The beautiful Islas De San Bernardo, combined with the Islas Rosario (where I dove outside of Cartagena), make up one of Colombia’s national parks. There are 9 coastal coral islands in San Bernardo and I was going to stay on one of them, Isla Mucura.
These southernmost islands are much less busy than the Rosario islands, which makes sense since Cartagena is much busier than Tolu.
The manager of the hotel I was booked into arranged for my passage on the launch on Saturday morning between 8:30-9am. We left at 9:15. But not before everyone had to walk into the ocean and climb a ladder to get onto the boat! Not kidding, even the old folks climbed this ladder. And they were quite agile!
The boats to the islands ONLY leave at 9am each day. Unless you own a boat, this is your one way to the islands. It’s not like back home where you can hire a boat taxi or wait for the next ferry. Nope. This is it. There are many boats, but they all leave at the same time. Except mine. It left at 9:15am instead of 9. They also squeezed about 30-40 people onto this tiny looking boat. The boat cost 35,000 COP each way (about $15.60 CAD and $12.25 US) and was late and uncomfortable but it was safe (that’s the driver on the left – he was very good) and pretty quick.
Boat Tour of the Beautiful Islas de San Bernardo
As part of the boat ride, we got a little bit of a tour, where they pointed out a couple of the other islands as we passed.
One of the most interesting islands in this chain is Santa Cruz Del Isolte, the most densely populated island on earth with very little space but lots of fisherfolk.
Also of interest is an island that just has a hostal on it. The hostal was full this weekend but it looked pretty cool – even if the communications people aren’t. I emailed asking about availability for Saturday night, got a response with a list of all their rooms (cut and pasted from their website) and when I picked one I heard back “oh sorry. We don’t have any rooms on Saturday.” Goes to show that all people working in the hospitality industry are not geniuses.
We passed Tintipan, the largest island before we got to Mucura, which is the busiest. It has a pueblo with residents, a pool club where a lot of the people on my boat were going for the day, and Hotel Club Mucura, where I stayed.
I was really happy to have my own room with my own bathroom and air conditioning. It had been 3 weeks since I had those luxuries and I missed them! Seriously missed them. The hotel has a cute nautical theme and I loved the way my room looked like it was in a boat! Very comfy and clean too. It was a good place for me.
Relaxing Stay at Hotel Mucura
The other people at the hotel all seemed to be Colombian and only spoke Spanish. The manager was super nice and bilingual and very helpful and there was one server who wanted to learn some English but mostly I kept to myself. I read in the shade by the ocean, swam in the beautiful waters and relaxed. It was still hot there – about 33C – but the sea breeze more than made up for it.
At Mucura, you get all your meals with your room fee. Good thing because unless you bring food with you you’d be out of luck. The food was good too! I got seafood and vegetables so it was like heaven to me!
My stay was nice and relaxing. If you ever go, look up Diego. He’s the hotel manager and he is excellent!
Caribbean Sea at Isla Mucura
The water was beautiful. Super clean and clear- I wish I had the go-pro because I could see so far in the water!
I did go snorkeling with Jorge from the hotel. He is from Mucura and took me to this coral spot with loads of starfish – estrellas del mar. Beautiful!
Because these islands are pretty isolated there were some things we had to do without. No wifi. Everything is run off solar so they keep the lights off during the day (no need) so they can use them at night. It took a couple of hours each morning for the solar power to kick back in but it wasn’t a problem since I was outside enjoying the sea anyway.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that I took this weekend escape by myself. It was very relaxing to get to the beach even if it did take a little while. It’s really no difference in time commitment than weekend trips to cottages in Toronto and wow was it worth it! If you get a chance, and need a break from Cartagena, check out the beautiful Islas de San Bernardo.