Casa en el Agua is the greatest spot to visit that you’ve never heard of. The eco-hostel is located about two hours from Cartagena by boat in the San Bernardo islands. This remote location is populated by a few tiny islands. I heard about this from a friend who heard about it from a friend made in another hostel. I’ve never seen it in a guide book and it seems to be a fairly well kept secret in the backpacker world – do don’t tell anyone about Casa en el Agua!
The Casa en el Agua is literally a house on the water. There are no beaches or ground to stroll around on. The hostel has two floors, the lower of which is just above sea level. You can step off the lower level into the water, where it is shallow enough to walk around (perhaps with a drink in hand) or swim. For the more adventurous you can also jump off a spot on the second floor directly into the ocean, which an extremely effective way to wake yourself up in the morning.
While this was easily one of the most interesting and fun places I’ve stayed, beware what you’re getting into. If you’re not into roughing it at least a little you’re not going to enjoy yourself. The eco-hostel is literally a house that is an island and therefore electricity and water are scarce. There is no running water. The shower is effectively a bucket that pours on you and the toilets are … interesting. That being said, the Casa en el Agua is kept clean and tidy and the linens and accommodation were quite nice.
There is a single room that has multiple hammocks within it. There are also hammocks scattered along the walk way around the upper floor of the building. These may be less ideal since people do have to walk by you while you’re sleeping. Even if you opt for the private room (which we did) you’re probably going to sleep with the door wide open to take advantage of the incredible breeze coming off the ocean. Hopping off the aforementioned spot on the second floor and directly into the ocean is the optimal way to wake yourself up while visiting Casa en el Agua.
- Hammock – 70 .000 COP / night ($24)
- 8 Bed dorm – 80.000 COP / night
- Private room, 2 beds – 200.000-380.000 / night (up to 4 people)
- Private room, single bed – 180.000 or 200.000 / night
Eating at Casa en el Agua
While you can bring food with you to Casa en el Agua there is no access to the kitchen or refrigeration for your goods so don’t bring anything perishable or that has to be cooked. Breakfast is included with your stay and is fairly standard fare for the region (definitely not a boring continental breakfast of old meats and stale bread).
- EXTRA BREAKFAST: $15.000
- LUNCH & DINNER: $35.000 Typically a mix of whatever the local fishermen have caught with rice, vegatebles and a soup.
(Vegetarian option is $20.000)
- LOBSTER: $80.000 / pound – it is well worth it and was incredible!
- CEVICHE: 45.000 – Lobster, octopus, fish – I kicked myself for not ordering this for lunch after seeing it served, so beware of food envy if opt-out
- CEVICHE MIX – $50.000
Drinking at Casa en el Agua
BYOB is discouraged but not strictly prohibited at Casa en la Agua. For being an isolated spot where they could technically charge whatever they want, the prices for drinks are fairly reasonable. And there TWO HAPPY HOURS. The mixed drinks and daiquiris were met with rave reviews and everything is buy one get one free during happy hour so take advantage!
- COCKTAILS: $28.000 – Coco loco, Pina Colada, etc.
- MIXES: $20.000 – Gin tonic, Vodka ginger, etc.
- CUBA LIBRE: $12.000 – Rum and Coke
- CLUB COLOMBIA: $7.000 – beer
- AGUILA: $6.000 – beer
Getting to Casa en el Agua
The easiest way is taking the boat from Cartagena (1 boat per day) which departs Cartagena at 9AM from Marina Todomar in Bocagrande. The marina is about a $3 cab ride from the old city or a 15 minute walk. The ride about 2 hours and, depending on how many people are aboard may be a bit tight but it is well worth it. The price is $100.000 COP each way ($34) which is a bit pricey but worth it. You’ll have to pay for your ride back once you’re at the hostel (in cash).
Activities at Casa en el Agua
You can opt to head to the beach for the day ($25.000), go snorkeling ($10.000), tour Islote which is the world’s most densely populated island and is located right next to Casa en la Agua ($10.000), scuba diving ($240.000 per dive) and more. See all activities
Important to know before you go to Casa en el Agua
Cash. They only accept cash for lunch / dinner / drinks and your return boat ride.
Sunscreen. You’re on an island. In the middle of the ocean. Just bring it.
Earplugs. If you’re a light sleeper or you think you’re going to head to bed on the early side you may want earplugs as this is a very small house/island and the noise carries.
Booking your trip!
Casa en el Agua only takes reservations 30 days in advance so be sure to set an alert on your calendar a month before you’re ready to head to the island. You will pay a deposit (via PayPal) before you go, in USD, and pay the remainder in COP once you arrive at the island.
Book your trip