The perfect Isla Fuerte travel guide (Colombia) to plan your stay as you like.

🛑 Imagine arriving in Isla Fuerte with all the right information in hand for an optimized, hassle-free adventure that’s perfect for you.

If you’re looking for a Colombian island with few tourists, visit Isla Fuerte. And it’s more affordable than the San Bernardo Islands or the Rosario Islands.

I’ve stayed there twice, and here’s a recap of all my top tips.

And if you’re looking for a plan to dive during the day and enjoy a convivial atmosphere in the evening, contact this local expert!

Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Here, you will find everything you need to fall in love with this beautiful country easily.

Isla Fuerte: General Information

Here is an overview of Isla Fuerte in Colombia.

Where is Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte La Playita Restaurant

Imagine an island so off the radar that nobody knows about it. It’s like stumbling upon a secret paradise, 200 kilometers north of Cartagena’s hustle and right off the coast of Cordoba, just 11 km from the mainland.

Being this far west of the usual Caribbean buzz, Isla Fuerte offers a peaceful escape, practically untouched by mass tourism. Trust me, the trip—mixing local buses and boats—feels like a tiny quest but leads to a magical place: serene beaches and lively underwater worlds.

Isla Fuerte’s history

Isla Fuerte town boat

Founded in 1700, it was a fortress for Caribbean’s corsairs, a testament to its name’s strength. Hidden within is Puerto Limón, where time seems paused, preserving the Afro-descendant and fishermen’s culture with its wooden cane homes and straw roofs.

The island’s emergence as a marine biodiversity haven, thanks to a geological twist of fate—two tectonic plates colliding to form a massive coral—is nowadays a great attraction for divers.

When is the best time to go to Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte view from the sky Drone

From my jaunts and local chats, here’s the scoop:

  • Peace lovers: The island is appealing all year round, but dodge the national holidays and long weekends unless you’re up for a louder vibe. May to November are great for beach days—Less windy days and a beautiful sea.
  • Diving buffs: May to November is golden; calm seas make spots like Bushnell accessible, a treat I missed during my January visit due to choppy waters.
  • Surfers: Ride the waves from December to April and June to August.

Weather in Isla Fuerte

Cheers Tom and Adrix Isla Fuerte

Let’s keep the weather talk straightforward. Isla Fuerte is warm and muggy all year, with temperatures playing between 23°C to 34°C. The warmest season, from February to April, turns up the heat above 33°C. The so-called “cool season” isn’t exactly cool, just a tad less scorching (July to November), with a slight dip below 31°C.

Rain checks in from May to November, but don’t fret; the sun isn’t shy here.

Wind enthusiasts, January to April is your window for some action.

Is Isla Fuerte Worth visiting

Adrix exploring Isla Fuerte (1)

Contemplating Isla Fuerte?

Here’s the lowdown: Isla Fuerte offers solitude, adventure, and raw beauty, unlike your typical Caribbean spot.

The island may lack endless sandy stretches, but its cozy beach nooks and underwater treasures make up for it. It’s a diver’s paradise, with warm, clear waters inviting you to explore the deep blue.

In short, for a genuine taste of island life without the crowds, with a sprinkle of adventure, Isla Fuerte ticks all the boxes.

How many days in Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte by night La Playita

Planning the perfect Isla Fuerte getaway? Aim for 3 to 5 days.

That’s the sweet spot for immersing yourself without the rush. Start with a chill day, acquainting yourself with the island’s sands and shades. Dive into Bushnell on day two for a spectacular coral reef encounter. Reserve day three for more sea activities—fishing, subwing, wakeboarding or just soaking in the sunset. If a fourth day’s in your cards, go diving again.

Tomplanmytrip note: Bring some cash. There is no ATM on the Island! And hotels charge a 5% fee if you pay by credit card.

What to do in Isla Fuerte, Colombia

A mix of laid-back days by the sea with a cocktail in hand and fun aquatic activities.

Diving in Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte diving center tom

Ever dreamt of swimming in an underwater wonderland? Isla Fuerte is where dreams meet reality for divers. With over 20 dive spots and the famous Bushnell reef just 20 km into the blue, it’s a diver’s paradise.

This site is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and is often hailed as the most stunning coral reef in the vicinity. What makes Bushnell truly special is its status as a submerged plateau. It spans three square kilometers under crystal clear waters, offering a range of diving sites from steep walls that plunge into the depths to coral mazes accompanied by schools of barracudas, jacks, and pompanos.

However, diving at Bushnell is recommended for advanced divers only due to its currents and depth, with a maximum diving depth of 100 ft.

You can pass your advanced water with this local expert (and get a great discount for your room).

