shaped beach is a Marine Wildlife Reserve and is the perfect beach, with blazingly white sand, clear and serene turquoise waters, and no surf, making it ideal for swimming and scuba diving
Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, which was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, comprises 1,568 acres of land providing bird sanctuaries for thousands of species of sea birds, sea turtles, amphibians, and the white-tailed deer introduced to the island in 1966
Playa Zoni, the beach located on the northeastern edge of Culebra and a site for nesting turtles, is relatively remote and ideal for travelers seeking quiet seclusion
- Cayo Luis Peña, the island west of Culebra (a short water-taxi or kayak ride away) and part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, is dotted with little coves and has some challenging hiking trails for nature enthusiasts
After the exit of the US Navy in 2005, Vieques has become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. The relaxed and easy atmosphere of the towns of Isabel II and Esperanza, along with the number of unspoiled beaches to be found in the southern part of the island, entice travelers visiting the Caribbean.
Top attractions in Vieques include:
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, 1,255 hectares of ecological diversity, including two of the island’s most popular beaches, Red Beach and Blue Beach, and mangrove wetlands harboring several endangered species and exotic birds, ringed by coastal reefs
Sun Bay, the mile-long stretch of sandy beach with placid, shallow waters and lined with lush vegetation, is ideal for swimming enthusiasts, while its campground, barbecue facilities, and shaded benches are a favorite with landlubbers
Punta Arenas (Green Beach), with pristine stretches of sand and sea and dotted with picnic gazebos, is a paradise for sun and sand lovers
Navio Beach, with brisk surf ideal for riding the waves and tiny caves waiting to be explored, is an ideal vacation spot for young and old alike
Bioluminescent Bay, also called Bio Bay, named after its waters, aglitter with miniscule organisms that emit a brilliant blue-green glow, is the largest and brightest bioluminescent bay in the world
Punta Mula lighthouse, the lovingly restored structure that offers stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding islands and also houses a museum containing local artifacts and historical exhibits
Fortin Conde de Mirasol, the last fortress built by the Spanish in the mid-19th century, and the Fort Conde de Mirasol Museum, housed in the painstakingly reconstructed fort, which is a tribute to Vieques’s rich history
The underground US Navy bunkers built by the US Navy to store weapons and ammunition, camouflaged by earth and grass to look like natural hillocks
This post about Culebra and Vieques in Puerto Rico was written by my friend David Rodriguez who is the owner of the website Tripolin. The photos were taken by the author, too.