How to Get to Culebra & Vieques from Puerto Rico’s Main Island
Are you planning to stay on the main island during your visit to Puerto Rico? Or are you visiting the popular islands of Culebra and Vieques?
If you ask us, it’s a no-brainer. Commonly known as the Spanish Virgin Islands, Culebra and Vieques are home to some of the most beautiful beaches, world-class snorkeling and diving spots, and one of Puerto Rico’s world-renowned bioluminescent bays. These are just a few of the reasons why you can’t skip a visit to these sparkling gems of the Isle of Enchantment.
You might already be overwhelmed with planning your flight and accommodations for your Puerto Rico trip, but luckily it’s easy to add in a stop to one of these islands. Read on to learn how to get from San Juan to Culebra or Vieques and score some tips on planning your visit.
Culebra is one of the most popular islands in the Puerto Rico archipelago thanks to its stunning white sand beaches, coral reef, and marine life such as turtles. Travelers often take a day or weekend trip to Culebra to enjoy its unparalleled snorkel and dive sites, like the barrier reefs off Playa Carlos Rosario and Playa Tamarindo. Other popular attractions include Flamenco Beach (one of the most beautiful in the world), Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve, and Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.
Just 6 miles from the main island, Vieques is known for its many beautiful beaches, wildlife refuge, and bio bay. Mosquito Bay holds the Guiness World Record for the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, so if you dream of boating or paddling through shimmering water, add this destination to your itinerary. Much of the island is part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, protecting its mangrove forests, salt flats, and beaches. You can explore them on a hiking trail, horseback ride, or on a beach-hopping adventure.
While there’s plenty to see, the main lure of these islands is that they’re relatively deserted, meaning you have plenty of space and time for relaxation. This is your chance to unplug and soak in all the best of nature. Learn more about what to do and where to eat on Culebra and Vieques in our guide to Puerto Rico’s smaller islands.
Ready for your island getaway? Here’s how to get there.
Take the Ferry from Ceiba
The most affordable way to get to Vieques or Culebra is by taking the ferry from Ceiba, but it’s not necessarily the easiest. Ferry tickets only cost about $2 – $3 per passenger each way, so it’s definitely accessible for those traveling on a budget. However, you need to find transportation from San Juan (or wherever you’re staying) to Ceiba, which is about an hour and a half from the city.
If you have a car rental, getting there is easy, but note that you’ll have to park your rental at the ferry terminal and coordinate separate transportation to get around Culebra or Vieques. If you choose a taxi or other form of transportation to get to the ferry terminal, it can get a little pricey.
Something to keep in mind is that residents of the island are given priority over tourists to buy tickets, so you should be sure to secure them in advance (more on this in the tips below). Even with a pre-booked ferry ride, potential delays or cancellations due to weather or other factors could derail your plans.
The ferry runs daily from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and if you’d like to visit both islands, you can ferry between them as well. You can review itineraries, rates, and book your tickets at Porferry.
Fly from San Juan, Fajardo, or Ceiba
Getting to the islands by plane is quicker and more reliable than the ferry, but of course, it comes at a higher cost. Local airlines like Vieques Air Link offer direct flights to Culebra and Vieques from various regional airports, with prices typically around $90. You can fly to the islands from San Juan, Fajardo, or Ceiba (the flight from Ceiba is the shortest at about 15 – 20 minutes).
Another option is to book through a major airline while purchasing your flight to Puerto Rico. You can usually get a combined fare, and you can easily make your connection flight. Just note that you have to leave the international San Juan Airport and board your flight at the Isla Grande Airport, which is just a few minutes away.
If you’re looking for a luxury experience, you can opt for a charter flight from Taxi Aereo, with prices starting at almost $900 for four passengers.
Take a Boat Charter or Tour from Fajardo
The most stress-free way to make your way to Culebra or Vieques and enjoy everything these islands have to offer is on an all-inclusive boat tour or charter. Often departing from Fajardo, these tours make your experience easy. All you have to do is board the boat and let the captain take it from there!
In addition to transportation, these full-day tours often include lunch, drinks, and snacks, so you don’t have to figure out your meals while you’re visiting the islands. If you’re looking to do some snorkeling, snuba or scuba diving, or beach hopping, you’re covered with all the equipment and expert guidance you need to have a great day in the water.
When traveling with the whole family or a large group, a boat tour can be the easiest option. Forget about figuring out transportation, dealing with delays at the ferry terminal, or pricey plane tickets — the cost of getting to the island is often included in the price of your tour. Find the perfect Culebra or Vieques tour for your group.
Tips for a Smooth Trip
No matter which option you choose to get to one of the islands, there are a few mistakes you want to avoid to make your trip as headache-free as possible. Follow these tips for an easy, fun experience.
- Book a tour in advance. If you really want to make the most of your time on Culebra or Vieques, you’re better off exploring with an experienced tour guide. Make sure to book your tour well in advance — they tend to fill up fast, especially during the busy season.
- If you choose to take the ferry, be sure to purchase your ticket in advance as well. With such low prices, they sell out quickly. And remember, residents get priority access to purchase tickets. You can either purchase them online or go to the terminal a few days before your planned trip and buy them there. If you have no choice but to buy them on the same day, make your way to the terminal as early in the morning as possible.
- If you choose to rent a car during your vacation, you should also book this ahead of time. If taking the ferry, remember you can’t take your rental car with you — you’ll have to book another one to use on Culebra or Vieques. Don’t get stranded without a car! Planning ahead will guarantee the smoothest trip.
- If possible, try to visit the islands on a weekday for a more peaceful, uncrowded trip. As you can imagine, the islands can get quite busy on the weekends. You can find tourists there any day of the week, but weekdays tend to be more calm.
- Prepare for motion sickness if taking the ferry or a boat tour. Be sure to pack any medication you plan to take for motion sickness and take it at the prescribed time.
There is so much to discover in Puerto Rico, from the rich history of Old San Juan to the lush rainforest of El Yunque, but if it’s the heavenly beach experience you’re looking for, be sure to include a visit to Culebra or Vieques in your plans. Your Instagram feed will thank you!