- I visited Cartagena and stayed two nights on an island
off the coast at
Blue Apple Beach House. Most people come for the day, but
staying the night offers an authentic taste of Cartagena ‘s vibrant
culture and spirit.
- Blue Apple is an eco-friendly boutique hotel with just
10 rooms built using repurposed materials. They bolster the economy
by hiring and supporting local talent and artists.
- I splurged for a stand alone bungalow villa for $225 a
night. There are five of them, and five smaller, less expensive
rooms in the main house.
I often daydream about what it would be like to purge my
belongings and trade the big city for a sun soaked simpler life on
a deserted island, sipping coconuts under a thatched hut as a warm
breeze laps my face.
But truthfully, I’m just not that rough and tumble.
I still aim for a certain sense of luxury, and the closest I’ve
come to marrying those ideals was spending two nights at Blue Apple Beach House.
Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, it’s a 30 minute speedboat
ride from the beating pulse of Cartagena’s walled city.
A laid-back retreat, it’s where easy-going locals and
in-the-know visitors mingle by cerulean-hued infinity pools. A DJ
spins tunes, and the kitchen churns out innovative food and
With white sand beaches and swaying palms, Blue Apple makes for
a popular day trip, and many don’t consider devoting nights to
staying offshore. Doing so would be a mistake.
Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by Blue Apple Beach
Blue Apple proudly claims it is neither resort, nor hostel.
Rather, an immersive destination that’s both luxurious and
sustainable. The hotel is located near Bocachica on Tierra Bomba, a
largely undeveloped area with high unemployment, limited access to
education, unpaved roads and scarce running water or electricity.
Blue Apple works hard to be respectful of such surroundings.
While you won’t see any of that when your boat pulls in, it’s
enough to warrant a strong dose of traveler’s guilt. Indulging in a
massage and ordering another mimosa while surrounded by poverty can
Blue Apple counters that by creating an experience that supports
the local economy. Most Blue Apple employees are area residents,
and the hotel subsidizes their English lessons. Only locals are
hired to lead activities like snorkeling, dirt bike tours, or
Of course, the walled city of Cartagena shouldn’t be missed, and
is home to unparalleled food and culture. And while I savored the
fiercely fresh ceviche and streets teeming with art and history, I
was turned off by squares overrun by tourists, and vendors
aggressively hawking tours, t-shirts, and sunglasses. Going out to
dinner, I felt surrounded by more North Americans than South.
Retreating to Blue Apple was a welcome respite.
What it’s like to stay overnight
With just 10 rooms, Blue Apple became impossibly intimate when
daytime revelers left on the last boat around 5pm.
There are standalone bungalows with private plunge pools (my
pick), or rooms in a main house with terraces. The private pool
came in handy when day trippers got a bit rowdy.
Rooms range from $125-$300 a night depending on your choice and
season. My rate of $225 ($265 with tax) was more than I typically
pay for a hotel, though it’s worth noting my hotel for the rest of
the week in downtown Cartagena — the lovely
Hyatt Regency — was paid for entirely by
Chase Sapphire Reserve card points, so splurging for a villa
was something I was able to afford.
Villas are simple but stylish, with custom linens, handwoven
hammocks, and outdoor bathrooms.
But these are no outhouses. Most bathrooms include an outdoor
rain shower made from smooth neutral wood and stone under a
thatched awning. The newest villa features a deep soaking tub made
from recycled bottles.
During my stay, I did share an outdoor shower with a friendly
lizard, who was quite polite about the whole thing.
All rooms have WiFi, air conditioning, a balcony or terrace,
minibar, cable TV, and breakfast included, as well as
transportation from Cartagena for two people. If you visit for the
day, the transfer will not be included.
Artwork was abundant, produced by local artisans and Blue
Apple’s own artist-in-residence program. Previous participants
contributed murals, films, photography, essays, as well as social
media content and yoga instruction.
One of the best parts of bunking were the VIP perks. I was
greeted with fresh-squeezed mango juice, and reserved my sunbed of
choice every day. One day I took a cabana by the beach, the next, a
plush central pool lounger. Each had a placard bearing my name, and
I slept in knowing there would be no race to secure it. If you know
what you’d like on the day you arrive, ask for it ahead of time. I
came on a later boat, and by that time the best options were
Like decor, all food was sourced sustainably. Tasty too, which
was a good thing considering the island is not well prepared for
tourists. Blue Apple is meant to be a place to relax and
disconnect. There’s no village to explore, or local restaurants to
try. As such, expect to take all meals and drinks onsite. Prices
are reasonable, but pool drinks add up, and you won’t realize it
until check out.
I ate fresh sandwiches for lunch and just-caught fish with
delicious coconut rice and beans for dinner. Cocktails served in
coconuts with plenty of Colombian rum were at the ready, but
standouts were more original, like a concoction of fresh
watermelon, ginger and vodka.
I indulged in a massage, and truthfully, it was not worth it.
While I was happy to put my dollars towards supporting locals, the
massage felt more like a light coating of moisturizer. I would skip
it next time.
At night, everyone gathered on the beach as the skies revealed
the greatest show I’ve ever witnessed.
In the two nights I stayed there, I bonded with servers who did
so much more than just help me secure a coveted daybed. They told
me about their lives and we sang along to music together. When it
was time to leave, I felt compelled to say goodbye and thank you to
each staff member. I’ve never had that feeling at any other
Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
I traveled to Cartagena and the best part of the trip had nothing to do with the popular ancient walled city