Between Capurgana and Cartagena, the small San Bernardo Islands are made of white sands, palm trees, and cabañas and hidden from the gringo trail. Within the Archipelago de San Bernardo, locals use their speedboat to achieve their daily tasks and fishers are going out at night to get the biggest prey. Let’s see where and how to travel to the San Bernardo Islands.
San Bernardo Islands: What you must know
How to get there: You can take a boat from Rincon del Mar (40 min), Cartagena (2.5 h), or Tolu (1h).
What to do: Don’t worry. Be happy. Lay back on the beach and plan a few activities with your hotel like snorkeling, paddling or the bioluminescent plankton.
Isla Tintipan: It’s the largest and most beautiful San Bernardo island. It’s made up of mangroves and secluded white-sand beach. I recommend staying here.
Isla Mucura: The most famous island. 80% of the island is privatized by hotels. Pick your accommodation cautiously. I recommend staying here.
Isla Palma: It’s the nearest island to Rincon del Mar. The island is divided into 2 hotels. You can party here.
Duration: You can plan a day trip from Rincon del Mar or stay a couple of days if you like relaxing on paradise islands.
Best San Bernardo tips: You can only pay by cash (except a few hotels). The sea is rough from December to April. More information about the weather.
More information: Read our San Bernardo guide.
Pick a Colombia itinerary: We creat various turnkey Colombia itineraries.
Take a look at our table of contents to get more in-depth information about the Archipelago de San Bernardo.
Where to travel after the San Bernardo islands
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Table of contents: The Archipelago de San Bernardo
- What are the San Bernardo islands
- Isla Mucura
- Isla Tintipan
- Islote de Santa Cruz
- Isla de Palma
- Casa en el Agua
- How to get to the San Bernardo Islands
- San Bernardo islands on a shoestring budget
- Things to do to spend the day
- Start creating your Colombia itinerary
- Lay back and use our premium service
What are the San Bernardo islands
The Archipelago of San Bernardo in Colombia, made of 10 little paradises surrounded by crystalline blue water, is a forgotten place where nature and humans have learned to evolve together, in harmony. The islands are part of the Rosario and San Bernardo corals national natural park.
The majority of the inhabitants live on an artificial Colombia island, smaller than two football stadiums. There, 1500 people are sharing every little piece of ground. Kids are jumping and kicking the air with their legs before landing in the clear ocean. Neighbors are like brothers and sisters as there is no secret or intimacy on Islote de Santa Cruz.
Among the 10 San Bernardo islands, some are private or to small to be visited.
Let’s find out their specificities and names.
Isla Boqueron: the tiniest San Bernardo Island
It’s the closest island to the coast. A few families have established their summer home. Usually, you don’t go to Isla Boqueron with a tour.
Isla Mucura: The most famous San Bernardo island
It’s was my favorite island. On Mucura Island, there are the cheapest hotels in San Bernardo. You can walk to a tiny village to get some street foods, water, and alcohol. I love to make my own Coco Loco!
Unfortunately, 95% of the island is privatized by hotels. It means you will only have access to the small public beach if you don’t stay in one of them.
Because you’re not free not roam wherever you want any more, I prefer staying on Isla Tintipan.
Isla Mucura is still an excellent option if you travel on a high budget or with a group of friends.
Where to stay on Isla Mucura (+)
- Hotel Isla Mucura (Get the best prices) | Ideal for groups of friends who wants to spend a fun moment
- Hostel Dalhandia (Get the best prices) | Peaceful & Family vibe. It’s one of the most affordable places. Unpretentious cabins.
- Hotel Punto Faro (Get the best prices) | Luxury & Romantic. It’s the best hotel on the San Bernardo island.
- Mucura Club Hotel (Get the best prices) | Vast establishment made of wood. Comfy rooms.
Isla Tintipan: the most beautiful San Bernardo Island
Isla Tintipan is the largest island. I like to get there to eat tasty plates of seafood on the long white beach, under a colorful umbrella. Isla Tintipan in Colombia is also a haven of peace for many pelicans, and it’s a fun moment to navigate through the labyrinth of mangroves.
And last year, we participate in a techno festival organized by Casa En El Agua. It was awesome!
Hotels are scattered on various secluded beaches, on the same side of the island.
It’s the ideal spot if you’re traveling as a couple.
Where to stay on Isla Tintipan (+)
- Hotel Punta Norte (get the best prices) | Basic cabins made with wood. The setting is outstanding.
- Hostel Isla Roots (get the best prices) | Social place & Private island where young travelers like to hang out.
