It was about time for a beach vacation! Had been almost two years since our last beach vacation, so we thought of picking a destination in the Caribbean. After doing a bit of research on the Caribbean islands, we narrowed down to Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. We ended up picking Puerto Rico because Dominican vacation meant we would've been mostly confined to the hotels/resorts where as Puerto Rico had more activities and places to offer.
|View from our apartment - Condado beach|
|Lively Avenida Ashford in the background|
|Castillo San Felipe del Morro|
|Paseo de la Princesa|
There are two ways to get to Culebra which lies on the west of the main island. One is by ferry, which is like 5-10 bucks per person, takes about an hour and a half one way. Here is a ferry schedule I found. Now, this being the peak touristy season, and we being super late in our bookings, ran in to trouble while trying to book ferry tickets online. They were all sold out! Some of our friends told us that you do end up getting tickets on the day of, but we didn't want to take a chance, so we booked air tickets(the other way to get to Culebra), which are usually 50$ one way, but being the holiday season were ~75$ each way. There are many local airlines that fly between islands. Here is a list I found. Another thing to remember is that, you have the option of booking these tickets from a number of airports, San Juan International airport, Cieba and Isla Grande airport. We were lucky to find tickets from Isla Grande airport which is five minutes away from the downtown.
|Flamenco beach - The best beach in PR|
find the gates closed! Apparently, the airport opened at 6 am! So, we waited for a few minutes and then someone walked up to the gate and opened it for us. We drove and parked in the open area outside the small building for some 10$ a day. There is not hurry to get here 90 minutes before your scheduled departure. No one cared to check us in till about 30-40 minutes before the flight. So, we could've very well caught up on sleep. Anyway, it was a ten seater plane and they are strict about seating their passengers in a particular order because of weight balancing. It was smooth 30 minute ride though.
The airport at Culebra was similar to one in Isla Grande. The car rentals were right in the airport lounge. However, the golf carts and scooters were all booked and we could only rent a jeep, which wasn't a bad option either. They gave us a map of the island a list of things to do. We got in the jeep and headed straight to some bakery, which was suggested by the lady at the car rental and was the only place open at 8 am. Just got some coffee and packed chips as I wasn't too impressed with flies all around. Then we headed straight to Flamenco beach. We were here by 9 am and had the beach almost to ourselves. Found a nice shaded spot. This was my favorite beach in the entire trip! White sand, turquoise water and pleasant breeze. The sea was a little rough though. But not bad at all. We spent about an hour or two here. Initially I had planned to camp here, which I think was easily do-able, but then, just didn't fit our plan, so we skipped it. There were some shacks at the beach where we ate some fries and burger.
|Trail head map|
More fun stuff to do:
- Bio luminescence bay: Three places to do it in order of brightness and popularity: Vieques, Fajardo and La Parguera. We didn't do it because it was full moon night and the tour operators told us that the visibility will be close to zero.
- Do the triangle: A lot of people go to Vieques by ferry for bio luminescence tour at night. Then go to Culebra in the morning and spend the day there and then fly/ferry back to San Juan.
- Camuy Caves: You need to leave early as they take tours on first come first served basis and the tours are for about ~2 hours. You could end the day with a sunset near Rincon where you could also watch surfers.
- Camping at Flamenco beach: If you are up for it, here is a website that'll be helpful.
- Old San Juan itinerary: I collapsed most of it in to one day. Plus, don't forget to take pictures of the fort in the evening. We missed it, but it will be well worth the trip, I am sure.
- Pina Colada was invented here in Puerto Rico, so do try one!
- Boqueron: You could do jet ski tours or head out of mangroves in La Parguera. We just weren't too enthusiastic about it, but they have good reviews online.
- Make reservations well in advance especially if you are heading to PR in holiday season. We had a tough time looking for accommodation and making reservation for Culebra. Thnakfully we had reserved our car well in advance.
- Eat at a different restaurant each time. Some really good places to eat, you may need to make reservations. We missed eating at Verde Mesa and Pani Agua because we didn't make any and these places had really good ratings and good vegetarian options.
- We used Google Maps. The names of the roads and exists are all messed up. So, you need someone to navigate and tell the driver to take next left or next right else you won't be able to use maps.
- For local airlines, don't forget to print your boarding passes. We had to walk in to Marriott and pretend to be their guests and ask them to print our boarding passes.