What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?

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In this post, we are going to talk about the most famous beaches in Cartagena de Indias. When the time comes to travel to Cartagena in Colombia, many of you ask us for advice on beaches.

Many of you come back disappointed, perhaps with a picture-postcard image of blue seas, coconut palms and white sandy beaches… the ideal backdrop for a paradise beach on the Caribbean Sea!

In all honesty, if you’re looking for the peace and quiet of a beach paradise around Cartagena, you’ll have to pay the price!

Although Cartagena offers a wide range of bathing options, we can warn you that you can expect more or less relative calm, more or less comfort, for a more or less substantial price.

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Bocagrande and Castillogrande Beaches

Popular BEACHES in CARTAGENA

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?
credit: Reg Natarajan

Welcome to Cartagena!

For starters, here’s what Cartagena’s traditional bathing beaches look like: mini beaches with artificial seawalls coiled at the foot of buildings forming the skyline of the pearl of the Caribbean. With its touch of Miami, its street vendors, its aggressive masseuses and its superb jet skis that come right up to the edge of the beach, Bocagrande is paradise!

That said, if you want a typically Colombian atmosphere, this is the place to be! But don’t expect a beach paradise, no, not that.

How to get to Bocagrande and Castillogrande Beaches

The Bocagrande and Castillogrande peninsula lies right in the heart of Cartagena, a stone’s throw from the Getsemani district. It’s easy to get there by bus or cab.

  • Bus fare from the historic center: approx. $2.000 COP
  • Cab fare from the historic center: $7.000 COP

Beware of street vendors

Beware of street vendors on the beaches, especially when it comes to massages. Always ask the price before accepting anything, or you may be in for a nasty surprise.

Where to stay in Bocagrande

Bocagrande, Cartagena, the best hotels

Morro City hotels

Hotel

Morro City hotels

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

The Bocagrande hotel par excellence, on the front line of the seafront, with its rooftop swimming pool and sea view, a must at sunset… to indulge yourself! 2-night booking required.

Bocagrande, Cartagena, the best hotels

Oz Hotel

Hotel

Oz Hotel

Double room : $200.000 to $250.000 COP

A beautiful second-line hotel in Bocagrande offering all the expected services and modern decor. Good value for money in Bocagrande.

Bocagrande, Cartagena, the best hotels

Apartment Mar infinitum

Appartement

Apartment Mar infinitum

Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

Apartments in a huge building overlooking the sea in true Bocagrande style!

La Boquilla

Best BEACHES in CARTAGENA

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?
credit: Bertahan Luxing

Located a little outside Cartagena, the La Boquilla peninsula is a more popular part of the city, with a strip of dark sandy beaches lined with buildings that are not as high and present as on the Bocagrande side.

Once again, this isn’t a picture-postcard beach, but the atmosphere is much quieter than on the Bocagrande side, and for us it’s a good beach option for swimming in Cartagena. You can enjoy the same sunshine and Caribbean sea as anywhere else.

There are also a number of local ceviche and marisco restaurants to discover.

Discover traditional fishing

To discover La Boquilla and its Afro-Colombian culture, we suggest you contact Cathy, who offers a range of activities in english at La Boquilla.

Kaanas Travel Cartagena (#11)

To contact Cathy directly, you can use the form below. You won’t pay any more, but it will let her know you’ve come from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

How to get to La Boquilla

Located just 30 minutes from the historic center, La Boquilla is served by numerous bus lines, and is also easy to get to by cab.

  • Bus fare from the historic center: approx. $2.000 COP
  • Cab fare from the historic center: $17.500 COP

Tierra Bomba Beaches

CARTAGENA’S BEACHES

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?
credit: Jhim Diaz

Tierra Bomba may not be Cartagena’s most famous island, but it’s the closest to the city center and a good option for a beach break in Cartagena. An alternative to the beaches of Cartagena and why not also to the very touristy Playa Blanca.

The beaches of Punta Arena and Boca Chica are the best known and offer a view of the Cartagena skyline, so don’t expect a connection with nature. But the atmosphere, although frequented by Colombians on weekends and vacations, is much quieter than at Playa Blanca or Bocagrande.

In Boca Chica, you’ll find the Castillo San Fernando, reminiscent of Cartagena’s old city walls. On the other side of the island, Playa linda is less well known and could worth a visit.

If our information is correct, most of the beaches are private (restaurants/hotels) but accessible to all for a modest entrance fee.

