Culebra or Vieques (Which Island Is Better)?

Culebra and Vieques are two of the world's most stunning islands and beach destinations. On the eastern coast of Puerto Rico's main island lie Culebra and Vieques. These islands boast the authentic beauty of the Caribbean waters while offering the serenity and tranquility of calm seas.
Culebra or Vieques?
Table of Contents

In general, both islands are excellent vacation spots for unwinding and relaxing. But if you look for more than beach activities, Vieques is your go-to destination.

Vieques is preferable to Culebra for those seeking more than a beach vacation. At the same time, Culebra has some of the most excellent beaches in the Caribbean. It has much fewer things to offer to nonbeachgoers.

Considering the size of the islands, the tiny island of Culebra is also better for a day excursion. While on the larger island of Vieques, you must remain for the night to experience some of the other activities.

What Are Vieques and Culebra?

Vieques and Culebra are municipalities of Puerto Rico. They are also part of the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Both municipalities are islands that are not a part of Puerto Rico’s mainland. They both offer spectacular vistas and experiences.

Where Are Vieques and Culebra Found?

On the eastern shores of Puerto Rico, you can find the islands of Vieques and Culebra. The island of Vieques lies exactly about 8 miles (13 km) east of the Puerto Rican mainland. In comparison, you can find Culebra approximately 17 miles (27 km) east of the Puerto Rican mainland.

Culebra is also found 9 miles (14 km) north of Vieques. With that said, Vieques and Culebra are pretty close to each other. This means that you can visit either town with ease.

What Are the Activities Unique to Vieques?

Vieques is one of the Caribbean Islands and one of the most famous travel destinations in Puerto Rico. Here you can experience many relaxing activities. Here are some suggestions of what you can do while in Vieques:

Bioluminescent Bay Kayaking

The beautiful bioluminescent bay of Mosquito Bay is undoubtedly Vieques’ most popular attraction. Kayaking through the night above a glowing sea could be one of the most thrilling experiences of your life.

Enjoy the Company of Horses and Do Horseback Riding

The island of Vieques is home to many horses. Most of the horses you’ll see are wild horses. You must proceed with caution because some of the horses are wild. Yet, you can only observe or photograph them from a safe distance.

However, not all of the horses are wild! You should know that horseback riding is one of the most popular activities on Vieques. You should try riding a horse while taking in the tranquility of the surroundings of Vieques.

Explore the Vieques’ National Wildlife Refuge

The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is home to lots of the lovely beaches of Vieques. Here, you can engage in all sorts of water activities like snorkeling, diving, and even sailing. Hiking around this location is also an option.

Visit the Famous Ceiba Tree

While traveling to the island’s west coasts, make a short stopover to see the 300-year-old Ceiba Tree of Vieques. Because of its antiquity and size, the Ceiba tree is well-known. You can also find wild horses in this area, so ready your cameras to photograph them.

Look for the Military Bunkers

Tourists unfamiliar with the history of Vieques may become astonished to learn about the items left behind by the U.S. Marines and Navy. If you happen to come across one of them, try to appreciate the graffiti art. And do not pass up the opportunity to see inside (if it is open).

What Are the Activities Unique to Culebra?

Even though Culebra is a smaller island compared to Vieques. It is still packed with many activities to offer. Here are some of the things to do when in Culebra:

Snorkeling in Different Beaches in Culebra

Culebra’s healthy and growing coral reef system is a sight to behold when snorkeling on the island’s beaches. Snorkeling at Culebra may allow you to see the island’s diverse marine life. Here you can see different corals, fishes, and even turtles. Some of the beaches in Culebra that offer snorkeling activities are:

  • Playa Flamenco,
  • Tamarindo Beach,
  • Melones Beach,
  • Cayo Carlos Rosario, and
  • Cayo Punta de Soldado.

Drive Around the Island of Culebra

Culebra is a small island, so day trips are easy to arrange. In a single day, you may explore the entire island.

You should simply rent a jeep or a golf cart and spend an hour driving around the island. You can use this to visit the many regions of the island. This includes the wonderful views from the beaches and the natural beauty of Culebra. Also, don’t forget to bring your camera as well.

Enjoy the High-End Beach Resorts in Culebra.

The pristine sand and crystal clear waters fill the beaches of Culebra. As a result, Culebra is home to a number of world-class beach resorts. Flamenco Beach is Culebra’s most well-known beach resort. Flamenco beach is one of the best beach resorts in the world. Here, not only you can enjoy swimming, but you can also try snorkeling on this beach.

Explore the Island of Culebrita

Culebrita, like Culebra, has lovely white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. It is a little island off the coast of Culebra. It’s also uninhabited, which means it’s full of mysteries just waiting for you to unearth. You can also discover marine turtles and even birds since this site is a wildlife reserve.

Which Island Is Bigger – Culebra or Vieques?

Geographically, neither of the two islands is particularly huge. But among these islands, the island of Vieques is bigger than that of the island of Culebra.

