Isla Fuerte In Colombia, An Ex-Drug Trafficker Island Who Became Paradise

The only times I heard about Isla Fuerte in Colombia, it was from the mouth of Colombian travellers. Famous for its amazing dives (Bushnell, Burbujas, and Bartolo), the old drug trafficker island is also an excellent place to have a rest for few days. Palm tree and blue water, sloths and snorkelling, hostel or eco lodge, if you would like spend few days on an island but still doing some activities, Isla Fuerte is for you!

Our last stop was a lot of fun and chill but now we need to meet more people. I guess it will not be hard to do more than 2. Backpack on the shoulder, we are waiting for the boat to go back to Nicocli. The sun is really intense and no shade on the dock. 2 boats arrive but they are going in the opposite direction. In each, there is someone we know. 1+1=2, we indeed met more than 2 people, only staying on the dock. Small world.


Sunset on the beach San Diego

The 10 reasons why you should visit Isla Fuerte

  • They have unusual trees
  • You can observe Sloths
  • It’s out of the gringo trail
  • Fantastic dives
  • La Playita
  • Donkeys will be your alarm
  • Everyone is chill and friendly
  • You can surf
  • Bucket shower
  • You can try to find the treasure of Captain Morgan

The Backpacking guide of Isla Fuerte in Colombia: Table of Content

  1. How to get to Isla Fuerte in Colombia
  2. Where to sleep in Isla Fuerte in Colombia
  3. What to do in Isla Fuerte in Colombia
  4. Where to eat in Isla Fuerte in Colombia
  5. Conclusion

How to get to Isla Fuerte in Colombia

So, you take the boat. Of course, it’s a little late. But just behind you, there is the hostel Anayansi. Have a beer and relax, the boat will come soon.

Once in Necocli, crazy tuk-tuk driver is waiting for you. You buy your ticket directly on the dock, and they bring you for free to the bus of your choice.

They will give you usually 2 options:

  • Medellin around 7-8 hours and around 70 000 COP
  • Cartagena around 10 hours and around 80 000 COP

BUT, as your reading this blog, you know there is a lot of beautiful places between! If you plan to go to Cartagena, you can decide to spend a week on beautiful islands: Isla Fuerte in Colombia and San Bernardo islands.

With your excellent Spanish accent, you say to the guy selling the bus ticket at the dock:

  • Quiero ir a Montería.
  • Que? Montería? Porque? Hay nada que hacer en Montería

Yes, he gonna be amazed. Yes, he gonna ask you 4 times. But you will be strong and you will answer every time:

  • Si, Montería porfa.

2 hours later, you arrive in town. Not a lot of things to do. A walk around the canal maybe. You’re back in the civilisation also, so you can decide to buy some alcohol for the islands 😉

Unfortunately, you need to sleep 1 night here because it’s too late to go to Paseo Nuevo to have a boat to Isla Fuerte in Colombia. At the bus terminal, ask a taxi to bring you to a cheap hotel. 40 000 COP for a private room for 2 people should be an average.

The next day, bam bam bam you are ready for your adventure. 1 bus, 1 moto taxi and 1 boat, you finally arrive at Isla Fuerte.

From Capurgana / Necocli

You can take a boat in the morning to go to Necocli. Find the information on our article about Capurgana

Once in Necocli, take the bus in direction to Cartagena and ask them to drop you at Monteria. You have to spend the night there because it’s too late to catch the bus.

The next morning, take the bus to Paseo Nuevo. It’s only 2 hours. At your stop, there are moto-taxi waiting for you. Don’t worry, be happy, it’s only 5 min.

Then, take the boat to Isla Fuerte in Colombia!


  • Remember to the driver that you want to go to Isla Fuerte
  • The first official boat leave around 1 pm
  • It’s better if you have some big plastic bags to protect your backpack


  • Necocli – Monteria: 20 000 COP
  • Night in Monteria: 40 000 / 50 000 COP for a double a room in a simple hotel
  • Taxi from the centre to the bus terminal: 5000 /  6000  COP
  • Monteria – Paseo Nuevo: 17 000 COP
  • Moto to arrive at the “dock”: 2000 COP
  • Speed boat to Isla Fuerte: 15 000 / 20 000 COP. You can pay a little more expensive if you want to leave earlier


  • Necocli – Monteria: 2 hours
  • Monteria – Paseo Nuevo: 2 hours 30 min
  • Paseo Nuevo – Isla Fuerte: 30 min

Backpacker Profile: Flip Flop Backpacker

From Cartagena

By Bus

Take the direct bus going to Monteria. Once you arrive, follow the instructions above.

If you are leaving Cartagena early (around 7h00 am), you will be able to catch the boat to Isla Fuerte 😉

Price:  Cartagena – Monteria: 40 000 COP

Time: 6 hours

Backpacker Profile: Flip Flop Backpacker

By Boat

Recently, the famous hostel Casa el Agua set up a boat service from Cartagena. Has it not really official for now, you need to contact them on their website to know about the boat. They usually leave at 3H00 PM from Cartagena.

