Except for diving enthusiasts, Isla Fuerte is little known to travelers. A few holiday homes are scattered around the island, and a gathering of small houses around a wooden pontoon gave birth to the village of Puerto Limon.
Isla Fuerte is only 20 minutes from the coast, yet it seems isolated from the world. There, fresh water is a rare commodity, power cuts are regular, and the fastest vehicle is not a Citröen 2CV, but a donkey and its cart.
For me, Isla Fuerte is the ideal Colombian place to visit for a curious and laid-back traveler.
Isla Fuerte: What you must know
How to get there: Take a 20-minute boat ride from Paso Nuevo.
Why go there: To rest on a non-touristic island and organize some diving excursions.
Weather: It is hot. Expect brief downpours in May, Sept, Oct, and Nov. The sea is rough from Dec to April. The best months for diving are from May to November.
Security: It is safe to visit Isla Fuerte.
Our favorite accommodation:
How many days: 3-4 days
Our best advice:
- There’s no ATM.
- There’s always something unexpected on an island in the Caribbean. You have to be able to accept them.
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How do you get to Isla Fuerte, Colombia?
Isla Fuerte is away from the tourist places and you will have to make a detour to get there.
1 # Take the boat from Paso Nuevo to Isla Fuerte
You have to get to Paso Nuevo first. From there, you won’t have any trouble finding a fisher to take you there with his boat. Don’t hesitate to bargain and put up a good fight with the competition. The average trip costs 40 – 50,000 COP for two people and takes about 20 minutes.
Be careful, there’s no boat after 5:00. pm.
Now you’re thinking, how do we get to Paso Nuevo?
2# Take a cab from Lorica to Paso Nuevo
Lorica is not far from Paso Nuevo. You can take:
- A taxi | 45 min | $
- A moto-taxi | 45 min | $
- A collectivo (small bus) | 1 h | $
The town of Lorica has its little charm, especially its public market on the waterfront. Take a look around if you’re not too crowded with suitcases.
But how do we get to Lorica?
3# Two options to get to Lorica
If you come from Capurgana, Medellín, or Bogotá, you will have to get to Monteria first. On the other hand, if you come from Cartagena, there is a direct bus connection.
From Monteria to Lorica (+)
In Monteria, there is an airport with direct flights from Medellín and Bogotá.
You can make it even easier by taking a night bus from Medellín with the company Rapido Ochoa.
As for Capurgana, take a van from Necocli.
Once you arrive in Monteria, take one of the Sotracor buses.| 1 h | $
From Cartagena to Lorica (+)
Just take a bus with the Expreso Brasilia Company | 4 hours | $
Where to stay on Isla Fuerte?
There are a few simple and inexpensive hotels in the village. This is an economical solution if you are traveling to Colombia on a tight budget.
Go directly to the hotel and try to negotiate the price there. Some offer full board for less than 100,000 COP/pers (3 meals + accommodation).
If you would like a little more comfort, we have different lodgings to offer you.
Hotel prices on Isla Fuerte are higher than on land (and less luxurious). You pay for the setting.
$$ – Hostel La Playita – Social & music
La Playita is a hostel opened by a group of friends who love surfing and the beach. They are the same owners as Casa en El Agua, in the San Bernardo archipelago. The property extends over a large area and even has its own small private beach. With its beach volleyball court, music in the background, and its bar open to the sea, it is a perfect little spot to socialize with other travelers. The wooden huts are very simple, but they are part of the charm of the place. There are some VIP rooms with “real” walls and a private shower for those who want a little more comfort. Otherwise, it is the shower with buckets of water. The atmosphere is rather peaceful, and you will sometimes have to be patient with the service. Hostel La Playita offers many activities, and the restaurant prices are not excessive.
