Visited Cartagena this summer with an speciﬁc objective in mind: Experience how it would be to spend the night on an Island Hostel: “Casa en el Agua” (House in the Water).
Discovered this place doing some research in Google about unique hostels, and when this appeared on my screen I thought “no way this is in Colombia”. Well it sure is! So next step, booked 2 nights on a private room and the speedboat ticket on their website, also contacted them via email to guarantee we had our spot, as it has lots of request from people all around the world.
Arrived to Cartagena by night and next day morning by 9:30am we were at the “Muelle de la Bodeguita” ready to begin our adventure. The speedboat is $36usd person one-way ticket and it takes about 2 hours to get to Casa en el Agua.
(Tip: If your bag is waterproof your Ok, if not bring a plastic bag 😉 ).
When arriving to Casa en el Agua you’ll see that its located in the middle of other three islands: Tintipán is the biggest one, with a white sandy beach and a beautiful mangrove swamp in the middle. “Isla Mucura” which is a bit more touristy with a resort and some hostels, and “El Islote de Santa Cruz” which is considered as the most densely populated island on Earth (1,25 inhabitants per 10sqm).
As soon as we arrived to the little deck in Casa en el Agua you get the feeling you made the right choice! The staff members and other travelers came out to welcome us and meet all the newbies, as we will all be sharing for the next 48hours in the same space! Travelers visiting from Argentina, Brasil, UK, Netherlands, Germany, US, Russia and of course some Colombians! They focus to be as Green as possible, so as they show you around they explain some of the ground rules to keep the place clean.
First ﬂoor is the common area: Lobby, deck, dinning table, kitchen, bathrooms and the BAR! One of the coolest ones I’ve ever been as it is less than a meter from the water! On the second ﬂoor all the accommodations: 8 Bed Dorm, hammocks and Private rooms, almost no one spends too much time up there…completely logical when you have Caribbean clear blue waters all around you!
We made two friends at the bar: Vadim from Russia and Alex from the States, great guys! They invited us for lunch at sunset in a private house they had rented close by also in middle of the ocean. Such a great view for the #goldenhour!
After sunset we all went to the mangroves of Tintipan to swim and see the glowing plankton, I never expected we could ﬁnd this in our country! Truly amazing! Sadly no pictures of this… (Tip: Bring a snorkel for a better experience!)
Back in the hostel at night, everyone goes to the bar and dinning room to have a drink, play cards, dance and just have a good time. Unfortunately around 11:00pm the tide came up reaching the common areas so it was time for all to have a good sleep listening to the ocean.
Next day woke up with clear skies so we enjoyed of the good weather on some snackyinﬂatables we had taken for the trip
Later that day, our friends passed by on their zodiac boat with Valentin, a local that manages the house they where staying. They were on their way to Islote de Santa Cruz to buy the day’s lunch so I joined them in order to meet the locals living over there.
As we arrived, it’s notable based on the infrastructure that the people living here are not under the best conditions. There is also few space left as the whole island is built up with small brick houses, these are the homes for the locals who maintain the tourism in the area working as staff in the hostels and resorts, and the ﬁsherman who provide daily fresh ﬁsh.
Despite this, you perceive they are a united community. They’ve managed to have a little school where they even teach english to kids, a small soccer ﬁeld and a little aquarium. The people made us feel welcome and they enjoy each time tourists come to share and make the children of the Islote have a good time.
After buying what we needed for our lunch, Valentin invited us to his home to meet his daughters and his grandchild. This is the nicest thing about traveling, connecting and relating to people!
Went back to Vadim and Alex’s private house to prepare the ﬁsh, crab and plantain we had bought at the Islote and ﬁll up the boat to head with Valentin to the beach of Tintipan to spend the rest of the afternoon, here we met a local musician: “Chachio” who shared some of his repertory with us. He sang stories about the island, the ﬁsherman’s life and some old loves… again really interesting to connect with the locals!
Enjoyed our last sunset before a storm hit the area and sent us to sleep early. Next day had breakfast, and took the speedboat at mid-day back to Cartagena. We had such perfect weather that the ocean seemed waveless like a lake. Casa en el Agua is deﬁnitely a must for all curious travelers out there looking for new experiences, specially if you love to snorkel/dive and stay all day in the water!