Once arrive in Casa en el Agua, you can decide to sleep there or going to Mucura island. Casa en el Agua and Mucura are parts of the Archipelago. The islands there are beautiful (especially Isla Titipan and Mucura).

Do you want to know more about Mucura and San Bernardo Archipelago? Check our article.

Then, from Casa en el Agua, you can take a boat to go directly to the hostel La Playita


  • Cartagena – Casa en el Agua: 100 000 COP
  • Casa en el Agua – Mucura island: 15 000 COP
  • Casa en el Agua – Isla Fuerte in Colombia: 70 000 COP


  • Cartagena – Casa en el Agua: 2h30
  • Casa en el Agua – Mucura Island: 15 000 COP
  • Casa en el Agua – Isla Fuerte in Colombia: 2h

Backpacker Profile: Flip Flop Backpacker


  • Choose this option only if you wish to visit San Bernardo Archipelago.
  • From November to April, the boat drive can be really bumpy and wet 😉

The boat drive can be wet or not. It depends on your Karma. You sit in the speed surrounded by toilette papers and small bags of water. Yep, it’s an island so they need to send everything by boat. The stories said that Isla Fuerte in Colombia has been inhabited by pirates, contrabandists and for a time drug-traffickers. This is why it’s has been named “Isla Fuerte” (Fort in English).

San Diego

On the beach, you have two options.

Depends on what you want to do on Isla Fuerte.

Your plan is to chill because after all, you are on an island? Go to La Playita on the right. Hostel with its own small beach. The area is perfect to relax and do nothing. Play volleyball and go in their party boat to watch the sunset. During the night, it’s your best chance to do a party on the island. However, there is enough space if you decide to hide from all the alcoholic people.

Do you want to spend your days looking for the treasures of Isla Fuerte in Colombia? Go on the left to the Cabana de lily. A quiet hostel is probably better for you. If you are two people, you have your own room for the same price than a dorm in a party hostel. And if you want to have fun during the night, go to la Playita.

It’s your last days and you want to spend your remaining cash in a beautiful spot. Why should you not try the Ecolodge there? With its big rooms, good food and a chill outdoor, it will be perfect for the end of your holidays.

Do you have more information about the Ecolodge? Video, Photo? Let me know in a comment!

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Where to sleep in Isla Fuerte in Colombia?

Do you want to have a quick glimpse of where to sleep in Isla Fuerte in Colombia? Watch the video below! HD and English subtitles.


La Playita – I slept there

La Playita is a hostel with its own beach. The location is perfect and the staff very chill. They are open since few years so they are still doing some improvements. You can hang around on the different hammock or long chairs. So, take a cocktail and enjoy the view. Free breakfast and wifi. There is no kitchen.

You will find all the information you need on their website


Backpacker Profile: Double bed Backpacker

Cabanas de Lili

Rapha is a cool dude who owns la Cabana de Lili in the centre. The hostel is simple. You can take the “pension” option. He owns also the restaurant so the food is really good. It will be a cheaper option than La Playita. No wifi and No Kitchen.


  • Private room: 85 000 COP with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Hammock: 10 000 COP


  • Tel: 313 629 3031
  • Email:

Backpacker Profile: Hammock Backpacker


If you want to spend your stay in a fancy place, it will be maybe your spot. I’ve never visited the place, but it seems very nice!

Be careful; it’s another budget!

You will find all the information you need on their website


Backpacker Profile: Castle Backpacker

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What to do in Isla Fuerte in Colombia

You go out of your hostel and you decide you’re ready for a small adventure. As every island on the Caribbean Coast, the time is slower, the people too.

Locals are sitting around a speaker, just in front of the nightclub. Some time to time, one of them has to stand up and come closer to his friend if he wants to speak to him. Yes, the music is deafening. 

You follow the main road along the coast. Small shops, campings and funny trees, you pass also in front of la Casa de Lili. You turn right and go deeper in the village. The sun is high here, and the reverberation of the light in the white street make you blind. (Because you lost your nice sunglasses during your trip and the shitty one you bought for 5$ are already screwed up).

After 3 min, you are already outside of the village and probably lost.

Bonga tree

Isla Fuerte in Colombia is not a baby island with its 3 km2. Everything is kind of private so you can’t walk everywhere you want. Instead, you have to follow some paths who look all the same. No worries, you can’t lose your way for a long time. Do you know why? Because you are on an island!

Walking under the shade of the trees is really peaceful and you don’t meet a lot of tourists. However, here in Isla Fuerte, the donkey is the king (Fuck the Lion). The locals use them to carry everything. It’s maybe not good to be a king here. Children, not higher than 1m05 are coming to you to save your life if you’re lost. They also can help you to visit Isla Fuerte. You can accept if it’s Saturday or Sunday otherwise send them back to school 😉

Ok, now you have the choice:

  • Isla Fuerte is famous for its unusual trees
  • Dive to the reef the most preserved of all the Caribbean Coast
  • Climb a lighthouse and probably die
  • Chill on the beaches
Map Isla Fuerte


Do you want to have a quick glimpse of what to do in Isla Fuerte in Colombia? Watch the video below! HD and English subtitles.

