Isla Mucura lies nearly 2 hours into the Caribbean by boat from Cartagena. It makes up part of the 10 island San Bernando Archipelago, which have been part of the National Natural Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo since 1996. The islands, whilst beautiful and secluded, are not especially well known as Colombian tourism destinations, which is a shame because my stay there was fun and varied, and I can’t wait to go back!
Hotel Punta Faro is the only hotel on Isla Mucura, which is just as well really, because the island is satisfyingly small, and can be kayaked around in about an hour (they told me 40 minutes, but hey, I’m not as fit as I used to be and the wind was blowing waves into my kayak). Punta Faro offers just over 50 rooms, a gorgeous private beach, a variety of fun activities, and amazing buffet-style meals. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, with fantastic open air showers. In short, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a Caribbean island hotel.
Mucura itself is beautiful: a little palm-tree covered island, surrounded by azure water, coral and not much else, it is about as close to the Caribbean island cliché as you can get, which is no bad thing as far as I’m concerned. It is home to a fair bit of wildlife too (it is part of a National Park): iguanas, a pair of sloths, and numerous birds call the island home, whilst the surrounding waters contain sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins.
It was the activities that particularly appealed to me (not being much of a ‘sit on a sun lounger and relax’ kind of person) and I was able to take full advantage of them in the days I spent there: the aforementioned kayaking, diving, snorkelling, and boat tours are the main things on offer. The food was another highlight: I always enjoy a buffet, especially when you’ve been doing activities all day to work up an appetite! Fresh fish and seafood are never off the menu, along with delicious vegetables and salads, plus the best arroz de coco I’ve ever eaten. At breakfast they even have a ‘frying station’ where they can whip you up fresh arepas and empanadas before you can say ‘how much to extend my stay?’.
The boat trips to nearby islands were another pleasant surprise. On the first night, once the sun had set and the sky had darkened, we were whisked away to Tintipan to swim among it’s coastal mangroves with thousands of bio-luminescent plankton. These tiny creatures light up as you move your body around in the water, creating an incredible natural light-show. We were very lucky as this phenomenon requires an especially specific set of conditions (no moon, a dark night, clear skies) to be enjoyed. The next day, we were taken over to Santa Cruz del Islote, a tiny artificial fisherman’s village which has the distinction of being the world’s most densely populated island, with nearly 1,200 residents in approximately 0.012km2. It’s a fascinating and unique place and worthy of its own blog post, so keep an eye out for that next week.
Back at Mucura there was still snorkelling and diving to be done. Punta Faro has its own dive centre, and several nearby dive sites to explore. Beginners can enjoy a mini-course and a fun dive, but our group, all certified, took a dive at a site known as ‘Stanford’ (it’s a long story). Whilst the diving isn’t the world’s best, we saw a good variety of fish and, above all, an amazing selection of corals, and our instructor Daniel was the best I’ve ever had. The snorkelling was possibly the highlight of the trip: after a 20 minute boat journey (during which we were lucky enough to see dolphins) we anchored up in the open sea and snorkelled surrounded by thousands of fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, and unbelievable coral scenery as well. I was lucky enough to see a manta ray, and the sheer variety of fish present was staggering. I’ve never snorkelled in a better place!
Isla Mucura is a great place to visit for an experience of the Colombian Caribbean, and Punta Faro was the perfect hotel to enjoy it all from. I couldn’t recommend a visit highly enough. As you enter the hotel from the dock there is a sigh proclaiming it the ‘Fin de Afan’ (roughly translated as the end of effort), and they couldn’t be more right: Mucura is the perfect place to get away from stress and tension and relax. Although actually, thinking about it, it took a fairly big effort for me to drag that damn kayak around the entire island!