dummy_img

IMPULSE TRAVEL TEAM

We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.

Although Cartagena is one of the most renowned destinations in Colombia, the true paradise beaches are outside the city, away from the crowds. There’s a place 1 hour away from the city where you can enjoy warmer weather, soft breeze, white-sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue waters. That area is the archipelago of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Park, better known as Rosario Islands.
 
The archipelago is probably one of the most sought-after destinations in the Colombian Caribbean Coast. It is composed of 28 islands of all sizes concealing a wonderful coral reef and a vast marine biodiversity and mangroves ecosystem which made it a protected area. Beside the beautiful reefs, there are also many shipwrecks of the countless sea battles that were fought in this territory. 
 
There are a few dozens of islands you can visit, which are all inviting visitors with different characteristics. Many of our travelers have asked for advice on where to go on the Rosario Islands, which is why we made a curated selection of places for all tastes, for you to spend a perfect beach day and unwind away from Cartagena’s heat and hustle.


 

Table of contents:
 

Isla Grande:

Isla del Sol Beach

San Pedro de Majagua Beach

Gente de Mar Beach

Isla Arena:
Bendita Beach

Isla Marina:
Islabela

Tierra Bomba:

Blue Apple

Fenix Beach

Isla Grande: nature, activities and resorts 

Isla Grande is the largest island of the archipelago and home to the three most important ecosystems of the area: mangroves, coastal lagoons and dry forest. Due to the variety of ecosystems, there are plenty of activities to do while on the island, such as snorkeling, ecological hikes, canoe trips to the mangroves or even seeing the bioluminescent plankton, if you’re spending the night. On the island you will also find some of the most iconic hotels on the beach, with facilities for a relaxing day trip or a pleasant overnight. Below our favorites.
 

Isla del Sol Beach

Isla del Sol eco-hotel is a go-to destination for both local and international tourists. Located inside a bay, it has a great view of the sea, calm waters for swimming and a good value for money. It offers the largest selection of optional activities like a visit to the San Martin de Pajarales Oceanarium. If you want to keep active and not just lay on the beach, this is a great choice.
If you want to visit the Oceanarium, you need to know that you will spend most of the time traveling by boat from one place to the other, thus there won’t be much time to enjoy the beach or hotel’s facilities.


Isla del Sol beach view
 

Departure time: 9:00 am from Muelle la Bodeguita in Cartagena
Returning time: 3:00 pm
 
Distance from the dock:
1 hour by speedboat.
 
Beach:

The beach of Isla del Sol is small compared to the number of people they fit. It is not exactly what you have in mind when you think of a long and spacious Caribbean beach. The swimming pool area is very enjoyable and there’s also a kiosk where you can nicely hang out.
 
Available facilities: 

Beach area, seawater swimming pool, sunbeds,  hammocks, bar, and 9 rustic Caribbean bungalows for those who want to spend the night.
 
Menu:

Like in many Rosario Islands, the lunch menu is a one-size-fits-all. The menu is always fish, coconut rice, salad and patacón (fried plantain). If not advised well in advance, the only veggie option is the same dish without the fish. 
 
Extras:

You need to pay a tax at the entrance of the port that is $18.500 COP a person. Once on the island, you can opt for a trip to the Oceanarium, a canoe trip to the mangroves, snorkeling , stand up paddle boarding, kayak, hiking or massages. All these activities have an extra cost payable directly on the island.
 
Things to consider

  • There’s no flexibility with departure to and from the island due to the sea conditions.

  • It can sometimes get crowded and noisy, especially on weekends. PRO tip: try to avoid visiting on Colombian holidays. 

  • Their staff is friendly but not always bilingual so communication can sometimes be difficult.

     

Booking:

Isla del Sol Day Trip Rosario Islands

Up to table of contents


 

San Pedro de Majagua Beach

The island owes its name to the french painter Pierre Daguet that once lived there and the endemic Majagua trees surrounding it. This high-end hotel is iconic among the Rosario Islands thanks to its minimalist decoration, palm- tree roofing, turquoise waters, and the charming way its architecture merges with the island’s vegetation. This is a popular destination for baby-boomers.


 

Majagua beach
 

Departure time: 9:00 am from Marina Santa Cruz in Cartagena
Returning time:2:30 pm- 3:30 pm.
 
Distance from port:
1 hour
 
Beach:

For a 5-star resort, its man-made beach is quite small and not very comfy. It can sometimes get crowded with day-visitors and hotel guests. If you’re not planning to lay on the beach all day long, this is the right place.
 
Available facilities:

2 beach areas, lounge chairs, bar, towel service, restaurant and 17 cabins with hammocks.
 
Menu:

Their menu consists of typical fish, coconut rice, salad and patacones. You can upgrade the menu for an extra cost. The food is tasty.
 