The trees

Because of specific environmental conditions, Isla Fuerte in Colombia has some weird/funny/amazing trees. Looks for the ones below on the islands!

  • El arbol que camina
  • El Tun Tun
  • La bonga
  • Mangroves

They are not very far from the town.

Playa San Diego

Playa San Diego is the most famous beach of the island. Go there, buy a beer and some green mango with salt and pepper and relax. It’s a perfect spot for the sunset. It’s possible to watch the sunset on a boat with music if you ask to La Playita (Minimum 4 pers – 30 000 COP each with 2 beers each)

Playa Cebolla

Playa Cebolla is the same kind of beach than Playa San Diego but it little smaller and more secret. Do you want to escape people? Go there!

Tour of the islands by boat

It’s possible to do the tour of the island by speed boat. A lot of locals can offer you this tour. Raf, the owner of la Cabana de Lili does it. You will do few stops like Punta Ingles, to do some snorkelling. He has some snorkels for you

Price: 15 000 COP

Time: Few hours

Don’t forget your sun cream and water 😉

The sloths

Just before to arrive at Playa San Diego start to look up in the trees. You can turn right below the fence and follow the path for 20 m. Few sloths are generally sleeping in the trees.

The cave

The legend says that a famous Caribbean pirate, Captain Morgan, let a treasure in this cave. You can’t, unfortunately, go deep. But, we never know! Have a look 😉

Snorkelling / Diving


 You need to go to Punta Ingles (North of the island)


Isla Fuerte in Colombia is the closest place to go diving to Bushnell, Burbujas, and Bartolo. They are considered as the best-conserved reef of the Caribbean sea.

  • Bushnell is an amazing  3km square reef with labyrinths, barracuda, horse mackerel
  • Burbujas is subaquatic lava volcano.
  • El Planchon is a ship break 30 m long where sharks live!

Check the website below to know more about it

You can go diving with the ecolodge hostel. It seems they have the best dive school of Isla Fuerte in Colombia. Unfortunately, they only provide their services if you are sleeping in the Ecolodge.

Otherwise, You can also go asking to the hostel La Playita.

They have a contact with another good dive centre.


  • 220 000 COP – 2 dives – You will do your dives near Isla Fuerte
  • 330 000 COP – 2 dives – If you want to go to Bushnell reef.


  • 1h30 one way by boat if you wish to dive at the Bushnell reef.

Contact: La Playita Hostel


Yes, it’s also possible to do surf in Isla Fuerte. You can rent a surfboard in La Playita. The two best spot are:

  • Playa del norte
  • Playa el Ingles 

Back to the Table of Contents

Where to eat in Isla Fuerte in Colombia

Isla Fuerte in Colombia will not be your best destination for the food. You have a lot of local restaurants.

I also selected for you 3 options. From the cheaper to the most expensive


She is a beautiful lady making amazing Patacones (one of the specialities of Colombia). You will have homemade tomato sauce, cheese and meat on it. It’s delicious, you have to try for lunch!

Price: around  8000 COP

Yazmil restaurant

Cabana de Lili

Yes, Rafa has a hostel. But it also owns a restaurant. He has a lot of different plates of seafood. It will be perfect for lunch and dinner.

Price: 15 000 COP. It will be more expensive if you ask for a lobster 😉

Hostel Playita

The most famous hostel of Isla Fuerte has also a restaurant. If you are bored of Colombian food, it will be a good option. You should order before you are starving because it can take a time to have your plate ;).

Price: Around 25 000 COP 

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Conclusion about Isla Fuerte in Colombia

Isla Fuerte in Colombia has beaches, amazing trees, really good dives spots and sloths. This island outside of the gringo trail has everything to become one of the best spots of the Caribbean sea. Here, your life will be simple and easy and except 2 local night clubs for the weekend and funny parties in the hostel La playita, your life will be chill too. If you are looking for a party island, don’t go there. Otherwise, come and enjoy.

Time: 3-4 days

Budget: 100 000 COP

Backpacker Profile: Lost on an island

Do you want to know more about it? I selected for you some other website speaking about Isla Fuerte in Colombia.

Now it’s time to go to the San Bernardo Archipelago!! Do you want to know more about it? Read me!!

Also, if you have some others cool places in Isla Fuerte in Colombia or if you have noticed a different price, please let me know (Comments, email, Facebook) !!!

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2 thoughts on “Isla Fuerte In Colombia, An Ex-Drug Trafficker Island Who Became Paradise

    1. Thanks Nora!!!

      Nope, I came back to france few days ago.

      My plan is to work on the blog few months then I go back to Colombia!!!

      Still in Colombia?

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