So, what are you going to do while you’re here in Cartagena? You’ll see the sights, drink some beers, have some fun. But you’ll probably want to check out the tourist attractions of Cartagena as well.
Here’s a few of the things we can arrange for you in Cartagena and in Colombia:
Have you thought about Sailing to Panama? . It’s a once in a life time trip. You’ll spend about 2 days sailing to Panama and then 2-3 days sailing in San Blas islands. Depending on where the boat finishes you may then sail to Portobelo or Puerto Lindo. The 4-5 day trip will cost around $550, depending on the boat.
There is now three ways to get to the Rosario islands by boat. They leave from the docks in Cartagena, just outside the walls of Cartagena’s old town, about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hostel. All include a short tour past the Rosarios and a stop for 1 hour at the aquarium in the Rosarios. The aquarium is open air and involves a variety of tanks and a dolphin and shark show. The entramce is 20 000 pesos, not included in the price of the tour. If you don’t want to enter the aquarium theres a small beach to take advantage of and a restaurant. Next you’re off to Playa Blanca for lunch and time on the beach. All tickets are available for prepurchase at the hostel for no additional charge. Please note that a tax of 12 000 pesos is not included and must be paid directly at the dock.
The fast boat – leaves at around 9am each morning and takes about 45 minutes to get to the Rosarios. If you don’t want to go the aquarium you have the option of being dropped off at Playa Blanca first and then meeting the boat back to cartagena when it leaves. We suggest doing this, but sometimes they will tell you they go to the beach first and not do it, The ticket cost is 50 000 pesos and includes lunch. If you want to spend more time on the beach then this is the way to go, although it often does leave late. You’re normally back in Cartagena around 4.30pm to 5pm. The ticket is only good for same day travel.
The slow boat- It is what it is, a slow boat. It leaves at 8am or so and takes around 2 hours to get to the aquarium in the Rosarios. You’ll get the standard one hour at the aquarium and be on Playa Blanca by around 12.30pm for lunch(included). The boat leaves Playa Blanca at about 3pm so it’s 2 hours or so on the beach. You’ll be back in the city by around 5-6pm. In the high season the boat can be very crowded and they try to make it a bit of a party atmosphere(doesn’t really work with all the families on board). Theres 4 different seating levels and also a small bar and cafe. Theres 2 avantages to taking this boat, the first is that it’s cheaper at 35 000 pesos. And the second is that you don’t have to come back the same day. if you’d like to spend a night or two at Playa Blanca then you’re able to and can use the same ticket back. Just tell the ticket people as you get on the boat which day you’d like to come back on. If you went to Playa Blanca another way and want to take the boat back, a one way ticket to Cartagena is usually 10000 pesos.
The Catamaran - The latest addition to the Playa Blanca fleet allows a quick trip to Playa Blanca and a sure drop off if you don´t want to go to the aquarium and the Rosarios(we suggest skipping the Rosarios). It leaves at around 8.30am and arrives at Playa Blanca at around 10ish or so. It then heads to the Rosarios and is back to leave for Cartagena at around 3pm. The big advantage is that it will go direct to Playa Blanca for sure. It also has an open bar. Tickets are 50000 pesos and good for the one day only.
For most people Playa Blanca is a must see when visiting Cartagena. It´s a kilometres long white sand beach with crystal clear waters and well worth a visit, whether it´s for a day trip or for a night or two. Contrary to what some people seem to think, it is not over run by tourism(except for a few hours during the day when the tour boats arrive). It is possible to find a stretch where you can be by yourself, especially if you stay overnight. Baru is kinda part of the Rosario islands, but it´s man made. The island itself was created when a huge navigation ditch was made and it was cut from the mainland.
Theres a bunch of basic accommodation places there, ranging from 7000 for a hammock, 10000 for a tent and 50000 for a room. Get off the boat, walk to the left and you´ll find somewhere pretty easily. Theres two main options for getting to Playa Blanca, both include lunch and you have to pay a 12000 port tax. The port can be hectic with heaps of people, try and get there half an hour early to be sure you don´t miss the boat, theres no refunds if you do! Both trips visit the Rosario islands(in our opinion a bit of a waste of time) and make one stop on the island with the aquarium(extra 20000 entrance fee).
This is what it says, a volcano of mud! And you actually get into it! About 45 minutes outside of Cartagena you’ll find the strange looking Totumo volcano. It looks more like a giant anthill but open at the top. You’ll find a strange urge to jump in and cover yourself with liquid mud thats supposed to have relaxing and healthy powers. You’ll find that no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to sink to the bottom of this strange tourist attraction. If you’re up for it you’ll be able to get a maasage from the locals hanging out in the mud for that purpose. Take some extra cash, cause if anyone offers to help you with anything, such as a photo, a massage or scrubbing you down in the shower, they will expect payment. Strange as it may seem, many people rate this highly as a must see in Cartagena. The cost is 40 000 pesos if you go at 8.30am and that includes lunch on the beach(30 000 without lunch). If you take the afternoon trip at 1.30pm it’s only 30 000 pesos but no lunch. Expect to get dirty so take something to swim in and a towel to dry off afterwards.
If you don´t have the time to explore the city yourself then you might like to take part in a city tour. Starting at between 1 and 2pm and finishing at around 6pm you´ll be driven around the city in one of the traditional open sided buses that you´ve seen around. Among other famous attractions you´ll be take to the huge fortress you can see on the edge of the centre of town and also to the monastery call La Popa that overlooks the city. It´s in English and is a great deal considering that it includes entrance fees, and the entrance to the fortress itself is half the cost of the tour. Sometimes you might have to go to meet the bus at the Torre de la Reloj in the centre.
Party like the Colombians!! Join a typical Colombian CHIVA party bus and you´ll find out how. You´ve probably seen them driving around town, they´re the colorful bus with lots of interesting names, open sides and bench seating. The price isn´t bad considering it goes for a few hours, has unlimited local alcohol and includes entry into a club afterwards. You´ll find the locals don´t need the alcohol to get going though so you´ll maybe get more for yourself! Guys, don´t go expecting to meet lots of girls….. It leaves between 7 and 8pm, depending on where you get picked up from and finishes between 11 and 12pm. Sometimes it picks up here and other times you have to go to meet the boat.
With it´s long colonial and pirate history Cartagena has some amazing diving at reasonable prices. Leaves at 7am and heads either to a place close to Playa Blanca or to the rosarios islands depending on which trip is going. The return time is around 12pm or so. Theres the opportunity to see either a wreck, sunk by the Colombian navy, or around a reef where you would see more fish and marine life. The company we use is one of Cartagenas more resected dive companies and fully trusted. Their basic tour is a two tank dive and includes lunch. If you want you can also join the trip and go snorkeling. If you´ve never been diving before then they also offer a discover scuba course where you can figure out if you´d like to become a qualified diver.