Cartagena, Colombia is a beautiful magical place that I really can’t get enough of. Especially in the Historic Old City (where we were staying) it was just breathtaking.
The buildings are bright and colorful, with the architecture intact from the colonial days of Spanish settlers. Nearly every place had a balcony that was overflowing with flowers you will only see in Colombia (I should note that Colombia has one of the most incredibly diverse eco-systems in the world, allowing them to produce an abundance of flowers and roses you won’t see anywhere else). The whole place is incredibly charming. You won’t find a shortage of ceviche or seafood joints, places to dance, gentlemen to serenade you in the streets and more. However, you’d be missing out if you didn’t take some time out of your Cartagena calendar to visit the beaches just off the coast.
Cartagena, for as lovely as it is, doesn’t have quite the beach scene we were envisioning. Thanks to Google Maps and my comrade taking virtual walks throughout the city while stuck in her cube at work prior to our travels, we figured this out rather quickly. After some digging around and asking friends of ours that have traveled to the area before, we were told to either rent a boat or join a boat tour and head out to one of the many little known island beaches that are just off the coast. Apparently few people know about them and anyone that has known to go, swears by the experience.
We found a few boat tour options and selected one that was highly reviewed from Trip Advisor, to Islas del Rosario. Conveniently, we booked the trip on the birthday of yours truly – figuring that would be a nice way to spend the day. $70 American dollars bought us roundtrip boat fare to the island and about a 6 hour stay, complete with complimentary (and freakin out of this world delicious) pina coladas and a traditional Colombian fish lunch.
It was about a 45 minute trip to get out there but once we landed – OH MY GOD.
The place, was paradise. Like, out of this world beautiful. The island was small (I think only 50 people live there) so it felt private and the water was that type of blue you can really only see in person, turquoise and see-through. Everywhere we looked we saw something that made us happy. Incredible beaches, hammocks we could sleep in, canoes and kayaks to rent and of course, a bar. Additionally we found out we could get massages right on the beach for just $20 American dollars – unreal! Affordable and the absolute definition of R & R.
We stayed, we drank, we soaked up the sun and swam in the lagoon where colorful fish even swam up around us. Now, I don’t like it when fish actually touch me without permission but even I could handle it considering the circumstances. While on the island, I was told that bioluminescent phytoplankton could be found here as well (the rare organism that lights up and glows blue when touched – as seen in the movie Beaches with super stud Leonardo DiCaprio). When I heard that I immediately regretted not booking an overnight stay (which was just $70 American dollars a night) but I guess we can’t do it all.. there’s always next time!
The place was so pristine and beautiful, words can hardly describe it. It was like something out of a movie. If you want to get away and truly feel like you’ve escaped the pressures of your daily life, this type of excursion is the way to go. I’m sure the other islands around Cartagena are equally as beautiful too, you really can’t go wrong in that part of the world.
In conclusion, if you get the chance to go to Cartagena, don’t miss out on this experience. If I had to do it over again, I absolutely would and stay a few more days. Vital travel tip – bring cash (for the massages and drinks you know you’ll want) and remember that sunscreen. Cheers!