The Rosario Islands are an archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea, near the coast of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia. These islands are a popular tourist destination due to their natural beauty, white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and coral reefs that are ideal for snorkeling and diving.
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Rosario Islands Map
The Rosario Islands Archipelago is located in the Caribbean Sea, near the coast of Colombia, southwest of the city of Cartagena, which is the nearest city and the main starting point for visiting the islands.
The Rosario Islands are part of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park, which is a protected natural reserve.
Best Time to Visit the Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands, located in the Colombian Caribbean near Cartagena de Indias, are a popular destination for those seeking pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and water activities. The best time to visit the Rosario Islands depends on the weather and your personal preferences. The two main seasons and their advantages are described below:
Dry Season (December to April)
During these months, there is less chance of rain, and the weather is generally warm and sunny. The sea is usually calm, ideal for activities such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. Conditions are favorable for enjoying the beaches and exploring the natural beauty of the islands.
Rainy Season (May to November)
It is the rainy season, but the rains are usually short and do not typically affect the entire day. The islands are less crowded, and accommodation and activity prices may be lower. The vegetation is at its peak due to the rains, providing greener and more beautiful landscapes.
If you seek more stable weather and uninterrupted water activities, the dry season is ideal. On the other hand, if you prefer to avoid crowds and are willing to deal with some occasional rain, the rainy season can offer a quieter and pleasant experience.
Things to Do in the Rosario Islands
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How to Get to the Rosario Islands?
To get to the Rosario Islands from Cartagena, you can take a boat, speedboat, or catamaran from the Cartagena pier. The boat journey usually takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the vessel and the specific island you want to visit.
These islands are known for their beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and marine biodiversity, making them a popular destination for activities such as snorkeling, diving, and enjoying the sun and the beach.
What to Do in the Rosario Islands?
The Rosario Islands are part of this national park, designed to preserve the rich marine biodiversity and coral ecosystems of the region. It is an important place for conservation and offers plenty of opportunities to explore marine life.
Corales del Rosario National Natural Park
The Rosario Islands Oceanarium is a tourist attraction located in the Corales del Rosario National Natural Park, in the Colombian Caribbean. This park is about a 45-minute boat ride from the city of Cartagena and is known for its natural beauty and marine biodiversity. We booked the tour directly from the Hotel Isla del Sol.
Location and Access: The Oceanarium is located on San Martín de Pajarales Island, one of the islands in the Rosario Islands archipelago. To reach the Oceanarium, visitors must take a boat from Cartagena. The boat journey is an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
Marine Biodiversity: The Oceanarium stands out for its focus on the conservation and exhibition of the rich marine biodiversity of the Corales del Rosario region. The place hosts a variety of marine species, including tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and other aquatic organisms.
Activities and Exhibits: Visitors can explore different exhibits and aquariums showcasing the diversity of marine life in the area. This includes the opportunity to get up close and learn about sea turtles, sharks, corals, and other fascinating species.
Research and Conservation: In addition to serving as a tourist attraction, the Oceanarium is also dedicated to marine research and conservation. It participates in sea turtle rehabilitation projects and educational programs to raise awareness about the importance of protecting marine ecosystems.
Additional Activities: In the surrounding area of the Oceanario, visitors can enjoy activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and exploring white sandy beaches. These activities provide a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Islas del Rosario.
Opening Hours and Fees: Opening hours and entrance fees may vary, so it is advisable to check this updated information before planning your visit. Also, be aware that access to the Oceanario may be regulated to minimize environmental impact.
The Oceanario Islas del Rosario is a popular tourist destination in the Corales del Rosario region that offers a unique opportunity to explore marine life and learn about the importance of marine conservation in a spectacular natural environment.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Islas del Rosario
The Islas del Rosario region is a standout location for scuba diving and snorkeling due to its coral reefs and diverse marine life.
You can explore the reefs and observe tropical fish, colorful corals, and other marine creatures. If you bring your own equipment, you can enjoy an impressive underwater landscape. We brought our masks with 180-degree vision that we bought at Decathlon and highly recommend, as they provide a wide field of view and allow you to breathe without feeling confined. Here’s the Amazon link if you want to get one 180º Snorkel Mask.
