Finca Barlovento: The house on top of the rock
Along with beautiful historic towns, vibrant cities and a lush coffee region, Colombia also has a stunning Caribbean coastline.
For us, its finest point is not the ever-popular colonial-gem of Cartagena or the rugged beaches of Palomino.
Instead, we fell in love with a house on top of a rock located in a little spot called Los Naranjos, where the Río Piedras meets the sea.
In 1976, owner and artist Gloria Mejía commissioned architect Simón Velez to bring her design of a unique family retreat to life.
Forty years later, atop a rock that juts out by the ocean, we enter the Barlovento Cabin also known as the Cabaña, a thatched-roof cottage that has stood strong against the salty winds and thundering waves.
Nowadays, follow the tree-lined path from the road to Riohacha and you will find not just the Cabaña but the Maloka. Offering large rooms with queen-sized beds, a/c and private bathrooms, the building blends harmoniously into the hillside and is an unassuming addition to this already idyllic retreat.
Our room on top of the rock
Wooden stairs lead from an airy dining area, past a modest shared bathroom, to our cosy room. The bed sits above the floor, on a protruding platform that makes you feel as though you are suspended above the water.
We spend little time in our room, preferring to explore the grounds, the surrounding beaches and jungle. But when we settle into our bed at night, watching fireflies pass by our mosquito net and listening to the sound of waves crashing below, we sleep soundly under the light of the moon.
The space: swinging hammocks and splendid views
With hammocks on the veranda above the sea and deckchairs facing the peaceful river, there's no shortage of places to curl up with a good book or listen to a playlist of relaxing music.
Maloka is home to an inviting common area, complete with sofas and a sizeable book exchange, and there's a soft, grassy area nearby Cabaña and the Sierra Bar which makes a lovely place to relax.
For those seeking sand between their toes, there are two beaches a short walk away, although one involves crossing the estuary and currents can be strong.
Food & drink: local produce and jungle cocktails
Lonely Planet hails Finca Barlovento's food as 'simply sensational', and we have to agree. Communal breakfast and dinners serve Colombian classics such as arepas con huevos revueltos and river fish cooked in local spices. Colombia's huge variety of tropical fruit is used to make juices, and fresh vegetables are turned into well-seasoned salads and delicious side dishes.
Self-service filtered water is available at all times and each accommodation hosts an honesty bar, stocked with Coca-Cola, beer and wine. We ordered quesadillas from Maloka every day for lunch, which were delicious.
And if you fancy something more exotic, head down to the warmly-lit Sierra Bar from 4.30pm and you can indulge in a Margarita, or their Jungle Bird cocktail: a sweet, pink concoction that is nothing less than blissful.
How to spend your 'tiempo libre'
Ocean lovers can surf the turbulent waves (provided you've found somewhere to hire a board!), beach bums can laze on the pristine beach and wildlife enthusiasts can look out for iguanas, caiman and howler monkeys in the nearby river and jungle.
The Finca also offers massages on request; let one of the helpful staff know and they can organise it for you.
Tayrona National Park is just a short drive away, and heading to the main road will ensure that you can catch one of the frequent buses there (for around $2000COP).
If you're coming here from Santa Marta, take a bus from the Terminal (circa $15,000COP / $5USD) or from the intersection of Calle 11 and Carrera 11 (circa $10,000COP / $3.25USD) to Palomino and asked to be dropped at the Finca, which is a couple of minutes past El Zaino, the main entrance to Tayrona. It's worth saving the directions or location offline on Google Maps or Maps Me, so you know when you're getting close. You will see signs to the Finca on your left-hand side as you start to curve to the right, and it's around a five-minute walk from here.
If you're coming in any other direction, flag down one of the buses heading towards Tayrona and ask to be dropped at the same spot.
MarSol is a company that offers a door-to-door service from Cartagena for $67,000COP / $23USD per person, which saves taxis to the bus terminal and possibly changing at Santa Marta.
amenities & Things to note
- Book exchange and massage facilities are available (the latter on request)
- There is no hot water (which we highly doubt you would want given the warm weather)
- Wifi can be sporadic, so use this time to take a detox from the digital world
- Staff depart the accommodation at 7.30pm, so discuss before booking should you need out-of-hours assistance
- There aren't many other dining options nearby; let the Finca know of any dietary requirements before you arrive and be prepared to enjoy their delicious home cooking!
Rooms start from $150 per night for two people, including breakfast and dinner. Visit Finca Barlovento's website for more information and to make your booking. You can also email Natalie and the Finca Barlovento team directly.
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Across Land & Sea received a discounted stay at Finca Barlovento. All opinions, photographs and typos are our own.