Last updated on August 21st, 2023 at 07:01 pm
Traveling in Cartagena and looking at doing island hopping Cartagena? Check out Islas del Rosario, Isla Baru, San Bernardo, Tierra Bomba – we’ll help you choose the best island hopping experience in Cartagena in this guide!
Cartagena, a gem on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is not just a haven of colonial beauty and historical significance; it also acts as a gateway to a constellation of mesmerizing islands. These islands, bathed in the sun and enveloped by azure waters, promise travelers unique adventures that range from underwater explorations to cultural immersions. Read here how to get from Cartagena to Isla Grande
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Why Have an Island Hopping Cartagena Experience?
- Rich Marine Ecosystem: Beneath the surface of the waters around Cartagena lies a world vibrant with colors and life. Coral reefs create underwater gardens, while fish of all sizes, shapes, and hues add to this spectacle.
- Secluded Beach Retreats: If you wish to escape from Cartagena’s energetic pace, the islands present themselves as the perfect retreat. The white sandy beaches, lined with palm trees swaying to the rhythm of gentle winds, provide a picturesque setting.
- Cultural Richness: The islands are more than just natural beauty; they also house communities that have preserved their unique Afro-Caribbean cultures. From music and dance to cuisine, there’s a cultural tapestry waiting to be explored.
Top Islands to Visit – Island Hopping Cartagena
1. Islas del Rosario
- Description: An archipelago of 27 coral islands surrounded by turquoise waters. It’s also a declared national park, emphasizing the conservation of the coral reefs and the marine ecosystem.
- Must-Do: Dive or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters and visit the Oceanario. It offers a spectacular look into the marine life of the Caribbean Sea with its open-sea pools.
2. Isla Barú
- Description: Once connected to the mainland, Isla Barú boasts of its famous Playa Blanca, a long stretch of powdery white sand juxtaposed against the backdrop of the Caribbean’s hues of blue.
- Must-Do: Apart from lounging at Playa Blanca, you can engage in water sports or make your way to Cholon, a bay that becomes a floating party during peak times.
3. San Bernardo Islands
- Description: This group of islands is a lesser-explored gem, perfect for those seeking solitude. The islands are an epitome of tropical beauty, with their coral formations, mangroves, and clear waters.
- Must-Do: A visit to Santa Cruz del Islote is a must. Recognized as the world’s most densely populated island, it’s fascinating to see how the community thrives in such a confined space.
4. Tierra Bomba
- Description: A stone’s throw away from Cartagena, Tierra Bomba is an island of contrasts – from tranquil beaches to historical remnants.
- Must-Do: Explore the Bateria del Ángel San Rafael, a fortress that once stood as a guardian against pirate invasions.
Essential Tips When Island Hopping Cartagena
- Safety Measures: When booking boat rides, ensure they have life vests and adhere to safety regulations. Sea conditions can change, so always prioritize safety.
- Responsible Tourism: The islands, especially the coral reefs, are fragile ecosystems. Ensure you don’t litter and avoid touching the corals when diving or snorkeling.
- Engage With Locals: While the islands offer natural beauty, engaging with the local communities adds depth to your visit. Understand their way of life, their traditions, and even their challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Island Hopping Cartagena
What’s the best time of year to go island hopping in Cartagena?
A: The best times to visit Cartagena and its surrounding islands are between December to April, which is the dry season. You’ll get plenty of sunshine, ideal for beach activities and exploration.
How do I get to the islands?
A: Most islands are accessible via speedboats or ferries that operate from the Muelle Turístico de la Bodeguita, located right next to the old city of Cartagena.
Can I visit multiple islands in a single day?
A: Yes, several tour operators offer day trips that cover multiple islands, especially within the Rosario archipelago. However, for a relaxed experience, it might be best to limit your visit to one or two islands per day.
Do I need to book my boat tickets in advance?
A: During peak seasons, it’s a good idea to book in advance to avoid disappointment. However, outside peak times, you can often book a day or two in advance or even on the day.
Are there accommodation options on the islands?
A: While some islands like Isla Barú have accommodation options, others might not. It’s essential to research and book in advance if you plan to stay overnight.
Is it safe to swim and snorkel in the waters around the islands?
A: The waters around Cartagena’s islands are generally safe for swimming and snorkeling. However, always adhere to safety guidelines, check with locals about currents, and consider using a life vest if you’re not a strong swimmer.
What should I bring on my island-hopping tour?
A: Sunscreen, bottled water, swimwear, a hat, a change of clothes, snacks, cash (many islands may not have ATMs), and a camera are all good items to bring along.
Are there dining options on the islands?
A: Some islands, especially the popular ones, have restaurants or local vendors selling fresh seafood and traditional dishes. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some snacks, especially if you’re heading to the less touristy islands.
Is it safe to drink tap water on the islands?
A: It’s recommended to drink bottled water, which is readily available on most islands.
Are the prices for goods and services on the islands higher than in Cartagena?
A: Since many items have to be transported from the mainland, prices on the islands can be slightly higher. Always carry some extra cash for unforeseen expenses.
Can I rent snorkeling or diving gear on the islands?
A: Yes, many islands that offer snorkeling or diving opportunities will have rental facilities. However, if you’re particular about fit and hygiene, consider bringing your own.
Do I need a guide for island hopping?
A: While you can explore many islands independently, having a local guide can enhance your experience, especially if you’re keen on understanding local culture, history, and ecology.
How can I practice responsible tourism on the islands?
A: Limit your plastic usage, don’t touch or step on corals, avoid feeding wildlife, respect local customs and traditions, and consider supporting local businesses.
Are there any health and safety precautions I should be aware of?
A: Apart from general travel safety, it’s a good idea to be updated on vaccinations. Also, protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially in the evenings.
Can I rent a private boat for island hopping?
A: Yes, there are services in Cartagena that allow you to rent private boats or yachts for a personalized experience. These can be pricier but offer more flexibility and privacy.
Final Thoughts on Island Hopping Cartagena
Islas del Rosario, Isla Baru, San Bernardo, Tierra Bomba are some of the best islands to include to your itinerary in Cartagena if you want to do island hopping.
While Cartagena’s colonial charm may captivate you, the islands surrounding it have their own tales to narrate. From the rhythmic dance of the waves to the melodies of the islanders, every experience here contributes to a symphony that you’ll remember long after you’ve left its shores.
Embark on this island-hopping journey and let Cartagena’s islands etch their beauty onto your soul.