By donning your mask and snorkel, you will immerse yourself in an ocean teeming with colorful corals, tropical fish, and, of course, the impressive sea turtles that call these islands home. As you float over vibrant coral gardens, colorful fish elegantly swim around you. Their peaceful presence and grace will captivate you, providing a special connection with marine nature.
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In addition to scuba diving and snorkeling, you can enjoy aquatic activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding in the surrounding waters.
Bioluminescence Boat Tours
Many tour operators offer boat excursions that take you to explore different islands in the archipelago, as well as make stops for swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying the natural beauty and an extraordinary phenomenon like bioluminescence. The bioluminescent phenomenon occurs due to the presence of marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates that produce light when disturbed by the movement of water or some other stimulus.
In some of the islands, you’ll find accommodation options ranging from rustic cabins to luxury resorts. Spending the night on one of these islands will allow you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings.
They also have tours that you shouldn’t miss: the bioluminescent excursions in the lagoons. However, make sure to check the tide conditions as you might miss them if you leave them for the last day, and if there’s rough sea, they cancel it, or perhaps chilly nights that might make the excursion uncomfortable—consider all these factors and don’t miss out on the experience.
The bioluminescent excursions in lagoons, like those found in Isla Grande, are truly amazing natural experiences that offer the opportunity to witness a bioluminescent phenomenon in the nighttime waters. Isla Grande is located in the archipelago of the Rosario Islands and is known for having some of the most stunning bioluminescent lagoons in the world.
Which Rosario Island to Choose?
The Rosario Islands in Colombia offer a variety of options to visit, and the choice of the “best” island largely depends on your preferences and what you are looking for in your experience.
It is the largest island in the archipelago and one of the most popular. It has a series of beautiful beaches, such as Playa Libre and Playa Grande, where you can enjoy the sun and the sea. You’ll also find accommodation options ranging from rustic cabins to luxury resorts. It’s an excellent place for diving and snorkeling.
Isla del Pirata
Known for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful beaches, Isla del Pirata is a quieter option than Isla Grande. It’s an ideal place for those looking for a peaceful getaway and a more exclusive environment.
Isla del Sol
This island is famous for its crystal-clear waters and coral reef, making it a favorite destination for diving and snorkeling. It also offers accommodation options and a relaxed atmosphere.
It’s another popular option in the archipelago. Here, you’ll find white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and relaxation.
This island is known for its natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere. It’s a charming place to enjoy beaches and water activities.
Each of these islands has its own charm and offers opportunities for water activities, relaxation, and connection with nature. The choice of the best island will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the type of experience you’re seeking.
What Are the Best Beaches in the Rosario Islands?
The Rosario Islands boast beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Some of the most well-known beaches include Playa Blanca, Isla Grande, and Playa Coralina.
These beaches are perfect for relaxing, swimming, and sunbathing. However, those are just a few, so I show you here a list of some of the best beaches in the Rosario Islands and their main features. To see photos of each beach, I invite you to check the map attached above.
This is one of the most famous and visited beaches in the Rosario Islands. It is located on Barú Island, the largest in the archipelago. Playa Blanca is known for its soft white sand and turquoise waters. It’s an ideal place for swimming and relaxing on the beach. There are also restaurants and bars along the coast where you can enjoy local food and drinks.
Isla Grande is another main island in the archipelago and offers several beautiful beaches. One of the standout ones is Playa Libre, famous for its laid-back and rustic atmosphere. Here, you’ll find simple cabins and the opportunity to snorkel in the nearby reefs.
Playa de Agua Azul
As the name suggests, this beach is known for the intense blue color of its waters. It’s an excellent spot for swimming and enjoying the sun. There are also snorkeling equipment rental services to explore the nearby coral reefs.
The island that gives its name to the archipelago, Isla Rosario, also has beautiful beaches. You can find quiet and secluded beaches here, making them ideal places to enjoy nature and tranquility.
Playa Piscina Natural
This small beach is known for its calm and shallow waters, resembling a natural pool. It’s a great place for swimming, especially if you’re traveling with children.
Although technically not in the Rosario Islands but on the nearby Barú Island, Playa Cholón is a popular destination for those visiting the archipelago. It’s famous for its beach parties and festive atmosphere on weekends. It’s also a place where you can rent boats and engage in water sports.
Some of these beaches are more tranquil and remote, while others may be busier and more festive, depending on your personal preferences.
What Drinks to Enjoy in the Rosario Islands?
The Rosario Islands, located off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, are known for offering a unique experience in terms of tropical drinks and cocktails. Here are some of the typical and refreshing drinks you can enjoy in these beautiful islands:
Coco Loco: This is a signature drink in the Rosario Islands. It’s prepared by opening a fresh coconut and mixing its water with rum, pineapple juice or orange juice, and a touch of coconut milk. The drink is served in the same coconut with a straw, giving it a tropical and refreshing flavor.
I highly recommend it; it’s very refreshing and delicious. I had one every day because besides being delicious, it quenched the thirst caused by the scorching sun of these wonderful islands.
Tropical Coolers: In the Rosario Islands, you’ll find a variety of natural coolers made with local tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, soursop, passion fruit, and papaya. These drinks are ideal for refreshing yourself under the tropical sun and are usually sweetened with sugar or honey.
Costeño Aguardiente: This alcoholic beverage is popular throughout the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is made from sugarcane and has a strong, aniseed flavor. You can enjoy it straight or in cocktails like the “suero de sapo,” which mixes aguardiente with orange juice.
Coconut Mojito: This is a variation of the traditional mojito where coconut milk is used instead of sparkling water. It combines rum, fresh mint, lemon juice, sugar, and coconut milk to create a fresh and exotic drink.
Fresh Fruit Juices: In the Rosario Islands, you’ll find an abundance of fresh fruit juices. In addition to the tropical ones mentioned earlier, you can enjoy lemon, tangerine, guava, and other fresh and delicious flavors.
Piña Colada: This tropical cocktail is a creamy mix of rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. It’s a sweet and refreshing choice that evokes the flavors of the Caribbean.
Local Beer: In addition to tropical drinks, you can enjoy local beers like “Club Colombia” or “Águila.” These beers are perfect for accompanying the fresh seafood dishes served in the Rosario Islands.
When visiting the Rosario Islands, be sure to try some of these drinks to experience the authentic culinary and beverage culture of the Caribbean region of Colombia. Each sip will immerse you in the beauty and taste of this tropical paradise.
What to Eat in the Rosario Islands?
In the Rosario Islands, you can enjoy a delicious gastronomic offering that focuses on fresh seafood and Caribbean-inspired dishes. Here are some culinary options you shouldn’t miss when visiting these beautiful islands:
Fresh Fish and Seafood: Fishing is an important activity in the Rosario Islands, so local restaurants offer a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood. Some popular options include red snapper, lobster, shrimp, and octopus. These are prepared in various ways, such as grilled, garlic-style, or in ceviche.
Lobsters, they will offer them at the hotel, although a fisherman offered them to us on the shore, and he said he would bring them to us already cooked with patacón, which is a fried green plantain, and it only cost us about $15, and we tried them, and they were incredibly fresh, just caught!
Coconut Rice: This is a traditional dish in the region and is similar to cooked rice with grated coconut. It can be accompanied by fish, shrimp, or lobster. Coconut rice has a sweet and tropical flavor that perfectly complements the fresh seafood.
Ceviche: Ceviche is a emblematic dish of the Caribbean region of Colombia. It is prepared with raw fish or seafood cooked in lime juice, mixed with onion, tomato, cilantro, and other fresh ingredients. It is a refreshing and flavorful option. We also tried it, and it’s simply delicious; don’t hesitate to try it.
Egg Arepas: These are a kind of empanada filled with hard-boiled egg, meat, and other ingredients. They are a delicious and satisfying snack that you’ll find at food stalls and beaches in the Islas del Rosario.
