The Caribbean islands: Our highlights and itinerary ideas
Most of the Colombian Caribbean islands are close to the shoreline, between Cartagena and Capurgana, like it’s the case with the archipelagos of Rosario and San Bernardo. However, there are three other islands near Nicaragua, Providencia, San Andres, and Santa Catalina, that are only accessible by plane.
If you wish to lay back on white-sand beaches, you will need to include one of these paradise islands in your Colombia itinerary. Your choice will depend on various factors like your budget, the duration of your vacation, the atmosphere you’re looking for, and the type of accommodation.
Tierra Bomba is only 20 min away from Cartagena, but there is no turquoise water and white-sand beaches. However, it might be an option if you like spending some good time in a beach club then relax in a quiet place at night.
Rosario islands are also reachable from Cartagena – 1-h boat ride. There are 30 islands – although most of them are private – with crystal clear water, lovely beaches, and colorful reefs. Unfortunately, this little paradise is overcrowded most of the time. It’s not the same experience when hundreds of tourists surround you. For environmental reasons, we have decided to skip this area that is weakened by mass tourism.
The San Bernardo islands are a genuine alternative to the Rosario islands as they’re 2.5 hours away from the walled city. On these havens, you’ve got the full Caribbean package with warm weather, magnificent beaches, palm trees, turquoise waters, and cocktails. It’s ideal for relaxing a couple of days.
We recommend Isla Mucura if you like the “resort” atmosphere. You can cross the island on foot, but hotels have privatized most of the area.
Isla Tintipan is much more romantic. This Caribbean island is made up of secluded white-sand beaches and mangroves.
In both cases, locals offer various activities to spend the day. Grab a snorkel and explore the submarine world, kayak around the islands, go fishing with the inhabitants, visit Santa Cruz del Islote – one of the most densely populated islands on Earth, – devour meaty lobsters and nap nap nap!
The places we mentioned above are quite impressive, but if you really want to get an island life experience, you must take a plane and include Providencia on your Colombia trip. We are fond of this Caribbean island.
Firstly, you must arrive in San Andres. It’s the economic and juridical capital of the archipelago. The flight to get there are cheap. Therefore, there are tons of hotels and tourists, and the infrastructures spoil the landscapes. It can be a good pick if you like staying in a resort, with cocktails and music. For the same reasons as the Rosario islands, we have decided not to promote this island when creating Colombia itineraries for our clients.
Instead, we recommend taking a 2nd flight and land in Providencia. It’s only 15-min away! Providencia and Santa Catalina are two Caribbean hidden gems. The inhabitants are proud of their past, and they fought to keep the resorts away from their haven. These Caribbean islands are full of history, with stories of pirates, slaves, and battles, and nowadays, the population speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and Creole. As a result, they’ve got a culture a lot different from the continent. For us, this social diversity was the icing on the cake.
Being an old volcanic island, Providencia is mountainous and covered by thick vegetation. The contrast between the green trees and the blue of the ocean is fabulous. Plus, it allows you to plan a few easy hikes or horse-riding trips to the best viewpoints before heading to white-sand beaches. Providencia belongs to the third-largest barrier reef in the world. The mix of shallow water, colorful reefs, and deep graves give some marvelous different shades of blue to the ocean. Besides, the clear visibility underwater and the rich biodiversity of the seabeds are ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving in this area.
So, would you like that we add a Carribean island to your Colombia itinerary?
Examples of activities on the Caribbean islands that you can add to your Colombia itinerary:
- Snorkeling: Take your fins and snorkels and go looking on the beautiful reefs around the islands. The islanders know the best spot!
- Scuba dive in the warm Caribbean ocean: The visibility underwater is excellent most of the time, especially nearby Providencia. It’s ideal for passing your dive certification or book a fun dive.
- Recharge your battery in a pleasant place: The holiday atmosphere present on the Caribbean islands are perfect for disconnecting for the real world. Book an activity in the morning and layback on the beach with a cocktail in hand in the afternoon.
- Mindblowing sunsets: Everyone loves sunsets. I’m sure you’re not different 😉
- Go fishing with locals: Most of them don’t use fishing rods. Find out their traditional methods.
- Explore the surroundings with your Kayak: Go at your own pace, but don’t forget your sunscreen!
- Hike through the hilly landscapes of Providencia: Being on an elevated position is always the best way to enjoy the beauty of an island.
- Horse riding in Providencia: Islanders love betting on horse races. Don’t worry; you won’t have to become a jockey.
- Witness the bioluminescent plankton: It’s a fascinating phenomenon that appears in some lagoons of saltwater surrounded by mangroves. These microscopic plants shine when you do sharp movements in the water. You can only see it at night, especially when there is no moon. Bring your snorkel gears.
- Observe the Fauna and Flora: Mangroves are an excellent habitat for various species of birds and fishes. Bring your binoculars!