Refreshing beer and a tropical beach paradise are a natural match, which is why Corona (the global brand, not the American one), has developed their own island in the Caribbean. Corona Island is set just off the coast of Colombia – less than an hour’s boat ride from Cartagena – and began welcoming guests this summer in preparation for being open to the public next year.
While the beer (and hard seltzer) is plentiful, Corona Island was not designed as a party destination. In fact, the concept is all natural, centered around zero-waste living and reconnecting with the natural world. “As a brand that’s so deeply connected with nature, we wanted to pay respect to and celebrate the natural environment that supplies our 100% natural ingredients,” said Felipe Ambra, Global Vice President for Corona, in a press release.
The brand’s affinity for protecting the natural environment extends beyond the creation of a minimally impactful island: Corona is actively engaged in reducing plastic waste, exceeding their mission to protect 100 islands before 2020, and in 2022, recovering more plastic than it released. They are also running a pilot program in Colombia using barley straw for six-packs instead of plastic packaging, and are working to reduce plastic elsewhere from their supply chain. This island is a physical way to experience that ethos, and a visit proves that it’s more than just marketing.
Corona Island has all the hallmarks of a Caribbean island vacation, with boutique beachfront accommodations and white sand paths meandering through lush botanicals, all perched upon a calm cerulean sea. The eco factor is in the details, however, like the fact that precious mangrove trees have not been razed in favor of a clearer view, which is what most Caribbean beach destinations do. Mangrove is essential for protection from erosion and hurricanes, in addition to being the natural home for many species of wildlife. Guests are provided with the chance to participate in a mangrove planting activity to become more knowledgeable about this under-appreciated plant and the role it plays in the greater Caribbean ecosystem.
The structures on the island look like they’re straight out of a bohemian-chic interior designer’s fever dream, with artisan-crafted earth tones shaped into contours that seem grown from the island’s natural environment. The kicker is that the ingredients for the decor are locally sourced and crafted, rather than relying on imported products from places with similar vibes, like Bali in Indonesia or Tulum in Mexico. The accommodations are also built on stilts to allow for natural turtle egg-laying behavior, and all the building foundations are removable so the island can eventually and easily be returned to its original form.
Some non-native animals call the island home, specifically macaws and toucans, peacocks, and monkeys rescued from nearby island resorts that went out of business. While it’s obvious from the behavior of the wildlife that they were once fed and handled by guests, Corona Island staff proactively keep the animals away from visitors, while educating guests on the dangers of feeding and handling wildlife. This gives the creatures a safe place to live without perpetuating unethical wildlife tourism.
All of the sustainability efforts made by Corona have earned them the honor of being the first island Blue Certified by Oceanic Global, an NGO that inspects and verifies sustainability practices. “By implementing the Blue Standard, Corona Island demonstrates the potential for businesses to create tangible impact and operate in balance with the natural world,” said Lea d’Auriol, Founder of Oceanic Global. This designation confirms Corona Island’s minimal footprint, lack of single use plastics, and other responsible practices.
A sustainable philosophy is just one of the ways in which this initiative hopes to bring people into a deeper connection with nature. The location is fairly remote, with no ambient sounds beyond the lapping waves and wind rustling through the treetops. Every star comes into full view at night, and it’s easy to fall into the natural rhythms of the earth.
An eco-approach can easily be affiliated with roughing it, but that’s not the case on Corona Island. Culinary expert and Executive Chef Christopher Carpentier lent his talents to the culinary program, while their trio of Chief Designers Jamie Gaztelu, Mauricio Galeano Escobar, and Jairo Márquez have designed a resort that lends itself to relaxation. From a hammock forest to boho chic netting filled with comfy pillows to the outdoor tubs at each of the 10 bungalows, there are endless ways to slip luxuriously into island time.
So, how can you visit when the island is open to the public next year? The good news is you don’t have to pay. The bad news is, visiting is currently only eligible to residents outside of the United States. The best way to nab a visit is through their RSVP link, and keeping an eye out for enter-to-win opportunities, like this past global auction, which had all proceeds benefiting Oceanic Global and their mission to protect the oceans.