Cartagena is a stunning city on the north coast of Colombia. On the shores of the Caribbean Sea, it’s a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, who come to enjoy the colorful culture of Colombia, the beaches, and the favorable weather year-round. With persistent sunshine and warm temperatures, it’s a paradise during any season for a visit.
Cartagena once served as a major port between Spain and the empire in South America, and it’s one of the biggest still today. It’s teeming with history, and there are plenty of things to do for all types of travelers. No matter what your travel interests are, whether it be historical, cultural, culinary & gastronomic or outdoor and nature experiences, there are plenty of attractions in Cartagena to help you have a perfect time.
The Best Beaches of Cartagena
Both visitors on vacation and locals alike flock to the pristine beaches of Cartagena, which are easily accessible from the city. While they may not have the soft white sand and shocking turquoise-colored water, they are clean and suitable for a visit during your stay in Cartagena.
A short boat ride to Tierra Bomba island, right off the coast of Cartagena, will bring you to Punta Arena Beach, where you can sit and soak up the sun with a cold drink, admiring the waves and the skyline of Cartegena in the distance.
Right in the city is Castillogrande Beach, a local favorite for a beach day when you don’t want to venture far from the city attractions. It’s a quieter alternative to the busy Bocagrande beach, and you can rent sunbeds and relax for hours, go for a swim, and play in the sand with kids on this beautiful Colombian Beach.
The best beach in all of Cartagena is Playa Blanca, which sits on the island of Baru, another boat ride from the city. Here is where you’ll find the turquoise waters, the white sand, all the components of the picturesque Caribbean beach vacation.
Boating Experiences & Watersports in Cartagena
One of the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia, is to rent or charter a boat and spend some time out cruising the waves. With motor yachts, cruising catamarans, and lots of different sailboats and luxury watercraft available, there’s no shortage of amazing memories you can make during a boat trip from Cartagena.
Whether you rent on your own or charter a yacht with a captain, boating is an activity that lets you enjoy the beauty of Cartagena at your leisure, admiring the city skyline and stopping off at nearby islands and beaches for a memorable day. Yacht charters with a captain can be arranged with individual itineraries, to include everything from sunset dinners to stops for snorkels and entertainment onboard.
Scuba Diving in Cartagena
Aside from enjoying Cartagena from a boat deck, the warm waters make for an inviting space to try watersports during a vacation in Colombia. Scuba diving on boat diving charters is a favorite activity, enabling tourists to get out and see the beauty below the surface in the Caribbean Sea. Earn your certification through an instructor or relax on a fun dive on the reefs, where you can see all sorts of marine life and beautiful corals.
Windsurfing Rentals & Lessons in Cartagena
Another fantastic watersport to try while in Cartagena is windsurfing. Rent equipment on your own or book a windsurfing lesson and learn this exciting activity with the beautiful background of Cartagena. You’ll be cruising through the waves in no time, controlling your surfboard with your sail as you become a windsurfing pro in the Caribbean.
Fishing Charters in Cartagena
For the sportsman and angling enthusiast visiting Cartagena, a day spent on a fishing charter is a must. Fishing charters and fishing boat rentals are guaranteed to be a memorable experience. Gather your family or fishing buddies and book a guided deep-sea fishing trip, where you’ll catch fish like Mackerel, Tuna, and Marlin.
Top Attractions & Things to do on Land in Cartagena
While on land in Cartagena, there are many sights to see and things to do to keep any traveler entertained and happy. Make sure to walk around the old city, and see Ciudad Amurallada, the fortress that once served to protect Cartagena from invaders. Enjoy a wander and stop for a traditional Colombian meal or into a bar for a drink of aguardiente, the national beverage of Colombia.
History enthusiasts can get their castle fix with a visit to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Making it up the hill that this castle sits on will give you a stunning view of the city, and you can explore through hundreds of years of history and admire the impressive architecture of this castle and fortress. Another stop to learn more about the history of Colombia and Cartagena is the Palace of Inquisition.
Fancy a day of shopping? Head to Mercado de Bazurto, a vast, open-air market where you can buy everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. It’s a stop for foodies, where you can try different local products in the bustling space.
Day Trips from Cartagena
In addition to the incredible sights to see in the city of Cartagena, there are many easy-to-book day trips you can take to explore deeper into Colombia. Book a water taxi or ferry transfer to reach the islands, or you can schedule it as a stop on your boat day itinerary with a private boat or yacht charter.
Rosario Islands are a relaxing boat ride away, where you can cruise through the waves to end up on the stunning beaches of the islands. Here you can enjoy snorkeling over the coral reefs, sunbathing on the beaches, and enjoying cocktails from the restaurants and hotel bars on the islands. It’s a tropical alternative to the more modest beaches of the city, providing that picturesque escape you’ve been searching.
This island paradise is home to Playa Blanca, considered to be the most beautiful beach in Cartagena. You can get here by taxi, ferry, or private car rental. It’s a beautiful spot to visit that will give you the ultimate opportunity for seaside relaxation.
Tierra Bomba Island
A quick 10-15 minute boat ride will have you at Tierra Bomba, an accessible island for a day trip or overnight adventure from Cartagena. Visit Punta Arena for beautiful sunset views of the city in the background, and spend some time exploring this island before jumping back on a lancha, or local boat, to get back to the mainland.
A day trip by land that is worth taking while staying in Cartagena is to the volcano Totumo, also known as Colombia’s Mud Volcano. It’s a fun way to see more of the countryside of Colombia and get muddy with your travel buddies.
Cartagena is one of the top places to visit in South America, and it’s easy to see why. This Colombian city has it all and is a great stop all on its own or as part of a greater trip around Colombia. Enjoy the waves, the sunshine, and the culture of this magical city.
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