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Amazing Day Trips From Cartagena – Colombia Travel


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Gwenette Marrs


Rosario Islands

Located just off the coast of Cartagena, the Rosario Islands are a tropical paradise that should not be missed on your Colombian adventure. Comprised of 27 picturesque islands, this archipelago offers pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs. It is the perfect destination for those seeking relaxation, snorkeling, and exploring marine life.


The Rosario Islands are part of the Islas del Rosario National Park, which was established in 1977 to protect the area’s rich biodiversity. The park is home to an array of marine species, including colorful fish, turtles, and dolphins. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts will be thrilled by the vibrant coral reefs that provide a home to a myriad of marine life.


There are several ways to experience the Rosario Islands. You can book a day trip from Cartagena, which typically includes transportation to and from the islands, guided snorkeling tours, and a delicious lunch of fresh seafood. Alternatively, you can choose to stay overnight on one of the islands in a luxurious beachfront resort or eco-friendly bungalow.


For those who prefer a more active adventure, the Rosario Islands offer a range of water sports activities, such as kayaking, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. You can also explore the surrounding mangroves on a guided kayak tour and learn about the importance of these ecosystems.


During your visit to the Rosario Islands, make sure to explore Playa Blanca, one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. With its powdery white sand and calm waters, it is the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and soaking up the tropical atmosphere.


Whether you are seeking relaxation or adventure, the Rosario Islands offer a blissful escape from the bustling city of Cartagena. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of these islands, swim with colorful fish, and experience the tranquility of this Caribbean paradise.


Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca, meaning “White Beach” in Spanish, is a stunning stretch of coastline located just south of Cartagena. Renowned for its powder-soft white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, Playa Blanca is a must-visit destination for beach lovers and sun seekers.


To reach Playa Blanca, you can take a scenic boat ride from Cartagena or hire a local driver to transport you by land. The journey itself is an adventure, as you pass by picturesque coastal landscapes and glimpses of rural Colombian life.


Upon arriving at Playa Blanca, you will be met with a postcard-perfect scene of swaying palm trees, inviting hammocks, and a seemingly endless stretch of pristine beach. The calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, allowing you to explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with tropical fish and colorful coral formations.


While relaxation is certainly a priority at Playa Blanca, there are also plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore or participate in a game of beach volleyball. You can also indulge in a massage or try out some beachside yoga for a rejuvenating experience.


When hunger strikes, treat yourself to some of the freshest seafood available. Local vendors set up makeshift restaurants along the beach, offering a variety of mouthwatering dishes such as grilled fish, ceviche, and coconut rice. Savor the flavors while enjoying the stunning ocean views.


If you’re looking to escape the crowds, venture a little further down the beach to find a secluded spot for a truly peaceful experience. Bring a picnic, a good book, and soak up the tranquility of this slice of paradise.


It’s important to note that Playa Blanca can get busy on weekends and holidays, so if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, plan your visit during weekdays. Additionally, remember to pack sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay hydrated under the Caribbean sun.


Playa Blanca offers a serene escape from the bustling city and provides an opportunity to unwind in a breathtaking natural setting. Whether you want to simply relax on the beach, snorkel in the azure waters, or try out some water sports, this idyllic destination has something for everyone.


Islas del Rosario National Park

The Islas del Rosario National Park is a protected area located off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. Spanning over 120,000 acres, the park is a natural treasure that showcases the beauty and diversity of the Caribbean Sea. It is home to a stunning array of marine life, coral reefs, and lush mangroves.


The primary purpose of the national park is to preserve and sustain the delicate ecosystems found within its boundaries. The park’s coral reefs are particularly noteworthy, as they provide habitats for numerous species of fish, sea turtles, and other marine fauna. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts will be mesmerized by the vibrant colors and abundance of marine life present in the park’s waters.


Visitors to the Islas del Rosario National Park can partake in various activities to explore and appreciate its natural wonders. Guided snorkeling tours are available, allowing you to discover the magnificence of the underwater world. You can also rent a kayak or take a boat tour to explore the mangroves and learn about the important role they play in the coastal ecosystem.


For those seeking a more relaxed experience, simply strolling along the pristine beaches and soaking up the sun is a delightful way to enjoy the natural beauty of the park. The calm and clear waters provide excellent conditions for swimming and floating, allowing you to cool off and unwind amidst breathtaking surroundings.


While the Islas del Rosario National Park is a popular day trip destination from Cartagena, it is also possible to stay overnight on one of the islands. Some islands offer accommodations ranging from eco-friendly resorts to rustic beach huts, giving visitors a chance to fully immerse themselves in the tranquil ambiance of the park.


Preserving and protecting the Islas del Rosario National Park is of utmost importance to ensure the longevity of its rich biodiversity. As visitors, it is essential to respect the park’s rules and regulations, such as not removing any coral or wildlife and disposing of waste properly.


A visit to the Islas del Rosario National Park is not only an opportunity to connect with nature but also a chance to support conservation efforts. By appreciating the park’s natural wonders and understanding their significance, visitors can contribute to the sustainable preservation of this remarkable marine ecosystem.


Barú Island

Barú Island, located just off the coast of Cartagena, is a tropical paradise that offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city. This beautiful island is home to pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it a popular destination for visitors seeking relaxation and tranquility.


One of the main attractions of Barú Island is Playa Blanca, a stunning beach known for its powdery white sand and calm waters. This beach stretches along the western coast of the island and offers plenty of space to unwind and soak up the sun. Take a stroll along the shore, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax in a hammock and enjoy the breathtaking views.


In addition to its gorgeous beaches, Barú Island is also known for its vibrant underwater world. Snorkeling or diving enthusiasts will be delighted by the opportunity to explore the nearby coral reefs, teeming with colorful fish and other marine life. Renting snorkeling gear or booking a guided diving excursion is a great way to fully experience the island’s incredible biodiversity.


Barú Island is also home to the charming fishing village of Barú, where you can get a glimpse of local life and experience the island’s rich cultural heritage. Wander through the village streets and admire the colorful houses, visit the local market, and indulge in some fresh seafood in one of the traditional restaurants.


To reach Barú Island, you can take a boat tour from Cartagena or hire a private boat for a more personalized experience. The boat ride itself offers stunning views of the coastline and is a memorable part of the journey.


For those looking to stay overnight, there are several accommodation options available on the island, ranging from luxurious resorts to rustic beachfront cabins. Waking up to the sound of the ocean and enjoying a serene breakfast with a view is an unforgettable experience.


Barú Island is a true hidden gem, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, relaxation, and authentic local experiences. Whether you spend a day or a few nights on the island, you are sure to create lifelong memories and leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.


La Boquilla

La Boquilla is a small fishing village located just 20 minutes from Cartagena. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Ciénaga de La Virgen, this coastal gem offers a unique and authentic glimpse into local Colombian life.


One of the main highlights of La Boquilla is its pristine beach. With its soft golden sand and clear blue waters, it provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and beach activities. Take a dip in the refreshing sea, bask in the sun, or try your hand at some water sports like kayaking or paddleboarding.


But it’s not just the beach that makes La Boquilla special. The village is known for its rich Afro-Colombian heritage, and visitors have the opportunity to learn about and immerse themselves in the local culture. Take a stroll around the village and interact with friendly locals as they go about their daily lives. You can even visit a traditional fishing community and witness the art of net fishing, a practice that has been passed down through generations.


If you want to dig deeper into the local culture, participate in a traditional cooking class. Learn how to prepare delicious Afro-Colombian dishes using fresh ingredients from the sea and the surrounding mangroves. It’s a truly immersive and flavorsome experience.


An absolute must-do in La Boquilla is a boat tour through Ciénaga de La Virgen, a large mangrove swamp. Glide through the narrow channels of the mangroves, marvel at the unique ecosystem, and spot a variety of bird species along the way. This is a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and learn about the vital role that mangroves play in coastal ecosystems.


End your day in La Boquilla by indulging in some local cuisine. The village is known for its fresh seafood, and you can sample dishes like ceviche, fried fish, or crab stew in one of the charming local eateries. Pair your meal with a refreshing coconut cocktail and savor the flavors of the Caribbean.


La Boquilla offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city of Cartagena, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of nature, the warmth of the local community, and the vibrant Afro-Colombian culture. It’s a hidden gem that should not be missed on your Colombian adventure.


Volcán de Lodo El Totumo

A visit to Volcán de Lodo El Totumo is a unique and unforgettable experience that should be on every traveler’s itinerary in Cartagena. Despite its name, this natural wonder is not actually a volcano but rather a mud volcano, and it offers a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation.


Located about an hour’s drive from Cartagena, Volcán de Lodo El Totumo is a small mound topped with a crater filled with warm mud. The mud is believed to have therapeutic properties, and locals and tourists alike come here to immerse themselves in its silky smoothness.


Upon arrival at El Totumo, you will be greeted by local attendants who will guide you through the volcano experience. Climb up a series of wooden stairs to the top of the volcano, where you will find yourself overlooking a pool of warm, mineral-rich mud.


With the assistance of the attendants, carefully descend into the muddy crater. Don’t worry, the mud is quite dense, and you will effortlessly float on the surface. Lie back and enjoy a unique mud bath, as the attendants give you a relaxing massage. The buoyancy of the mud makes it easy to float and creates a sensation of weightlessness.


After you’ve thoroughly covered yourself in mud, you can make your way out of the crater and towards a nearby lagoon. Here, local women will help you rinse off the mud in the lagoon’s refreshing waters. The experience is both cleansing and invigorating.


As you relax in the lagoon, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. The lagoon is bordered by green mangroves, and the peaceful atmosphere allows you to unwind and soak in the tranquility.


Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the unique moments and take advantage of the picturesque surroundings.


Visiting Volcán de Lodo El Totumo is not only a rejuvenating experience for the mind and body but also provides an opportunity to connect with local culture. You can support the community by purchasing any handcrafted souvenirs that are available from the locals.


Be prepared for the muddy adventure by wearing a swimsuit that you don’t mind getting dirty and bringing a change of clothes for after the experience.


A visit to Volcán de Lodo El Totumo is an adventure like no other, offering a truly unforgettable and therapeutic experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in this unique mud volcano and discover its many benefits.