Cartagena’s main city beach, Bocagrande is not exactly Caribbean like with blue-green waters and white sand…it’s more dark brown sand, dark green watered. While in the Caribbean it’s a city beach that calling it Miami like is a bit much. Even the locals complain about the vendors who go up and down the beach plying food, beverages, trinkets and massages…though I found if you ignored them or politely said “no gracias” they went on their way. I found that I enjoyed it best walking around…asking girls if they could watch my stuff…engaging in some broken Spanish/English conversation…taking a dip in the water to beat the heat…then off to another section of the beach and repeat.
Bocagrande really needs development and not just all the new hotels and stores, but some Green initiatives to clean it up a bit. If the “powers that be” get it right this could be like beaches in Barcelona, Spain or Long Island, NY. I did find some good spots for lunch and a great place for beers. Here’s a few spots to keep you busy when you need to get out of the sun…
Bogota Beer Company
To the best of my knowledge this is the only Craft Brewery in Colombia. They are opening up locations around the county with a new one at the NAO Complex in Cartagena right across the street from playa Bocagrande . They have an outside wrap around patio, but my first time there I needed to get out of the heat so I popped inside where It looks English Pub like. They had five of their beers on tap and they were great. Aside from their versions of Black and Tan’s they had Mulato’s which combined their Porter and their Red and a Half and Half that mixed a Pilsner with Red. On my second trip here I did sit outside and when a breeze kicks up it’s a great spot to sit and enjoy a cold one. Best part, this place has a Happy Hour that starts at noon and goes to 5pm! That’s right a day long Happy Hour:)
San Marino Restaurante/Sports Bar
I choose this place because it was in a great location right across from the beach (in the Hotel Capilla Del Mar) and looked like a cool modern beach bar with surf boards hanging from the ceiling. The fact that their was a cool breeze blowing in my window seat with a great view of the beach made me feel I made the right choice before I even tasted the food. I was expecting Sports Bar quality like food food and was very pleasantly surprised when I received an awesome whole fried fish with delicious coconut rice. I washed it down with a Cherry Lemonade. It looks like it would be a cool place at night as well…
I was starving after bouncing around the playa and streets of Bocagrande and needed some nourishment. Thus far, I had been eating seafood for every meal with the exception of breakfast and I needed something different. While walking around I found myself across from Beirut…I figured since Shakira is of Lebanese decent and I believe there is a decent sized population from there here…it was just the something different I needed. Service was great and very friendly and after discussing the menu with my waiter I ordered up the Mixed plate…grande(go big…or go home:). It was comprised of Hummus,Tabbouleh salad, meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves, rice with chicken & almonds, marinated, Chicken and Beef kabobs, Fried beef(that kinda looked like a Scotch Egg and , Beef with rice in cabbage. The food was delicious and just what I was looking for.