The island of Vieques measures about 21 miles (34 km) east-west and three to four miles (6.4 km) north-south. It has a land area of 52 square miles (130 sq. km).

While the island of Culebra is approximately 7 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south (11 by 8 km), it has a land area of 11.62 sq miles (30 sq. km).

Is Vieques and Culebra Part of Puerto Rico?

Both the islands of Vieques and Culebra are municipalities of the Puerto Rican Archipelago. Because Puerto Rico is an archipelago, there are many islands to explore. Culebra and Vieques are two of the most popular islands next to the Puerto Rican mainland.

Both Culebra and Vieques belong to the Puerto Rican territories. The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea surround these islands since they are the most eastern part of Puerto Rico.

What Did the U.S. Military Use Culebra and Vieques for?

During the years 1903 to 1975, the island of Culebra and Vieques was used for military practice exercises. The U.S. military also used Culebra and Vieques to supply coal on ships and communications. The islands were also used as a testing place for military training. This includes naval gunfire testing.

Presently, you can see remnants of the U.S. military in these islands as parts of the history of Culebra and Vieques. They are now one of the historic landmarks and tourist spots known in Culebra and Vieques. There are the famous tanks located in Flamenco Beach in Culebra. And the military bunkers scattered across the island of Vieques.

How Do Tourists Get to Vieques and Culebra?

To get to Culebra or Vieques, you can explore two options. The former is by plane while the latter is by ferry boat.

  • Although riding by plane will cost you more, it is the more convenient way of getting to either of the islands. Small planes leave the Puerto Rican mainland several times a day. Plane tickets are available from $60 to $90 per trip.
  • The other way to get to the island is by using a ferry boat. This is the more economical option for people with a tight budget. Boat tickets usually cost around $2 to $3 per ride.

Some boats make round journeys to each of the islands every two hours. This starts at 4:00 in the morning and ends at 8:30 in the evening. Also, remember that you must also leave behind the rental car you used on Puerto Rico’s mainland. And book another rental car when you reach Culebra or Vieques.

All in all, it is highly recommended that you travel by plane when going to Culebra or Vieques. This will save you more time since it travels only for minutes compared to the 2–3 hour travel by ferry. And riding by plane is more convenient than riding a ferry.

Is There a Ferry Between Vieques and Culebra?

Even though Culebra and Vieques are neighboring islands, you cannot go from one island to another in one ride. Unfortunately, there is no direct ferry service between them. But some services leave Vieques and arrive in Culebra through Ceiba. The journey takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes. This journey also includes transfers.

Vieques or Culebra for a Day Trip?

If you only have one day to tour Culebra or Vieques, Culebra is the better option. When compared to the island of Vieques, Culebra is a smaller island. In about three hours, you may go around the entire island of Culebra. Here are the things you can do in a day in Culebra.

While the sun is still up, you can relax on the beaches. Because the tourist spots are close to one another, you can visit them all. At night, you can visit various restaurants. This makes it the best option for exploring an island in a single day. However, you can always remain in Culebra for a few days because they have high-quality hotels with various services.

Given that travelers can enjoy a great experience on the island of Vieques. If you try to see everything Vieques offers in a single day, it will become a hassle. The island of Vieques is bigger compared to that of Culebra.

The different tourist spots are not that near each other, and some activities are available at night. So book a hotel in Vieques and take advantage of the various activities and attractions one day at a time. The bioluminescent bay is also visible here at night. So, when visiting Vieques, take it easy and soak up everything the island has to offer.

Which Has Better Beaches – Culebra or Vieques?

Since Culebra and Vieques are a part of the Caribbean Sea, visitors have high expectations for the beaches. However, one of these two islands stands out when it comes to beaches. Now find out which of them has better beaches!

The beaches in Culebra are a natural wonder. In contrast to Vieques, Culebra’s beaches have their facilities. As a result, lodging is superior in Culebra than in Vieques. However, some beaches are only accessible by hiking. Hike now, and later you’ll have a beach all to yourself.

The majority of the beaches are suitable for more than just swimming. Despite the negative impacts of military actions on Culebra, some reefs remain. This makes them fantastic dive sites, and they’re also great for snorkeling. The following are some of the beaches:

Playa Flamenco

Located on Culebra’s northern coast. It is a public beach on the Caribbean island of Culebra. This beach is Culebra’s finest, known for its shallow blue waters, white sand, swimming areas, and diving sites.

Playa Zoni

Located on the northeastern coast of Culebra. This beach will provide you with one of the most fantastic beach experiences of your life. Zoni is just as appealing as Flamenco Beach because of its identical white sands and azure waves.

Unlike Flamenco, though, Zoni lacks amenities such as restrooms and parking. It is unquestionably more tranquil than Flamenco because of its lower population.

All visitors to Playa Zoni can participate in a variety of beach activities. Sunbathing, beach volleyball, soccer, and tennis are among them.

If you’re traveling between April and June, keep an eye out for turtle breeding sites. Also, remember not to step over them or play around them.