Some of our readers have given us feedback on the questionable cleanliness of the beaches and the smell of petrol engines… Not to mention the charges you’re made to pay after the fact, without having announced them in advance. Don’t be fooled! Take the time to find out the right price before accepting an offer (beach access, use of sun loungers, drinks, meals, etc.)

How to get to Tierra Bomba Beaches

The lanchas to Tierra Bomba leave from Castillo Grande in Cartagena and, of course, as everywhere else in the area, the tours offer all-inclusive packages to the private beaches, but it’s possible to get there on your own if you ask about local departures.

  • Journey time: 10 – 15 min
  • Lancha fare alone: between $10.000 COP and $20.000 COP
  • Private beach package: around $80.000 COP including meals

CAUTION: as everywhere else in Cartagena, prices can be crazy, so take the time to find out the right price before accepting an offer (beach access, use of sun loungers, drinks, meals, etc.)

Isla Baru and Playa Blanca Beaches

Most Famous BEACHES in CARTAGENA

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?
credit: Fabian Garza

Ah… Playa Blanca… its white sand, turquoise waters and coconut palms… just 10 years ago it was THE beach to swim at in Cartagena!

Today, it’s a beach we don’t recommend at all!

Between the tents, the restaurants, the street vendors, the garbage and the jet skis, mass tourism has led to over-exploitation, pollution and over-frequentation, all of which we disapprove of.

That said, if you still want to enjoy Isla Baru, we recommend that, as with the Islas del Rosario, you book local accommodation with access to a beach. In our opinion, this is the best way to fully enjoy the area, and even Playa Blanca, which becomes much more breathable in the late afternoon once the tours have left!

How to get to Isla Baru and Playa Blanca

Isla Baru can be reached by boat or by road, as it is in fact a peninsula linked to the mainland by a bridge.

Lancha

  • Lancha time: approx. 45 min
  • Lancha fare: approx. $60.000 COP + $16.500 COP port tax

Bus

  • Duration by bus: approx. 1h – 1h30
  • Bus fare: $2.100 COP (Pasacaballos stop) then $10.000 COP by mototaxi ( 30mn)

Cab

  • Cab time: approx. 50 min
  • Cab fare from historic center to Playa Blanca: $81.000 COP

Playa Blanca tour

You can also take one of the famous all-day tours (although we don’t recommend it)

  • Average price for a day package by bus: approx. $40.000 COP including transport and meals
  • Average price for a day package by lancha: around $100.000 COP including transport and meals (add $16.500 COP for port taxes)

Beware of street vendors

Beware of street vendors on the beaches, especially when it comes to massages. Always ask for the price before accepting anything, or you may be in for a nasty surprise.

Where to stay in Isla Baru and Playa Blanca

Rather than heading for Playa Blanca, we recommend that you book one or more nights’ accommodation on Isla Baru, away from the hustle and bustle, so you can really enjoy yourself!

Baru, Cartagena, the best hotels, Islas del Rosario

Media Luna Hostel

Hostal

Media Luna Hostel

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $200.000 to $250.000 COP

A hostal recommended by our readers on the Baru peninsula in the Rosario archipelago. Far from Playa Blanca, you’ll find the peace and quiet of a small private beach and pretty bungalows!

Islas del Rosario Beaches

Best BEACHES in CARTAGENA

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?

Although Isla Baru and the San Bernardo archipelago are in fact part of the Parque Natural del Rosario, we’ve decided to make a separate chapter for what most travellers call the “Rosario Islands” or las Islas del Rosario. Here, we’ll be talking about the islands off the coast of Baru.

The beaches of las Islas del Rosario are among those in Cartagena that come closest to what you’d expect from a dream beach in the Caribbean: sunshine, clear turquoise seas and a heavenly setting.

Isla Grande is, as its name suggests, the largest island in the Rosario archipelago, and it’s here that a maximum number of beaches and hotels are concentrated. Around it are many private islands belonging to wealthy owners, hotels or accessible for a few hours to passing boats.

We’re going to repeat ourselves, because going to these islands is a dream for most of you, but you’ll often come back disappointed:

  1. We don’t recommend taking day tours, which consist of circling the islands and Playa Blanca in just a few hours.
  2. We advise you to book accommodation on one of the islands, so you can really make the most of your stay.

How to get to the Islas del Rosario archipelago

If you’ve decided to book accommodation on one of the islands of the Islas del Rosario archipelago, we advise you to arrange transport with your hotel.

