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Top 5 Culebra Anchorages in the Spanish Virgin Islands

Ladies at Flamenco Beach

Often overlooked by it’s more popular sisters to the east, the USVIs and British Virgin Islands, the Spanish Virgin Islands continue to be a well-kept secret for those in the know. Don’t miss out on these spectacular Culebra anchorages!

I love them because they are less crowded, stunningly beautiful, and offer great opportunities for snorkeling and fishing.

In this post, I’ll cover my top 5 favorite Culebra anchorages to check out the next time you visit the Spanish Virgin Islands on a yacht charter. You can also learn more about them in my cruising guide. I’ll cover Vieques in another post.

DNR mooring balls at Culebra anchorages

Before we dive in, be aware that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has several mooring balls throughout Culebra. This helps protect the seabed and the National Wildlife Refuge areas.

Make sure you inspect these balls after tying off! Last time we visited we found at least one ball that didn’t pass for us.

Most are also marked as day-use, but this doesn’t seem to be enforced. Stay on them overnight at your own risk!

Last time we visited (Dec-2020), we counted the number of balls we saw. Here’s what we found.

Anchorage
Number of Mooring Balls
Culebrita
8
Bahia de Almadovar
12
Ensenada Dakity
24
Cayo de Luis Pena
4
Playa Tamarindo
7
Playa Carlos Rosario
6 (and 3 additional to the north marked for diving)
View of Culebrita, one of the Culebra anchorages
Beautiful Culebrita, one the of the Spanish Virgin Islands' gems

Culebra anchorages

Culebrita anchorage (Bahia de Tortuga)

Hands down, this is my favorite Culebra anchorage. Tortuga Beach is a perfect crescent shaped, palm tree-lined piece of paradise.

There are several (DNR) mooring balls here, which are designated for day use and are free. You can also anchor.

Many consider this a day stop only, since the anchorage is exposed to northerly ground swells. Passing tropical waves or strong tradewinds can also make Culebrita uncomfortable. Nearby Bahia de Almodovar is a good nearby, overnight alternative.

On weekends, it also might be crowded since it is often visited by the ”Puerto Rican navy”.

One of the many residents that calls the abandoned lighthouse home

What do to at Culebrita

I wrote a bit about Culebrita in my Spanish Virgin Islands cruising guide and include a map of the trails.

Get out your hiking shoes and make the trip to the lighthouse – expect them to get wet and quite dirty! The 360 views at the top of the surrounding reefs and islands is worth the effort.

You can also visit the jacuzzis on the north end of the island. These are natural tide pools that heat up with the warm tropical sun.

Other things to do? Just enjoy the beautiful beach. Swim with the sea turtles. Snorkel the nearby reefs.

Ensenada Dakity anchorage
Aerial shot of Ensenada Dakity | You can also see Puerto Rico in the background

Ensenada Dakity anchorage

Just inside the reef after entering Ensenada Honda, you can find this Culebra anchorage, Ensenada Dakity. There are 20+ mooring balls you can use.

Be careful of the front row! It can get quite shallow at low tide. Monohulls should avoid those.

Despite being exposed to the trades, you won’t feel much swell at all thanks to the protection of the reef.

I prefer to use this anchorage rather than anchoring closer to the town of Dewey. Go get your provisions in Dewey, but re-locate to Dakity for the night. It’s also within dinghy range if you prefer to go out for a bite to eat, such as at the popular Dinghy Dock.

What to do at Ensenada Dakity

Activity-wise, there isn’t much to do. It is a very pretty area though and serves as a great jumping off spot for excursions out of Dewey.

Snorkel the nearby reef right from your yacht and enjoy the golden hour with a cold one.

Cayo Luis Pena
Cayo de Luis Pena bird sanctuary as seen from the north

Cayo de Luis Pena anchorage

As you continue to work your way clockwise around Culebra, you’ll find Cayo de Luis Pena – the larger cayo on the west side.

You have several options for anchoring or mooring. I like Lana’s Cove on the southwest corner. It is better protected and offers you easy access to the hiking trail which runs to the north end of the island.

Cayo de Luis Pena is part of the protected marine sanctuary. Last time we visited, there were two DNR day-use mooring balls here.

The anchorages here are notorious for not being, well, comfortable. Surge and swell seems to wrap in at all of them. So, consider this a day stop only.

What to do at Cayo de Luis Pena

More snorkeling and exploring! The hike is fun – you’ll especially enjoy it if you are a bird watcher – the island is a sanctuary.

The beaches are mostly rocky, but they do the trick if you have a dog aboard.

Carlos Rosario sunset in Culebra
Epic sunset over the cayos to the west from our mooring

Playa Carlos Rosario anchorage

There are several (~6) mooring balls here. Otherwise it is too deep to anchor. The shelf drops off quickly from shore. The bottom is also not good for anchoring.

The moorings, as with the other DNR balls, are marked as day use only, but that does not seem to be enforced.

Hiking to Flamenco Beach from Carlos Rosario
Hiking to Flamenco Beach on the trail from Carlos Rosario

What to do at Cayo de Luis Pena

There is a super healthy reef here that is great for diving and snorkeling. Last time we were there on a catamaran we saw turtles, rays, and a few juvenile sharks. A school of yellowtail snapper hung around underneath our boat as well.

We also had to compete with some jellies, so take caution.

The hike over to world-famous Flamenco Beach is well worth the trip – the trail is quite easy to identify on Google Maps.

You will also experience amazing sunsets here. The cayos to west make for a perfect backdrop.

Tank at Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach anchorage

Use caution with this anchorage as it is very exposed to the north. This one only works in very settled conditions. I would definitely recommend this as day-use only.

You also might want to avoid if the wind direction has a northerly component.

If the wind is up, you might also have some difficulty landing the dinghy on the beach.

But you can’t miss Flamenco Beach. Other options are taking the hike from Carlos Rosarion or anchoring in Ensenada Honda and renting a street-legal golf cart.

Your author enjoying a beach day at Playa Flamenco

What to do at Flamenco Beach

The main attraction here is the wonderful beach. It reminds me of the South Pacific with it’s reef, coconut palms, and mountainous terrain.

Make sure to go get your picture taken with the tanks that were previously used as target practice.

Park yourself, grab a beer and some lunch, and enjoy. There are several vendors that sell food and drink.

Thanks for reading my post about Culebra anchorages and making it all the way to the end! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe or check out some of my other articles, like this one about sailing to St Croix and visiting the Spanish Virgin Islands.

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