Cartagena Beaches (2021) 🏖️: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Cartagena Beaches (2021) 🏖️: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Many people want to add Cartagena to their Colombia itinerary. The city has a tremendous reputation, there are many delicious restaurants and upscale hotels. However, you probably don’t know the truth about the Cartagena Beaches.

The Cartagena beaches nearby the city are unpleasant.

Fortunately, there are some cool alternatives to find a lovely white-sand spot. Read this post to find out where are the best beaches nearby Cartagena.

Cartagena Beaches: Quick tips

If you’re in a rush, quickly find out what this article is about. ⬇️⬇️

Beaches within Cartagena: Boca Grande and La Boquilla are surrounded by skyscrapers, covered by plastic chairs, and invaded by street sellers. Avoid them.

Tierra Bomba: It’s an island nearby where you can find some good beach clubs.

Rosario Islands: Archipelago nearby Cartagena where you will find your dreamy white-sand beach. Depending on the season, they can be overcrowded. Stay overnight if you can. Find the perfect Rosario island hotel.

Isla Baru: The most famous Rosario island. There is a fabulous beach, but it’s always crowded. The easiest way to get there is to take a shuttle from Cartagena.

Isla Grande: Outstanding Rosario island with lots of Eco-resorts. Stay there to enjoy the most beautiful beaches. My favorites are Carolina Island and Islabela.

Isla Cholon: It’s a famous party place on the weekend that you can only reach by boat.

Where to stay in Cartagena: Our favorite Cartagena hotels are located in the Walled City or in Getsemaní.

Plan this experience

This is the perfect tour if you have little time in Cartagena but still want to enjoy the islands. | 7:30 pleasant hours on a catamaran; Snack, soft drink, lunch, mask and snorkel, taxes included; Free cancellation (if 24 hours in advance); Easy booking

T. Contents: Cartagena Beaches

The Beaches in the city of Cartagena

In my opinion, you shouldn’t spend too much time there – Except if you’re living in Cartagena de Indias or if you’re spending the week.

Also, we wrote a post to help you to decide how long to stay in Cartagena. Read it!

Beaches nearby the center

Click on the filters below to learn about the different beaches near the center of Cartagena ⬇️⬇️

Boca Grande & Laguito
La Boquilla
Manzanillo del Mar, Marbella & Crespo

Bocagrande and Laguito beaches

It’s the wealthiest district of Cartagena. With the tall skyscrapers, it looks like a little Miami. There are fancy restaurants, boring Cartagena beach resorts, and tourists living on Mac Donald’s diet. In front of the buildings, there is the beach Bocagrande. Hundreds of Plastics chairs and umbrellas are waiting for the lazy tourists who refuse to walk more than 50m before getting in the water. At the end of the peninsula, there is Laguito beach – similar.

Yes, I’m not in love with the two closest Cartagena beaches.

We tell you more about the best Cartagena neighborhoods here.

La Boquilla beach

La Boquilla is a little fisherman village just after Cartagena. There is no skyscraper this time but the Boquilla beach is not pleasant, and the sea is often murky. Still, it will be less touristic, and you can book an excellent tour to go fishing with locals among the mangroves.

In restaurants, there are many seafood options. Be careful, some unscrupulous owners try to increase the bills when white tourists with blond hair are eating. A plate should cost you around 20 – 30 000 COP.

Manzanillo del Mar, Marbella & Crespo beaches

The beaches Manzanillo del Mar,  Marbella, and Crespo, are between The Old City center and La Boquilla. It will be the same Colombian beaches as La Boquilla without the mangroves at the end.

Also, the currents can be dangerous around Cartagena. Don’t swim too far.


Catamaran trip to the Rosario Islands


Paradisiacal beaches on Cartagena’s islands

Islas de Cartagena - Rosario Islands

Don’t stress. It’s not because I’m telling you that Cartagena beaches suck that you can’t have a great time with a cocktail in hands and your butt on a white-sand Colombia beach.

There are lovely islands nearby Cartagena. Ready to become a pirate?

