Cartagena may be most known for its castles and culture, but it also happens to be one of Colombia’s top beach destinations. Cartagena is a stunning coastal city located in the northern coast of Colombia. There are many tourist destinations in the city—from marketplaces and stores to museums and historical structures. The flower-filled balconies throughout the city complement the charming colonial architecture. It’s something that Cartagena uniquely has. But with the Caribbean waters bordering its coastline, Cartagena also boasts some pretty impressive beaches and stunning shorelines. If you were looking to visit Cartagena anytime in the future, make time to visit these top 10 beaches.
1. Rosario Islands
It might take you an hour to get to the islands, but never let that deter you from going. Rosario Islands are nothing short of breathtaking. Made up of 30 islands, the archipelago features landscapes and coral formations you won’t find anywhere else in the world. You can lounge all day on the clean beach or spend most of your time in the crystal clear waters of the area. No matter what you do there, you’ll always remember the beauty of Rosario Islands.
If you prefer to stay close to the city center, Bocagrande is your best option. It’s the closest beach to Old Town in Cartagena. Bocagrande is reminiscent of places such as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale in Florida. You get a stunning beach in front of you and an equally stunning skyline behind. It’s modern beaching at its best. Given that it’s right at the heart of the city, you’ll also get access to the finest restaurants and hotels in the area.
You can think of Castillogrande as an upgraded Bocagrande. You’ll find some of Cartagena’s most elite residents in Castillogrande. What sets this beach apart from the others is its exclusivity. Because of the upscale living conditions in the area, Castillogrande doesn’t attract too many visitors. It’s often less crowded and peaceful. This means you’ll get to enjoy more beach space and a more relaxing time by the ocean. Castillogrande is also close to the Port of Cartagena, so it’s a favorite spot among cruisers before taking off.
4. Playa Blanca
Located 40 minutes from the city is the beach gem called Playa Blanca. You can get to this beach on the Barú Peninsula by boat only, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Many consider Playa Blanca to be Cartagena’s best. Its name tells us exactly why. Playa Blanca literally means “white beach,” and the white sands there is one of the Caribbean’s best. The beach tends to get busy during the weekend and holidays, so if you want some quieter time make sure to visit during the weekday.
5. Punta Arena
Just 10 minutes away from the city is Tierra Bomba Island. Accessible yet again by boat, this island is where you’ll find the Punta Arena beach. From the beach, you’ll have the city of Cartagena as your view, but Punta Arena is a stark contrast from the urban beaches of the city. You’ll find it to be a true natural haven with its brilliantly blue waters and soft sands. Punta Arena is a quick getaway if you ever need one. But you might end up wanting to stay for longer than a day once you get there.
6. La Boquilla
A favorite among the locals, La Boquilla has slowly become a popular tourist destination in recent years. It just takes a short drive heading east from Cartagena’s Old Town to get to this beautiful beach attraction. Although it doesn’t have all the striking qualities of white sand beaches, the slow crowds here in La Boquilla is what makes it enjoyable. Make sure to enjoy this now because more and more hotels are getting built around the area. It might not be as peaceful for long.
7. Manzanillo del Mar
If a getaway is what you need, take a drive 35 away from the city to visit Manzanillo del Mar. This beach is one of the most solitary locations in Cartagena. It’s so far away from the city center that not many tourists even know about this place. You can totally unwind with the beautiful scenery or maybe even bring the whole family for some exclusive beach time. Manzanillo del Mar has attracted a few developers over the years, and some development has begun to happen in the surrounding area. Even so, it still remains to be tranquil to this day.
8. Playa Azul
Playa Azul is a private island that’s open for reservation. Because of this, you won’t see any street vendors or other random business entities ruining the view and ambience of the area. Playa Azul is the kind of getaway you’d want to spend an entire day or two exploring. The water here reflects its name—so deeply blue that it’s almost entrancing. You won’t experience any hustle or bustle here either, but you will have to book a private vacation in order to have access to it.
9. Playa Libre
Accessible by boat alone, you’ll forget you are in Colombia once you get to Playa Libre. The surrounding atmosphere of this beach will remind you more of the Caribbean Islands more than anything. Access to this beach isn’t difficult either. You can hire any boat off the Cartagena docks to take you to Playa Libre for a good price. Even if you wanted to stay in the island, you’ll likely find a hostel nearby.
10. Bendita Beach
Bendita Beach is as close to paradise living as you can get. You can rent one of the private cabanas right by the water to relax away from the sun, or you can explore the island through one of the private eco-tours nearby. The beach also offers other activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, or other sports. No matter what you do at Bendita Beach, you’re sure to have an amazing time. Just make sure you reserve your spot ahead of time because the beach only limits access to 120 people each day.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn