Known as Colombia’s northern queen, Cartagena attracts holidaymakers with her colorful cobbled streets, bougainvillea-draped mansions and some of the best food and drink experiences in South America.
But, with an average temperature of 27.7ºC and 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, there’s something else visitors can’t leave Cartagena without experiencing, and that’s a day on the beach.
No matter how many museums, rooftop cocktail bars or boutique shops you plan on ticking off your Cartagena bucket list, you’ll want to save at least one day to explore some of Colombia’s best beach and snorkeling spots.
But, with more than 120 km of pristine Caribbean coastline to choose from, how do you decide which Cartagena beach day trip is best for you?
That’s where This Is Cartagena is on hand to help. We've been scouring every stretch of sand and hidden swimming spot in Colombia for years and our talented team of travel advisors have narrowed down some of our favorite Cartagena beach trips especially for you.
Our popular guide to the best beaches in Cartagena has plenty of useful information to help you find the perfect strip of sand for your group.
From family-friendly Castillogrande to beach club luxury in Tierrabomba, Colombia’s diverse Carribean coastline has something to suit every kind of beach bum.
While Bocagrande, the city’s busiest and longest beach, is notorious for its crowded sands and persistent touts, in just a few hours you can escape to the more remote, Robinson Crusoe-like beaches of the Rosario Islands, Tierrabomba and the idyllic archipelago of San Bernardo.
Choose from exploring white sands and crystal-clear waters of the Rosario Islands on your own private yacht, mountain biking your way to paradise on the island of Tierrabomba or staying the night in a boutique beach club in Baru.
Whether you’re a family looking for adventure or a couple looking for the ultimate island escape, this guide will help you find your perfect beach getaway in Cartagena.
The Rosario Islands – an archipelago made up of 27 small coral islands – is one of the most popular national parks on Colombia's Caribbean coast and the most popular beach day trip in Cartagena.
Surrounded by colorful coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, these idyllic islets offer some of the best snorkeling and diving opportunities in Colombia.
But that’s not all: powdery white sands, luxury boutique hotels, and fresh seafood restaurants make this protected natural wonder the perfect place to indulge for the day.
Isla Grande – the largest island of the archipelago – offers some of the best family-friendly beach resorts, where you and the kids can splash around in the oceanfront pool, chill on the beach beds or explore the island’s colorful underwater world with a snorkel – all without the crowds of Playa Blanca or Bocagrande.
A day trip to our favourite spot on Isla Grande includes return transportation, a traditional buffet lunch, and day pass access to one of the top island resorts in Cartagena.Rosarios Islands Day Trip
Ever dreamed of sailing off into the Carribean on your own private yacht?
This highly personalized island-hopping adventure allows you to explore the Rosario National Park at your own pace.
With a choice of some of Cartagena’s top luxury speedboats, yachts, and sailboats, you’ll set sail for the archipelago’s most beautiful spots, such as the white-sand-blue-sea paradise of Baru Island and the party-loving bay of Cholon, in style.
With the help of This Is Cartagena’s travel experts, you'll get to decide every detail, from what seafood goes on the menu, the cocktails you’d like your private concierge to greet you with on arrival and the soundtrack you’d like the DJ to play as you depart from the dock in Cartagena.
If there’s a particular bay or snorkeling spot you’d like to go to, that’s up to you too. Only with this eight-hour luxury boat ride through the islands can take in all of Cartagena’s most exotic beaches.
Yacht you waiting for skipper?Island Hopping in Style Send an Inquiry
If you're not in a hurry and still fancy taking your Cartagena island adventure to the next level, then a cruise on one of the city’s most luxurious catamarans might just be for you.
This laid-back Big Cat...amaran adventure allows you to escape the crowds by exploring the Rosario Islands – a popular national park just 35 km southwest of Cartagena – from the comfort of a luxurious, 82 ft sailboat.
On this luxury day trip, you’ll get to cruise through the islands: sailing through beautiful cerulean and turquoise water and explore the most vibrant coral reefs in Colombia.
With plenty of opportunities to swim, snorkel, and take in some rays up on the wood-floored deck, the crew will prepare a delicious seafood lunch.
While you don't actually make it to the beach on this trip there's nothing but blue water and palm tree-dotted islets around you so you won’t care as you dive into the blissful blue once again.
This might just be the best lunchtime view you’ve ever had. If you want the same smooth experience in the evening, try the shortened sunset spin around the bay with the same operator.Rosario Islands Catamaran Day Trip Sunset Sailing Trip
If you’re traveling as a family to Cartagena and you have people in the group that just can’t sit still, then a whole day of beach bumming might not tick all the boxes.
Combining a trip to the Baru Bird Sanctuary – a natural reserve home to over 125 species of birds – with a beach lunch on Playa Blanca is the perfect way to mix adventure, Colombian biodiversity and beach time into a single day.
Accessible by road, it’s also a great option for people who want to make it to the beach from Cartagena without getting seasick on a boat.
First, you’ll explore Cartagena’s incredible bird sanctuary with a one-hour guided walk through the island’s protected dry forest, where you’ll get to spot parrots, condors, flamingos, and hummingbirds.
After an opportunity to interact with some of our spectacular feathered friends, you’ll be whisked off for a fresh fish lunch (think grilled red snapper and coconut rice) on Playa Blanca, the most famous beach in Cartagena.
