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Cartagena, COLOMBIA

Offshore island cruising from Cartagena, the Caribbean port that attracts the most tourists of any city in Colombia

Freedom of the open sea around a fortress townCartagena, COLOMBIA

Colombia is a country with coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The city of Cartagena on the Caribbean attracts the most tourists of any city in Colombia. There are several marinas in the harbor full of motor cruisers and sailboats that add an attractive highlight to the modern cityscape. In contrast to the modern city, many of the resorts scattered along the peninsula retain an almost rustic simplicity and make this area a perfect destination for a two or three day cruising trip. We left the marina in Cartegena in a convoy of three boats and two personal watercraft and headed out to the islands of the southwest Caribbean Sea.

The port town that became the setting for the popular pirate movie series

When many people think of Colombia certainly its famous coffee comes to mind. At one time, the country's great football hero Carlos Valderrama also made Colombia's team famous at the World Cup. But, for people outside the Americas, Colombia probably isn't well known yet as a tourist destination. In fact, however, the old fortress and older sections of the town in Cartagena are registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites and make an excellent asset for expanding the tourist industry in the future.

As many people have learned from its use as the setting for the popular movie series Pirates of the Caribbean. The fortified port of Cartagena was an important port funneling trade in treasures from throughout South America during the Spanish colonial period of the 17th and 18th centuries, and thus became a target for Caribbean pirates. That is what made the impenetrable fortress necessary.

Of course, today the fortress is maintained only as a historic monument and there is none of the closed, atmosphere of the former town. Just the opposite; everywhere around the town you will see the bright smiles and cheerful nature of its people. On the night before starting our cruise, a walk through the old section of town revealed attractive open cafes and restaurants lining the streets with the sounds of traditional Cumbia, Vallenato and Salsa music pouring from them. This atmosphere heightened our expectations for the next day's cruise.

The old section of Cartagena is a World Heritage site
Heading to offshore islands from Cartagena, conersation flows

Relaxing at an offshore island resort

Setting out to sea from a suburban marina in our boats and PWCs, the first thing to greet our eyes is the ruins of the offshore fortress and a large passenger ship heading into Cartagena harbor. The sight of the fortress reminds us again that these waters of the Caribbean were once a hideout for pirates and the port a haven for many trader ships plying the sea routes.

The sea here shows many faces to delight cruising fans. Entering a lagoon surrounded by islands we land our boats on a sand beach. As we enjoyed wakeboarding and PWC riding, a boat with the appearance of a fishing boat approached.

The apparent fisherman opened a basket on his deck and pulled out a live lobster. We paid for it and he went off to the nearby beach to prepare it for us. He was back in no time with the well boiled, succulent lobster that made a veritable feast out of what would otherwise have been our humble sandwich lunch. What a wonderful system it was to cater to tourists with such delicious fare.

After getting our fill of marine sports on the water, we boated on to the resort where we were to stay for the night. By the time we had docked our boats in the visitor berths the sun was still high in the afternoon sky. Should we take a nap and rest up for tomorrow, or should we head over to the bar and get acquainted with some nice local drink? One of the women who had been shouting with delight as she raced the PWC around the lagoon earlier has already found herself a comfortable hammock in the shade of a tree to monopolize. There is still plenty of time before we set out to sea again tomorrow morning. And we know the sea will always be there waiting for us.

The waters offshore from Cartagena and its southern peninsula are scattered with resort islands
As we enjoyed ourselves on the boat a fisherman came by to sell live lobsters and boil them to order on the spot
Time for some slow life in a hammock
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