One of the top travel spots in Colombia is Cartagena. In the area, there are fantastic beaches, lots of charming colonial architecture, and lively nightlife. These are all fantastic day trips from Cartagena Colombia. Additionally, there are some fantastic surrounding activities. Discover the top day trips from Cartagena, Colombia, right here. Just remember to look at some of the top boutique hotels in Cartagena as well so you can relax in the evening after an exciting day spent discovering Colombia.
#1. The Rosario Islands
Although there are some fantastic eco-lodges and cabins here, it is recommended to visit the Rosario Islands on day trips rather than spend the night in one of the hotels on the Rosario Islands if your time in Cartagena Colombia is limited. A private boat hire is a lot of fun if you have a chance to be in a big group. Cholón, a popular party destination, or more laid-back beach destinations like Agua Azul are both options.
There are various excellent options to take a day trip from Cartagena to the islands if you don’t have the party to make a private boat hire popular. Both the catamaran Bona Vida and a pirate ship depart from Cartagena for pleasant day trips to islands. Last but not least, you could decide to get a day pass at one of the resorts or beach clubs.
#2. Visit the Mud Volcano and Pink Sea
Consider scheduling on your day trips from Cartagena Colombia to the Vólcan del Totumo, a mud volcano, to see two of the city’s most distinctive and lesser-known attractions. A little more than an hour’s drive from Cartagena is where you can find this active mud volcano. It protrudes above the surface and opens into a crater filled with muck. Slide in for a massage and an odd consistency. It is said that the mud is excellent for your skin. Additionally, the mud’s thickness prevents you from sinking lower than shoulder level.
You can easily combine a trip to the mud volcano with a trip to the Pink Sea of Galerazamba, depending on the season and weather. There is a sea salt mine in the shallow seas off the coast of this small settlement. Microalgae thrive in the salty atmosphere, giving the lake its pinkish hue. It is simply stunning. It’s best to confirm before making travel arrangements because the pink effect might not be there if it’s been raining recently or the salt has just been collected. However, when it’s in force, combining the two is a fantastic day excursion from Cartagena.
#3. Visit the Historical Afro-Colombia Town of Palenque
San Basilio del Palenque, or Palenque in its proper form, is a special location. One of the numerous free black towns established by emancipated slaves in Colombia and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Due to their defense against attacks from the Spanish government, they were known as palenques or walled cities. For thwarting Spanish attempts to stifle it and for conducting expeditions against Cartagena to free more slaves, San Basilio del Palenque developed quite a notoriety. A peace agreement with the colonial authority gave it the distinction of being the first free town to be publicly acknowledged by the Spanish crown.
In addition to its fascinating past, Palenque is special as a day excursion from Cartagena since the locals still practice many African customs. The African-Spanish Creole language spoken here by the elders is the only one that has received formal recognition. The town also hosts an annual music festival and has produced several well-known boxers and singers. Though any time is an excellent opportunity to visit this place for a day trip and discover more about its distinct history and culture.
#4. Visit the Fort of Bocachica
Castillo San Felipe is one of Cartagena’s most well-known landmarks. The city’s final line of defense was to be this enormous fort. A worthwhile day trip from Cartagena is to the less well-known forts at Bocachica, which served as the city’s initial line of defense. There are three forts here, one on top of a hill nearby to defend the other two from a land invasion, two of which guard the entrance to the bay itself. Despite being remote, these forts are in excellent condition.
The primary one is the Castillo San Fernando and spending time there and at the adjoining Blue Apple Beach Club go together beautifully. Small boats can be rented from the main docks immediately outside Cartagena’s Walled City to get to the forts.
#5. Hang Out at the Beach of Tierra Bomba
On the other side of the island of Tierra Bomba is Bocachica. If you don’t want to travel all the way to the remote Rosario Islands described above, there are some nice beach clubs on the island’s closer side, facing Cartagena, that make for a terrific beach day. From the area in Boca Grande behind the hospital, boats can be taken across to the island. Additionally, you can reserve a day pass in advance at one of the well-known beach hotels and clubs like Palmarito Beach, Fenix Beach, and Amare Beach.
