Casa en el Agua is translated from Spanish as ‘House on water.’ This hostel is pure magic and only 2 hours by boat from the port of Cartagena in Colombia. Surrounded by open ocean, you wake up to sunrises that will warm your soul. You will spend your days swimming in crystal clear waters and sun worshiping on the lower deck, only to welcome in the evening sky with communal dinners, games and dancing with sundown cocktails in hand. At the end of the night you drift off to sleep in your hammock, stargazing, only to repeat it all over again the very next day.
Casa en el Agua is 100% Eco Friendly. The hostel uses compost toilets, bucket showers, solar energy, recycling and ‘cleaning the reef’ activities. Casa en el Agua also employ residents from local communities on the Island of Isolate, creating a positive effect on their lives and educating them about ocean conservation. All food and water is transported by boat from the mainland which inflates their cost. Don’t get me wrong, as a backpacker it ruined my budget, but when I think about where some of the money goes back to, and the experience I received, was it worth it? Absolutely!
Catch the Tranq it Easy IV:
Catch the Tranq it Easy IV boat from the Cartagena port. The journey to Casa en el Agua from Caertagena takes 2 hours and departs daily at 9am from Muelle la Bodaguita, door number 5. I would suggest booking your return journey at the same time as it is one thing less to worry about and often the boats get full early on - but then again there are worse places to be stranded! Cost: COL$100,000 (€29 / $33) each way plus COL$15,500 (€4.50 / $5) national park fee.
From Cartagena’s historical/old town centre, take a taxi to the ‘Terminal de Transportes’ bus station and jump on a bus to Tolu (COL$36,000 / €10 / $12) which departs every day from 8am. The journey takes 2.5 hours. Once you arrive, you need to go to the Marine and ask for Casa en el Agua. The boat departs once a day to the hostel at 8am so you will need to spend one night in Tolu, the boat costs COL$35,000 (€10 / $12).
Via Rincon del Mar (this option is best for large groups):
Head to Cartagena’s bus station (Terminal de Transportes) and catch a bus to ‘San Onofre’ which takes around 2 hours and costs COL$25,000 (€7 / $8). From here, you will need to take a motorbike taxi to Rincon del Mar. You will then have to rent a boat to take you to Casa en el Agua, costing around COL$150,000 (€43 / $49), which is why this route is best for larger groups so the cost can be split between you all. The boat leaves between 6am and 2pm. If the total is split between 6 people it would work out around COL$70,000 (€20 / $23) each.
Head to the beach
If you fancy leaving the Casa en el Agua for a few hours or a day, head to a nearby deserted island and worship the sun until your beating heart is content. Throw in a few pina coladas and you my friend, are living the dream. Cost inclusive of transport drop off and pick up, COL$20,000 (€6 / $7).
Swim at night with luminescent plankton
This is such a surreal experience. You are taken out to a secluded spot by some mangroves in the middle of the night, given a snorkel, thrown off the boat and left to float among luminescent plankton. Terrifying for me, but incredible all at the same time. You won’t be forgetting that in a hurry! Cost: COL$20,000 (€6 / $7).
Get out onto the water
You can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards (SUPs) and snorkeling gear from the hostel, just ask at reception when you arrive. It is a beautiful way to spend a day and the water is so clear around Casa en el Agua. Cost is COL$20,000 (€6 / $7) for one hour. If you are interested in diving, this can be pre-arranged before your arrival. There are no instructors or dive school, but they can arrange equipment and transport for you if you are qualified: Cost COL$260,000 (€75 / $85) for two people.
Visit the island of Isolate
The nearby island of Isolate is the most densely populated island in the entire world! Here, you can learn about how these people live, their culture and the history of the island. They also have a small aquarium if that is of interest. The hostel will organise the transport for you, its a very short boat ride away.
Enjoy the sunset
Due to its location, Casa en el Agua offers the most insane spot for watching the sunset. All your fellow islanders will join you on the deck, with a beer in hand, as day turns into night. And then it is PARTY TIME.
I would suggest booking a hammock if you visit Case en el Agua. Try and get one on the balcony where you have an open view to the ocean. It is an incredible feeling to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the waves and wildlife around you. They are the cheapest option at COL$80,000 (€23 / $26). Head to the Casa en el Agua website for their price list.
Nothing about Casa en el Agua is cheap and that extends to their food. Because you are in the middle of nowhere there is no other option other than to eat at the hostel.
All meal times are communal, so you really get the chance to chat to your fellow ‘islanders’, it’s super fresh (especially the fish which are caught in traps below) and downright delicious.
Breakfast costs COL$15,000 (€4 / $5) and lunch and dinner are between COL$25-30,000 (€7-9. / $8-10) each and worth every penny.
- Take sunscreen: It gets hot, hot, hot out there
- Take snacks as this will keep the cost down for you and quash your hunger between meals.
- Alcohol: You can bring alcohol as long as you share it with the staff.
- Bug Spray: When the sun goes down, the bugs come out to play, so take lots of bug spray that is high in deet. I was fine sleeping in a hammock, but when you are down by the water enjoying drinks, they do tend to take a little nibble!
- Take warmer clothes for the evening: it can get chilly at night with the wind so take some warm clothes with you.
- Most importantly: There is no way to pay on card so CASH IS KING. Take more than you think you will need with you…. it is crazy how quickly those cocktails add up ;)
- Take a battery pack. There are sockets, but not by the hammocks on the top deck.