Another famous diving spot is Burbujas—ever dive next to a bubbling underwater mud volcano? And if you’re into shipwrecks, El Planchon sits just 30 ft under, waiting to be explored.

The best time to dive? Aim for August to October for crystal-clear waters and a calm sea.

Explore Isla Fuerte on Foot

Isla Fuerte isn’t just for diving. Walking around, you’re basically on a treasure hunt – minus the map. Pro tip: Download or chat up the locals for the best paths. They’re like the human version of Google Maps but with way cooler stories.

You can also hire local guides—ask your hotel to give you their recommendation.

The island’s trees are celebrities in their own right. El Arbol que Camina (an impressive ficus) spreads out over 1000 square meters, while Ceiba Bonga towers over the island, providing shade and stories.

And those beaches? Playa Cebollita and Playa San Diego are your go-to for snorkeling or sunset gazing. Just remember, they might play hide and seek with the tide.

Water Activities in Isla Fuerte

Got a thing for water sports? Isla Fuerte is your kind of playground.

Catch some waves at Punta Del Inglés, especially between December to April and June to August.

Snorkeling around the islands is also fantastic when the sea is calm– starfish, sunken boats, and even Colombia’s first underwater museum are all on the agenda.

And for the adrenaline junkies, subwing and wakeboarding are must-dos. There’s something about ‘flying’ underwater that beats just about everything—I love to be underwater, but I really suck at wakeboarding. And you?

Top off your day with a sunset sail to really soak in those island vibes.

Tomplanmytrip note: To save time, you can combine some of these activities into one day. Take the boat out in the morning for a fishing trip, a panoramic tour of the island, a stop at the snorkeling spots, and wakeboarding!

Drink Cocktails A La Playita

Bar La Playita Isla Fuerte (1)

After a day of island adventure, La Playita is where you want to be. This spot nails the chill-out vibe with wooden décor that screams tropical getaway. The first time I walked in, I knew I’d found my sunset ritual spot. The cocktails? They’re the island in a glass – fresh, flavorful, and full of surprises.

The best part might just be the locals. They’re always up for sharing a tale or two and know exactly which drink you need to try. Plus, the music selection is spot-on, ensuring there’s a beat for every mood.

Enjoy the Sunset on Isla Fuerte

Sunset San Diego Beach (1)

Speaking of sunsets, they’re kind of a big deal here. Whether you’re lounging at La Playita, chilling on San Diego Beach, or catching panoramic views from Casa Coral, the sunset scene is unbeatable. For an extra sprinkle of magic, hop on a sailboat.

Things to do Around Isla Fuerte

Places you can include on your way to Isla Fuerte.

Spend 1 or 2 Nights at Moñitos

Cabana Sambe Monitos (1)

On your way to Isla Fuerte, why not stop by Moñitos? It’s a little beach village that’s perfect for easing into island time. While it might not boast flashy beaches, its charm is undeniable.

I liked to stay at Cabanas Sembe before heading to Isla Fuerte with our local expert the following day (about 40 min boat ride)

City Tour of Lorica

Tom Main Square Lorica (1)

Lorica’s not just a stopover; it’s a dive into Colombia’s history. From its architectural gems to the bustling Public Market by the Sinú River, every corner tells a story.

Even if I don’t find Lorica attractive enough to justify a long detour, it’s totally worth a stop if it’s on your way—especially if you speak Spanish. During our exploration of the Cordoba department, we spent 1 night there to have time for a city tour and discover its fascinating history.

La Desembocadura del Río Sinú (San Bernardo del Viento)

Rio Sinu Lorica bird

And if you go to Lorica, don’t miss La Boca de Tinajones – it’s where the Río Sinú kisses the Caribbean goodbye. This spot is a marvel of nature and culture, surrounded by mangroves and teeming with birdlife. It’s a bit off the beaten path and you’ll need the help of a local agency to do it.

You can get there from Lorica by boat (1h), which adds to the charm.

Where to stay in Isla Fuerte

Finding the perfect spot in Isla Fuerte is key to enjoying your trip. From my experience, there’s a place for everyone, whether you’re looking for the island’s lively vibe or a tranquil retreat.

La playita cabins Tom and Adrix (1)
La Playita

Firstly, La Playita stands out for its vibrant atmosphere. It’s perfect for diving, surfing, or enjoying lively evening music with friends. The wooden cabins and on-site bar add to its charm. However, it can get noisy, especially during the high season. My four-night stay wasn’t bothered by the noise, but it’s something to consider if you’re a light sleeper. 3 min from town.

