Islas del Rosario
Several agents arrange boat tours to Islas del Rosario. A set of small islands out of the coast. Usually the tour include lunch, a visit to an aquarium and a few hours at Playa Blanca. Not included in the price is harbor tax and park entrance (C$14.000 total) and the entrance fee to the aquarium (C$20.000). If you buy your tour at one of the street vendors, don't pay in advance, preferably pay part or all at return in Cartagena. At least one of these tours is to a resort "Coco Liso" which is something like a Colombian butlins. You will be promised a beach, pay a high fee, then disembark a boat after an hour and a half to be greeted with a fairly basic hotel, gimicky pool, and about 6 square feet of beach. Buying a piece of "coral" jewellery from one of the many hawkers, engage them in conversation, and they might lead you to their private beach - quite beautiful, and all the more interesting for having its existence totally denied by the tour operators. The tourist offices in the centre of the old town and a good place to compare the many possible trips to the islands.
The Colombian Natural Park of Islas del Rosario is one of the country’s most important nature reserves and is located primarily underwater in the shape of mangroves and coral reefs, letting you experience its wonders as nature intended.
Just an hour away from Cartagena, paying a visit to these wonderful islands is easy even if your trip to Colombia is not that long. This feature gives you an easy escape if the touristy Cartagena scene gets too busy.
Once you get there, you’ll be surrounded by a picturesque mixture of blue and turquoise waters that have shaped the rocky islands and their wonderful white sandy beaches. Isla Grande, in particular, is blessed by a variety of landscapes that you can enjoy while staying at one of the seven different hostels located in the former luxurious mansions of Emerald barons. They are as opulent as that fact suggests, with great swimming pools, airy terraces, and well-appointed rooms – as well as privileged locations right on the seafront.
A great thing about this secret paradise is that it has something in store for every kind of traveler. If your thing is adventure, then you’ll be able to kayak through a unique ecosystem of majestic mangrove tunnels and lagoons of Isla Grande and out onto the sea. You’ll be able to go diving, or sport-fishing, while the more relaxed visitors can easily idle away for a day on the beach, chilling in a hammock, or sipping a cocktail while watching the sunset.
Visiting Isla Grande and the rest of the keys is a never-ending magical trip. You can take a private yacht tour or visit the brackish water lake at the heart of Isla Grande to bask in its stunning and surreal spectacle of phosphorescent plankton which, on a dark, star-free night, seem to glow and oscillate with light at every touch of the water. Submerge yourself in the lake to dance with tiny green lights all around your body.