Don’t forget to plan a cultural tour after a relaxing beach day. We wrote an exhaustive list of the best things to do in Cartagena!

1# The beaches in Isla Tierra Bomba

Blue apple beach Tierra Bomba
Tierra Bomba, Blue Apple beach Hotel | Credit: Blue Apple Beach

Cartagena beaches (15 min)

Tierra Bomba is an island 15 min away from Cartagena. You can take a boat by yourself in Bocagrande in front of the hospital. It’s quite big, and there are four little towns on it.

The best option is to get to Punta Arena. It’s where the loveliest beaches are. The water and the sands are still not heavenly, but you’re surrounded by trees instead of buildings. And the street vendors are less annoying :).

The other beaches are: Linda, Palmarito, Chiringuito and Marina

Tips about Tierra Bomba

You can book a day trip to different hotel resorts. They offer some exciting packages: Boat+ Chairs + Hammocks + swimming pool + lunch. It’s a great way to spend the day.

Stay at Blue Apple beach if you like beach clubs. They also offer a day-pass here.

Only 10 min from Cartagena

Stay on Isla Tierra Bomba


2# Isla Baru, Playa Blanca

Cartagena beaches (1h)

There, the beaches are beautiful with white sand and a turquoise sea. But there is another hic. It’s a famous place. It will be crowded. However, there is always a solution to avoid people. You just have to do it differently, and you will love Playa Blanca beach.

Visiting Playa Blanca

Click on the filters below to find out how to organize your Playa Blanca adventure. ⬇️⬇️

How to get there
Avoid the crowd
Chill at the beach club

How to get to Playa Blanca

There are three different ways to arrive at Playa Blanca beach.

  • Public bus + Moto-taxi.
  • With a cab. It’s the best solution.
  • A boat ride from the touristic dock.

Once there, you just have to find a place without too many people or jetskis. There are many cabañas near the parking entrance, but if you walk 200-300 m, it will be quieter.

How to avoid the crowd on Playa Blanca

The answer is simple. You must stay on Isla Barú!

The majority of the tourists (99% of them) plan a day trip to Playa Blanca. Most of the buses and speedboats go back to Cartagena around 3-4 pm.

If you’re staying overnight, you will have this Colombia beach for yourself! Ready for a crazy sunset with your coco loco and nobody around?

Also, don’t go there on the weekend and on a public holiday.

The best way is to take a shuttle with Mamallena hostel. You pay for the round trip, but you can return to Cartagena whenever you want.

It’s one of the best Cartagena beaches.

Plage de playa blanca, île de Baru
Playa Blanca, Ile de Baru | Credit: @juanibian

Playa Blanca Prices

  • Boat round trip: Around 100 000 COP + 18 500 COP dock fee in Cartagena 
  • Shuttle round trip: 50 000 COP
  • Public transportation option: Around 17 000 COP – 1 way
  • Hammock: Around 20 000 COP
  • Cabañas: Around 100 000 COP

Take it easy at Nena Beach club

If you can’t stay for two days, make your life easier, and enjoy the Nena Beach Club. You can choose to go there on their boat or take the bus.

Nena Beach Club
Credit Nena Beach Club

A little known corner of Isla Barú

Stay overnight on Barbacoa Beach


3# Playa Azul, Isla Cholon

Cholon, Rosario islands
Cholon, Rosario islands Credit: @ruedaniel

Cartagena beaches (1h)

This lovely Cartagena beach is a little further than Playa Blanca beach. You can book a full-day private boat tour in Cartagena or with the hotels near Cholon. There are many packages Isla Baru + PIaya Azul.

I believe it’s a private island so I don’t know if you can hang out by yourself. But it seems lovely, and there is almost no street vendor!

4# Playa libre, Isla Grande

Cartagena beaches (1h30)

The Rosario Archipelago is a set of 30 islands. Many are privates or protected, but fortunately, it’s not the case for Isla Grande in Colombia.

Isla Grande is a little paradise. The tiny islands around are fantastic, and they belong to the National park and reef of Rosario. It’s the best spot for snorkeling near Cartagena! And the lush vegetation of mangroves is an idyllic habitat for many birds.

Learn about Playa Libre

Click on the filters below to find out how to organize your Playa Libre adventure ⬇️⬇️

How to get there
Where to stay
if you don’t have much time

How to get on Isla Grande

  • Boats leave from the tourist dock between 8 and 10 am.
  • It takes around 1h30 to arrive.
  • Be careful when buying your ticket; most of them sell Rosario island tours. I don’t recommend it. They offer you to visit an oceanarium and to swim in the ocean – where more Colombians are trying not to sink than fishes. And you won’t go to Isla Grande.
  • You’ll have to pay a dock fee.
  • You can book your boat ride here to be sure.

The best Rosario beach is Playa libre. It’s also the most accessible :). Otherwise, many private beaches belong to different hotels/ beach hostels like Majagua.

Where to stay on Isla Grande

You should at least stay 1 night on Isla Grande (better if it’s 2 nights). Be aware that the accommodations are more expensive as it’s a remote place.

What’s the best tour to visit Isla Grande

Wanna be on this Catamaran?

The ideal way to visit Isla Grande is to find a beautiful eco-lodge and stay there for a few days.

You will not be able to make the round trip within the day with public transportation (they leave too early in the afternoon).

If you really don’t have the time and still want to have a good overview of this archipelago, I recommend this tour to discover the Rosario Islands on a catamaran.

This experience includes:

  • 8 hours trip on the catamaran Bona Vida.
  • Lunch + soft drinks.
  • Mask and snorkel to explore the seabed.

Plan this experience

This is the perfect tour if you have little time in Cartagena but still want to enjoy the islands. | 7:30 pleasant hours on a catamaran; Snack, soft drink, lunch, mask and snorkel, taxes included; Free cancellation (if 24 hours in advance); Easy booking

The best deal on Isla Grande

Enjoy the paradise of Rosario


Escape to the San Bernardo Islands

Cartagena beaches (2h)

If you’re not interested in the Cartagena beaches above, there is one last option. Grab a bottle of rum, a dead parrot, an inflatable buoy – I’ve got a preference for mermaids – and go to explore the San Bernardo Islands. 

For that, you need more than two days, but it’s worth it – It’s 2-3 hours away from Cartagena. Isla Mucura and Isla Tintipan are superb, these Colombian beaches and landscapes are better than what you can imagine.

And Casa En El Agua is loads of fun if you’re looking for parties.

Include them in a terrific Colombia itinerary.

San Bernardo travel guide

Free online guide on San Bernardo to access, in a few clicks, all the practical information to visit these beautiful islands.

Now it’s time to make a choice. Which Cartagena beaches do you choose?

More resources (+)

Do you want to learn more about the different tours and activities around? Read a 4-day itinerary in Cartagena written by Rachel

Do you love beaches? Find out other fantastic beaches in Colombia.

Would you like more sandy information? TheDiscoverieSof wrote an article about the best beaches in Colombia

We also wrote a kick-ass Caribbean Coast itinerary if you’re a beach fan!

Weather & Cartagena’s beaches


There are two types of weather in Cartagena: A day with or without rain.

But, you shouldn’t be to worry about it. Even during a rainy day, the sun will show up.

As a rule of thumb, here is what you need to know about the weather in Cartagena.

Best months in Cartagena are:

  • The sunniest month: December to March; July & August
  • The rainiest month: April, May, September, Octobre
  • The weather is always hot in Cartagena but it’s a bit windier from December to February.
  • Unfortunately, it’s also the tourist season. Prices increases by 2 and annoying tourists fall like rains from the sky.
  • The sea is rough from October to April. Think about it before organizing a day trip on the islands from Cartagena.

Finally, in addition to the weather, don’t forget to consult all our tips for traveling in Colombia in order to better understand this wonderful country before you leave.


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A shell on a beach near Cartagena

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Best beaches around Cartagena

I fell in love with Colombia in 2015. Through this website, we help every month thousands of travelers to plan their trip to this beautiful country.