Nicknamed the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra are the most famous of the small islands and cays that make up the archipelago of Puerto Rico. Located just 6 miles and 20 miles off the east coast of the Puerto Rican mainland, respectively, Vieques and Culebra are where you'll find two of Puerto Rico’s most treasured natural settings: Culebra's postcard-perfect Flamenco beach and Vieques’ Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Both have won prestigious awards and recognitions that place them among the must-see locations in the Caribbean.
So, ready to visit these two beautiful islands? Read on to find out how to get here!
Flights to Vieques and Culebra
The fastest and most direct way to get to Culebra and Vieques is by taking a short flight from San Juan. Small planes leave from San Juan several times a day, and tickets range from $60 to $90 per trip. The flight from San Juan to Vieques is about 25 minutes, and the flight from San Juan to Culebra is about 30 minutes.
If you plan ahead and include Culebra or Vieques in your Puerto Rico itinerary before departing from the U.S., most major airlines will offer a combined bookable fare between the routes. To catch these flights, you will need to transfer from San Juan's International Airport (SJU) to Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (SIG/TJIG), a single-runway airport located just 12 miles (15 minutes) away in Isla Grande.
Many travelers choose to spend a night or two in San Juan before catching a flight to Culebra or Vieques. This will give you time to relax and explore the iconic landmarks of Old San Juan without worrying about making airport connections.
Ferry to Culebra and Vieques
A lower-cost alternative to flying is taking the ferry that departs from Ceiba on Puerto Rico's east coast. Ceiba is near the larger town of Fajardo, and is about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from San Juan. If you choose to take the ferry, note that you'll have to leave your rental car in a parking lot near the ferry terminal and schedule separate transportation in Culebra and Vieques.
How long is the ferry ride?
The ferry from Ceiba to Vieques takes about 30 minutes. The ride from Ceiba to Culebra is about 45 minutes.
How much do the ferry tickets cost?
Vieques and Culebra ferry tickets range from $2.50 to $3.00. For each of the islands, there are boats that make round trips every two hours, starting at 4:00 a.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m. The schedules are subject to change.
Where should I purchase ferry tickets to Vieques and Culebra?
Ferry tickets can be purchased through the Autoridad de Transporte Marítimo (ATM) website.
Is there a ferry from San Juan to Culebra or Vieques?
No. The only ferries that run from the Puerto Rico mainland to the islands of Vieques and Culebra at this time are the ferries that depart from Ceiba.
Note: As of May 2023, all visitors must pay a $2 fee to reach Culebra by air or sea. This charge is included when purchasing your ferry ticket in the Ceiba terminal or from any digital platform selected and used to sell and reserve boarding tickets to the small island.
Ground Transportation in Culebra and Vieques
When scheduling your visit, it's a good idea to line up ground transportation in advance. There are several transportation companies that rent cars, Jeeps, scooters and even golf carts in Vieques and Culebra for getting around. Since both islands are home to remote wilderness areas and out-of-the-way beaches, having your own vehicle is the best way to to ensure you see everything you want to see.
What to Expect Once You Get Here
The main activity at these sleepy islands is unwinding. If unplugging, slowing down, and relaxing is what you're looking for, a trip to either Vieques or Culebra will do the trick.
These pristine destinations are havens for nature lovers and laidback travelers. With a more chilled vibe, you can expect to kick back and be at ease.
Make time to add experiencing some of the best snorkeling and diving in the waters surrounding the islands to your must-do list. Near the cays, where the most vibrant marine reefs in Puerto Rico are located, sea turtles, stingrays, and more sea creatures can be seen.
Their beautiful, award-winning beaches are the perfect setting for snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and, in Vieques, horseback riding.
You can also explore the largest national wildlife refuge in the Caribbean, which covers over 60% of Vieques' island. Spend the day hiking and beach-hopping 'till you drop; you won't regret it. Also, be sure to take a kayak tour through the world's brightest bioluminescent bay, Mosquito Bay.
Both locations offer small boutique hotels and a handful of guesthouses to choose from, where you can achieve a blissful state of total relaxation.