Touring Islas del Rosario

If you decide to tour the islands (we don’t recommend it), there are a number of different options:

  • The less expensive tours offer a one-day package including a meal, a “panoramic” view of the Islas del Rosario (with or without a stopover), a 1-hour stopover at the aquarium (at an additional cost), a snorkelling stop (at an additional cost) and a stopover at Playa Blanca.
  • Other tours simply offer a day on a private island (more expensive).
  • Price of Islas del Rosario day package: between $90.000 COP and $300.000 COP depending on the tour and the more or less “select” beach you’re taken to (Aquarium: $30.000 COP Port tax: $17.000 COP Snorkelling price)
  • Duration of Islas del Rosario day package: departure around 8 a.m., return around 4 p.m.

Beware of scams

Take the time to find out the right price before accepting an offer, especially from street hawkers.

A day on an Isla Bela beach

Our local partner offers a lazy day in a beautiful hotel on one of the prettiest beaches of the Rosario Islands.

Kaanas Travel Cartagena (#11)

To contact Cathy directly, you can use the form below. You won’t pay any more, but it will let her know you’ve come from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

Where to stay in Islas del Rosario

Baru, Cartagena, the best hotels, Islas del Rosario

Media Luna Hostel

Hostal

Media Luna Hostel

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $200.000 to $250.000 COP

A hostal recommended by our readers on the Baru peninsula in the Rosario archipelago. Far from Playa Blanca, you’ll find the peace and quiet of a small private beach and pretty bungalows!

Cartagena, the best hotels, Islas del Rosario

Isla Bela

Hotel

Isla Bela

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

An eco-friendly hotel on Isla Marina in the archipelago of the Rosaire islands. The price is commensurate with the services and the setting! Treat yourself.

Cartagena, the best hotels, Islas del Rosario

Secreto Hostel

Hostal

Secreto Hostel

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

A charming hostal located on Isla Grande, offering double rooms and dormitory beds in a green setting with access to a small beach. Highly recommended by our friends in Cartagena!

Islas Mucura & Tintinpan beaches

Best BEACHES near in CARTAGENA

What are the best beaches in Cartagena de indias ?
Credit: Vincent Leroux

We’re not really in Cartagena here any more, but with the huge influx of tourists to the islands around Cartagena, travellers have been quick to look for other ways to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Colombian Caribbean coast.

While just a few years ago the San Bernardo archipelago was a haven of peace that few people knew about, the islands of Mucura and Tintinpan have now become popular beaches.

Mucura is the preferred destination for travelers, but Tintinpan is also a good option.

Both offer turquoise waters, white sand and coconut palms. Please note, however, that the islands are very small, so don’t expect to take long walks alone along the beach for miles and miles.

How to get to the San Bernardo Archipelago

From Cartagena, Ricon del mar, Tolu or Coveñas, numerous boats make the daily trip. We advise you to stay put to enjoy the tranquility of the evenings and mornings, when there are fewer tourists.

From Cartagena, there are day tours, but beware! Expect to run! Transport lasting at least 2 hours, quick island hopping, lunch and off you go!

It’s best to book accommodation on site.

Where to stay on the San Bernarddo Archipelago

Tintinpan, the best hotels

Tintipan Ashram Hostel & Glamping

Hostal, Hotel

Tintipan Ashram Hostel & Glamping

Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

Small hotel and Glamping well located to enjoy Tintipan. People appreciate the service, food and atmosphere. It’s also well rated.

Tintinpan, the best hotels

Santa lova hostel

Hostal

Santa lova hostel

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A hostel with every comfort, located in a beautiful spot to enjoy the idyllic setting of the islands. Very good reviews. They offer several activities on the island.

Tintinpan, the best hotels

Casa Tinti

Hotel

Casa Tinti

Double room: $700.000 to $1.000.000 COP

A recent hotel that invites you to relax. Beautiful facilities facing the turquoise sea. Good service and comfort according to the reviews. We stayed next door to this hotel for the day and felt very comfortable.

Isla Mucura, the best hotels

Punta Faro Hotel

Hotel

Punta Faro Hotel

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

Isla Mucura’s top-of-the-range hotel with bungalows, private beach, full board and all kinds of activities.

Isla Mucura, the best hotels

Mucura Island Hostel

Hostal

Mucura Island Hostel

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP

Hostal Isla Mucura offers all types of accommodation at all prices, from hammocks and dormitory beds to bungallow beds with sea views. Possibly festive atmosphere, private beach access and activities.

Isla Mucura, the best hotels

Dalhandia Hotel

Eco Lodge

Dalhandia Hotel

Double room : $400.000 à $700.000

A hotel in Isla Mucura, perhaps a little quieter than the others, with the same constraints and advantages. Cabanas and small private beach.

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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