Isla Fuerte Ecohouse (1)
Isla Fuerte EcoHouse

For those seeking peace, Isla Fuerte EcoHouse is a sanctuary. Its prime features include swimming in a gentle bay, enjoying fresh daily menus, and ocean-facing cabins amidst palm gardens. It’s eco-friendly, operates on solar power, and provides a unique chance to see friendly sloths up close. The lack of AC is by design, promoting a natural, serene environment. 15 min from town.

Wiji Island House Isla Fuerte (1)
Wiji Island House

Wiji Island House offers another peaceful getaway. What won me over were its serene surroundings, comfortable cabins, and proximity to San Diego Beach. The attention to cleanliness and good Wi-Fi was a plus. However, its restaurant options are limited. 30 min from town.

Looking to save some cash? Staying in town might be your best bet. Accommodations like Hotel Doña Marí offer basic rooms at great deals. Though be warned, weekends can get noisy.

Nightlife in Isla Fuerte

La Playita by night Isla Fuerte

First off, Isla Fuerte doesn’t have the typical club scene. The heart of nighttime activities is in town, where locals embrace the weekend with open arms and, apparently, very loud speakers. A word to the wise, though, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re looking for a quiet night.

For those who crave a more laid-back atmosphere without sacrificing the fun, La Playita is the place to be. I found the vibe there to be just right, mixing relaxation with the excitement of being on an island. The sociable atmosphere also makes it easy to meet fellow travelers and locals alike.

Where to eat in Isla Fuerte

First off, fried fish and seafood are staples here, especially if you eat in Puerto Limon.

Most good lodging being a bit far away from town, you’ll likely eat at your hotel during the evenings. Therefore, choosing the right place with a good restaurant is crucial.

In my experience, Eco-house Isla Fuerte stands out for the best local cuisine. Their dishes are a vivid representation of the island’s flavors, and I believe they’re open to hosting non-staying guests for lunch. A heads-up, send them a text in advance to secure your spot.

If you’re leaning more towards international meals, La Playita is my go-to. Not only is the food great, but the prices are reasonable.

For breakfast, there’s nothing like starting your day with carimañola, a delicious local snack sold by a street vendor in front of the dock. It’s a savory pastry made from yuca and filled with seasoned meat or cheese, and it’s absolutely delightful.

Exploring the village, you’ll also find several restaurants, especially near the main beach in Punta Arena. You can order the ‘menu del dia’ for lunch.

How to get to Isla Fuerte

La Playita isla fuerte lunch

Getting to Isla Fuerte seemed a bit daunting at first, but trust me, once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s how I did it:

Starting Point: Lorica, Cordoba

First things first, Lorica, Cordoba is your gateway. It’s crucial because it’s the last place with a cash machine at the Olympica Supermarket. I cannot stress enough how important it is to withdraw enough cash here; there are no ATMs on Isla Fuerte.

Here’s a quick rundown on getting to Lorica:

  • From Monteria (which has an airport with connections to Bogota and Medellin), I hopped on a 1h30 bus ride.
  • Alternatively, from Cartagena, it’s around a 5-hour bus journey.

The Journey from Lorica to Isla Fuerte

From Lorica, taking a shared taxi to Paso Nuevo is your next move, typically a 1-hour trip. Here’s where you face a choice for the final leg to Isla Fuerte:

  • Local Boats: They run every few hours. However, locals might try to persuade you to hire a private boat for more money. Be prepared; some boats might lack shade or life jackets.
  • Hotel Bookings: Hotels in Isla Fuerte can also arrange for the boat trip.

Lastly, another savvy traveler tip: if coming from Moñitos, consider a boat tour that drops you at your hotel on Isla Fuerte at the end of the day. It worked out excellently for me, doubling as both transport and a scenic tour.

Getting around Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte main square (1)

This small, car-free Colombian island offers two ways to get around: on foot or by boat.

The walk to the tourist sites from town took about 30-40 minutes. While this might seem daunting to some, it’s a fantastic way to soak in the island’s natural beauty. The absence of vehicles means you get to enjoy the sounds of nature uninterrupted—except for the sounds of donkeys.

Navigating the island can be a bit tricky, as there’s no signage. Before arriving, I downloaded, a lifesaver in offline navigation. Don’t hesitate to ask locals for directions, or better yet, hire a local guide.

For distances that might seem a bit too much on foot (like going to Punta Ingles), boats manned by local fishers are the go-to option.

Safety in Isla Fuerte

Isla Fuerte street

In my experience, Isla Fuerte is 100% safe. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t walk at night as there aren’t enough street lights and there’s no one on the paths.

However, it is essential to use common sense regarding personal belongings. It’s not wise to leave valuables unattended on the beach or in other public spaces.

Finally, traveling to and from the island by boat can be frightening during the windy season. It’s best to travel early in the morning.

Where to travel after Isla Fuerte

Here are cool destinations nearby: