The Most Beautiful Beaches to Visit in Cartagena

View of the ocean, sand, and palm trees on Manzanillo beach, Colombia
View of the ocean, sand, and palm trees on Manzanillo beach, Colombia | © Eric Nathan / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Chris Bell
24 May 2021

Cartagena is a colorful city filled with colonial architecture, a buzzing nightlife scene, and world-class restaurants. However, it’s also surrounded by magnificent beaches and the Rosario Islands. From the alluring local beaches in Bocagrande just minutes from the city to the Caribbean paradises of Playa Blanca further afield, here are the most beautiful beaches to visit in Cartagena.

Playa Blanca

Natural Feature
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Playa Blanca near Cartagena, Colombia
© Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Cartagena’s most famous and popular beach paradise is Playa Blanca, located around 40 minutes from the city by boat on the Barú peninsula. Sure, it can be busy on weekends and the vendors can get annoying, but its white sands and crystal clear blue waters make Playa Blanca one of the most beautiful beaches to visit close to Cartagena.


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One of the beaches on the Bocagrande peninsula in the heart of Cartagena, Castillogrande is a touch more exclusive and upmarket than its aforementioned neighbor Bocagrande beach, but is a lot more peaceful and laid-back because of this. The sea here is very clean and perfect for swimming, and there is more space to enjoy the beach too.

Rosario Islands

Natural Feature
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Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario) in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, aerial view.
© R.M. Nunes / Alamy Stock Photo

These paradise islands off the coast of Cartagena are a national park and home to some of the region’s loveliest beaches and beach resorts. The archipelago is made up of many different islands so it can be hard to pick which beach is the best, but your safest bet is to take a tour of the islands from Cartagena, during which you will visit several different spots. Isla Grande is the most accessible of the islands from the city and has several excellent beaches.

Punta Arena

Natural Feature
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This beautiful beach is located on Tierra Bomba Island, a large island less than 10 minutes by boat from the city. With spectacular views back towards the skyscrapers of the Bocagrande neighborhood in Cartagena, as well as sandy beaches and azure blue waters, Punta Arena beach is a stark contrast from the glitzy urban beaches nearby, but a peaceful haven so close to the city.


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Colombia, Cartagena, Bocagrande, Caribbean Sea public beach beachcombers
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 7+ / Alamy Stock Photo

Cartagena’s most famous urban beach sits in front of the glitzy neighborhood of Bocagrande (the famous peninsula lined with skyscrapers and upmarket hotels). The beach is popular with Colombia’s glamour set and is a nice strip of white sand, conveniently located just minutes from Cartagena’s best neighborhoods and hotels.

La Boquilla

Historical Landmark
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La Boquilla beach, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
© Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

La Boquilla beach is increasingly popular with foreign tourists (it has been a well-known spot for locals for many years) and is located a short drive to the east of Cartagena’s Old Town. The beach itself is perhaps less visually attractive than some of the others on this list, but it is a real ‘local’ spot, perfect for anyone looking to spend some beach time away from the tourist hordes who can descend upon Cartagena during high season. A boat tour of the nearby mangroves is also perfect for anyone with an interest in nature.

Manzanillo del Mar

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The Manzanillo del Mar beaches are the furthest mainland beaches from the urban area of Cartagena, but they are consequently the most relaxed and tranquil beaches in Cartagena. Located near a little town of the same name – around a 35-minute drive from the city – the beaches are large and beautiful swathes of sand and sea, with very few tourists in sight. The best of these beaches is Playa de Oro.

These recommendations were updated on May 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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