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First time to Culebra Trip Report

Southwest
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First time to Culebra Trip Report
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Getting to Culebra was an event in changing (airlines cancelling flights) plans, which caused a domino impact on hotel, ferry/flight from PR and ground transportation. But after almost a dozen curve balls, we landed in PR on a full plane from Dallas via the West Coast.

We had our QR code in advance so after collecting our luggage, we scanned past the hazmat suits quickly. That was one of the biggest stressors for us prior to leaving but the process once we were there was easy and fast because we did the online declaration prior. If you are traveling with minors, you don’t need to fill out a form for each of them (only the adults +18).

We hired Go Puerto Rico Shuttle to take us at 11pm on the hour drive to our Airbnb in Ceiba, to catch our AM flight out of the Ceiba airport. We were a party of 6 so it made sense to make the trip out to Ceiba instead of flying out of Isla Grande ($45 different per person per way).

The flight into Culebra reminded me of flying into St Barts. You come in over Flamenco beach and hit a crosswind over the mountains and ride into a roller coaster white knuckle landing. It was intense. I thought it might have just been our flight, but I watched the planes land all week and from what I saw, they all got tossed around on final approach.

Culebra is an amazing beach island. We loved the snorkeling at Melones, the water taxi to Culebrita day, the long walks and big surf at Flamenco, the remoteness of Zoni, the easy to find turtles at Tamarindo and even made the walk over the rocks over to Tamarindo Grande and over the hill to Carlos. We've been to many Caribbean and European islands and Culebra stands at the top for quality of the beaches, scenic views and amazing underwater life.

I will say the customer service on the island of Culebra was subpar. It was my first trip to PR so I wasn’t sure if it was a Covid attitude or just general irritation to be in business, but there was a general attitude that we were bugging them by using their service (rental car, restaurants, housing, grocery store, gas station, ferry, airport) and they moved very, very slow before acknowledging you. I get the island attitude and respect it, but this was something I’ve never seen before to this degree. I’m going to chalk it up to Covid and not eliminate this beautiful island from future trips.

Speaking of Covid, the island is mandating masks in all public spaces and from what we saw, it’s been followed, even in outside places. They also take your temperature at the grocery store, island tours (our tour to Culebrita on the boat), the airport, the gas station etc. Hand sanitizer was everywhere. Capacity in most buildings wasn’t allowed (Heather’s Pizza) or limited to 1 person. I felt they were taking it very seriously and probably went even a little over cautious. So if you’re worried about exposure, it’s highly unlikely you’ll catch anything but a sunburn or a coral scrap on this tiny isle.

We took our chances prior to leaving and thought I got lucky by booking return ferry tickets from Culebra to Ceiba. We arrived at the ferry dock as instructed at 6am and waited about an hour and a half until the ship arrived. There was a protest this morning with kayaks, boats and swimmers in the water preventing the ferry from docking. So the ship was sent back to Ceiba full of passengers unable to unload and many locals and tourists scrambling over to the airport to try and catch a flight at the last minute. We were very fortunate to get a flight 2 hours later but many weren’t so lucky. As many say on here, don’t even try to reply on the ferry, even if you can get online tickets like we did. It’s a mess and the locals are fighting a good fight by protesting this poor service.

We found a great local to drive us back to San Juan (who was awesome and I’ll use in the future for all ground transportation). Our overnight stay at the Marriott

courtyard Isla Verde was perfect for the next morning flight and our spring break vacation was done.

With this trip in our review mirror, I still think the extra effort and cost is worth going to Culebra. Beautiful island!

36 replies to this topic
Fremont, California
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1. Re: First time to Culebra Trip Report
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Thanks so much for your trip report.

New York
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2. Re: First time to Culebra Trip Report
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Thanks for you trip report, it was very helpful. Could you tell us when you were on the island?

New York
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Thanks for the report! We are heading to Culebra for the 1st time next week. Thankfully we booked flights ahead of time. I almost took a chance taking the $2 ferry so happy we booked flights s wing what’s going on!

Can I ask what the restaurant situation is there? Finding it very hard to find what’s open and what’s not. Where you able to find open restaurants each day? Any stand outs of recommendations?

We are going to Culebrita on Easter. Are there any provisions there? Umbrella rentals, food stands?

I would be grateful for ANY culebra advice or recommendations that you could share!

Southwest
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We were on the island from March 19-28

Southwest
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Regarding the food situation, our Airbnb had a great kitchen so we took advantage of the 4 small grocery stores we found. The one over by the ferry had the best fresh produce, meat and sea food.

The food carts on road 250 seemed to be open at random hours and we never tried them, but when they were open they had lines. I didn’t see any food carts at Flamenco but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there (we weren’t looking for them).

In the evenings we headed into Dewey to eat. I’d estimate about 50% of the restaurants were open. Heather’s Pizza was the most popular with the locals. We tried the Tacos joint, hoping it was open based on the reviews we read, but it appears it’s been closed for awhile.

You’ll find enough food to survive, but it’s definitely not an abundance of choices. Like everything with Culebra right now, flexibility is key.

Regarding chairs and umbrellas- I recall seeing some being sold at Flamenco. We also had some included with our Water Taxi Tour to Culebrita (highlight of our trip, $50 per person) but every other Culebra beach we visited we remote and without services.

3 posts
6. Re: First time to Culebra Trip Report
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Hi there. There’s a small store that has all the basics near the center of town where primarily most of the restaurants are as well. El eden is good and Zacos Tacos is very popular as well but when I was there it was closed down. Vibra verde is amazing for breakfast. There’s also a pizza parlor as well. It’s a small island And they do the best they can. Service is sub par EVERYWHERE but for this quiet, rural and gorgeous island it’s still worth it IMO

Edited: March 29, 2021, 10:59 am
boston
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Sorry to hear that Zacos is closed. Permanent? Such great food and drink. Plus a cool atmosphere. Happy you are so right about the landing. Get a little extra wind and that is wild!

South Lyon, Michigan
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What water taxi service did you use and what was the cost? Thank you!

Seattle, Washington
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Look at the Zaco's Tacos Facebook page. They posted on March 15th that they will be closed for 2 weeks, then will >> update once we know what we’re doing with our schedule. <<

Jersey City, New...
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Thanks so much for this trip report! The beaches sound amazing and I'm very glad we booked our flights based on what you wrote. Good that everyone is being cautious and careful. I'm also interested in the water taxi service you used. Also, would you be willing to share the info on the local that drove you to san juan? Maybe you could DM me if you are willing to. We will need a one way drive the other way in May and I"m looking at options now. Thanks again :)

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