Just a short distance from the city of Cartagena is the island of Baru, a pristine beach with rustic cabanas and an incredibly relaxing vibe. Getting to and from the island was a bit complicated as the buses and boats that get you there only go at certain times for the purposes of day trips. Tourists arrive to the island around 10am and by 4pm the island is quiet and desolate with the exception of a few backpackers and overnight visitors. After a short and comfortable bus ride for 35,000 COP pp (one way including lunch; Aug 2015) we arrived in paradise.
We decided to stay 3 nights at La Canoa Hostel where we were provided with a private toilet and a shared shower. This was the best option on the island from what we researched as you actually get a running shower as opposed to just a jug of water to wet your self with. Having said this, a shower on the island consisted of a quick rinse in order to wash off the salt and sand. Fresh water on the island is scarce and expensive so conservation of this precious natural resource was of upmost importance.
In addition to these amenities we had a private primitive beachfront cabin with a bed and a mosquito net. Although a generator is provided from 6-10pm after it comes off some nights in the cabin can get extremely hot even with the door open. I would highly recommend that travelers bring a battery or solar powered fan for the warm nights. However, this is just a small price to pay for the peacefulness the island provides.
The hostel had a functioning kitchen with traditional/regional food such as fish, plantains, rice and salad for 15,000 COP (Aug 2015) per plate depending on the type of fish. I personally enjoyed the fried arepa de huevo for breakfast, a delicious fried version of the Colombian arepa with a fried egg inside!
The beach in Baru was magnificent, crystal clear water allowed us to peer all the way down to our feet as we observed numerous fish swim by. Although there were many activities to do such as ride jet skis or snorkel, we found that our favorite was just to lounge in the white sand and let all the stress drift away with the waves. A walk down the beach at sunset provided some of the most beautiful panoramas I had ever seen and we were able to get some amazing shots. Baru is also ideal for couples as its landscape is exceptionally romantic. Consequently, during our second night there we witnessed a marriage proposal during dinner!
The locals were incredibly welcoming and friendly as were the other backpackers in the hostel. Visitors we spoke to had interesting stories to tell about their travels and in turn were also marveled at the adventure we had embarked on. There were people from all parts of the globe including Argentina, Germany, Australia and neighboring countries in South America. A gracious Argentinian couple we met even gave us their phone number and told us to call them when we made our way down to Buenos Aires. We loved the carefree vibe of all the people we met and learned a lot from them.
Our last day was a bit of an adventure in itself since we needed to get off the island early in the morning in order to catch a flight to Medellin. We had two options, either wait by the beach at 6am to catch one of the boats operated by locals (having to carry our bags through the middle of sea) for 15,000 COP pp (Aug., 2015) or take a moto-taxi with 25+ pound backpacks on a bumpy road for 10,000 COP pp.
Since we happened to miss the boat in the morning we had to settle for the motorcycle. The trip on the motorcycle ended up being more thrilling than expected as we had an unobstructed view of the island for a good 25 minutes. Once in the pueblo we were able to catch a taxi all the way back to the airport in Cartagena. If planning to visit the island make sure that flights are booked accordingly so that you can take the bus or boat to and from the island while riding with the day-trippers. Even though everything turned out better than expected, this is a tip we wish we had known beforehand in order to save a couple of bucks.
The scenery in Baru was astonishing and if one is looking for bliss they can find it here. Considering the low cost and the tranquility of the island it is definitely on the list of places that we would come back and visit. One can just sit and unwind here and forget about all the stresses of the day. Paradise found…