Las Islas del Rosario – Cartagena, Colombia

On my trip to Cartagena, Juan took me to an amazing spot in the Rosario Islands. We stayed at a hotel that belongs to the Dolphin Dive School and it was BEAUTIFUL!

The boat ride from Cartagena to the island took just over an hour, we arrived with a nice couple from Bogota, who were just there for the day to do some snorkeling. Juan and I were the only guests staying for the first two nights we were there, so we literally had the whole hotel and beach and kayaks to ourselves!

The first evening we were there a huge tropical storm came. The wind was crazy strong and it rained as hard as it does in Vancouver during the winter! So since Juan and I were already in our bathing suits, we decided to go to our outdoor shower (pictured below) and take a shower in the rain. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It was fun to act like a kid again dancing in the rain. Then the thunder and lightening started and the storm got worse so we had to wait it out inside… but still fun!

Before the rain came we had kayaked to a nearby island where there is is an aquarium called the Oceanario. It was packed with tourist boats, so we just sat on the dock in the sunshine (which was really hot at this time of day) and had some cold beers. It was perfect. Those were the best tasting beers I have had in a very long time!

The next day we took a boat with one of the staff from the dive school and went around the nearby islands. There were some absolutely beautiful houses, and of course plenty of little shacks with the best waterfront location you could ask for. We went past one building that was a hotel that was practically finished being built, but the government found out the owner was laundering money so it never got completed… there was also the skeletal remains of many waterfront houses, which I guess used to belong to people involved in the drug trade in Colombia, but once the government started to get this under control they kicked everyone off the land that was involved in illegal activities so now these ugly shells remain on beautiful land. Scars left behind from Colombia’s violent past. I didn’t take my camera with me, sadly, so I don’t have any photos from this amazing part of our adventure. I’ll just have to go back again another time 😉

We tied the boat up on this half-submerged dock and went up some stairs to the Palmar, a bird sanctuary that is owned by the same guy who owns the aquarium. Entrance was free, but I guess they are moving to to another island where the birds can have bigger (aka more humane) cages and research will be done so they will start charging entry then. Anyhow, there was some crazy birds. This one ugly black bird, that was almost beautiful at the same time, and it kept trying to give us a piece of wood through the cage. Probably hoping we would stick our fingers it so it could bite them. As soon as we walked away it would drop the wood again. Juan kept going back and forth from the cage making the bird pick it up and drop it again. So funny. Here is a video I found on Youtube ( i love the internet) taken at Palmar and you can see the bird at about 53 seconds into the video, but watch the whole thing! That’s where we were.

It seems this David character has done me a huge favour by filming these videos for me to share with you so I could just go explore and not worry about trying to take photos or videos and I could just enjoy myself! He has a video of the Oceanario as well, which is great because my camera isn’t waterproof so I couldn’t take it in the kayak with us…. of course, what Juan and I did is we went after 4pm when the Oceanario is officially closed to the public, and we had the whole place to ourselves, except for one guy who was feeding the animals. So yes, all those people you see in this video were not there when we were there. It was awesome! Oh yeah, and those jewfish or groupers that he mentions are the ugliest fish I have ever seen. They were way more frightening than the sharks!

Anyhow, needless to say, we had an amazing time in the Rosario Islands, and I suggest anyone who is looking for a place to stay to try the Dolphin Dive School as it is very private. A lot of the other hotels just have soo many people and the beaches of Baru are always packed. We didn’t have a single person to disturb us in paradise!

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