Swimming in the Caribbean Sea yesterday was an incredible experience! The warm clear water was refreshing and healing. Wanted to stay longer on the small, beautiful island of Gente de Mar, one of 30 islands that are part of Archipelago De Las Islas Del Rosario. The beaches are more relaxing than the crowded ones in Cartagena.
The ecosystem of the Rosario Islands includes natural beach landscapes with crystal clear waters and coral formations. The coral reefs host a variety of sea fauna and flora, with an abundance of fish, corals, and plants. Of course the reefs are popular with snorkelers and divers. I did a bit of snorkeling but spent most of the day swimming and kayaking around the quiet island.
Our boat rides to and from Cartagena took a little over an hour each way. We were traveling into the wind on the way back, so the fast boat was out of the water much of the trip – fun but a little wet. The group included about 20 people – mostly Colombians. I had fun talking to a lively German woman from Hanover. She was visiting her daughter who lives in Bogota and was knowledgeable about the archipelago. There are a few local people living on the island and they work at the small unpretentious resort and sell their handicrafts. I bought a beautiful handmade necklace made of local black coral.
Our guides served a delicious traditional lunch in a cabana while we enjoyed a view of the sea and a gentle breeze. Traditional cuisine of the islands includes fresh fish with coconut rice, plantains, and salad. Everything served had delicate, lovely flavors.
The islands have an Oceanary where you can view sea life in their natural environment including sharks, sea turtles, cod, and dolphins. Our tour was on the quiet side and more focused on areas where there weren’t many people. Gente de Mar has interesting sculptures and art work – some with a humorous twist. A Polish sculptor created the statues of buxom women which appear along the beaches.
The Islands have a special government protection regulation as a natural park. Both public and private islands pay rent to the government. The Natural Park Corales Islas del Rosario has an area of about 5,000 sq. miles of water and ocean floor.
Feeling sad that my visit to Cartagena is coming to an end – tomorrow it’s on to Bogota. I’ll miss this special place. It took a week to learn my way around and become friends with some of the locals (people and pets) who live in Getsemani near the B&B where I’m staying. It’s definitely a place to visit again!