$$$ – Eco Lodge Isla Fuerte – Dive Center
If you want a place with more comfort and quietness than La Playita, then book a room in Ecolodge Isla Fuerte. The private rooms are quite simple; however, there is better customer service. The Ecolodge has its own diving center and will gladly organize your transportation from Lorica. From your arrival by boat, you can see the property stretching along the coast. The garden is particularly well maintained, with hammocks and deckchairs arranged in the shade of the trees. It is an ideal place to alternate invigorating baths, readings, and naps. However, you will have to walk for 5 minutes to reach the nearest beach. This will allow you to digest the tasty dishes that come out of the kitchen.
$$$ – Eco House Isla Fuerte – Romantic
Sometimes, you just want to rest in a beautiful location while swinging around in your hammock. Eco House Isla Fuerte is the most peaceful and pleasant establishment you can find on the island. The cabin rooms are tastefully decorated, and the stone bathrooms will seduce many. These blend in perfectly with the trees on the property. Along the sea, well-laid out paths lead to the various cozy corners. Hammocks, sun loungers, sofas, cushions, and nets over the water, you have many options to choose where to digest the chef’s delicious dishes. He is an artist in the kitchen. The staff is at your service and will gladly organize the activities of your choice.
What to do on Isla Fuerte?
It’s nice to be on an island, but it can be boring. Fortunately, there are some cool things to do in Isla Fuerte. They are more exciting than burning all day long on the beach.
Each of the hotels listed in the previous section offers different tours for its guests. Check with your hotel for more information.
1# Find yourself a quiet little beach
Even if your hotel has its own private beach, that doesn’t stop you from exploring others.
The most beautiful beach is Playa San Diego. Located 15 minutes walk from the village, it is an ideal place to sip a fresh “agua de Coco” while watching the sunset.
And, if you want even more peace and quiet, the small beach La Cebolla will delight you. It is 5 minutes from the Eco House Hotel Isla Fuerte.
2# Stroll on Isla Fuerte
The vast majority of the island’s land is privatized and protected by fences. They distort the landscape a bit, but they allow people like you and me not to wander around anywhere. We can’t blame them :).
Many trails crisscross the island. It’s quite confusing for those who don’t have a sense of direction (I plead guilty!). Don’t hesitate to ask for directions.
If you don’t get lost, you should find:
- Captain Morgan’s little cave.
- Beautiful trees like a Ceiba and El Arbol Que Camina (the walking tree).
- Sloths playing hide-and-seek.
This activity is proposed by the 3 hotels.
3# Snorkel in Punta Ingles
Are you ready to hold your breath and swim behind colored fish?
Punta Ingles is an area in the north of the island with beautiful corals and abundant underwater life. There are also other spots, such as Rosa Vieja, Los Venados, and el Naufragio.
The trips last an average of 1 hour.
Every hotel has its favorite place.
4# Move on the water like Jesus
Well, unlike Jesus, you’re gonna have to cheat a little bit. The various hotels provide kayaks and paddle boards for travelers to explore the outskirts of Isla Fuerte.
These rentals are usually not included in the price of the night and cost about 25 – 35,000 COP/hr.
5# Surf the wave like Brice (or not)
This is the specialty of La Playita Hostel, and I think you can contact them even if you don’t stay there.
Their surf spot is in Punta Ingles. Beautiful waves form from November to April. They are not easy to catch, and there is only very shallow water. Beginners should refrain! It would be a pity to get injured or damage the coral. Besides, there is no hospital in Isla Fuerte. Everything is taken care of with a machete (joke) (kind of).
In any case, check with La Playita and follow their recommendations.
6# Explore the ocean floor
There are some very interesting diving areas 1 hour from the island by boat.
- Bushnell is a very well-preserved reef 3 km in surface area.
- Burbujas is an underwater lava volcano.
- El Planchon is a 30-meter-long wreck where sharks live!
On Isla Fuerte, the cost of diving is higher because the sites are quite far from the island. Count about 350 000 COP for 2 dives.
The dive center that belongs to Eco-lodge Isla Fuerte has a good reputation. You can contact them on their website.
Hostel La Playita also offers this service.
Visibility is best when the sea is calm, so from May to November.
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