- Hotel Sal Si Puedes (get the best prices) | The best hotel of Isla Tintipan with private access to the beach and the mangrove at the back.
Islote de Santa Cruz, a town in the San Bernardo archipelago
It’s an artificial island where most of the inhabitants are staying. The density population is one of the highest in the world. Take a boat to visit the town. The streets are so tiny that you’ve got the feeling to walk through their living rooms.
Also, kids are running everywhere, and they won’t miss an occasion to involve you in football games.
Isla Palma: The closest island to Rincon del Mar
The island is private and divided into 2 hotels. Previously, it was owned by the all-inclusive resort Decameron. It’s only 20 min away from Rincon del Mar. The island is beautiful, but the hotels there still need some improvements to become a romantic little paradise.
Where to stay on Isla Palma (+)
Islas Maravilla, Panda, Ceyen, Cabruna, and Mangle
Most of them are little islands made up of dead coral reefs, trees, and mangroves. You can drive around, but it’s normally not allowed to get off the boat as it’s a protected area.
Hostel Casa En El Agua
It’s not an island, but it’s the most famous Hostel in San Bernardo. A Dutch guy had the great idea to build a big hostel on a dead reef in the middle of the Archipelago of San Bernardo. The Hotel Casa En El Agua is probably one of the most famous hostels in Colombia. Travelers hang around, spending time between cocktails, inflatable buoys, and snorkeling sessions.
It’s a bit expensive and you won’t meet many Spanish speakers. However, it’s a cool spot if you want to get some fun and spend your money on cocktails.
Map of the Archipelago de San Bernardo
How To Enjoy The San Bernardo Islands In Colombia
#1 How to get to the San Bernardo islands
Take a boat for the San Bernardo Islands (+)
- Tolu to the San Bernardo Islands: It’s a beach town very touristic during the high season because it’s the closest big city to the San Bernardo Islands. You can book day tours or ask the driver to be dropped on Mucura Island or Isla Tintipan. Boats are leaving around 8 am: 50 000 COP / 1 hour
- Rincon Del Mar to The San Bernardo islands: It’s a little fisherman village on the Caribbean Coast where it’s pleasant to spend the night before looking for a boat in the direction of the San Bernardo islands: 200 000 COP/boat | 30 min | Boats leave early in the morning
- Cartagena To the San Bernardo islands. The “public” boat stop to most of the upscale hotels on Isla Tintipan and Isla Mucura. Approx 100 000 COP / 2.5 hours. All the information here.
#2 Tips if you’re traveling on a shoe-string budget
Low budget on the San Bernardo Islands (+)
- There is no drinkable water on the San Bernardo islands. Inhabitants are using the rain waters. If you want to save money, you can buy a gallon of water before.
- Food is expensive on Isla Mucura and Isla Tintipan. There are restaurants on the public beaches. Approx 7$.
- Also, there is no ATM on the San Bernardo Islands. I advise you to withdraw lots of cash before.
- You must stay on Isla Mucura if you travel on a low budget. There is a small public beach with one affordable hotel.
- The cheapest boat trip is from Rincon del Mar.
In short, avoid staying overnight on the San Bernardo islands if you’re traveling on a low budget. The easiest and cheapest way is to book a day trip from Rincon del Mar.
#3 Things to do on the San Bernardo Islands
List of the activities on the San Bernardo Islands (+)
1) Think about all your worries and negative thoughts. Grab them and put them in mental green Tupperware. Keep it somewhere in your mind. Once you’re in the middle of the ocean, throw the box. It will sink like dead bodies in Dexter’s series.
2) On the islands, take a juice and lay down on the beach. You can build a little sand pillow and protect your face with a Colombian hat
3) Make your own Coco Loco (coconuts + rum) and observe the sunset. Try to find mermaids.
4) The following day, explore the other islands around. You can take a taxi boat to travel to Casa En El Agua, Isla Tintipan, Mucura Island and Islote de Santa Cruz. Price: 15 – 20 000 COP/pers
5) Ask your hotel about the activities they offer:
- Snorkel among colorful reefs and fishes – Around Isla Palma and Maravilla or Casa En El Agua.
- Drive between the mangroves – Around Isla Tintipan, Colombia.
- Observe birds like pelicans or flamingos – Around Tintipan et Isla Palma.
- Swim at night surrounded by bioluminescent planktons – Around Isla Tintipan, Colombia.
- Go spearfishing with locals.
#4 How many days in the San Bernardo Islands
Those little paradises are perfect to chill and put aside all your problems. I recommend you to stay at least 2 nights to receive an awesome dose of happiness. Or book a day trip from Rincon del Mar if you’re just curious.
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