Why You Should Visit the Rosario Islands at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Isla Grande, Rosario Islands, offer gorgeous scenery and laid-back fun
Isla Grande, Rosario Islands, offer gorgeous scenery and laid-back fun | © agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Chris Bell

The Rosario Islands form an archipelago on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Think beach days, snorkeling adventures and cocktail sunsets. And all just a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena. That’s reason enough for most to visit Rosario Islands. But if you need a little more, here’s why you should make the journey to this magical destination.

Did you know you can now travel with Culture Trip? Book now and join one of our premium small-group tours to discover the world like never before.

They form one of Colombia’s most important national parks

As part of the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park, the Rosario Islands are integral to one of the most important areas of natural beauty in Colombia. As a result, the best attractions in Rosario islands are the islands and surrounding waters, which are remarkably well preserved and protected, meaning you can enjoy their wonders as nature intended.

They are easy to visit from Cartagena

You can hop on a boat from Cartagena to reach the islands

They are a nice contrast to the city

Though close to the city, the islands provide a nice contrast to the tourists, heat and pace of Cartagena. The cool breezes, beautiful nature and laid-back attitude here make it the perfect weekend getaway.

You can stay at the Secret Paradise hostels

Among the coolest backpacker hostels in Colombia, Secret Paradise is a unique hostel collective on Isla Grande. It’s formed of seven outposts, all opened within the former mansions of emerald barons. With great swimming pools, airy terraces and well-appointed rooms – as well as a privileged location right on the seafront – the Secret Paradise might not be that secret these days, but it remains a paradise.

The Secret Paradise hostels were opened in the mansions of emerald barons

You can spend all day on white-sand Caribbean beaches

Although some of the islands are rocky or surrounded by mangroves, many are home to picture-perfect Caribbean beaches, with white sand, sparkling blue waters, a few palm trees and not much else.

The food is delicious

The seafood available on the islands is about as fresh as any you’re likely to find in Colombia. And it’s so plentiful, you even get fisherman anchoring their boats alongside yours to sell you fresh-out-of-the-sea lobster or shellfish.

There’s something for everybody

The beauty of visiting the Rosario Islands is that there’s an activity for everyone. Adventure lover? Grab a kayak to explore the Caribbean Sea or journey through the mangroves before snorkeling coral reefs or grabbing a rod to go sport fishing. Looking to chill? The beach offers relaxed days, hammocks and cocktails.

Active adventurers can take a kayak onto the Caribbean Sea

You can see stunning sunsets

As you’d expect from a Caribbean archipelago, the sunsets here are spectacular. Any westward-facing hotel or beach offers front-row seats. Every night is different, so expect to see some memorable sunsets during your visit.

You can scuba dive

Whether you fancy learning to dive or are already an expert, you will certainly enjoy scuba diving in the protected waters here. There are well-preserved coral reefs, and even a few wrecks, to explore. To keep things simple, many arrange dive trips while in Cartagena, which could include transportation and hotel pick up and drop off.

You can sleep in luxury accommodation

While there are budget-friendly hostels and hammocks here, there are also more exclusive and upmarket options available. Resort hotels such as Isla del Pirata Hotel, Hotel San Pedro de Majagua or Gente de Mar offer luxury rooms, private beaches and quality food.

You can visit Pirate Island

If you are wondering where to visit in Rosario Islands, try Isla del Pirata. It is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago, but also one of the prettiest. While most tour boats head straight for Baru and Playa Blanca, Pirate Island is more tranquil and a generally fantastic place to spend a few days in the Caribbean.

Pirate Island is one of the more laid-back destinations in the archipelago

You can take a private yacht tour

If you want to experience the magic of the Rosario Islands in true luxury, arrange a tour of them in a private yacht or catamaran. There are many tour agencies in Cartagena that offer these luxury packages, so if you have a group of friends and some money to spend, you can enjoy the azure waters around the islands aboard a lovely yacht.

You can witness phosphorescent plankton at the Enchanted Lagoon

The brackish water lake at the heart of Isla Grande is home to the surreal spectacle of phosphorescent plankton, which, on a dark, star-free night, glow and oscillate with every touch of the water. Swimming in the lake at night while watching tiny green lights dance around your body is one of the most memorable experiences you can have on the islands.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article