Extras:

You can choose between Scuba diving, massages, bike riding, snorkelling, canoe to the mangroves, hiking, visiting the San Martin de Pajarales Oceanarium, Stand Up Paddle Board, private boat renting- and more!
 
Things to consider

  • The style and luxury concept of the resort might appeal more to an older target group.
  • If you want flexibility in departure and return times, you will need to hire your own private boat- which can be a bit expensive-.
     

Booking:

Majagua Island Day Trip Rosario Islands

Up to table of contents

 

Gente de Mar Beach

With a comfortable white sand beach, sunbeds, and sunbathing chairs, this hotel is a great choice for a relaxing beach day. The beach slowly descends into the sea with little depth which is good and safe for kids. You will also have a large beach area at Gente de Mar. 


Gente de Mar Beach
 

Departure time: 9:00 am from Muelle La Bodeguita in Cartagena.
Returning time:3:00 p.m. 
 
Distance from port: 1 hour.
 
Beach:

White sanded and with soft waves, this beach is ideal for relaxing. 
 
Available Facilities:

Open-air restaurant, bar, sunbeds, sun chairs, towels, kayaks, ping-pong table, billiards, hammocks and open-air spa. The hotel has 8 rooms available to spend the night.
 
Menu:
Gente de Mar offers a traditional costeño lunch on a buffet or á la carte for an extra cost. The food is decent. Veggie options are available.
 
Extras:

Snorkeling, scuba diving, visit to the oceanarium, massages. 
 
Things to consider

  • During high season it can be very crowded and service is not at its best. 

  • Departure and return schedules are fixed and there is no flexibility.

 

Up to table of contents

 

Isla Arena: Caribbean paradise

Located in the “heart” of the archipelago, this private island is everything that you expect to get from the Caribbean beauty. Ironically, this tiny island has the widest beach area and it remains mostly pristine. It used to be property of a Colombian jewelry mogul and now is available for lodging and day passes. There’s only one company that offers services on the island.
 

Bendita Beach

If you are looking to make the most of your beach day and lay on the white-sandy beach, enjoy the tranquil blue waters ,relax in a hammock while appreciating the great views and sipping some refreshing piña coladas, this place is for you. 
 

Bendita Beach
 

Departure time:9:00 am from La Bodeguita dock in Cartagena
Returning time:3:00 pm
 
Distance from port:1 hour
 
Beach:
It has not one but 3 beach areas all white and with bay like waters, all very clean. They have the main beach where you’ll find sunbeds and the bar-restaurant services, and two smaller beaches in the back for those looking for privacy.
 
Available facilities:

Restaurant, bar, beach tents, hammocks, sunbeds, sunbathing chairs, spa, kayaks, volley court, and a souvenir store. They also have two cabins available for an overnight.
 
Menu:

Bendita Beach serves fresh and locally sourced seafood. Lunch is included in the day pass and you can decide between fish and chicken accompanied by salad, rice and patacones. You can also ask in advance for a nice lobster or a veggie option (for an extra cost).
  
Extras:

If requested in advance scuba diving is available. You can also go snorkeling or visit the Oceanarium for an extra fee, or go kayaking for free.
 
Things to consider:

  • Their staff is not 100% bilingual and they are still learning how to provide quality service.
  • The bathroom is tiny and not very clean. 
  • Try to avoid going on Sundays as some people who rent boats dock at the beach, making it congested. 
  • Communication with the staff at the dock can be sometimes complicated.
     

Booking:

Bendita Beach Rosario Islands

Up to table of contents

Isla Marina: nature, calm and resorts

This island is right next to Isla Grande and does not have a public beach. You must go to one of the two eco-resorts located on the island to spend the day or stay overnight. As can be expected of a Caribbean island, you will find warm, deep blue waters, white sand, lush vegetation and an amazing view of the sea on the island.
 

Islabela Beach

This hip eco-resort has 50 meters of white-sanded beach and a beach bar with refreshing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for you to unwind and make the most of your time on the island. In addition to its already appealing design, they have a strong sustainability commitment which can be seen in their close work with local communities and the perfect match of their facilities with the environment and the local architecture. The hotel staff speaks English, Spanish and French.

 

Islabela Beach

Departure time: 9:20 am from Muelle la Bodeguita in Cartagena
Returning time: 3:00 pm
 
Distance from port: 1 hour
 
Beach:
It has a large beach area to lay down and relax. However, you need to be careful with the small rocks and coral rests in the sea because they can hurt your feet.
 
Available facilities:
Restaurant, bar, sunbeds, sunbathing chairs, massage area and 4 cabins for those who want to stay overnight.

Menu:
A traditional costeño lunch is included in the day pass. However, if you crave something else from the menu, you can have it for an additional cost and use $15.000 COP from the regular menu as credit. 
 
Extras:
Scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle board.
 
Things to consider:

  • Swimming in the sea is not as enjoyable due to the corals and rocks. Bring water shoes. 
  • There’s no flexibility with the departure and return times.
 
