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Rosario Islands & Baru: Don’t Get Scammed and use this Guide

Drone photo of Rosario Islands

Updated on 05/17/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

The Rosario Islands: A Tropical Paradise

Introduction to the Rosario Islands

Embark on a journey to the Rosario Islands, an enchanting archipelago near Cartagena, Colombia. Part of the nation’s 59 national parks, these islands offer a rich tapestry of experiences for travelers. This paradise is only 45 minutes away from Cartagena.

Discover the Rosario Islands

  • Diverse Attractions: Choose from 28 islands, each offering unique experiences from relaxing beaches to exclusive villas.
  • Marine Life: Engage in snorkeling and diving to explore the rich coral reefs around Isla Grande, Isla del Pirata, and Isla del Encanto.
  • Bioluminescence: Experience the rare wonder of swimming with bioluminescent plankton in Laguna Encantada or Baru Island.
Beach at Rosario Island in Colombia

Travel to the Rosario Islands

  • Boat Tours from Cartagena: Various options cater to different budgets. Beware of overcrowded tours and hidden costs.
  • Private Boat Tours: Customize your itinerary for a more luxurious experience with reputable providers.
  • Sailboat Charters: Spend days exploring the islands; research online or negotiate directly at ports.
  • Hotel Options: Some hotels, like Hotel Casa San Agustin, offer private beach access and organize activities.
  • Party Atmosphere: The “Booze Cruise” to Cholon Island offers a vibrant party experience on weekends.
  • Ground Transport: To Baru you also will find many providers with buses, vans and cars.

Be Careful What And Where You Book

When planning a trip to the Rosario Islands or Baru, keep these key points in mind for a safer and more enjoyable experience:

  1. Choose Reputable Tour Operators: Research and select tour providers with good reviews and transparent practices. Quality and safety standards can differ greatly.
  2. Beware of Hidden Costs: Many tours advertise low initial prices but may include extra charges for activities, meals, or access to specific areas. Always ask what’s included in the price.
  3. Sustainable Tourism: Opt for environmentally friendly activities that respect the local ecosystem. Avoid tours that harm wildlife or contribute to pollution.
  4. Seasonal Considerations: The time of your visit can impact your experience. Peak seasons might lead to overcrowded areas, while off-peak times may offer a more tranquil atmosphere but with different weather conditions.
  5. Verify Accommodation Details: Ensure your accommodations, especially in remote areas, are confirmed and meet your expectations. Check for amenities and accessibility.
  6. Negotiate and Confirm Prices: Especially in tourist spots, prices may be inflated. Don’t hesitate to negotiate and confirm costs upfront, particularly for additional services or excursions.
  7. Stay Informed About Local Conditions: Keep up-to-date with local weather forecasts, sea conditions, and any travel advisories that could affect your trip.
  8. Street Vendors: Such tours are also sold by street vendors throughout Cartagena. That’s not always serious. I should know, I know some of them personally.
Culture of the island region Rosario Islands

Delightful Cuisine in the Rosario Islands: A Guide for Food Enthusiasts

Savor the Local Flavors

The Rosario Islands are a haven for seafood aficionados. Indulge in the local specialty – fresh fish accompanied by aromatic coconut rice. This dish is a must-try for its authentic Caribbean flair.

Dining Options Across the Islands

  • Hotel Dining: Some tour packages include meal stops at hotels offering a variety of cuisines.
  • Local Delicacies: Experience the unique opportunity of enjoying meals catered by local fishermen, available on certain islands and beaches.

Navigating the Culinary Landscape

  • Be Price-Conscious: The area has witnessed an increase in overcharging practices. Restaurants on Cholon Island, for example, are known for high prices for modest and low quality portions.
  • Smart Dining Choices: Exercise caution and judgement to avoid overpriced establishments. Prices at these spots can exceed what is typically charged in high-end restaurants across Colombia.
  • Awareness for International Visitors: Foreigners may face inflated prices. Always ask for the cost upfront, even for items as simple as a beer.
  • Seek Authentic Experiences: Explore local eateries that offer fair pricing for a genuine taste of the islands’ culinary delights.
  • Special Case Playa Blanca: There are frequent reports of fraudulent prices, sometimes 20 times the normal price.

Ensuring a Pleasant Dining Experience

To fully enjoy the gastronomic pleasures of the Rosario Islands, staying informed and making wise choices is key. This approach not only supports local businesses but also enhances your overall culinary journey in this Caribbean paradise.

Drone photo of Rosario Islands in Cartagena Colombia

Baru and Playa Blanca: Island Highlights

Baru: A Peninsula of Luxury and Serenity

  • Premier Accommodations: Home to some of the region’s most exquisite hotels, including the acclaimed Hotel Las Islas.
  • Scenic Beauty: Known for its stunning beaches and a quaint village, Baru offers a picturesque and peaceful setting.
  • Cultural Experience: Experience the unique charm and tranquility of local life in Baru, making it a perfect retreat.

Playa Blanca: Vibrant but Crowded

  • Popularity and Changes: A popular day trip destination from Cartagena, Playa Blanca has undergone significant transformations in recent years.
  • Bustling Atmosphere: This beach area has evolved into a lively and noisy destination, marked by an influx of tourists and water sports activities.
  • Vendor Presence: The increased number of vendors, offering goods and services, can impact the relaxing beach experience, with constant solicitation being a common occurrence.
  • Boats and Jet Skis: When swimming you sometimes have to be careful not to get run over.

Accommodations in the Rosario Islands

A Variety of Staying Options

  • Diverse Choices: The Rosario Islands offer a wide range of accommodation options, catering to different preferences and budgets.
  • Unique Experiences: From staying on boats to exploring villas on private islands, the choices are diverse and unique.

Considerations for Island Stays

  • Mixed Experiences: Traveler reviews indicate varied experiences, suggesting the need for thorough research before booking.
  • Remote Location Challenges: Due to the islands’ remote nature, occasional service disruptions like power outages and limited staff availability are possible.
  • Being Prepared: When opting to stay on the islands, it’s advisable to be ready for these potential inconveniences to ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable visit.

Tips for Visiting the Rosario Islands

Essential Travel Tips

  • Advance Planning: Research thoroughly in accordance with your personal preferences and budget constraints.
  • Service Documentation: Ensure to document all advertised services and double-check for any hidden or additional costs.
  • Dining Expenses: Exercise caution regarding meal prices. Always inquire about the cost before ordering to avoid surprises.
  • Price Negotiations: Be particularly vigilant about inflated prices, especially as a foreign traveler, and don’t hesitate to negotiate.
  • Avoid Fights: If you have screwed over, you should refrain from physical confrontation. The local vendors stand together and there are many of them.

Making the Most of Your Visit

By adhering to these tips, you can enhance your experience in the Rosario Islands, ensuring it is both enjoyable and aligned with your expectations.

The Best Time to Visit the Rosario Islands

Seasonal Considerations

  • Dry Season (December to April): Ideal for sunny weather and outdoor activities. Note that this period is the peak tourist season, leading to higher prices and larger crowds. Early booking of accommodations and tours is recommended.
  • Wet Season (May to November): Characterized by lower prices and fewer tourists, offering more tranquility. However, prepare for rainier conditions, which might impact water activities like diving and snorkeling.

Colombia Travel Tips

More Destinations in Colombia

Beaches in Colombia

Other destinations and experiences in Colombia


About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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