This guide will help you to choose among the best Rosario islands hotels.
You’d be surprised how many people are disappointed with Cartagena and the islands around.
Because of mass tourism, there are many things to know to enjoy the place.
After more than 20 hours of online research and my travel experience (exploring Colombia since 2015), I selected the best hotels in las Islas del Rosario.
The winner of this selection is Islabela. This eco-hotel, surrounded by mangroves and crystal clear water, allows you to discover this piece of paradise for a reasonable price. Select one of their four bungalows and let yourself be carried away by the peaceful atmosphere of the place.
Keep reading to find out the winners in each category.
|Islabela||350,000||Yes||Isla Grande||1h boat||10|
|Coralina Island||780,000||Yes||Isla Grande||1h boat||9.8|
|Secreto Hostel||80,000||No||Isla Grande||2h boat||8.8|
|Las Islas||1,415,000||No||Isla Barú||1h boat||8.6|
|Isla del Pirata||300,000||Yes||Isla Grande||1h boat||8.5|
|Isla del Sol||760,000||Yes||Isla Grande||1h boat||8.4|
|Playa Manglares||600,000||No||Isla Barú||1h drive||8|
Best hotels in the Rosario Islands, Colombia
It is not easy to find suitable accommodation. Nobody likes tourist traps.
I have analyzed the reviews and websites of the best Rosario Islands hotels. Here is our ranking.
1# Our favorite Rosario island hotel: Islabela
10/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Eco Hotel Islabela does it right. 4 comfortable bungalows are scattered among the vegetation and face a small private beach. The staff, inhabitants of the Rosario Islands, serve decent meals with big smiles. All you have to do is digest it from your sofa on the beach. Later, grab one of the paddles (free) and venture around the mangroves or chase the colorful fish among the reefs.
- Best quality/price ratio of the Rosario islands hotels. Affordable prices for activities.
- 4 rooms (without A/C), simple and comfortable. No need for more.
- One of the best private sandy beaches of the Rosario Islands, with good facilities: beds, hammocks, lounge chairs, umbrellas.
- The staff is adorable and does a great job in managing the daytrippers and guests.
- Downside: Some customers found the meals somewhat average.
Price: From 350 000 COP | Cancellation policy: 5 days | Where: Isla Grande | How to get there: Islabela’s boat, departure at 9 am, 60 000 COP one way, 1 hour | Daytripper: Yes, but it’s well managed.
2# Best romantic Rosario island hotel: Coralina Island
9.8/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Coralina island is a hotel in the Rosario Islands that will suit couples looking for privacy. Each room has its private deck overlooking the turquoise Caribbean waters. In the kitchen, the chef excels in combining French recipes with Colombian flavors. It is pure happiness, especially when one has the impression of being alone in the world.
- Located on Isla Marina, the site blends perfectly with the setting of the Caribbean islands.
- 8 comfortable rooms, with A/C. Not all rooms are the same. Pick a double bedroom to be in the most romantic part of the hotel.
- The staff is fantastic, although most of them do not speak English. Pierre, the french owner, does.
- The food is delicious, and Coralina island offers the full board option.
- Downside: As soon as you arrive, you will be assigned a deck and a table. Some guests didn’t like it.
Price: From 780 000 COP | Cancellation policy: 3 days | Where: Next to Isla Grande | How to get there: Coralina’s boat, departure at 8h30am, 102 000 COP one way, 1 hour | Daytripper: Sometimes.
3# Best Hostel in las Islas del Rosario: Secreto Hostel
8.8/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Secreto hostel is the perfect option for solo travelers or those who want to save a few dollars. 7 large colorful wooden houses surround a large pool and a bar serving delicious cocktails. This Rosario Islands hotel organizes many activities, but you can decide to explore the island independently. Beware, even there, a stay on Isla Grande will be pricey.
- You can stay in a dorm or a private bedroom.
- You can use the kitchen, and the village is only 15 minutes away. There are few choices in the local shops. Bring your food if you can.
- Fabulous & affordable tours: bioluminescent plankton, snorkeling, kayak. And some free activities: bonfire, salsa lessons.
- Great communal chill-out areas.
- Downside: Limited water and not enough bathrooms for everyone.
Price: From 80 000 COP (Dorm) | Cancellation policy: 2 days | Where: In Isla Grande | How to get there: Public boat, departure between 9-10 am, 90 000 COP round trip, 2 hours | Daytripper: No
4# Best luxury Rosario islands hotel: Las Islas
8.6/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Arriving from Cartagena by private boat (or even by helicopter), guests will be amazed at the quality of the Las Islas resort. The 55 luxury cabins are scattered among the mangroves and offer an exceptional view of Isla Barú and its surroundings. Each guest has their privacy and can move around smoothly to enjoy the setting and facilities.
- Qualified and friendly staff. Some of them speak English.
- Private cabins, whose wooden architecture and decoration are highly refined. Guests will fall in love with the treetop bungalows with Jacuzzi or the sea level bungalows with infinity pool.
