How to Get to the Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands consist of over 20 small coral islands, including some tiny unspoiled islets. The archipelago lies about 60 miles (100 km) southwest of Cartagena. Day tours booked from Cartagena often include a trip to Playa Blanca, a popular beach known for its white sands and clear blue waters.
If you want to venture on and see more destinations than other tours, consider these 7-day or 10-day itinerary to really soak in and appreciate the islands. These tours include a visit to the Barú Peninsula, passing Tierra Bomba Island and Boca Chica, ancient colonial forts that once protected Colombia from invaders. Other destinations include Playa Azul, a stunning beach with soft white sands perfect for sunbathing.
Duration: 45 minutes by boat
The only way to see the Rosario Islands is by boat from Cartagena. There are group and private day tours that depart in the morning and returns in the early evening hours to Cartagena. The Rosario Islands are a short, but bumpy, 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena.
Boat tours can be arranged by one of the tour agencies found in Cartagena’s Old Town. You can also go to the Muelle de la Bodeguita port in Cartagena where most of the boats leave from to arrange a boat. If you want to join a group tour, talk to the reception at your accommodation to see if they have special deals.
If you want to stay overnight on the islands, be sure to book your accommodation beforehand since options can be somewhat limited. Hotels and resorts can book up fast depending on the season. Staying overnight can allow you to see the surrounding islands, including the Isla Baru or Isla Grande.
If you’ve got the cash and the know-how, consider renting your own private boat. This can be quite expensive but if you want to be your own captain and see the islands at your own leisure this option is available.
Duration: 1.5-hour flight
There are flights throughout the day from Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Rafael Nuñez International Airport (CTG). Most major domestic airlines have direct flights to CTG including Avianca, Viva Air, and LATAM airlines.
There are also buses that go directly from Bogotá to Cartagena, but it’s not recommended. Most buses take anywhere from 19 to 24 hours and it can be a long and treacherous journey. Private transfers are recommended over self-driving, but both options can be costly due to the distance involved.
Duration: 1.5 hour flight; 13+ hours by bus
Medellín has two airports, so that’s important to keep in mind when searching for flights to Cartagena before heading to the islands. Medellín’s Aeropuerto Internacional José María Córdova (MDE) offers direct flights to CTG. However, the other airport found in Medellín, Olaya Herrera (EOH) does not offer direct flights to CTG. Routes that leave from EOH to the island have stopovers in one of Colombia’s major cities (like Pereira, Bucaramanga, or Bogotá) before its final destination.
A direct bus from Medellín is another option. Buses depart in the evening from Medellín’s Terminal del Norte. Buses take 13 to 14 hours and arrive at Cartagena’s Terminal de Transportes early in the morning hours. Private transfers are super expensive and it’s not recommended to rent a car in Colombia unless you are super familiar with the road conditions in Colombia, especially on mountainous roads.
Upon arrival in Cartagena, you will have to take another bus or a taxi to the city center. The bus station in Cartagena is about 8 miles (12 km) from the city center. A taxi will take about 30 minutes to reach the city, depending on traffic. Confirm the price beforehand with the taxi, as some taxis in Cartagena do not have meters.