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Visit to Culebra by a Canadian environmental biologist

Recently I visited Puerto Rico and without knowing much about the island did some adventuring. A few of my friends and I travelled around the island stopping to explore many different beaches, the rainforest, rivers and waterfalls; there is so much natural beauty I was amazed. One of our many amazing stops was on the island of Culebra, we decided to go there on a recommendation of a friend, and a very much-appreciated recommendation it was.

We arrived in the evening to camp on Flamenco Beach Campground, it was dark when we arrived so weren’t able to see where we were. In the morning we awoke to a stunning sunrise and were amazed to see the views. Hands down, one of the most beautiful settings I have ever been. The next day we travelled around the island by foot, bike and golf cart, and were told that we had to go snorkeling with the tortugas. So that was our first stop.

Tamarindo Beach is a protected beach because it is an important habitat for the turtles and other marine life, which we did not know at the time. We arrived at the beach, where there were a few other people and snorkel and kayak rentals, it wasn’t a very busy day, we already had our snorkel gear so just walked down the beach a little ways and got in the water planning on only going in for an hour or so. After 4.5 hours sunburnt and tired and dehydrated we finally decided to get out, it was some of the best snorkeling I had ever done. We saw turtles, skates, octopus, schools of fish, eels, starfish, sea urchins and corals, such beautiful and diverse marine life very worthy area to protect.

I only recently found out that Tamarindo Beach was a protected area when I met a Puerto Rican girl in Canada who actually works with that area. She asked me if I knew it was a protected area, and I said no, and she replied that ‘that was the problem.’ The Isla de Culebra is a high tourist area, and is known best for it’s snorkeling. I did remember seeing a sign about the turtles when we were at the beach it was only in Spanish but I could clearly tell it was a warning to protect and maintain the area, however that is not so obvious for everyone. Puerto Rico is a part of the US so has many English-speaking tourists; it would be effective to have signs in English as well. I think it would also help to have a person talking to people about the conservation efforts of the marine life of the area and observing the people as they are snorkeling to make sure they are obeying regulations. It is a very diverse and lively area and important to try and keep it that way.

Overall, I found Puerto Rico to be a very clean country, and the people were happy and friendly. I would go back again in a heartbeat.

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