British Virgin Islands vs. Culebra

The British Virgin Islands is not as virgin as you might think. The beaches, marketed as pure, clean, and unexploited, have been bombarded by cruise passengers and charter tourists for decades. A clash between expectations and reality that are pushing Caribbean travellers to look elsewhere. Luckily, you don’t have to look far.

Pack your bag and head to Puerto Rico. Just off the country’s east coast, about half way from the British Virgin Islands, is a small island called Culebra. On the northern side of the island, sheltered behind the western cape, you will encounter a bay of sand called Playa Flamenco, regarded as one of the top ten in the world.

The unique thing with the Flamenco Beach is the total absence of civilization. No cruise ships. No restaurants along the beach. Nothing but a couple of beach villas scattered among the palm trees behind the shore. It’s just you, the sun, and the occasionally pelican flying over.

How do I get there?

Where: Culebra is situated 100 km west of the British Virgin Islands, just east of mainland Puerto Rico.

How: Daily ferries are available from Fajardo, an hour drive from San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can also fly in with domestic turboprops. Stay at the beach villas next to Flamenco Beach.

When: All year round. Best weather between December and April. The rainy season starts in August and ends in November.

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