In 1909, portions of the Culebra Archipielago were designated as a wildlife reserve in accordance with an Executive Order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Administration of the Culebra lands was the responsibility of the U.S. Navy and the wildlife reserve designation was subject to naval and lighthouse purposes. Several of the small islands of the archipelago, as well as the Flamenco Peninsula, were used for gunnery and bombing practice by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps until their departure in 1976. The following year, portions of the Navy-administered lands were transferred to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and jurisdiction over other portions was transferred to the service. On-site administration of the refuge was established in 1983. Approximately one-quarter of the Culebra archipelago's total landmass is now included within the Culebra NWR.
Visitors are only permitted at Cayo Luis Peña and Culebrita. Spectacular diving and snorkeling, it is also a paradise for bird-watchers, nature lovers, and photographers. Accessible by water taxi and private boat.