Guide to the best beaches in Cartagena

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Cartagena is colonial and charming but to find the charm of its paradisiacal beaches you must venture outside the city. In this guide to the best beaches in Cartagena you will find information on where to go, the location and characteristics of each beach so that you can choose the best place to spend your vacations.

Rosario Islands:

Cartagena Beach Guide

An example of the private islands you can spot from the boat from Cartagena. Photo source: Colombia4u

It is the first place that comes to mind when travelling to Cartagena. To access this archipelago of islands you must take a boat trip of approximately 45 minutes from the pier La Bodeguita in front of the walled city. This archipelago is composed of 27 islands and surrounding it are marine reefs, mangroves and numerous species of algae and local fauna that are part of the Natural National Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo. For its diversity and variety this archipelago offers different islands and beaches to visit, down below we name the most well known:

Isla Grande:

As its name indicates, it’s the biggest island within the archipelago. There you will find the most hotels and it is the only island it is the only one that has a native population. To get to Isla Grande you have to take one of the boats that leave from Puerto Magangué. It is a trip of almost 1 hour by sea, but it’s worth the tour. It expands over more than 200 hectares and has several white sand beaches and warm water to enjoy the whole day or spend the night.

Guide to the best beaches in Cartagena

Gente de Mar resort in Isla Grande. A beautiful place to spend a relaxing day at the beach. Photo source: Colombia4u

On Isla Grande there is a population of islanders who live modestly on what tourism leaves them. The Island is safe, you can bike or walk its natural trails and discover the three ecosystems exclusive to the islands: coastal and inland lagoons, mangroves and dry tropical forests. The island is also ideal for watersports such as snorkeling and kayaking and is characterized by its tranquility. For travelers curious about the local culture, you can experience the typical activities from the region such as cockfights, domino matches or nights of dancing in the communal areas of the residents.

Isla Grande Cartagena

Cockfights are very typical activity among Isla Grande inhabitants. Photo Source: Eddy Milfort

Isla grande has several beaches, the majority belong to resort hotels, the most well known are:

  • Resort Cocoliso: It’s one of the most popular islands among the locals but its popularity has made it lose privacy and tranquility. The hotel offers a trip to the Oceanarium in San Martin de Pajarales, where you can enjoy a dolphin show.
  • Hotel San Pedro de Majagua: It has two beaches and a restaurant. It’s a resort with all the amenities to sleep or spend the day.
  • Gente de Mar: It’s the resort with one of the most beautiful, quietest beaches and with the best service in Isla Grande. To spend the day they offer a boat ride from Cartagena, with buffet lunch, towel service and lounge chairs. During the day you can snorkel, kayak, or walk around the island. Reserve here a day in the Islands of Rosario in the Gente de Mar resort.
  • Playa Libre: It’s the only public beach in Isla Grande. It can be accessed by walking from any of the resorts. There you will find the Eco-hotel Playa Libre.

 

Barú:

It’s actually a peninsula. Baru can be accessed by two ways: In boat from La Bodeguita port (approximately a 25 minute trip) or by land, crossing the Canal del Dique bridge. Most tourists do the day tour, but if you like to be in touch with nature and have the time to get away from the city, your best option is to spend a night there, to be able to enjoy the nature and an environment away from the noise, other tourists, and the copious amounts of incessant street vendors. In Barú there is also the Aviario Nacional “National Aviary”, where you can see almost 200 species of birds. This place operates daily from 9am to 5pm and the adult ticket costs COP $ 35,000 and for children COP $ 30,000.

Best beaches in Cartagena: Isla Baru

Isla Barú – Islas del Rosario – Cartagena. Photo Source: Camilo_Marino

Playa Blanca “White beach” in Barú:

A day in Playa Blanca is one of the most traditional outings that Cartagena has to offer. The one-day excursion leaves at 9 am from La Bodeguita pier and returns at 3pm in order to avoid high tide. It can also be accessed independently by ground transportation and you are able to return at the hour you wish.

Reserve here the one day excursion to Playa Blanca on Barú Island.

Baru is a favorite destination among backpackers, hammocks or tents can be rented for sleeping and provide just the essentials needed to enjoy the natural surroundings.  However, there is also lodging with all the amenities such as Hotel Playa Manglares en Isla Barú.  

Other beaches in Barú Island are: Punta Iguana, Puerto Naito, Playa Blanca, La Playita de Cholón, Playita de los Muertos, Playa Bono.

