The Most Unique Hostel You've Ever Seen: Casa en el Agua, Cartagena Colombia
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
While many hostels try to have their own gimmick, from rainbow-painted facades to bubble pool parties, to glow-in-the-dark dinners, this hostel has to be at the top of the list of coolest hostel ideas ever!
Casa en el Agua is its own island!
This brightly colored wood shack used to be a house, but it's now converted into an amazing eco-hostel about 2 hours out from Cartagena Colombia by boat.
My boyfriend and I had a blast with our one-night stay on this little oasis so I’d like to lay out everything we experienced at Casa en el Agua and all of the possibilities we didn't even have time to explore.
Getting to the Hostel
To get to this hostel from Cartagena you arrive at the boat docks for a 9am departure on a modestly sized boat. I honestly thought it would be a lot bigger, but apparently, in the Caribbean, they have very few waves as they're protected by the many surrounding islands. So you could practically take a rowboat a mile out to sea!
Once you hit the water it is a two-hour ride around countless islands and then out into what seems like the middle of nowhere. In the open ocean we were caught in a few small rainstorms on and off, but nothing too aggressive. Before reaching your destination, the boat will drop off a few other passengers at the surrounding islands, around 11am you will arrive at Casa en el Agua!
Tour of Casa en el Agua
When you arrive at the side of the hostel you will go straight to the front desk for orientation where they will describe exactly how this strange hostel works. (They have English and Spanish-speaking hosts, so not to worry if you're not bilingual, I'm certainly not).
Casa en el Agua is an eco-hostel, so they lack certain amenities such as refrigeration and running water. All of their vegetables are left out in bins, and their meat sources come straight from the ocean! With each meal consisting of either seafood or veggies as the main entre, they are able to keep fresh fish, lobster, crab, and octopus live under the deck you stand on to cook each day!
While the basic included meal is usually fish, you can upgrade your dinner to one of the fancier options of octopus, crab, or lobster for an extra fee. I ended up getting an entire 3lb lobster to myself! Totally worth it!
As I stated previously, this is an eco-friendly hostel, so they do not have any running water. They use vault toilets, meaning you do not flush, and a urinal that is strangely almost out in the open just facing the wall. You also get the option to shower between the times of 5-8pm when the buckets of freshwater arrive. This allows you to basically just rinse off the saltwater from the day, by grabbing a cup from the bucket and dumping cold water on yourself (honestly, it's very refreshing).
Upstairs is where you will find all of the guest rooms. While this hostel used to be almost only hammock rentals (that's right, just a hammock on a second-floor deck), they recently renovated to include more walled rooms to stay in.
The room we stayed in was incredible! Instead of windows the outer wall had a short railing, and was completely open to the outside! The room included a queen size bed, multiple electrical plugs, and a hammock to watch the sunset over the ocean.
While you can still rent out just a hammock, or a bed in the 8-bed dorm, either this room or the tower-like "castle" room were probably the best in the place.
Activities the Hostel Offers:
Obviously, this hostel is surrounded by water, so some of your best options for activities are water-related. They have a small "beach" area to one side of the hostel where you can stand in the water on sand protected from the coral and sea urchins that are nearby. You can also hang out on the nets that lay just over the water to relax and soak up some sun.
Don't forget to climb the ladder to the second floor and jump off the 15ft jump into the ocean! The first jump is a bit scary, but I ended up doing it about 10 more times, it was just so much fun.
If you're wanting to grab some drinks there is a bar on board. They have beer, cocktails, and even fresh fruit juice which they will blend on the spot for you! The bar also has a few snacks for purchase if you're hungry in between each designated mealtime (you pay for all of these extras once you leave so make sure to watch your tab).
For more exciting water activities you can grab a snorkel and goggles for free (highly suggested), but the other activities will cost you extra. The other activities include wakeboarding, paddleboarding, kayaking and a thing called a Subwing. Which I found out is a fin device you hold on to as you're being towed by a boat that allows you to be submerged as you move along the ocean floor. If we stayed longer I totally would've tried it, it looked like so much fun.
Your stay also includes one free tour of the nearby island of Islote. This island is said to be one of the most densely populated islands in the world! Since I came to this hostel to get away from the crowded city of Cartagena I was not super excited to go to an even more cluttered city moments after arriving, but my boyfriend convinced me, so we went.
While the island sees many tourists every day, I still felt almost uncomfortable coming in and taking pictures and looking at this community so close while they just live their lives in peace. It all seemed a bit strange to me. Honestly, if you have the chance to take a different tour I highly suggest it.