A detailed travel guide to visiting the Rosario Islands from Cartagena, Colombia. Includes up-to-date information on the best day trip with photos to inspire your travels.

If you’re visiting Cartagena de Indias and looking for the absolute best day trip to the small coral islands of the Colombian Caribbean Coast, then look no further.

The Rosario Islands in Colombia are one of the top destinations for those seeking a true Caribbean paradise. Here, you’ll find crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and coral reef-lined coastlines. Best of all, taking a day trip to the Corles Isla del Rosario from Cartagena city is very easy and actually quite affordable!

In this guide, I’ll give you a rundown of everything you need to know to visit this true Caribbean paradise!

First: The Best Rosario Islands Day Trip From Cartagena

Before I get into the guide, let me fill you in on the best Rosario Islands day trip from Cartagena.

The trip I’m recommending (and the one that I took) is run by a local company and takes you to the beautiful Rosario Islands aboard the 50 ft catamaran called “Bona Vida”– link below.

I booked this trip because it is ranked as the best tour in the city, with over 300 5-star reviews! This is also one of the most cost-effective options. It’s priced at under $50 which is really good value since it includes:

  • Visit Isla Grande on the Rosario Islands
  • Visit to Playa Blanca or Isla Baru
  • Free snorkel equipment hire
  • 7.5 hour excursion (full-day trip)
  • Fast sailing/motor-sailing to the islands (more time at Rosario)
  • Lunch
  • Free drinks and snacks throughout
  • Small group tour (not too many people)
Catamaran day trip vessel at the Rosario Islands, Colombia

Where Are the Colombian Rosario Islands?

The Colombian Rosario Islands are located approximately 22 miles (36 kilometers) southwest of Cartagena de Indias in the Caribbean Sea. There are a total of 28 islands in this group, which are located within the Corales del Rosario National Park (Rosario Islands National Park).

Slower boats take roughly 2-3 hours to get here. Fortunately, if you pick the boat trip aboard the luxury catamaran above, you’ll get to Isla Grande (the largest island in the chain) in under 1.5 hours.

Notable Islands of Islas Del Rosario, Colombia

As mentioned there are a total of 28 islands within the Rosario Islands group. The largest is Isla Grande but below I’ve listed some more of the main islands that tourists tend to visit.

  • Isla Marina
  • Isla Gigi
  • Isleta (Carolina Island)
  • Isla Rosa
  • Isleta del Pirata (Pirate Island)
  • Bendita Beach

It’s important to know that the very popular Playa Blanca and Isla Barú are protected within the Rosario Islands National Park, but they are not part of the main island chain since Isla Baru was technically a peninsula before the man-made canal was first dug in 1582.

Isla Grande, Colombia

More Options For Getting to the Rosario Islands

Below are a few more options for how to get to the Rosario Islands from Cartagena.

Hire a Private Boat

For travelers arriving in Cartagena in a large group, it’s possible to book a private boat tour or even a private yacht to head out to the Rosario Islands.

The private speed boats available will actually work out cheaper if you split the cost between a group of 10. Furthermore, you’ll get your own driver who can help you plan an island-hopping itinerary from the Coast of Cartagena.

This is a popular option for people who want to take a “booze cruise” and check out popular party spots like Cholón. If you want to splurge, you could also check out GetMyBoat to find options to book a larger private yacht.

Boats and building skyline in Cartagena, Colombia

Stay at one of the Rosario Island Hotels

For luxury travelers, honeymooners, or those looking for the ultimate Caribbean Island holiday, the final option is to book a night or two at one of the many Rosario Island hotels.

These hotels and resorts are usually much more expensive than the accommodation in Cartagena. However, the great news is that boat transport from the city is usually included in the price.

Below is a list of the best Rosario Island hotels and resorts that offer free island transfers.

  • Gente de Mar Resort – located on Isla Grande and one of the most popular resorts in the Rosario Island group
  • Hotel Las Islas (Barú) – an amazing eco-hut resort with an infinity pool and spa right on the northern shores of Barú Island
  • Hotel Isla del Sol – amazing all-inclusive resort in beachside bungalows on a private cove on Isla Grande
  • Coralina Island – perhaps the best Rosario Islands luxury hotel located on Isleta
Beachside hotel at the Rosario Islands, Colombia

Bonus: Resort Day-Pass Option

Don’t have the budget or the time to spend a night in the luxury Rosario Island resorts? Luckily, it’s also possible to book a “day pass” at many of the best ones. This includes your speed boat transfer to the resort and provides access to facilities like the bar, pool, hot tub, and more.

These are the Rosario Island day passes you can book online (with Viator).

Rosorts and Hotels in the Rosario Islands

Why Visit Islas Del Rosario?

The main reason why people visit Islas del Rosario is because these islands have the clearest water and the best white-sand beaches near the popular tourist city of Cartagena.

While many more people choose a trip to Playa Blanca instead, the Rosario Islands are much prettier and less crowded.

Also, not only will you find pristine beaches in this natural park, but it’s also a fun place to travel to for water sports and scuba diving! You can also rent a jet ski for an hour or so if you book one of the Rosario Island day trips from Cartagena.

Tip: you might see the dolphin show advertised on some of the tour signs around Cartagena. However, I highly recommend you avoid this for animal welfare reasons.

Boat and clear water drone photo

Rosario Islands Day Trip From Cartagena: What to Expect

Okay, with all of the basic logistics out of the way, here is my Rosario Islands blog where I recap my experience on a day trip from Cartagena, Colombia.

Again, I booked this boat trip with Bona Vida, and I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough!

Boarding the Catamaran in Cartagena Harbor

Most boat trips will depart from somewhere in Cartagena harbor. This particular tour leaves from a convenient location at the waterfront pier near Muelle de los Pegasos. Upon boarding, we were offered a welcome drink and then set sail for the Rosario Islands!

Sailing Boat in Cartagena Harbor

Bahia de Cartagenas (Cartagena Bay)

Before heading out to the open Caribbean, the catamaran sails through Cartagena Bay. This offers excellent views of the upper-class skylines of Bocagrande and Castillo Grande. Furthermore, we passed the cruise terminals where a huge ship was docking just as we sailed through!

Boat in Cartagena Bay

Arriving at The Rosario Islands from Cartagena

After approximately 1.5 hours of steady motor-sailing at top speed, we arrived at the Rosario Islands. Our captain tied up to a buoy in a shallow section in a protected area between Isla Grande and Isla Marina.

The water color here was a beautiful shade of translucent blue and we didn’t hesitate to jump straight in! We spent just over 2 hours here snorkeling, swimming, and jumping off the yacht into the clear turquoise water.

Catamaran day trip vessel at the Rosario Islands, Colombia
Girl swimming in the Rosario Islands in the Caribbean
Girl swimming in the Caribbean

Sailing to Playa Blanca

To break up the trip, our captain set sail for the popular beach of Playa Blanca. Of course, since this particular beach is very busy, we anchored just a few hundred meters away, which was the perfect place to enjoy lunch.

Lunch on board the Bona Vida consisted of fresh fish, rice, salads, and tropical fruits. Alternatively, there was a vegetable rice option for vegans and vegetarians.

After a hearty lunch, we spent more time lazing on the deck and enjoying the Caribbean sun. The stop near Playa Blanca also gave us lots of time to swim over to the nearby beach which was lined with tropical palm trees.

This was also another great place to do some more snorkeling, although the visibility was considerably better at the Rosario Islands.

Boats anchored near Playa Blanca and Baru Island in the Colombian Caribbean
Girl jumping into clear blue water
Caribbean lunch and fruit

Back to Cartagena

After an awesome day exploring the Rosario Islands of Colombia, we set sail back to Cartagena! The journey back was a little bumpy, but the 50-foot motor sailing catamaran cut through the waves with ease.

We were particularly glad that we chose this tour during this leg of the trip as we watched smaller speed boats smash up and down against the waves.

Sailing boat in the Caribbean

More Photos from the Rosario Islands, Colombia

Kayaker on Isla Grande
Rosario Islands reef drone photo
Rosario Islands from above
Small islands in the Colombian Caribbean
Isla Grande drone photo, Colombia
sailing boat in the Rosario Islands
Rosario Islands in Colombia

More Colombia Travel Guides & Blogs

I hope you’ve found this short guide to visiting the Rosario Islands from Cartagena, Colombia useful!

I recently spent close to three months exploring Colombia and documenting my adventures on this blog. If you’re looking for more adventure travel inspiration, make sure to check out some of my other blog posts below.

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