Stretching for a mile around a sheltered, horseshoe-shaped bay, Playa Flamenco (Flamenco Beach) is not only one of Culebra’s best beaches, it also makes a regular appearance on the world's best beaches lists.
It gets its name from the nearby lagoon, which attracts flamingos in winter. If you plant to visit during this time, you’ll feel like Robinson Crusoe contemplating the clarity of the water.
Backed by low scrub and trees rather than lofty palms, Flamenco gets very crowded on weekends and holidays, especially with day-trippers from San Juan, so plan a weekday visit. Alone among Culebra's beaches, it has a full range of amenities.
Services include a collection of kiosks (selling snack food, lunches, rum punches and beer, and renting beach gear), toilets, outdoor showers, lockers, lifeguards, picnic tables and an often jam-packed parking lot. Camping is allowed.
Tank on Playa Flamenco
The iconic rusting tank is at the Playa Flamenco's western end, a legacy of when US troops practiced invasions here. Its swirling green and yellow stripes, the work of local artist Jorge Acevedo, represent a dancing fish.
Ferry to Playa Flamenco
The most popular – and cheapest – way to Culebra from the mainland is on the Autoridad de Transporte Marítimo ferry service from Ceiba ($2.25 for adults). The service is reasonably reliable, but delays often occur.
Buy your ticket and check times at www.porferry.com and get to the ferry terminal at least an hour early. Schedules vary but there are usually at least five round-trips a day; journey times are 45 minutes. On busy weekends, especially during summer, travelers may get bumped by island residents.
Playa Flamenco is 2.8 miles (4.5km) from the Culebra ferry terminal and is a straight shot from Dewey. The road is paved and has some inclines, but the destination is idyllic. The main road leading out of town becomes Hwy 251, passes the airport and ends at the beach.
By car, the trip takes about 15 minutes; by foot, plan on 40 minutes. Públicos have one route on the island, from the ferry terminal to Playa Flamenco (per person around US$4). As long as there's room, passengers can flag them down anywhere along the route. The fare remains the same, regardless where you get on.
Can I stay on Playa Flamenco?
So far, Culebra has shunned the advances of any major hotel chains, so the island offers apartments or homestays rather than hotels and resorts. There are a few good accommodation options close to Playa Flamenco itself.
Playa Flamenco is the only place you can legally camp in Culebra. Campsites are in five zones: A is closest to the food kiosks while E is closest to the beach and therefore the most popular. Outdoor showers have limited hours; bathrooms are open 24/7. Reservations aren’t typically necessary and camping gear can be rented.
Villa Flamenco Beach
Gentle waves lull you to sleep and you wake up to one of the best beaches on the planet just outside your window: this six-unit home-away-from-home is an absolute winner. There are self-catering kitchen facilities and inviting hammocks, and friendly owners Violetta and Juan are on-hand to offer island advice. Closed from the beginning of October to mid-November.
Culebra Beach Villas
This is the only accommodations complex on Playa Flamenco. There are 33 self-catering apartments with kitchens for two to eight people. Each villa is individually owned, decorated and maintained and some are in a better condition than others. The setting is stunning, of course, though you’ll want to stock up on provisions in Dewey. Wi-fi in the reception area only.