Known for its golden sands and bright turquoise water, Playa Blanca can get crowded but you’ll still enjoy the chance to take a dip in the warm Caribbean waters and spread out on the powdery sand, you’ll be just about ready to take your air-conditioned van back to your hotel in Cartagena.Baru Bird Watching and Beach Trip
Sometimes, a beach day in the Caribbean feels all the more perfect when you’ve had to work for it.
This mountain biking adventure will have you peddling 3km through the dry forests of Tierrabomba, Cartagena’s biggest island.
As well as spotting a variety of birds and other wildlife along the nature trails, you’ll also learn about Cartagena’s colonial history with a stop at San Fernando Castle and Angel San Rafael, two maritime forts the Spanish used to fight off English and French pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Once you arrive at your final destination, Bocachica or Punta Arena, opt for a traditional lunch on the beach or, if luxury beach beds, an oceanfront infinity pool and hammock-side cocktails sound like your kind of thing, upgrade to a gourmet lunch at one of our favorite beach clubs.Mountain Biking Beach Trip
When you picture yourself at the beach, do you think of a sandy towel and plastic beer cups, or is it plush loungers, waiter service and a glass of Provençal rosé that comes to mind?
If it’s the latter, then a day at Blue Apple Beach Club should be high on your Cartagena beach day list. Hidden between the swaying palm trees of southern Tierrabomba, Blue Apple Beach Club is one of Colombia’s chicest boutique hotels and beachside hangouts.
A day pass here grants you access to their St.Tropez-inspired infinity pool, private beach area, and a slow-food restaurant serving Caribbean favorites like shrimp ceviche, sea bass carpaccio and coconut rice.
Choose from soaking up the sun by the oceanfront pool to Dj-spun beats, or, if you’re the adventurous type, hire a standup paddle board, take a yoga class or kayak around the island.
The best part? Just a 30-minute boat ride from Cartagena, you won’t be wasting a single minute of sunshine on this luxury day trip.Blue Apple Beach Club Day Trip
Surrounded by lush palm trees and uninterrupted views of the Caribbean, Fenix Beach Club feels more like an island escape than a city beach club.
But, just a ten-minute boat ride away from Cartagena, this is the closest you’ll get to beach paradise without having to travel.
This party-loving beach club boasts a private stretch of white sand and turquoise water with sweeping views over the Castillogrande skyline.
Here, choose from sipping cocktails on the bamboo beach beds, taking a dip in the calm waters or, if you can’t sit still, challenge your fellow beach bums to a game of volleyball or table tennis.
A visitor day pass includes a welcome drink, a Caribbean-inspired lunch of fried fish, coconut rice and patacones and use of the club’s private beach and oceanfront swimming pool.
For an extra fee, you can also take a kayak, paddling, snorkeling or scuba diving tour. If you’re into the party scene, be sure to stick around after sunset for one of Cartagena’s best beachfront DJ sets.Fenix Beach Club Day Trip
If all this beach talk has you longing for some extended island time, why not consider an overnight stay at one of the top islands in Cartagena?
From family-friendly resorts to 10-room oceanfront boutiques, the islands that surround Cartagena offer a stunning collection of beachfront accommodation including some lovely private islands for rent.
An overnight stay means you’ll not only have more time to sunbathe, swim and snorkel, but – perhaps most importantly – you’ll also get to experience Cartagena’s beaches at their quietest during the morning and late afternoons – when day-trippers are either yet to arrive or have already made their exit.
Feeling like a little more beach time? Then check out our list of the top private islands for rent in Cartagena or a tailor-made trip that combines time in the city with a couple of days soaking up the sun in the islands.An Islands Experience Private Islands in Cartagena
A very different way to enjoy a day at the beach is to help the people tackling one of the world's biggest problems.
Plastic pollution in Cartagena and Colombia is every bit as much a problem as it is across the rest of the world.
Lack of recycling methods, alongside littering and poor waste management throughout the city, creates serious pollution problems — especially noticeable in the surrounding ocean waters and local beaches.
This Is Cartagena wants to avoid contributing to the contamination of Colombia's best beaches and, as such, encourages all visitors to avoid single-use plastics on their trips to the beach.
To help achieve our goal of zero single use plastics by 2020, we encourage all clients to bring their own water bottles and offer re-fill opportunities with our partners across the city.
We can provide guests that don't have their own water bottle with one on arrival in Cartagena so they can reduce their consumption of bottled water during their trip through Colombia.
All you need to do is request one from our team. Contact a member of This Is Cartagena's team.
If you would like to go a little further then our partners Domino Volunteers and Fundacion Bahia can help arrange it for you to participate in one of the regular ocean cleanups they organise with some of the hard-working foundations.
Don't have time to spare on your vacation but want to do something to help anyway? You can always make a donation to the cause at Global Giving.Volunteer with Domino Contact Us
So many beach options and so little time. If you still can't make your mind up on which beach experience is the best for your group, then allow one of our local beach experts to point you in the right direction.
Book a day trip with This Is Cartagena to discover the secret swathes of sand no one else knows about.
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Got a large group? Let us design your great escape.
Give us a few tit bits of what you are looking for and we'll take care of the rest. This way you'll have the peachiest time on the islands - and there will be no need to resort to pulling straws.
Give our on the ground team a little more information about what you’re looking for and when you’re looking to do it, and they’ll help you create the perfect boat trip.
Give our on the ground team a little more information about what you are looking for and when you are looking to do it. Our travel team will take care of the rest.