A postcard-perfect, horseshoe-shaped bay that regularly appears in various travel publications’ listing of the world’s best beaches, that’s Playa Flamenco (Flamenco Beach).
With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft white sand, it’s no wonder that experts state this to be among the most beautiful beaches in the world. Interestingly, the beach gets its name from the nearby lagoon that attracts flamingos during winter.
Flamenco Beach is an excellent choice whether you’re on a family vacation, looking for a solo adventure, or some beach bumming.
Nature at Its Best
Playa Flamenco is located on the north side of the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico. The island is about 17 miles off Puerto Rico’s east coast.
Renowned for its powdery white sands stretching over a mile, walking barefoot on the velvety shore will feel almost therapeutic. And with breathtaking turquoise waters, Flamenco Beach is like a paradise on Earth.
The translucent hues of the water make it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or diving, and you can explore the vibrant underwater world abundant with colorful marine life.
Whether you’d like to dive or float on the gentle waves, the aquamarine waters of Flamenco Beach will help relax your mind and body.
The beach was once used as a military training ground by the US Navy during World War II but was later returned to Puerto Rico’s government in 1975. Remnants of tanks and other military equipment can still be seen on the beach today.
Visitors to the beach painted the rusty tanks, adding a pop of color to the beach’s natural beauty. The tanks are on the beach’s far west side along the shore.
In recent years, it has become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world.
You can explore the fascinating relics like rusted tanks and abandoned bunkers scattered along the shoreline. Not only do these remnants represent the island’s history, but they also make for great photographs.
Getting to Flamenco Beach
Access to Flamenco Beach requires a ferry ride from mainland Puerto Rico or a small plane ride from San Juan.
The ferry will be much cheaper with the added advantage of flexible departure and return timings. However, the flights are a better option if you’re looking to save time.
There’s also the option of going on tours, in case transportation is arranged, or a private boat charter (probably the costliest choice).
If you’re looking for flight options, you can take a flight from the San Juan International Airport, just outside San Juan. Cape Air offers 30-minute flights between San Juan and Culebra. Ticket prices start at about $180.
Alternatively, for a cheaper option, you can fly out of Ceiba, which is an hour west of San Juan; it helps if you have a rental car to get to Ceiba. Air Flamenco offers 15-minute flights from Ceiba to Culebra.
Hop onto a ferry, which is way cheaper than a flight. A one-way ferry ticket will cost you $2.25, while it’s $4.50 for a round trip.
It’s a 45-minute ride to Culebra Island from the Ceiba ferry terminal. However, if you suffer from motion sickness, there’s a passenger and cargo ferry, which go much slower. The cargo ferry is the better choice to avoid motion sickness. Keep in mind that the ferries operate on different schedules. The times vary by season; it’s best to check the schedule before you plan a visit to Flamenco Beach.
The beach is about three miles from the ferry terminal on Culebra Island. If you’re wondering whether you have to walk that distance, you don’t.
After getting off the ferry, you can get on a shared van to take you to the beach. The charge is about $6 per person.
And if you’d like to explore the beach at your convenience, look for a jeep or golf cart rental from Carlos Jeep Rental. A parking fee of $5 applies from 6 am – 6 pm.
Best Time to Visit
To make the most of your time at Flamenco Beach, it helps to know the ideal time of the year and the day to visit here.
The beach gets crowded during peak season (December through April) when the weather is dry and warm. So arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon is recommended to avoid crowds.
However, if you aren’t fond of crowds, the better times of the year to visit would be May to June or September to November. Considering that June to November is hurricane season, remember to check the weather forecasts and travel advisories before you plan your trip.
Several amenities are available at Flamenco Beach, including showers, restrooms, picnic areas, food vendors, and souvenir shops.
While the restrooms are open 24/7, the outdoor showers are available from 4 – 7 pm.
From chairs and umbrellas to tents, air mattresses, and other camping gear, many rental kiosks at the beach sell these.
Multiple food vendors near the parking area offer local cuisine, like empanadas and pinchos (skewered meat). You can also purchase drinking water at any of the food kiosks.
While you can find burgers, burritos, and smoothies at the kiosks, try some traditional Puerto Rican dishes like rice and beans and seafood specialties. Drop by Flamenco Pizza for pizza and sandwiches; they’re open for lunch and during the busy season.
You can also bring your lunch and sit at the picnic tables by the kiosks.
Activities and Adventure
The beach is popular for swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and camping. Beyond these activities, you can explore nearby attractions like the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge and Tamarindo Beach.
Expect to see a world of underwater wonders while snorkeling or scuba diving. The coral reefs surrounding the beach are home to diverse marine life.
Imagine swimming alongside colorful fish, sea turtles, and stingrays (although you might not want to get too close to them).
If you opt for the Culebra Kayak and Snorkel Tour, you can explore Culebra’s two beautiful Tamarindo and Flamenco beaches.
Your journey will start at Tamarindo Beach, kayaking into the mesmerizing Luis Pena Marine Reserve (spot turtles hanging out here), then you will head to Flamenco Beach. They provide:
- All snorkeling and safety equipment.
- Round-trip ferry tickets.
- A digital photo album of your experience.
Where to Stay
Despite its popularity among tourists, Flamenco Beach remains relatively undeveloped, with no hotels or resorts directly on the beach. So if you want to stay on the beach, your only option is to camp.
Spending time by the ocean after sunset and early morning, without the crowds, will make a memorable experience. The north shore of the beach is dedicated to camping, with spots for about 400 tents. While open fires aren’t permitted, you can use the BBQ pits with charcoal.
The music of the waves, a starlit sky, and good company; doesn’t that sound like the perfect outing?
However, there are hotels and private villas that you can rent within a 10-minute drive from the beach. The Villa Flamenco Beach is a six-unit home-away-from-home with inviting hammocks and self-catering kitchen facilities. It’s usually closed from the beginning of October to mid-November.
There are also 33 self-catering apartments with kitchens for 2 – 8 people. If you opt for this, you should stock up on provisions in Dewey.
More of the outdoorsy type? Apart from camping, there’s the option of bringing your RV, which will also help save money on accommodations. You can stay at one of the nearby RV parks or campgrounds.
Preserving the Stretch of Paradise
The pristine state of the beach is a testament to its protected status, with locals and visitors preserving its natural beauty.
Respect the natural environment by not littering or disturbing wildlife. Whether visiting here for half a day or camping overnight, remember to clean up your space before leaving.
Summing It Up
Are you visiting Puerto Rico anytime soon? Take advantage of a trip to the tropical paradise that is Flamenco Beach. It will enchant you, no matter which part of the world you’re from.
A day spent here, surrounded by natural beauty, captivating history, and exciting adventures, is well spent. It’s where you can relax all day or explore the beach from end to end while diving to explore the wondrous underwater life.
The sun can be intense on Flamenco Beach, so remember to bring sunscreen and stay hydrated throughout your visit.