- You can use a bike or call a golf cart to move around. It’s free.
- High-end activities, some of them included: Cooking class, plankton tour.
- Downside: Some guests find the cuisine too classic for a luxury establishment. Also, the hotel could embellish the dining area.
Price: From 1 415 000 COP | Cancellation policy: No | Where: Isla Barú | How to get there: Las Islas’ boat, departure at 1h30pm, 200 000 COP one way, 1 hour | Daytripper: No
5# Best Rosario islands hotel to chill with friends: Isla del Pirata
8.5/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
If you visit the Caribbean with a group of friends, you will love this Rosario Islands hotel. With its 12 bungalows built near the sea, Isla del Pirata offers a simple and hassle-free stay for its guests. Yes, it is rustic, Yes there are things to improve. But wait to have a cocktail in your hand, looking at the turquoise water of the Caribbean. You will realize that in the end, it doesn’t matter.
- The price of cocktails and other drinks is reasonable. On the other hand, the dishes are relatively expensive.
- 4 people can rent a bungalow. The price becomes very attractive.
- Isla Grande is right next door. You can ask a local to take you there. Ask for the price first!
- Snorkeling around is excellent. Bring your mask. You’ll save a few bucks.
- Downside: this is an “island style” accommodation and not a hotel. Lower your expectations.
Price: From 300 000 COP | Cancellation policy: No | Where: Near Isla Grande | How to get there: Isla Pirata’s boat, departure at 8 am, 150 000 COP round trip, 1 hour | Daytripper: Yes
6# Best Rosario islands hotel for families: Isla del Sol
8.4/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Isla del Sol is located on Isla Grande, a Rosario Islands hotel that offers a beautiful setting for families. A lovely little sandy beach and the pool give the kids a chance to have fun while you read on your lounge chair. And if they still have energy, go for a kayak trip later in the afternoon!
- Choose the “Deluxe bungalow” to have a large room with a balcony, hammock, and A/C. Up to 4 or 5 guests.
- You can walk around Isla Grande or use the kayaks (included).
- It’s one of the rare sandy beaches in Isla Grande.
- Children under 3 years of age pay only for meals and transportation.
- Downside: The staff is lovely, but they are overwhelmed when the daytrippers show up. The service becomes disorganized.
Price: From 760 000 COP (full board) | Cancellation policy: 14 days | Where: Isla Grande | How to get there: Isla del Sol’s boat, departure at 9 am, 150 000 COP round trip, 1 hour | Daytripper: Yes, sometimes too many.
7# The most accessible Rosario islands hotel: Playa Manglares
8/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
You don’t have to take a boat to enjoy the Rosario Islands. Playa Manglares, located on Isla Barú, is accessible by car (thanks to a bridge). Located a few steps from the discreet Barbacoas Bay, this eco-hotel, open to the four winds, allows travelers to reconnect with nature. Come here to be at peace and enjoy the delicious dishes cooked with the fruits and vegetables of the garden.
- The hotel can arrange private transportation from the hotel in Cartagena or the airport. 100 000 COP/ up to 4 people. There is also a parking lot.
- Direct access to the beach, with the possibility of lounging in a hammock or getting a massage. The color of the water is brownish because of the nearby lagoon.
- Only 5 bright rooms, with a beautiful view of the surroundings.
- They offer an excellent tour to visit the Rosario Islands and enjoy its turquoise waters.
- Downside: Some guests might find it too rustic (given the price).
Price: From 600 000 COP | Cancellation policy: 14 days | Where: Isla Barú | How to get there: 1h drive | Daytripper: No.
8# The best Rosario islands resort: Isla del Encanto
8/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Isla del Encanto is a resort located at the very end of Isla Baru. A dozen bungalows on two floors offer a beautiful view of the sea and the large pool below. Because of its size, you will not have the feeling of being alone in the world. This disadvantage is offset by the quality of the facilities and the number of services offered by the establishment.
- Good buffet style for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Vary every day.
- Well trained staff and some speak English.
- The bungalows are modern and comfortable.
- Many facilities and activities to suit families and couples: private events, diving, romantic dinner, pool, beach.
- Downsides: There are sometimes too many daytrippers, and the service becomes slow. Also, it’s not the loveliest part of Isla Barú.
Price: From 1 220 000 COP (full board) | Cancellation policy: 3 days | Where: Isla Barú | How to get there: by land or sea. Departure at noon. 1-1h20 | Daytripper: Yes, a lot.
9# Rosario islands hotel with the best beach: Gente de Mar
8/10 – Tomplanmytrip’s note
Do you like to sunbathe and run on the beach like in the series of Baywatch? In that case, you’ll love Gente de Mar. Its two long private beaches are perfectly arranged, with many deckchairs installed in the shade of the trees.
- Friendly staff, but the organization is a bit chaotic.
- You can organize a romantic dinner on the beach by lantern light.
- The seawater is beautiful, and you can use the hotel’s kayaks to move around.
- 2 fantastic and large white-sand beaches.
- Downside: Some travelers considered the food expensive, and the music might be too loud during the day.
