Near Cartagena, there are about thirty islands. Thanks to this guide, you will decide where to stay in the Rosario Islands.
I have been 4 times in Cartagena, and I realized that many travelers choose their paradise island blindly.
You shouldn’t. You might be disappointed.
Let’s found out the pros and cons for
- Staying in Isla Barú
- Staying in Isla Grande
- Staying on a private Rosario island
👉 Want to know everything about the Rosario Islands? To learn where are the best places, and avoid tourist traps and beginner’s mistakes? Nothing could be easier. I put it all together in our guide to the Rosario Islands.
Where to stay in the Rosario islands: Isla Barú
Isla Barú is the largest Rosario island in the Archipelago. We can divide it into several sections.
1# Where to stay in Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca is a long beach of white sand, with many restaurants and rustic hotels, often invaded by tourists and jet skis during the day.
But you will be able to enjoy it more if you decide to stay there at night. Most of the people will leave around 4 pm.
And you’ll have the beach all for yourself at sunrise. The show is splendid.
Expert’s advice: The further you walk along the beach (on your right when you arrive), the quieter the area will be.
On Isla Barú, you will find many wooden huts that welcome travelers. They are simple accommodations, some without running water or electricity during the day. If this is the case, you will have a bucket of fresh water to rinse yourself.
Staying 1 or 2 nights should be enough.
Here is the list of the best places to stay in Playa Blanca (from closer to farther from the entrance):
- The Wizard & Bar Barú | 15 min walk | from 150 000 COP/2pers
- Nuestra Cabañita | 30 min walk | from 150 000 COP/2 pers | Speak English
- Vista Linda Cabaña | 30 min walk | from 150 000 COP/2 pers | only 2 rooms
Before staying in Playa Blanca, there is a few pieces of information you should know:
- Bring some cash. If you pay by credit card, hotels will increase their prices.
- Food and beverages are more expensive.
- Freshwater is a scarcity.
- Usually, hotels cut electricity during the day.
- There is no A/C.
- It’s easy to find a place to stay.
- You can take a boat to go directly to your hotel (instead of walking along the beach with your lugagge).
Also, it’s pretty easy to reach playa Blanca. You can:
- Order a Private taxi: around 90 000 COP / 1 way | 1 hour
- Take a local bus at El Monumento India Catalina to Pasacaballos then a moto-taxi to Isla Barú: Around 20 000 COP/1 way | At least 2 hours
2# Where to stay in Bahia Barbacoa
Bahia Barbacoa is a quiet area where few travelers go.
Because the beach is not as beautiful as Playa Blanca, the water is green-blue-brown because of the nearby rivers. Also, the pebbles/dead corals replace the soft sand.
But that shouldn’t hold you back! The area is peaceful, and you will be able to quickly access the different tourist attractions (using your hotel’s services).
Hotel Playa Manglares is the best place to stay in Bahia Barbacoa. This hotel is a haven of peace where you can eat deliciously well.
3# Where to stay in the South of Isla barú
The village of Barú is around there.
It will take more time to reach this part of Isla barú. Count at least 1h by boat or 1h30 by land.
Again, this is not the most beautiful part of the island (about the beach). However, there are still a few advantages staying in this section of Isla Barú. Mangroves are everywhere, and you can pick the hotel’s kayaks to venture into this natural maze.
Also, you will meet fewer tourists.
Here is the list of the best places to stay in this part of the Rosario islands:
- Hotel Las Islas | It’s the most luxurious hotel in the Rosario islands
- Hotel Isla del Encanto | It’s a beach resort with all the facilities& services you need to enjoy Isla Barú
4# Why staying on Isla Barú
Isla Barú is the most visited island from Cartagena. Travelers like it because you can get there by car and visit the famous National Aviary during your trip.
If you’re looking for a quiet & comfy spot, skip Playa Blanca, and head to Bahia Barbacoa or the South of the island.
It’s not on Isla Barú that you’ll get that paradise-lost-in-the-Caribbean feeling.
In that case, you should take a boat to Isla Grande!
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Where to stay in the Rosario islands: Isla Grande
On Isla Grande, travelers can’t wander anywhere they want. The island is composed of private properties, mangroves, and lagoons. It is therefore essential to choose the right place to stay.
Your choice will depend on your budget.
1# Where to stay in Isla Grande with a tight budget
You should know that Isla Grande is an expensive destination for Colombia. Main dishes will cost you at least 25-30 000 COP, and the cheapest bedrooms are around 150 000 COP.
For this price, you won’t get a private beach.
Playa Libre is the prettiest public white sand beach. You can try to find a hotel in the area.
Another solution is to book one of the rare hostels on the island.
Secreto Hostel has many dorms, and the site is pretty cool. There is a pool and a kitchen that guests can use. And you have access to the beach— made of dead corals & rocks.
The hostel is located in the South of Isla Grande, 15-min walk from town and a 25-min walk from Playa Libre.
You will have to arrange your transportation to Isla Grande. Departures are from the tourist port, between 8 and 9 am. Don’t be late.
2# Where to stay in Isla Grande to enjoy the white sand beaches
Pebbles and dead corals are not the best for a paradise beach.
3# Where to stay in Isla Grande to be in a quiet place
It will be complicated.
The issue with Isla Grande is that all the charming hotels sell day-pass. These travelers will arrive in the same boat as you.
Fortunately, they will go back to Cartagena around 2-3 pm. Then, you will be at peace.
Usually, it is quieter towards Isla Marina, an island next to Isla Grande. Besides, it is there that you will find the best Rosario islands hotels.
4# Why staying in Isla Grande
Stay in Isla Grande to enjoy the paradisiacal scenery of the Rosario Islands. Once there, there are few activities to do. Take a kayak to venture out to sea and wander through the mangroves. Snorkeling enthusiasts will also be delighted as there are some lovely reefs nearby.
Because you will mainly stay in your hotel, I advise you to choose an establishment that suits your budget and needs.
Also, note that you can’t arrive and leave whenever you want. You’ll have to take the boat’s hotel with the daytrippers around 9 am and depart from Isla Grande around 2 – 3 pm. If not, your hotel can organize a private boat ride for about 600 000 COP.
Stay 2 nights if you can.
👉 Don’t have time to stay in Isla Grande? You can book a cool Catamaran day trip.
Where to stay in las Islas del Rosario: Private islands
Yes, you can book a private island for a few days. It’s an excellent way to live an unforgettable moment with your friends.
These private islands are pretty expensive. Moreover, you’ll have to pay for the cook and the private boat ride.
I haven’t had a chance to visit them yet, and I haven’t had any feedback from other travelers.
So I can’t recommend one in particular.
Here is the list of the most famous private Islands where you can stay.
The bottom line
You should stay in the Rosario Islands if you want to make the most of it. Isla Barú will be a good choice if you wish to be more flexible with transportation. Travelers who primarily want a beautiful setting will be more interested in Isla Grande.
In both cases, there will be a large number of tourists and the prices are pretty high.
If you don’t want to share your paradise with anyone, then you have the option of staying on a private Rosario Island. A group of about 15 people should be able to get by for a reasonable price.