How to Explore the Amazing Rosario Islands near Cartagena

Beach at Rosario Island in Colombia

Last updated on June 27th, 2023 at 04:53 pm

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My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

The Rosario Islands: A Tropical Paradise

Located just 45 minutes away from Cartagena by boat, the Rosario Islands are an archipelago within the Bolivar department. These islands, encompassing 28 private and diverse destinations, are part of Colombia’s esteemed network of 59 national parks. Whether you’re seeking sandy beaches, exclusive villas for rent, or accommodations ranging from hotels to hostels, the Rosario Islands offer something for every traveler. 

If you’re looking for a tropical getaway, the Rosario Islands are an excellent choice. Surrounded by clear blue water and lush Caribbean scenery, these islands are a favorite destination for day trips from Cartagena. You can explore the amazing marine life and coral reefs by diving or snorkeling at places like Isla Grande, Isla del Pirata, or Isla del Encanto. You can also experience the magic of swimming with bioluminescent plankton at night, a rare phenomenon that only occurs in a few places in the world. Tours to Laguna Encantada on Isla Grande or Baru Island offer this activity. Or, if you prefer, you can just relax and enjoy the sun and sand on the beautiful beaches. The Rosario Islands have something for everyone, whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation.


Beach at Rosario Island in Colombia

How to Reach the Rosario Islands

There are many ways to Rome and also to the Rosario Islands. From Cartagena, you can either go directly by boat or drive to Baru and then get on a boat.

Boat tours from Cartagena


Cartagena offers boat tours to the Rosario Islands, catering to various price ranges. However, it’s important to note that quality and experience can vary significantly based on your investment. In the historic center of Cartagena, numerous vendors offer different tour packages. Be cautious, as these sellers work on a commission basis, often resulting in overcrowded boats and constant upselling. Some tours may include visits to aquariums with captive dolphins, additional entry fees, and other unexpected costs. Although Playa Blanca is a common destination, be aware that the beach experience may not live up to expectations due to persistent beach vendors and overpriced food. 

For a more personalized and luxurious experience, consider booking a private boat tour through a trustworthy provider. With a trained and well-paid crew, you’ll have the freedom to customize your itinerary, explore different islands and beaches, and engage in various activities. As a travel agency in Bogota, we can help organize such private tours for you. 

Alternatively, chartering a sailboat offers a unique opportunity to spend a few days immersed in the beauty of the Rosario Islands. While not all sailing boats are available for charter, conducting online research or directly approaching captains at ports can help you secure an unforgettable experience. 

Certain hotels, such as the Hotel Casa San Agustin, provide private beach access and offer activity arrangements for their guests. You can inquire about these options directly at the hotel’s reception. 

For those seeking a vibrant party atmosphere, the “Booze Cruise” to Cholon Island during weekends is a popular choice, promising a lively experience filled with music and festivities.

Yacht in the Colombian Caribe

Another option to consider is to charter a sailboat and spend a few days in the Rosario Islands. Not all sailing boats are available, however, as many are geared towards a trip to Panama. Despite this, you can do research online or go straight to the ports and arrange this directly with a captain.

There are also hotels, such as the Hotel Casa San Agustin, which have a private beach or arrangements on the islands. Accordingly, depending on the hotel, activities can be booked directly at the reception.

At the weekends, the “Booze Cruise” is certainly one of the most popular tours. You go by boat to the island of Cholon, where you can party.

Delightful Cuisine in the Rosario Islands

The Rosario Islands are a culinary paradise for seafood lovers. Fresh fish served with coconut rice is a local favorite that you should definitely try. Some tours may include stops at hotels where you can enjoy meals, while local fishermen might provide catering options via boat depending on the island and beach you visit. 

However, be cautious about pricing, as the region has seen a surge in opportunistic practices. For instance, some establishments on Cholon Island charge exorbitant prices for small portions. It’s important to be discerning and avoid falling into these traps. You wouldn’t typically pay such prices in a gourmet restaurant anywhere else in Colombia. 

As a foreigner, you may encounter cases where prices are inflated simply because of your nationality. Always inquire about prices beforehand, even for a simple beer, and be aware of your options to ensure a fair and enjoyable dining experience.

Drone photo of Rosario Island

Baru and Playa Blanca: Island Highlights 

Baru, now a peninsula, is home to some of the region’s finest accommodations, including the renowned Hotel Las Islas. This picturesque destination boasts stunning beaches and a small village nestled in the heart of the island. 

Despite its popularity as a day trip from Cartagena, Playa Blanca has undergone significant changes in recent years. While authorities have previously discussed closing the beach due to overcrowding, it remains open. Unfortunately, Playa Blanca has transformed into a bustling and noisy beach experience. You may find it challenging to relax due to constant solicitation from beach vendors and massage services. Boatloads of arriving tourists, jet skis, and blaring music contribute to a less-than-ideal atmosphere. The accumulation of garbage beyond the beach exacerbates the situation. It’s essential to manage your expectations and decide accordingly if Playa Blanca aligns with your preferences. 

Accommodations in the Rosario Islands 

When it comes to accommodations in the Rosario Islands, you have a range of options. Whether you prefer staying on a boat, booking a hotel or hostel, or exploring the villas on private islands, there’s something for everyone. Notably, Hotel las Islas stands out as a luxurious choice. 

However, it’s important to acknowledge that some travelers have reported mixed experiences with accommodations in the area. Due to the islands’ remoteness, occasional service issues, power outages, and employee inconveniences can arise. If you choose to stay on one of the islands, it’s advisable to be prepared for potential challenges. 

Tips for Visiting the Rosario Islands 

If you plan to include the Rosario Islands in your Colombian itinerary, keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Plan and research in advance, considering your preferences and budget. 
  • Always document advertised services and clarify any additional costs beforehand. 
  • Be discerning when it comes to meal prices and inquire about prices before ordering. 
  • Be aware of inflated prices and negotiate where necessary, especially as a foreigner. 

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to the enchanting Rosario Islands. 

The Best Time to Visit the Rosario Islands 

If you’re wondering when the best time to visit the Rosario Islands is, the answer depends on your preferences and budget. The islands have a tropical climate, with warm and humid weather throughout the year. However, there are factors to consider, such as rainfall, temperature, and tourist seasons. 

The dry season in Cartagena and the Rosario Islands runs from December to April. This is the ideal time to enjoy sunny days and clear skies, as well as the best visibility for diving and snorkeling. However, this is also the peak tourist season, which means higher prices and more crowds. You may need to book your accommodation and tours in advance, especially during holidays and festivals. 

The wet season in Cartagena and the Rosario Islands runs from May to November. This is the low season, which means lower prices and fewer tourists. You can find more availability and bargains for accommodation and tours, as well as more privacy and tranquility on the islands. However, this is also the rainiest time of the year, which means cloudy days and occasional showers. The rainfall is usually heaviest in October and November, which can affect the water quality and visibility for diving and snorkeling.

Ultimately, the best time to visit the Rosario Islands depends on your personal preferences. If you don’t mind paying more and dealing with crowds, you can visit during the dry season and enjoy the best weather conditions. If you prefer to save money and avoid crowds, you can visit during the wet season and enjoy more flexibility and peace. Either way, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring this tropical paradise. 


The Rosario Islands, located near Cartagena, offer a tropical escape full of natural beauty and unique experiences. These islands are a true paradise for adventurers and relaxation-seekers alike, with pristine beaches, underwater wonders, and diverse accommodation options. 

To ensure an unforgettable trip that aligns with your expectations, it’s important to understand the various ways to reach the islands, explore the culinary delights, and make informed choices. Embark on your Rosario Islands adventure and immerse yourself in the wonders of the Caribbean. Safe travels! 

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