Corona Beer’s Caribbean eco resort is a place you’ll want to linger

This new sustainable island resort might be called Corona, but we’re convinced it’s an isolation you won’t want to leave.

I am lounging in a cabana on a private island in the Caribbean Sea, Corona in hand. The sky begins to bruise and I head to my bungalow to watch the sun set from my hot tub before rinsing off in the bamboo-encircled outdoor shower.

Corona has always been the beer to drink when you’re on a beach holiday, particularly in this part of the world. And now the beverage company has cemented its position as a tropical staple by opening Corona Island, a dreamy resort on a drop of land off the coast of the Colombian city of Cartagena

The coral islet is a dedicated national park. We discover baby turtles waiting to make the sandy trek to the ocean. And mischievous tamarin monkeys swinging through the trees.

Birds are everywhere we turn, with toucans, macaws and parrots regularly joining us for breakfast in the resort’s open-air restaurant.

Given the natural bounty, the property’s 10 bungalows, scattered across the western ridge of the island, were designed to blend in with their surrounds. Walking along the white-sand pathways, we are greeted by a sea-blue door.

Inside, design and décor also nods to the land and the ocean: woven lattice walls, hardwood frames and pine beams propping up a high thatched roof. Linen mosquito nets drift in the breeze. Large glass doors frame the water and mangroves that lie just beyond. No points for guessing what’s stocked in the minibar.

Sustainability on Corona Island

Corona didn’t want this to be just another island resort – the company wanted it to be fully sustainable. During planning and the build, it partnered with not-for-profit organisation Oceanic Global to realise its green credentials – and was awarded the highest three-star Blue Standard. Single-use plastics are banned, not a single tree was cut down during construction and the island is largely powered by solar energy – up to 100 per cent on those perfect not-a-cloud-in-the-sky days. Which there are a lot of.

I learn that Corona as a whole has lofty environmental goals, and as a company produces net-zero plastic. It has removed all unnecessary plastic in its production lines and where it has been impossible to eliminate, it has pledged to remove more plastic from the oceans than it creates.

Disconnect to reconnect

On my first full day at Corona Island, I arise to a yoga and meditation class, swim in the turquoise ocean, play volleyball then head to the Sun Club to read my book, suspended in a net day-bed while listening to the waves lap at the shore.

During the day, this nook is a place to chill out on oversized cushions and swings. By night, guests congregate for cocktails and DJ sets.

The sun club is a vibe day and night

Hammocks in the Chill Zone are the perfect place to listen to the cacophony of birdsong and watch peacocks strutting past. At dusk I climb the stairs to a treehouse bar, The Nest, to watch the moon and stars appear through a huge telescope.

Gaze over the canopy at The Nest

A moment in nature

When the island starts to feel small, immersive nature-based excursions focused on sustainability come to the rescue. Anthropologist Lavinia Fiori is working with Corona Island to educate guests about the marine ecosystems in the Rosario Islands archipelago it’s a part of.

One excursion takes us paddling through narrow channels of water with a cathedral of mangroves all around. Colombian mangroves have many thin branches that plunge into the depths of the water and create a landscape straight from the set of Stranger Things.

We navigate our canoes to a beach where stronger ocean currents caused by climate change are killing the mangroves, which are essential to keeping coastal ecosystems healthy. Under Lavinia’s guidance, we plant new mangroves that will be fully grown within four years.

Another day we go snorkelling. Spotting majestic yellowtail damselfish, their blue bodies have iridescent spots offset by a signature yellow tail. Unfortunately, they are among the few brightly coloured things here because the reef has succumbed to coral bleaching in recent years. Lavinia still has hope and points us toward a coral nursery that is part of the Americas’ largest ocean reef restoration project.

Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish © Shutterstock

Island Dining

All meals on the island are carefully curated by chef Christopher Carpentier. Locally sourced produce creates dishes that hero South American traditions. Think pargo frito, a whole red snapper with coconut rice, fried plantain and salad. Or ceviche using ocean-fresh fish, with a soy and sesame dressing so good I request seconds.

Chef Christopher Carpentier preparing freshly caught seafood

While the island is petite, it provides guests with variety when it comes to dining. At the Sun Club, an enormous paella pan bubbles away with lobster, octopus, fish and mussels. We sit on cushions at long tables shaded by trees in the Chill Zone for a lunch of chilled gazpacho soup followed by grilled fish.

If you happen to get thirsty and the bar isn’t within an arm’s reach, you’ll find fridges scattered around the island stocked with Corona’s, seltzers and water. Because when on Corona Island…

Staying on Corona Island

Corona Island is open for bookings from mid-2023.