Colombia is a traveller’s paradise: great value for money, off the beaten path, with everything from jungles, to beaches, to mountains, to old colonial cities to explore! But some of Colombia’s best kept secrets are its beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea. With stunning, deserted beaches to rival some of the more popular Caribbean island getaways, but with far less tourists and just as much character, we think it’s time to consider a holiday to one of these Colombian islands in the Caribbean…
Probably the most famous of Colombia’s islands, the Rosario’s are the easiest to get to and thus the most popular with tourists. You can easily visit as a day trip from Cartagena, as the boat ride takes less than an hour, but during the day these little islands can get extremely busy. The scenery is very beautiful, and the snorkelling is good too, but there is little else to do here. There are, however, some great hotels, such as the Coralina Island and San Pedro de Majagua resorts, and it’s worth spending a night or two just to get away from the crowds. You can really appreciate the tranquillity of the Rosario’s early in the morning and on an evening when the tourist boats have left.
Looking at a map you’d be forgiven for thinking San Andrés was part of Nicaragua, as it’s less than 100 miles east of the mainland, compared to nearly 500 miles from Colombia! Its unique location between the Caribbean and mainland South America has resulted in an unparalleled character and culture, which makes it a very interesting place to visit. The downtown area is a little uninspiring, but the coastal paths and beaches are very pleasant, and the tiny nearby island of Johnny Cay is well worth a boat trip. Most tourists only spend a night in San Andrés on their way to its prettier, less populated neighbour, Isla de Providencia…
Isla de Providencia
Located just over 50 miles north of San Andrés further into the Caribbean Sea, Providencia is probably our favourite of the Colombian Islands. Only accessible by small plane or 3-hour catamaran from San Andrés, it’s difficult to reach location means Providencia remains off the beaten track for most tourists, and retains much of its traditional charm. The beaches are untouched and wild, everything is family-run, and the vibe of the island is extremely laid-back. Most of the accommodation options are fairly rustic cabanas, but most have access to the beach. There is just one upmarket resort on the island, the Deep Blue Hotel, which is perfect for honeymooners wanting to disappear for a few days.
The little island of Fuerte, meaning strong in Spanish, is one of Colombia’s best kept secrets. Historically it was used as a fort, due to its close proximity to the mainland, just over 6 miles or 30 minutes by boat from the port of Paso Nuevo. The tiny island is less than 2 miles wide and has very little infrastructure, with few accommodation options and no restaurants. However Fuerte does have a range of interesting flora and fauna, including over 80 species of birds, as well as beautiful coral reefs and calm seas. The few tourists who do venture here usually spend a day or two diving and exploring the island’s beaches before heading back to the mainland.
Located south along the coast from Cartagena is Isla Múcura, a tiny, peaceful island with just one hotel, Punta Faro. It’s a favourite for Colombian holiday-makers, and tourists rarely make the 2-hour boat ride from Cartagena. The island feels like a private resort, with some of the most beautiful beaches and snorkelling in the country. It’s possible to swim with manta rays, sea turtles, and even dolphins. The nearby island of Tintipan is a great place to swim with bioluminescent plankton, but this is only possible on very dark, clear nights. Kayaking is also a fun way to pass the time here, and it’s possible to paddle a loop around the whole island in less than an hour, which is a great way to explore the deserted beaches and coves.
More Colombian Islands and Beaches…
As well as many beautiful islands Colombia also has some fabulous beaches on the mainland. Tayrona is one of the most famous, and rightly so. It is located within a wild national park, and many of the best beaches are only accessible via a jungle trek, so it’s perfect for adventurers and those wanting to get off the beaten track. Just contact us for more information about holidays to Colombia, the islands, or Tayrona …
You may also be interested in our ‘How Safe is Bogota?’ blog post.