Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
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5 Top Beaches in Cartagena

Playa Blanca beach
Playa Blanca beach; credit: David Shankbone, Wikimedia

Jutting out into the Caribbean Sea along the coast of Colombia is the cruise port of Cartagena. Among the great attractions of the great Columbian city are plenty of sandy beaches visited by locals and tourists alike.

Blessed with an average temperature of 81ºF / 27ºC and more than 2,000 hours of warm Caribbean sunshine each year, almost every day is a good day to go to the beach. Here, we present the top five beach destination from the numerous choices available.

1. Las Islas del Rosario

Las Islas del Rosario is possibly the most popular beach destination along the coast of Cartagena. In fact, Las Islas del Rosario is a really a stretch of beaches spanning several small islands and forming part of a national park. The 43-island archipelago is 40 minutes by boat to the south of the city.

With its pristine white sands and clear waters, getting to the islands is as simple as signing up for a boat ride provided by local resorts. Otherwise, cruise operators such as Tesoro Tours also provide rides. Most boats depart from the Muelle de los Pegasos in downtown Cartagena.

It is especially important to note that if it’s the Caribbean beach idyll you are looking for, then the Rosario Islands are definitely the best choices. Also, whenever you decide to arrange the boat ride, confirm whether you desire the much faster speed boats or the one of the tour boats that travel much slower.

2. Playa Blanca

As its name suggests, Playa Blanca (White Beach) is a stretch of white sandy beach along the coast. Specifically, the beach is located on Baru Island, just south of town. The Playa Blanca is located only 15-minutes from downtown Cartagena by boat. One can get there by way of the same boats that offer passage to the Islas de Rosario.

Unlike the beaches directly within the town of Cartagena, visitors will not need worry about peddlers bothering them while lounging on the beach.  Moreover, the waters here are cleaner and the beach is better kept.

3. San Bernardo Island

Also located just south of Cartagena, San Bernardo Island offers more pristine beaches, all accessible by boat. Like Las Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca, the beaches of San Bernardo Island are generally cleaner and quieter than any you will find on the mainland.  Like the others mentioned, the beaches here are also accessible by boat.

It should be noted that due to its location, San Bernado beaches experience strong sea currents. It’s therefore important to avoid San Bernado if you plan on bringing small children to the beach.

4. Mainland Beaches

Apart from the island beaches close to the coast are Cartagena’s mainland city beaches offering reasonable stretches of sand and unbeatable convenience. These beaches do not offer the same pristine beauty or luxury as the island beaches as they are preferable for short walks, lounging or a quick swim especially for those doing urban exploration.

To the south, there is Bocagrande, El Laguito and Castillo while to the north are La Boquilla and Marbella.

5. Bocagrande

Unlike most mainland beaches, Bocagrande is quite tourist-friendly, with plenty of resorts, hotels, restaurants and even a disco. The other beaches are less grand and not as well kept as those on the nearby islands.

Here, the beaches are covered in brown sand; the brown colour is because no coral reefs are directly offshore Cartagena’s coast.

Cartagena’s beaches, particularly those along the mainland, may not possess the crystal-clear waters and bleached-white sands akin to those of the Caribbean Sea. But during the high season, these beaches thrive with wonderful activities, excited patrons and amazing fun.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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