My husband and I just spent 10 days on Culebra. It was exactly what we were looking for, but I can see how it might not be for everyone. If you enjoy beautiful beaches and a laid back environment, then it's the place for you. We have been to Hawaii, Mexico, Cook Island, Fiji and other Carribean destinations; Culebra has the most beautiful beaches and best snorkeling by far. We didn't think that the prices were that outrageous. You are on vacation, what do you expect? You need to remember that you are on an island, so it costs money to get supplies there and food will cost a bit more. In our opinion, it was worth every penny. Here is what we did and some advice. Some of this info would have come in handy for us.
Lodging- We stayed at Casa Ensenada. It was perfect for us. We stayed in the Paqueno room, which is the smallest. It has a small kitchenette. The only drawback is it's hard to see out of the windows, so you can't really look outside. They do supply beach towels and a cooler for you, which was really convienent. The manager is very nice. You can get clean towels everyday if needed and they will change your sheets when requested. There is an outdoor BBQ for you to use and a free kyak. If we stayed there again, we would get the Studio so we had a little more space. It is within walking distance of the airport and takes about 10 minutes to get to if you don't want to wait for the bus. It is basically in Dewey, so you don't need to drive into town, you can walk everywhere. The nights are beautiful and it's totally safe to walk around.
Car rental- you don't need a jeep to get around. There is really no off roading to be done. We rented a golf cart from Carlos Jeep Rental by the airport and it was perfect. It got us where we needed to go and was fun to drive. It's also a lot eaiser to park on the skinny streets. Once you land, you can just walk over to the rental place and get your cart or jeep if you prefer.
Equipment rental- We rented our snorkel gear from Culebra Bike Rentals next to the Dinghy Dock. We also rented beach chairs for $5 per day, totally worth it! They are backpack chairs, so if you hike anywhere they are easy to take along. You can also rent umbrellas and obvisously bikes.
Restaraunts- There is no night life, but that's not our thing so it was fine with us. Mamacita's does have a DJ on Friday nights and a drum circle on Sat nights, I highly reccomend it! We thought Mamacita's had the best food and were never disappointed with our meal. The homeade desserts where fantastic! They also have good breakfasts as well. We had dinner at El Batey one night, they have the most amazing cheeseburgers and curley fries, out of this world! We heard that Susies and Barbara Rosa's had good food, but we never made it. The pizza at Heather's was also great! In the morning we would go to El Eden and get fresh sandwiches made to take to the beach for lunch. They are also a liquor store so we could buy beer. You can only buy alcohol at a liquor store. El Eden is one and there is another right before you get to El Eden on the right hand side. There may have been one other, but I can't remember.
Beaches- We would load up our cooler with food and drinks and head to the beach for the day. No glass is allowed at Flamenco, they will check your cooler. You can buy food/drinks at Flamenco, but that is the only beach you can. The Empanada's are really good if you get a fresh one. The hike to Carlos Rosario is totally worth it. You can find the trail head in the parking lot of Flamenco, it takes about 20 mins. The snorkeling is AMAZING and it's a nice beach to spend the day at. Zoni beach is also a nice beach to spend the day. Yes, you can take your golf cart all the way to the bottom. You may see people parked at the top of the hill or it may look like you can't make it; trust me, you can. Snorkeling at Melones beach is also great, it's very similiar to Carlos Rosario. We took a water taxi to Culebrita for the day. Tortuga Beach is BEAUTIFUL, I think it's almost nicer then Flamenco. We took the Macujam water taxi for $45 per person. They will pick you up at the ferry dock and pick you up from the island at anytime you want. They also provide cold drinks and a snack on the way back. You will want to bring a cooler with food and drinks if you spend the day. We didn't find good snorkeling off the beach, but I think you can hike to other small beaches that do have good snorkeling. We heard the view from the lighthouse is very pretty. We just enjoyed the sand and beautiful beach. You probably won't be the only one on the beach, sailboats do come in and anchor off the beach, but it doesn't get crowded by any means. We didn't have any problems with sand fleas or bugs there or on any of the beaches of Culebra. Maybe it's the time of year. We always felt safe leaving our stuff on the beach while we snorkeled or walked around. There is barely any crime on the island.
We had a couple rainy days, so there were some beaches we didn't make it to. We had a wonderful time and would highly recommend Culebra to anyone. But, if you are looking for night life, shopping and a lot of activity, don't bother.