Isla del Pirata:

Located 50 minutes from the port of Cartagena and is ideal for visitors who are searching for tranquility. This island is protected by a barrier reef and offers accommodation, and is also recommended for snorkelling and diving.

Isla Múcura:

Located in the archipelago of San Bernardo, this colorful and warm island is found just over an hour by boat from Cartagena. Visitors can enjoy activities such as scuba diving, swimming, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, bird watching and are able to see native vegetation such as the mangroves. It is known for the Hotel Punta Faroand for its paradisiacal almost desert-like beaches where you can enjoy the exuberance of the caribbean with total tranquility. Hostal Isla Múcura is also located on the island, offering ecotourism accommodation with bedrooms and a more relaxed environment for backpacker tourists.

Isla Múcura – Rosario Islands – Cartagena. Photo Source: Hotel Punta Faro

BEACHES IN THE CITY OF CARTAGENA

The beaches within the city of Cartagena are less exotic, generally full of tourists, and their dark sand because of the absence of corals makes them less attractive, but they are an alternative to escape the heat during the day and because they are preferred by the local travelers, they offer a very authentic cultural experience.

Bocagrande Beach

Bocagrande Beach in Cartagena. Photo Source: Elias Rovielo

Playa de Bocagrande:

It is the most well-known beach in Cartagena, because of its location in a strategic place for tourism, on the peninsula south of the historic center. Surrounding it you can find the best seafood and a wide range of hotels for those who prefer to stay in a more modern environment outside the walled city.

Playa Castillogrande:

Located between Bocagrande and Laguito, it is one of the most touristic beaches in the city. Its beaches are extensive and there are restaurants offering a great gastronomic opportunity where you can enjoy traditional lobster.

Playa El Laguito:

Located in the neighborhood that shares the same name next to Bocagrande, in a very popular tourist sector of Cartagena where residents and tourists mix. Its wide and quiet beaches are ideal for families with children. Here you can also enjoy the local cuisine. It is also popular among lovers of various water sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Playa La Boquilla:

It can be accessed by car in a 20 minute trip from the historic center of Cartagena. This beach is located in a small fishing village that bears the same name. It a tradition among the Carthaginians to go on weekends to have lunch at the local fishermen’s restaurants and spend the afternoon at its beaches. You can also enjoy canoeing through the mangroves with a local organization that supports development in tourism. Book here a mangrove canoe tour in Cartagena

It can be accessed by car in a 20 minute trip from the historic center of Cartagena. This beach is located in a small fishing village that bears the same name. It a tradition among the Carthaginians to go on weekends to have lunch at the local fishermen’s restaurants and spend the afternoon at its beaches. You can also enjoy canoeing through the mangroves with a local organization that supports development in tourism.

Cartagena Beach Guide

La Boquilla is fisher’s town near Cartagena with wide beaches and local restaurants to eat the best fresh fish. Photo Source: Colombia4u

It can be accessed by car in a 20 minute trip from the historic center of Cartagena. This beach is located in a small fishing village that bears the same name. It a tradition among the Carthaginians to go on weekends to have lunch at the local fishermen’s restaurants and spend the afternoon at its beaches. You can also enjoy canoeing through the mangroves with a local organization that supports development in tourism.

Reserve here your canoe trip through the mangroves of La Boquilla

Tips to enjoy the beaches in Cartagena:

  • Apply sunscreen every 2 hours, use hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Be sure to rent an umbrella on the beach to be further protected from the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water and don’t drink from the tap. Sometimes the prepared drinks made in the informal shops on the beaches or the ice used to keep the drinks cool are not made with bottled water.
  • The freshest food, especially at the beaches, is always the seafood which comes fresh directly from the place.
  • To spend the day on the Islands of Rosario it’s recommended to bring extra clothes and/or shoes to change into because sometimes water from the waves splashes into the boat.
  • Ignore street vendors. They live on the tourism but their behavior can be abusive and grotesque. Don’t be fooled. Nothing is free with them, not the oyster sample, nor the massage sample, they are skillful and in the end they can pass you a big bill for any “sample” of their product.
  • Cartagena is a relaxed city but the locals are conservative. It is not a good idea to walk around without a shirt or revealing clothing in public places or zones of the city that are not the beach.

In short, the main activity of Cartagena is its beautiful beaches, however the charm of the walled city, its vibrant nightlife and the warmth of its inhabitants, offer an unforgettable experience for tourists of all ages.

Discover Cartagena, its beaches and its history. Reserve this and other experiences with Colombia4u!

Written by: Daytours4u Team