You are not alone if you’ve never heard of the Rosario Islands before. Most people who’ve not visited Colombia have no idea that just off the coast of Cartagena, there lies an archipelago of nearly 30 protected islands to rival the picture perfect Caribbean islands of your dreams.
The Rosario Islands are nestled in a national park that protects the important coral reef and biodiversity found just an hour from Cartagena. And they are a must see for anyone coming to the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Despite being a protected area, the experiences you can have in the Rosarios are as varied as the sea life you’ll find here.
This Two Travel guide to the Rosario Islands will help you decide what kind of trip you want to take when you visit, the best things to do in the Rosarios, and the things you need to know, before you go.
What kind of Rosarios Islands trip are you looking for?
The Rosario Islands offer a wealth of options for visitors who want to explore this beautiful Caribbean setting, but it’s important to know what kind of trip you want, before you book.
Party Vibe with Friends
The party you can have in the islands with friends all depends on your time and budget.
If you’re on a budget with just one day to spare, hire a speed boat for an island hopping party.
For parties of 4 up to 15 people, a skipper will take you to a number of spots in the Rosarios to swim, snorkel and hit the beach. You´ll enjoy a traditional fish lunch and some dancing on the boat. And you´ll have time to explore some hotspots like Cholon which is THE party place in the Rosario Islands. Or maybe the hotspot where locals are flocking these days. It’s called La Piscina.
For a simple upgrade, choose a yacht or catamaran instead of a speed boat and hire your own DJ and chef. This is a great option for bachelor and bachelorette weekends or a pre-wedding event, or for friends looking for a spring breaks style day trip.
For a more exclusive party, or if you have a little more time, you can rent a villa on a private island and really kick back and relax, or adventure and party. Staying the night in the Rosario Islands really gives you the chance to enjoy the turquoise waters and perfect sandy beaches. If you have a private boat, you can explore at your leisure, then come back to the villa to relax, or continue the party.
Tell us what you need and our concierge will make sure everything is arranged for you – be it the boat you want, a DJ and bartender for the evening, or drinks and snacks for the ride.
A Romantic Trip for Couples
The Rosario Islands are the perfect weekend away for couples and there are some beautiful places to relax, reconnect and recharge. Even if you don’t stay on a private island, if you choose a weekday trip to a small island, you may well be the only people there after the day trippers leave. Go for a sunset stroll or take in the sunset with a cocktail on the deck of a beach-side cabin, before an intimate dinner for two in the most gorgeous of surroundings.
Exploring and Adventure
If you’re keen to explore the biodiversity of the Rosarios, there are a wealth of options to suit any visitor. See the wildlife, coral reef or the mangroves in a kayak or on a paddle board.
Take a trip out for some excellent snorkelling or even better, scuba diving, and you will find yourself swimming with shoals of tropical fish in a unique coral wonderland. And if you’re staying the night, local residents will often offer you a chance to see and swim with bioluminescent plankton!
Relax for the day on a Caribbean beach
If you’re in Cartagena, without a doubt, you’ll be offered a trip to Playa Blanca. Although it’s true that the beach has idyllic white sand, tropical palms and incredible turquoise waters, it can also get VERY busy. If you don’t know the best spot, you will (most likely) be hounded by vendors. That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyable, but we know some better spots if what you’re looking for is an Instagram shot to keep or a day to chill away from everyone.
As well as the villas that are available on private islands in the Rosarios, we recommend a day pass at Gente de Mar, Isla Arena’s Bendita Beach, and Isla Marina’s Islabela Beach. Perfect for those iconic Caribbean Instagram shots in the warm, turquoise-jewelled waters, or on incredible white-sanded beaches. You’ll need to arrange a day pass or stay the night at these island hotels, but we can guarantee that they’re worth it if you’re looking to relax for a couple of days. We can help you get the best price – just get in touch.
What you need to know before a trip to the Rosario Islands
Although a day trip is great for a boat party trip to the Rosarios, to really kick back and relax, we recommend you stay at least one night to enjoy more of what makes these islands so very special. Most boats, whether you go on a tour or hire a private boat, will leave from the main marinas in Cartagena between 7.30am and 9am, returning at around 4pm, before the sea gets too choppy.
As you can see from this post, there are plenty of options for places to stay and things to do in the Rosarios, but do your research. If you’re looking for a quiet relaxing day, don’t head to Cholon or Playa Blanca. Instead, up your budget for a more luxe affair that you won’t forget.
Also, beware of gringo prices. Some tours, boats and lunch options are blatantly overpriced, but when you’re out in the islands, there’s no choice to go elsewhere, so please choose a trusted operator who can tailor a trip to what you’re looking for.
Because there’s one thing we do know – the Rosario Islands are a great option for every visitor to Cartagena.
If you enjoyed these recommendations, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more inspiration for your next trip to Cartagena or Tulum. And get in touch if you need help with a boat, island or in building your journey.