“Most beautiful Caribbean paradise near Cartagena - relaxing, secluded location with excellent service and amenities”
I thoroughly researched options for resorts in Islas del Rosarios y San Bernardos - the archipelago of protected marine parks closest to Cartagena, Colombia. In the end, I was so happy I went with Punta Faro. Even though it is a bit more expensive than other options, it is DEFINITELY worth it.
I actually visited my second choice option (San Pedro de Majagua) and really felt there was no comparison.
First: THE BEACH
Punto Faro has a lovely white sand beach with crystal clear, turquoise water. It is barricaded from any rough water by two jeddys. There are some bamboo lounge chairs and bed huts tastefully fringing the beach; they have white pads that are comfy and cleaned nightly. There's also a number of gazebos, hammocks and shade structures - including three bamboo hammocks in the water. The beach bar is closeby - they are always ready to help you (with fresh blended fruit drinks made to order) but leave you alone and don't bother you.
Most importantly, there are NO VENDORS like at Playa Blanca and the other resorts in the islands. I was shocked how San Pedro de Majagua let so many vendors pester you while you are just trying to chill on the beach.
Punta Faro is a small, 24-acre island that is the last in the archipelago (2 hours by boat from Cartagena), of which the hotel owns half the island. The rest of the island consists of mangroves, a small fishing village, and a lively local beach that attracts day trippers from nearby islands and the mainland, but it isn't really crowded.
The resort's grounds are well kept, with soft grass dotted with palm trees.
The vibe here is very relaxed and chill. Hammocks are everywhere and no pressures you to but or do anything. The hotel employs local staff and invests in the local communities. There are actually no keys or tipping and everyone is very trustworthy (there are safes in the room). Anything you need - just ask, everyone is ready to help.
The island is fairly green, they forbid any motorized watersports to protect the reef, they have very conscientious water management (seawater toilets, reverse osmosis of seawater for sinks and toilets, purification of drinking water), and are working on putting in solar. Many of the fruits and vegetables are grown in their back garden.
You can do nothing or stay well-entertained: scuba, snorkel, tennis, windsurfing, kayaking, mountain biking, lots of board games, even a jungle gym for the kids.
They give you a complementary nature walk around the island and boat tour of the surrounding islands. They also throw in a 1-hour free windsurfing lesson.
We did the snorkeling, it was $12 and they take you out for maybe an hour and a half. It's definitely worth doing.
I did not do the diving, however it was very cheap ($40!). To be honest, I was less than impressed with dive master... But if you're experienced and with a buddy- why not! (Note: I did dive with Planet Dive from Cartagena in the Islas de Rosarios and it was EXCELLENT.)
The resort is all inclusive, except for alcohol which was expensive for Colombia, but pretty reasonable. They have mini fridges, so we brought beer and wine with us; it wasn't a problem.
The food mediocre, but always fresh. Soup and salad with every meal, usually a seafood and either chicken or meat. I did get sick one day of the trip, possibly from the shrimp there but also possibly from something I ate in Cartagena.
The rooms are lovely, wood floors and walls, with A/C and modern bathrooms. There's no hot water, but you don't need it. The last night they upgraded us unexpectedly to a larger room on the water with its own private deck. It was awesome.
A special thanks to Sergio who took such good care of us! We hope to return soon.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.