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8 exotic destinations that are part of the U.S.

By: Josh Lew on July 23, 2014, 2:59 p.m.

Photo: ARENA Creative/Shutterstock

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Situated 17 miles from the main island of Puerto Rico, Culebra has been discovered by a few tourists, but its lack of large hotels, chain restaurants, nightlife, and shopping makes it a decidedly off-the-beaten-path destination. This 7-mile long land mass has a few thousand permanent residents, many of whom have moved from the United States mainland seeking a quiet place to live away from Puerto Rico's thriving tourism scene. 

Seabirds, leatherback turtles, and the giant Culebra anole are among the animals that call this out-of-the-way island home. Along with neighboring Vieques, Culebra is a great place to see bioluminescent organisms, which light up some of the coastal waters at nighttime. Quirky, independently owned boutiques and restaurants, some of which are hard to find, serve up an interesting mix of local atmosphere and fresh foods. All the nature and the super-laid-back, non-commercial culture combine to create a unique atmosphere.