Playa Punta Soldado

On Culebra’s southern coast, Punta Soldado is a tranquil beach. It’s an excellent area for beginners to learn to dive and snorkel because the calm, clear waters and reefs that almost reach the coast provide a haven for a wide range of aquatic wildlife.
Although diving is the main attraction in Punta Soldado, the beach also allows for sunbathing. From your beach chair, you can also listen to the soothing sound of the waves washing against the shore. You could also take in the magnificent vista of Vieques and Puerto Rico.

Playa Carlos Rosario

Playa Carlos Rosario is a beach at Culebra’s west beaches almost fully surrounded by a barrier reef. Playa Carlos Rosario is a white-sand beach. And it comes with some of Puerto Rico’s best snorkeling spots.

Tamarindo Beach

If you prefer snorkeling, scuba diving, or kayaking, then Playa Tamarindo on Culebra’s west coast is the place to be. Visitors can enjoy unforgettable sunsets at Tamarindo Beach because it has a spectacular view of Cayo Luis Pena. Tamarindo Beach’s westward orientation also contributes to the stunning sunset views.

Tamarindo’s beach, which spans almost a mile, has a mix of white sand and coral stone. Thanks to its shaded areas and picnic tables, it’s perfect for a day at the beach with friends and family.

However, like all of Culebra’s other beaches (save Flamenco), Tamarindo is devoid of services. Amenities including bathrooms, parking, and kiosks, are not available on the beach in Tamarindo. In that case, you must also bring your packed lunch and snacks when you come to visit this beach.

Meanwhile, travelers flock to Vieques’ beaches for the peace and breathtaking scenery they provide. Swimming and snorkeling are also available at some of the beaches. The nicest beaches on the island are in the south of the island.

Vieques’ beaches come with beautiful scenery together with the white sands and the clear waters teeming with corals. These beaches are worth exploring. The following beaches are among them:

Esperanza Beach

This beach is ideal for anyone who wants to be close to the shore, restaurants, and other amenities. The primary attraction at Playa Esperanza is a pier. It is where residents enjoy jumping into the crystal clear waters.

Sun Bay Beach

This beach is the greatest beach for families in Vieques because of its easy access, services, and lovely scenery. Sun Bay is more like the beaches on the main island despite its proximity to the reserve’s beautiful beaches. Here, you will enjoy the scenery, smooth sand, and horses roaming around the beach.

Playa Caracas

It is also known as Red Beach. One of Vieques’ most popular beaches is located within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. You can stay in this beach’s gazebos. But be aware that there are no facilities nor showers on this beach. The waves here are pleasant and mild in the summer, making them ideal for families and watersports.

Playa El Gallito

Even though most of the beautiful beaches are on the southern shores of Vieques, the golden sand of this beach is easily accessible and ideal for a last-minute beach trip. Playa El Gallito provides clean seas and coral reefs for snorkeling. The tide is usually quiet, and you may take a quick dive despite the rough terrain.

Playa La Chiva

Blue Beach, commonly known as La Chiva, boasts its tranquil waters. On this beach, snorkeling is the best. Snorkeling is most popular at Playa La Chiva, particularly near the cay and rocky side.

While Vieques boasts lovely beaches, Culebra’s beaches are more popular. This is because of their idyllic setting and crystal blue waters. Culebra’s Playa Flamenco is consistently rated as one of the top beaches in the world.

Is Snorkeling Better in Culebra or Vieques?

When it comes to snorkeling, both Culebra and Vieques offer good views of the sea and what is under it. Though, one of these islands is better when it comes to snorkeling. And that island is Culebra.

When snorkeling on the beaches of Culebra, you can see much marine life. Their beaches boast crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. Here you may see a variety of coral reefs.

There are also several fish species to be found. Other marine species, such as octopuses and turtles, can also be found. If you’re lucky, you might even get to swim with turtles.

Overall, Culebra is known for its various aquatic activities. As a result, snorkeling here is superior to Vieques.

But make no doubt about it. Snorkeling in Vieques is also excellent because the snorkeling beaches on the island are shallow and not too deep. Also, snorkeling on Vieques’ beaches is enjoyable for the entire family, including children. They, like Culebra, have clear blue waters.

Is It Better to Go to Vieques or Culebra?

There is no definite winner in this match-up between Vieques and Culebra. However, there are certain similarities between the two islands, such as high-end beach resorts. Both islands also thrive in different areas.

On the one hand, Culebra is better for diving and snorkeling. On the other side, Vieques is superior in terms of kayaking and horseback riding.

In comparison to Vieques, Culebra is a smaller island. Culebra is now a better option for travelers who want to see the island in a single day. Meanwhile, Vieques, the larger island, has more activities than Culebra. And some of these things are better done at night, enticing you to stay the night.

All in all, both Culebra and Vieques are world-class vacation destinations. They both provide you with the opportunities to see and appreciate the beauty of the Caribbean islands. These locations are ideal for experiencing the calm and peace that a bustling metropolis cannot provide.