#6. Beat the Crowds at Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca has long been one of the well-liked day trips from Cartagena Colombia. However, overdevelopment and congestion have harmed this otherwise beautiful coastline. The weekends and holidays are the best times to avoid going because the crowds can be plain overpowering. The beach itself is still stunning, though. It is still worth a visit and makes for a fantastic day excursion from Cartagena if you are willing to skip the busiest days and are ready to stroll down the beach to the less busy end often referred to as Playa Tranquilla.
Check out tours that will take you to see the bioluminescent plankton at night and then return you to Cartagena as an added treat. In close proximity to the beach, you can also visit the magnificent Colombian National Aviary.
#7. See the Pretty Nature in Montes De Maria
The Montes de Mara region, which is close to Palenque, is incredibly beautiful. A pleasant hiking excursion and workshop on the well-known gaita music from this region near San Jacinto are provided by the company Taroa Adventures. Another lovely sunflower field worth visiting is located close to San Jacinto. These photographs are gorgeous! It can be a challenge to acquire transportation in this area because it is still relatively unexplored, but it is possible to take a bus to San Jacinto from the Cartagena station.
#8. Fish with the Local Fishermen in La Boquilla
The greatest beaches in the area are found in La Boquilla, a fishing community 17 kilometers north of Cartagena. Because the area is not known for its nightlife, La Boquilla’s beaches are known for having clearer water and being devoid of trash. Choose any of your favorite activities, whether it’s swimming, renting a jet ski, or biking along the coast! But you must enter the ocean if you want to fully appreciate La Boquilla. Take a boat to the Cienaga de Juan Polo or La Cienaga de La Virgen, two lagoons noted for their network of tunnels through mangrove woods that cling to the coastline.
Here, you can practice various fishing methods and catch a variety of species, including sea bass, sea bream, mullet, and crabs. Visit La Boquilla with this four-hour tour* ($61 USD per) to support the local community, which is endangered by unchecked building expansion, and to support the preservation of fishing culture. If fishing isn’t your thing, you might choose to explore the mangrove swamp by canoe* ($30 USD per person).
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#9. Dance Until You Drop at Barranquilla
Shakira and its yearly folklore carnival are Barranquilla’s two primary draws. Every year, four days straight of musical and dance parades light up the city. Plan your vacation to coincide with the second Saturday in February if this seems like your cup of tea. Having said that, party-averse people shouldn’t cross Barranquilla off their bucket list. The city is peaceful and laid-back outside of the carnival season, making it the ideal place to enjoy a plate of authentic Costa Rican cuisine like fish stew or egg arepas (fried corn dough) and explore the city’s museums!
Although it is possible to travel back and forth between Barranquilla and Cartagena in a single day, it is preferable to stay in Barranquilla for a few days. Early in the morning, at 5 am, buses depart from the bus terminal in Cartagena. The fare starts at $20,000 COL ($5 USD).
#10. Find Beaches to Die for in Parque Nacional Tayrona
From Cartagena, you need considerably more time than one day to explore Parque Nacional Tayrona, one of Colombia’s most well-known national parks. You’ll need a good several days to visit this 15,000-acre (607-hectare) national park, which is around 100 kilometers from Barranquilla and has gorgeous beaches, historical monuments, hiking routes, and vast expanses of unspoiled jungle. We advise staying the night at Ecohabs Bamboo, one of Colombia’s top hotels ($100 USD or $380,000 COL double), before traveling back to Cartagena. This is the sole accommodation in the national park, aside from a collection of straightforward, hammock-hung campsites.
You can see the beautiful foliage around each of its 18 separate huts through its large windows, which means you’ll wake up to the sound of monkey chatter every morning. You must first take a bus to Santa Marta, which departs from the bus terminal in Cartagena between the hours of 5 am and 10 pm, to go to Tayrona ($43,000 COL or USD 10 per person). From Santa Marta, you must take a cab.
It is advisable to plan your transportation because of how big the park is and how long it can take to walk from one beach to another. In this case, your hotel ought to be able to assist you. If not, you can sign up for a tour that will pick you up from Santa Marta and take you to the park ($33 per person). These times are not the best for traveling to Colombia because the parks close during the first two weeks of February, the first two weeks of June, and the last two weeks of October. Avoid these dates while planning your trip.
As you can probably guess from the three beach day trips from Cartagena Colombia described above, it’s a terrific beach destination. On day trips from Cartagena, though, you can also learn about the untold mysteries of Palenque and the fortifications at Bocachica, visit a mud volcano and a pink sea, and even go hiking.