Up to table of contents
 

Tierra Bomba Island - A great alternative to the Rosario Islands

Not only the beaches on the Rosario Islands are worth a visit.  If you don’t want to spend two hours on a speedboat in the sometimes rough Caribbean sea, you can head 30 minutes south to Tierra Bomba island. You won’t find the same white-sanded beaches and crystal-clear waters because of the proximity to the city but it’s still a great option for a day trip relaxing at the beach and marveling at lush landscapes! 


 

Blue Apple

With a young and luxurious vibe, Blue Apple Beach House offers a great alternative for people who enjoy sunbathing, hanging out by the poolside, listening to music (sometimes with a live Dj), and indulging in incredibly good food. This is the hippest of all places, has great service and makes a very good option for couples and groups of friends.
 

Blue Apple Pool and Restaurant
 

Departure time: 10:00 am 12:00 pm from La Bodeguita dock in Cartagena
Returning time: 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm
 
Distance from port: 35 minutes from Cartagena
 
Beach:
The beach is directly in front of the hotel, however, it is separated from the actual hotel facilities. Blue Apple offers sunbathing chairs and service to the beach. As it is facing the Caribbean instead of Cartagena, it gives the sensation of being far out on an isolated paradise island. The sea can get rough at times, so don’t expect calmed waters.
 
Available facilities:
Pool, restaurant, bar, masseurs, beach volleyball and beach games. If you want to spend more time there, you can stay overnight at one of the 7 cabins available.
 
Menu:
The food is definitely one of their highlights! The menu is varied and international. They change it every two months and always offer vegetarian and vegan options. 
 
Extras:
Throughout the day they play excellent music, on the weekends even with a live DJ! You can play volleyball, beach games, paddle board or go kayaking for free. For an extra cost, you can go scuba diving, get a massage, ride Jet Ski, visit the Bocachica fort or go horseback riding. 
 
Things to consider:

  • The sea can get rough, especially in the afternoon. 

  • Blue Apple has accessibility problems: The boat docks about a hundred meters from the main house and the road is on rough terrain.

  • The pool can sometimes feel crowded.
     

Booking:

Blue Apple Day Trip Tierra Bomba Island

Up to table of contents



 

Fenix Beach

Fenix Beach has a large beach area with plenty of comfy sunbathing chairs, a great view of the Bocagrande Bay, and a bar/restaurant close to the beach. This semi-private beach with its bohemian vibe is very close to the city, the ride only takes about 15 minutes. It is perfect for people who like to get most of their time on a beach without having to spend too long on a boat ride.


Fenix beach pool view


 

Departure time: 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm from Marina Santa Cruz in Cartagena.
Returning time: 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm, and 6:30 pm.
 
Distance from port:
This is the shortest trip to a beach, just 15 minutes by boat.
 
Beach:
The beach offers a great panoramic view of Bocagrande Bay of Cartagena. The sunbathing chairs invite you to relax in the sun.
 
Available facilities:
Pool, restaurant, bar, 14 hotel rooms and 4 cabins, and sports area (beach volleyball and ping-pong)
 
Menu:
They have a fixed menu for visitors that usually consists of fish or seafood and veggie dishes. Although there isn’t a lot of variety on the menu, the food is very tasty.
 
Extras:
Fenix Beach offers complimentary activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, going on a Hobie Cat, Jet Ski and a visit to the Bocachica fort.
 
Things to consider:

  • Due to Fenix Beach facing in the direction of Cartagena, your view will have Cartagena’s skyline in the distance and it won’t really feel like a hidden paradise

  • There can sometimes be very loud noise, so if you want to rest and just listen to the ocean waves, this is not the right choice.


Booking:

Fenix Beach Day Trip Tierra Bomba Island

Up to table of contents

 

All in all, there are plenty of options to fit every personality and interests and each of them has its own attributes and advantages. One thing that many of them have in common- other than the turquoise waters - is that, due to the distance from the port and the rough conditions of the Caribbean sea, the returning times from the islands are not flexible and the boat rides back to the port can be bumpy so be prepared for it.

Whether you are looking to spend the night on a nice hotel on the beach full of enjoyable commodities or want to explore some of the best beaches in Cartagena on a daytrip, the city and its surroundings have a wide selection of activities that are worth a try.

Go back to Blogs home

Latest blogs

Jul 16, 2020 | 5 Reasons to visit Colombia after COVID-19

Jul 14, 2020 | How we will make 15 peace and culture projects prosper during this crisis

Jul 06, 2020 | This Sustainable Tour to an Indigenous Weaving Collective Unveils the Hidden Reality of Cartagena

Related products

Isla del Sol Day Trip, Rosario Islands

Aguazul, Rosario Islands

Bendita Beach, Rosario Islands

Want to travel to Colombia?

Request your quote with us

English (EN)

$USD

0