Playa Blanca is paradise. Except it’s a strange kind of paradise. Imagine a remote Caribbean retreat on an island miles from civilisation…Palm trees, white sand, clear skies, warm crystal waters, coconuts… Are you there yet? Well, Playa Blanca is basically the full whammy, but only 45 minutes away from buzzing city of Cartagena. Accessible by a cheap local bus and littered with neon painted hostels that cost less than $10 USD per night, the place is a slice of paradise only a stones throw away!
Expect only to dine on juicy marinated shrimp with coconut rice, do not expect Wi-Fi, and certainly don’t expect hot running water for your shower… You’ll be rationed half a bucket of rain water per day, per person, and no doubt won’t be feeling fresh using only that after a day of nothing but sea and sand! We’re taking it back to basics here. And that’s what’s so good about it. Good news for those more precious though! The beach basically has a lights out at 10pm rule due to limited electricity, so there’s no need to be worried about feeling fresh and looking your best for the nightlife!
1. Stay at Hugo’s Hostel. Everyone recommends walking to the right when you arrive at the beach and they couldn’t be more right! The place itself is run by a 16 year old boy with a tattooed eyebrow and a hat. He doesn’t speak a word of English but you can secure yourself a beachside hammock or cabana (NB. Cabanas look cute as, but they’re hot hot hot inside! We learnt this the hard way and spent the night wishing we were in a hammock feeling the sea breeze!) for cheap, especially if you haggle! It’s a must to get a photo of the sunset with the Hugo’s sign too… Perfection.
2. Learn how to say no or no gracias, with a firm tone. You won’t avoid being heckled for foot massages, oysters, crabs and by other beach vendors, and so unless you want to indulge, it’s best to say no and mean no, or you’ll spend your day being woken from your beach sleep and having an oyster pushed into your face!”NO GRACIAS!! I’m saving my money for a cocktail later!”
3. Watch the sunset with a cocktail. This one needs no explaination. Just do it.
4. Don’t forget to sun cream your face… This one has a learnt-the-hard-way story, but if you’re not travelling with your mum, the liklihood is that you’ll need reminding to apply, apply, apply. I don’t want to sound patronising but as a traveller you’ll be dying to look as bronzed as your 12 months travelling new hostel friends but just be careful. I’m writing this blog smothered in after sun and it’s so sticky!!
5. Go to Playa Blanca. It’s the cheapest piece of paradise you’ll find without flying to The Seychelles…
Frazzled from the beach, and ready for a dose of air-con and good old charge on the iPhone, we’ve made it back to civilisation in Cartagena! It’s chic, it’s hot, and we’re off to explore… Right before I let this after sun soak in!