Colombia's magical Caribbean coast is the star attraction on this 9-day family-friendly adventure. Immerse yourselves in the swashbuckling history of Cartagena, then venture deep into the untouched paradise of Tayrona National Park. After heading inland to discover the lush mountains and coffee farms around Minca, return to the coast to end your trip swimming and snorkeling in the turquoise waters of the San Bernardo Islands.

Highlights

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets & ancient ramparts of Cartagena
  • Explore the untouched coastline of Colombia's incredible Tayrona National Park
  • Discover the secrets to Colombian coffee in the mountain village of Minca
  • Relax on the golden sands of the San Bernardo Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Cartagena! Cartagena
Day 2 Cartagena City Tour Cartagena
Day 3 Transfer to Tayrona National Park  Tayrona Park
Day 4 Full-Day Tayrona National Park Excursion Tayrona Park
Day 5 Transfer to the Mountain Paradise of Minca - Continue to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 6 Ferry from Cartagena to the San Bernardo Islands  Isla Mucura
Day 7 Múcura Hiking & Boat Tour Isla Mucura
Day 8 Ferry from San Bernardo Islands to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 9 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Cartagena!

Palenqueras
Cartagena's Palenqueras (fruit sellers) are a traditional emblem of the city

Welcome to Colombia! Upon arrival at the airport in Cartagena, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel.

A colonial jewel bathed in sunshine, gastronomy, and dancing, Cartagena de Indias is one of the world’s most romantic cities. With magical sunsets, intricate architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine, it's the perfect place for anyone who wants to experience authentic Colombian culture. Take an afternoon stroll around the city to get your bearings and lose yourself in its historic streets.

In the evening, discover Cartagena's thriving culinary scene, choosing from casual cafes frequented by locals to upscale restaurants by some of Latin America's most famous chefs. 

Day 2: Cartagena City Tour

Cartagena's main city gate, the Puerta del Reloj.
Cartagena's main city gate, the Puerta del Reloj.

After breakfast, meet your guide and begin a walking tour in Cartagena’s historic center. Once the principal gold shipping port in the New World, the city's fortress-like design and stone ramparts helped protect it from countless pirate attacks. You will visit myriad plazas, the church and the monastery of San Pedro Claver, the Basilica Minor cathedral, and stroll along narrow cobbled streets lined with colonial houses featuring bougainvilia-draped balconies. 

Visit the modern neighborhoods of Bocagrande and Manga, where daring modern architecture contrasts with the beauty of the old houses from the twentieth century, then continue to El Castillo De San Felipe de Barajas, where the Spaniards sought to protect the city from the attacks of the English in the seventeenth century. Then it's on to the Getsemaní neighborhood, where you'll stop for lunch before enjoying a guided walk through this iconic neighborhood, admiring the bold graffiti that adorns its streets. The tour ends with a tasting experience of some typical fruits of the region; an expert will explain the origin of each fruit and its variety of colors, smells, and flavors.

Day 3: Transfer to Tayrona National Park 

Villa María Tayrona
Lush jungles meet the sea in Tayrona

After breakfast, you'll be picked up from your hotel in Cartagena for your private car transfer to the area just outside the entrance of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona Park), where you'll spend the next two nights at a luxury eco-lodge. 

After check-in, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy your surroundings, located on a stretch of coastline where the Caribbean Sea meets snow-capped equatorial mountains. Surrounded by coconut palms, lush jungles, and towering green hills, the area is home to abundant tropical flora and fauna, with howler monkeys, toucans, caiman, iguanas, geckos, and numerous species of birds and butterflies. The unique location provides easy access to must-see destinations worth exploring in the area.

Day 4: Full-Day Tayrona National Park Excursion

Tayrona National Park is considered the jewel among Colombia's national parks.
Tayrona National Park is considered the jewel among Colombia's national parks.

 After breakfast, you'll begin an unforgettable full-day excursion into nearby Tayrona National Park. This protected area is known for having some of the most virgin coastal landscapes in the entire country, and a remarkable diversity of ecosystems, from thorny scrubland to mangrove swamps and dry, humid, and cloud forests. You'll experience much of this coastline with a local guide while visiting the white-sand beaches and rainforests further inside Tayrona.

The tour includes a hike of 4-5 hours and some additional time to relax on the beaches. You can observe several species of flora and fauna pointed out by your knowledgeable guide—the park is home to myriad species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, including rare Andean condors, howler monkeys, sea turtles, and dolphins. 

A return transfer takes you back to your hotel in the late afternoon in time to enjoy the sunset over dinner.

Day 5: Transfer to the Mountain Paradise of Minca - Continue to Cartagena

The coastal mountain range of the Sierra Nevada.
The coastal mountain range of the Sierra Nevada

After breakfast, a driver will meet you for your transfer to Minca, a mountain village located on the coastal hillside. Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada mountains, remote Minca is seemingly a world away from the bustling city of Santa Marta just down the Caribbean coast. It's also at altitude, so remember to bring an extra layer or two as the temperatures here are cooler than they are at sea level.

Your Minca adventure includes a half-day tour by 4x4, and you'll start at one of the working coffee farms in the region. After learning about the production process (and enjoying complimentary tastings), you'll visit the natural swimming hole of Pozo Azul for a refreshing dip, so bring your bathing suit! 

Enjoy some free time and have lunch before embarking on an afternoon walking tour of Minca's town center. Alternatively, visit the hummingbird balcony at Hotel Minca, where you can relax and observe the hundreds of hummingbirds that feed there.

Later in the afternoon, you will be transferred back by car to the beautiful city of Cartagena, enjoying the scenery along the 4-5 hour drive.

Day 6: Ferry from Cartagena to San Bernardo Islands 

Punta Faro
Punta Faro on the isle of Múcura

Trade the city's hustle for the tranquility of the San Bernardo Islands, an archipelago of golden beaches set just off the coast of central Colombia. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the pier and catch a 2-hour ferry cruising through the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy the breeze and fresh air as you pass Colombia's coastline from the Bay of Cartagena.

In the late morning, you'll arrive in Punta Faro, an exclusive resort on the islet of Múcura. As you enter the crystalline waters of its tiny cove and motor your way to the dock, your hosts will greet you with a fresh drink and welcome you to the islands. After settling into your accommodation, take some time to enjoy the amenities at the resort.

In the afternoon, you're free to relax on the beach, lounge in a hammock, try some water sports, or play a game of beach volleyball. Enjoy a happy-hour aperitif at the bar's terrace overlooking the bay, then settle in for dinner as the sun melts into the sea.

Day 7: Múcura Hiking & Boat Tour

Isla Múcura, Colombia
Snorkel in the turquoise seas surrounding Isla Múcura

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the resort before embarking on a hike around the island. Múcura may be a small coral islet, but it's packed with beauty and incredible vistas. You can easily walk the entirety of the island in just about one hour, hiking around rocky coves with foamy waves and turquoise waters, through jungles of palm trees, and along sandy beaches.

After your walk, you'll enjoy a relaxed lunch back at the hotel, followed by a boat tour of the other islands in the archipelago, such as Tintipán and Santa Cruz del Islote. The latter is an artificially-made, soccer-field-sized outpost that's home to just about 500 people. It's thought to be the most densely populated island in the world.

The rest of your afternoon is yours to enjoy. You can rent kayaks, go windsurfing, borrow bicycles, or explore underwater marine life with snorkel gear or scuba equipment. The resort even offers night dives.

Day 8: Ferry from San Bernardo Islands to Cartagena

Farewell to paradise
Farewell to paradise

This is your last day on Múcura! Have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and enjoy one final swim in the turquoise water. You will then transfer back to Cartagena by boat. Keep your eyes open and your camera close, as you'll pass by the beautiful Rosario Islands on the way.

The boat returns in the early afternoon, so you'll have more time to explore Cartagena, take in the sights you may have missed thus far, and have dinner out on the town.

Day 9: Depart Cartagena

Sunset in Cartagena
Sunset in Cartagena

It's time to say goodbye to Cartagena! After breakfast, a representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home. Safe travels!

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