Our boat swept past the old Spanish forts guarding the entrance to Cartagena’s harbour, the sea breeze a welcome relief after weeks in the stultifying heat of the Caribbean coast. Out at sea the boat yawed and rolled wildly while Erin slept on my shoulder, zonked by the soporific effect of her travel sickness tablets.
The islands are formed by coral reefs and are now a National Park, home to iguanas, pelicans and other exotic species. A number of luxury hotels dotted the shoreline and after arriving at Hotel Majagua we settled in for a week of sun and relaxation.
Mornings were spent lounging on the beach, while in the evenings we had rum and cokes together before heading to dinner at the hotel restaurant. Here we were treated to dishes of pulpo (octopus – tasty and seriously good for you), as well as ceviche and other delicious seafood meals. The staff were friendly and attentive, providing cake and balloons for Ella’s birthday meal.
During our stay we tried paddle boarding, with varying degrees of success. Whilst Erin, Ella and Mum fairly quickly mastered the art and paddled serenely off in to the distance, Dad and I repeatedly got a bad case of the wobbles and flung ourselves off our boards and in to the sea. We also went snorkelling amongst the coral reefs, catching sight of great shoals of brightly coloured fish.
While on a boat tour of the main island, our guide pointed out the crumbling mansion of Pablo Escobar, its peeling whitewashed walls being slowly reclaimed by the jungle. A nearby buoy marked the resting place of one of his planes on the seabed; it is a popular spot for divers. Our guide’s family remember Pablo as a good neighbour whose wealth benefitted the island – an interesting perspective on one of the bloodiest drug barons in history!
We loved our time on the Rosario Islands, and by the time we left mum was joining the Colombian World Cup commentator’s hearty cries of “Goooooooaaaaaallllll” – far more exciting than listening to Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer. On Friday we boarded our boat and sailed back across the choppy Caribbean Sea to Cartagena.