Price: From 550 000 COP | Cancellation policy: 30 days | Where: Isla Grande | How to get there: Gente de Mar’s boat, departure at 8 am, 1 hour | Daytripper: Yes.
What you should know about Rosario Islands hotels
Now that you know all your options, it’s time to ask you the following question.
Are you ready to stay in the Rosario Islands?
Life on the Caribbean islands of Colombia is different. The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy your time there. Believe me.
Rosario islands hotels are expensive
This is normal. You’re in the middle of nowhere. The smallest plank of wood is complicated to bring.
Same for the meals. You can’t hope to order a Menu del día for 10,000 COP.
Furthermore, you’ll have to pay for the boat ride & the dock fees (about 18,500 COP) because you enter a natural reserve.
Take it into consideration so that you won’t be surprised when the bill shows up.
Your travel budget is limited? Secreto Hostel might be the best choice for you.
Rosario islands hotels are not perfect
These eco-hotels are in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Salt attacks everything, and it requires constant repairs.
You might expect a 5-stars hotel. You’re wrong. Don’t compare it with the other hotels on the continent. They don’t have the same issues.
Most Rosario Islands hotels don’t have hot water or A/C.
You’re in the Caribbean. Take it easy
Don’t be in a rush, book at least 2 nights, and don’t yell at the waiter because he doesn’t understand English.
Also, the staff are not necessarily experts who pay attention to minor details. Most of them are locals living on the island. If you need something, don’t hesitate to ask them (then ask again if they forget).
And stop hopping to work on the internet. It won’t happen.
Are you looking for a quiet and easy trip? Isla del Encanto could be the place for you.
Everyone loves the Rosario Islands
During the high season, book your Rosario islands hotel in advance.
The other important thing to consider are the daytrippers. Most of the well-known Eco-hotels on Isla Grande sell day passes. You’ll arrive with them on the boat. They will be everywhere, stealing your favorite seat under your favorite tree.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But you have to take it into account. If you don’t like people, avoid going on weekends.
Where to stay on the Rosario Islands
Basically, there are 3 areas where you can stay in the Rosario Islands.
Best hotels on Isla Barú
The sea is not turquoise, but the setting in the middle of mangroves remains idyllic. There is a bridge that allows you to connect the hotels by land. This will make it easier to organize transportation.
Best hotels on Isla Grande
Isla Grande is only accessible by boat from Cartagena or Isla Barú. Once there, you can leave the establishment to take a walk in the surroundings (and in the village). There is a lot of trash. It can be deceptive.
Head to Playa Libre if you want to access the only public beach.
Best hotels around Isla Grande
There are many small islands around Isla Grande, only accessible by boat. The setting is beautiful, and you will have the perfect Caribbean experience. However, you may feel a little trapped since you will need the hotel for everything.
How to get to the best Rosario islands hotels
Usually, you must be there around 8h30 am. But you’ll leave around 10 am. The process is sometimes a bit chaotic, and everyone has to pay the dock fees. Don’t worry, the hotel’s staff will help you out.
Then, it’s a 1-h boat ride to arrive on the Rosario Islands. Once on-site, you won’t be able to check-in before 2 or 3 pm (they must clean your room first). Just relax and enjoy the hotel’s facilities.
For the return trip, the boats leave between 2 and 3 pm.
Note: During the windy season, from December to April, the sea can be pretty rough. Travelers might find the boat ride scary and splashy. You’ll leave at 2 pm.
To go to Isla Barú, hotels offer both solutions (by land or sea). It will depend on the number of guests. You’ll leave later from Cartagena, and you won’t have to wait to check in.
When to go to the Rosario Islands, Colombia
Don’t be scared of the rainy season. Most days are sunny, and the sea will be calmer. This is a plus, especially for snorkeling and boat trips.
However, you should do your best to avoid tourists and daytrippers. Book your stay during the week. Don’t show up for Christmas, New Year, the Holy Week, or any Colombian public holidays.
More Rosario Islands hotel tips
Follow these last guidelines, and you’ll have a hell of a trip to the Rosario Islands in Colombia.
The perfect Rosario island packing list:
- Snacks (if you can).
- Snorkel gears.
- Repellent. There are mosquitoes and sandflies.
- Beach shoes to avoid injuring yourself on the dead corals.
- Some cash.
For the boat ride:
- Sit in the front to avoid being soaked by the waves (but it bounces more).
- Another more convenient solution is only to wear a swimsuit.
- Take sick travel pills if needed.
- Put valuables in a dry bag.
- Pregnant women won’t be allowed to board.
The Bottom line
Some of the hotels in the Rosario Islands are little natural paradises, but you have to be willing to make some small sacrifices to enjoy them. Come with the right mindset, and you will love it.
Islabela offers some rooms in a quiet and beautiful area of the Rosario Islands. Its close collaboration with the locals and its affordable prices make it the winner of this selection.
For travelers in love looking for romance, Coralina island is a no-brainer.
Wanna fall in love with Colombia?