You know all those times you’re sat at your desk daydreaming to yourself and thinking “f**k this shit, I just wanna leave and set up shack at the beach”..? Well if you’re ever going to do it, you must check out Playa Blanca in Baru on the northern coast of Colombia.
We caught a 1h coach from Cartagena booked via hostel Mamallena who were most helpful. We’d heard about Playa Blanca in abundance as it’s a magnet for both tourists and locals. The tours are usually daily ones where you get there by coach or boat and head back in the eve, whilst overnight trips aren’t really advertised. We happened to overhear that the evenings and hostels there are incredible so decided to spend the night. Best call ever!
The hostels were literally ON the beach, ten steps from crystal clear Caribbean water. White sand, palm trees with a view of the Islas de Rosario, a gorgeous archipelago overlooking our little bay. Our hostel was called Hugo’s Place, a beautifully rustic arrangement of shacks made of wood and palm tree branches and nothing else. So bare, so simplistic, so magical. It had barely no running water and allocated electricity slots which meant we had very little to do apart from swim and soak in the views. We’d brought a pack lunch with us to save some pennies and a had a delightful avocado and tomato sandwich followed by a juicy pineapple cut with our brand new Leatherman knife (feeling very Bear Grylls)
The warm tranquillity we were surrounded by was overwhelming, yet after a few hours we heard some fairly loud grumbling thunder in the background. Within an hour’s time the sky had blackened and what started off as a light on-off shower evolved into a monsonic downpour. Seeing such postcard like views transform so quickly was mind blowing. With thunder and rain came lightning, which in itself was like nothing I’d seen before. If we’d managed to catch it on camera, it would’ve looked something like this:
We took shelter under one of the shacks and made friends with a trio of Spaniards. A few beers and deliciously icy caipirinhas later (gotta make good use of a happy hour when you see one!), we sat around a table for candle lit dinner eating freshly caught Red Snapper with rice and beans (lots of rice and beans over here!). Delicious.
The sun sets early here so 11pm felt like 3am which meant bed time. We needed a good sleep as the 5 of us had booked Hugo for the day to drive us on his boat to the nearby islands. We left around 8.30am after the boat was loaded with a tank of petrol and somehow turned on using a rope and we headed towards Rosario Islands, first stop: coral reef and snorkeling. Turns out this area of Colombia has the 3rd biggest coral reef in the world, and it’s gorgeous.
Our GoPro had run out of battery at this point so we can’t show you the array of colours we experienced. Your best bet is to ask a kid to draw you a school of fish, I’m sure it’ll be close to what we saw – silver fish with purple tails, teeny weeny royal blue fish, long elegant skinny fish (which Annalie thought were swordfish), big multicoloured flat fish, and many many more.
After an hour or so exploring the reef our captain took us on a ride around the islands. Some are small, house a single home and are privately owned, whilst others are larger with multiple fancy hotels, resorts, mansions etc. All in all it was amazing: we swam, saw dolphins and were surrounded by some incredible sights. Here’s Annalie enjoying the boat ride
After a last dip and paddle, it was time to pack our bags. Our plan was to catch the afternoon bus back to Cartagena and then head straight to Santa Marta, about 5h east towards the famous National Park of Tayrona. We’re now here relaxing by our hotel’s pool after a typical local lunch featuring of (drumroll) rice and beans! The rest of our day will see us packing our stuff and getting ready for Tayrona at 8am tomorrow
Ciao for now! X