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Island Paradise

2010 July 8

A small paradise lies 17 miles east of Puerto Rico and 12 miles west of St. Thomas – Culebra island. Culebra (which means Snake Island in Spanish). This gem of an island – seven by four miles – boasts one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States. Culebra, like Vieques Island, was used by the U.S.Navy for military exercises, until 1976. Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has performed restoration activities in Culebra under the Formerly Utilized Defense Sites Program. Today, it’s a rural retreat and nature preserve — part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge– one of the oldest under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (c. 1909).

Accessible only through ferry boat from Fajardo or small plane from San Juan and Ceiba, Culebra is a local vacation spot for many Puerto Ricans and international tourists as well. About 1,800 people live in this municipality of turquoise beaches and white sand. The municipality boasts the only ecological public school in Puerto Rico. The building that houses the school takes advantage of the sun and the wind for energy.

The principal harbor, Ensenada Honda, is considered to be one of the most secure hurricane harbors in the Caribbean. In Culebra you can snorkel, dive and swim in miles of unspoiled beaches which are also a critical habitat to green turtles in their nesting season. Sandy shores, wetlands and mangrove forests are home to pelicans and seagulls among other species that I have spotted in my visits to the island.
Culebra is an arid island with no rivers or streams, all of which creates an unique ecosystem. Cactus grow among tropical trees and palms. Most beaches are a short distance from its main town, Dewey. In Culebra there are no luxury hotels, no casinos, no traffic, and no loud noises (except for the occasional small plane). The island gets its water from the “Big Island” (Puerto Rico) via Vieques. Because of the lack of run-off from streams and rivers, Culebra boasts crystal clear waters with sixty feet of visibility on a bad day! Also, the island hosts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Playa Flamenco, which is part of the Blue Flag program.  However if you are looking for a secluded spot, Playa Zoni, which sits at the bottom of a tall cliff might be your best option. A pristine and tranquil beach, Zoni is also a turtle nesting area as it happens to be my favorite beach in this paradise island.

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    July 8, 2010

    I am confuse why my God only give a paradise to the part of the people who be loved Him. I understand The God angry to me, because I always debate Him about all the problem in the world. Begun disasters, until why the people waste the waters just only Love Him. Why The Prayers to Love Him is not change forever, while this planet is going to destructed by disasters from time to time. I understand the people who angry to me must be happy living in The Paradise. I am also happy to look Them there…… I am alone.-

  2. Jacobo Rivera permalink
    July 8, 2010

    I am from Aibonito, a small town in the center of the big island, and I love Culebra over any luxury destination just because it’s natural beauty, perfect beaches and the great people that live there.

  3. daniel permalink
    July 8, 2010

    I’m jealous that you got to be stationed in these beautiful locations. I need to get a better job haha or at least make it down to the Caribbean before the oil spill destroys it all.

    daniel son

  4. Rosemary Nichols permalink
    July 8, 2010

    One of the most memorable vacations of my son’s childhood was our week in Culebra. It was a fabulous place. We often remember it fondly and look forward to visiting again.

  5. film izle permalink
    July 8, 2010

    Thanks.. I have became a fan of Brenda Reyes Tomassini..

  6. alice permalink
    July 10, 2010

    One of the most memorable vacations of my son’s childhood was our week in Culebra. It was a fabulous place.

  7. Rico Puerto permalink
    October 6, 2010

    One of the coolest places to have your family vacation and also have one of the hottest climates in the whole world all year round is Puerto Rico. Imagine yourself on the beach; bathing on the sweet sunshine, listening to your favorite music, icy drinks close by, isn’t it just delightful to think of? Puerto Rico vacations are a must and if you love to travel then this should be on your list of must be traveled countries.

  8. om9 permalink
    April 2, 2011

    Hey Thanks.. Like fan a Brenda Reyes Tomassini… :)

  9. dizifilmizleyin permalink
    April 7, 2011

    thanks you

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