Our second day on Isla Grande was without a doubt my favorite of our time in Colombia. We started the morning by eating breakfast at Majagua (there were two breakfast oprtions included with our stay), and then strolled over to the customer service desk to inquire about renting kayaks. Kayaks are typically rented by the day for what amounts to around 30 USD per vessel however, we were able to rent two tandems for two half-days at the same price. The resort’s dive instructor set us up with paddles and kayaks, and offered us life vests before letting us loose to paddle around in the perfect turquoise waters at our leisure.
It was already hot out by mid-morning, and I enjoyed hanging my feet over the edge of the kayak as we paddled around little islands, looking down at the coral reef below us. The water was calm and easy to maneuver and we eventually made our way back to the second snorkeling spot from the previous day. We took turns watching the boats, and exploring the reef with the snorkels and masks we had brought from home.
Once ashore, we had lunch and then met up with two of the island’s residents for another tour we had booked that morning. Our guides provided us each with a mountain bike, and we followed them off of the resort and onto a trail that led through the forest. The Isla Grande is small, so it wasn’t long before were at the little town where the island’s residents live. We parked our bikes, and our guides told us about the village in Spanish. They pointed out one building in particular, which they used as a discoteca. Then they led us further into the forest where we were to canoe through the mangrove trees. Before boarding our canoes, we climbed up a wooden lookout to get a view of where we were headed next, one of the island’s beautiful lagoons. Once we were settled into the canoes, the guides steered us through the tangled mangrove trails and out into the first lagoon. They began to point down into the water, but we could not translate what they were trying to show us until we we suddenly realized that we were looking at jellyfish tentacles. The tentacles belonged to upside down jellies, a species that I had previously only seen in aquariums. I was very excited and I stuck my camera underwater and grabbed a couple of (extremely terrible) photos. Jared, from Percussive Tours, snapped a shot when one of our guides plucked one out of the water. We asked if he was afraid of getting stung, and he explained that it was safe to hold the jellies with the palm of your hand because your palms have no pores for their venom to enter. We then paddled back into the mangrove maze and into another lagoon, where we had the opportunity to get out and swim where the lagoon met the ocean. After the refreshing dip, it was back in the canoes and out onto the sea. Eventually we landed at one of the other eco-hotels of the island, and our guides led us back to Majagua through a beautiful tropical forest where Acacias bloomed.
The island tour was one of the highlights of the vacation, but our day wasn’t over yet. We needed to investigate two more things that we had read about before our trip: The bioluminescent lagoon, and the rumored bird sanctuary. We went back to the customer service desk and found out that the lagoon was very close to the hotel. We were also told that the bird sanctuary, which we had read about on a few travel blogs has been closed down. Apparently all of the cages got so old that they just sort of fell apart, and that was the end of it. With that, we were satisfied to relax around the resort until nightfall when we planned to explore the lagoon.
While we waited for sunset at the beach, interesting looking crabs started to crawl out of their hiding places along the shore. The day had been so good already, and I was feeling positive, so I ran back to our suite with an inkling to test out my Canon to see if by some miracle it was operational. I flipped it on, and it actually worked! I was so excited I could barely contain myself, but I managed to switch to my zoom lens before dashing back to the beach to snap some shots of the crabs. Then we wandered around until nightfall, changed into our bathing suits, and headed for the lagoon.
I must admit, jumping from the dock into the pitch black water of the lagoon was unsettling to say the least, but once we were in the water (we brought the snorkels and masks to get a better view) the sight of the dinoflagellates lighting up wherever we disturbed the water was magical. I was so glad that I moved past my fear and jumped in to swim with the glowing little creatures. We stayed in the lagoon for a while because we were all fascinated and awed by the experience. The whole day was absolutely perfect, and I will remember it as one of the most outstanding experiences I’ve had while traveling.