Ripe Plantains: Fried ripe plantains are a common side dish in Caribbean cuisine. These plantains are fried until golden and served as a garnish for main fish or meat dishes.
Tropical Fruits: You can’t miss out on tasting the fresh fruits of the region, such as pineapple, mango, coconut, soursop, and passion fruit. They are perfect for refreshing yourself under the Caribbean sun.
Tropical Drinks: In addition to food, you can enjoy refreshing drinks like fresh fruit juices, piña colada, coconut loco (rum with coconut water), and other tropical cocktails.
Tropical Desserts: Finish your meal with a Caribbean dessert. Coconut flan, coconut rice, and bienmesabe (a dessert made with almonds and coconut) are delicious options.
The Islas del Rosario offer a unique culinary experience with an emphasis on the flavors of the sea and Caribbean cuisine. Take the opportunity to taste these fresh and delicious dishes while enjoying the beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters of the region.
Hotels in Islas del Rosario
Our Hotel: Hotel Isla del Sol
The Hotel Isla del Sol offers an outdoor pool and a restaurant and is located on Isla Grande, in the archipelago of the Islas del Rosario. It provides water sports and a private beach area. All rooms feature a safe, TV, and a private bathroom with shower and toilet. They have views of the Caribbean Sea.
The hotel’s restaurant serves traditional cuisine, and a wide variety of drinks are also served. A range of activities such as diving, snorkeling, massages, and hiking are available for an additional fee.
Most Popular Facilities:
Outdoor pool, Free WiFi, Spa and wellness center, Restaurant, Beach, Family rooms, Bar, Private beach area, and fabulous breakfast.
Another thing that will surprise you is the bioluminescent phenomenon, which occurs due to the presence of marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates that produce light when disturbed by the movement of water or some other stimulus. When you embark on a bioluminescent excursion in the lagoon of Isla Grande at night, you immerse yourself in a natural spectacle of bright and twinkling lights in the water.
Nighttime: The bioluminescent phenomenon is most evident after sunset. Typically, excursions start at dusk and continue in the darkness of the night so you can enjoy the experience to its fullest.
Boat rides: Excursions are usually conducted in small vessels, such as kayaks or rowboats, to minimize water disturbance and maximize the visibility of bioluminescence.
Starry night: In addition to the bright lights in the water, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the starry sky and the tranquility of the night at sea.
Specialized guides: Local guides usually accompany the excursions to provide information about the bioluminescent phenomenon and ensure that visitors enjoy it responsibly, without harming the ecosystem.
Respect for nature: It’s important to remember that these lagoons are fragile ecosystems. During the excursion, visitors are expected to be respectful of the environment, avoiding touching or disturbing the water more than necessary. These luminescent excursions offer a unique opportunity to connect with nature and marvel at the beauty of bioluminescence in the nighttime waters of Colombia.
The city of Cartagena is less than an hour away by boat, while the area of Barú is 30 minutes away by boat. The establishment can arrange shuttle service for an additional fee.
Hotel: Bora Bora Beach Club A beach resort with all amenities and water activities available. An ideal choice for those looking for a beach vacation in the Rosario Islands in a luxurious and sophisticated setting.
The Bora Bora Beach Club is located on Isla Grande and offers an outdoor pool, terrace, restaurant, and bar.
This hotel with free WiFi is located 1.2 km from Pasadía Bora Bora Cartagena Beach and 1.6 km from Libre Beach. There is room service, concierge service, and currency exchange.
The hotel rooms are equipped with a seating area, flat-screen satellite TV, and a private bathroom with a shower and complimentary toiletries. Rooms at the Bora Bora Beach Club include bed linens and towels. The establishment serves a continental, American, or vegetarian breakfast.
Hotel: Coralina Island A boutique hotel on a private island offering luxury and exclusivity. Ideal for a romantic getaway or a luxury beach experience.
The Coralina Isla Boutique is located in the natural park of the Archipelago of the Islands, in Cartagena de Indias, and features a restaurant, a private beach area, and a sun terrace. The rooms at Coralina Isla Boutique have a private bathroom, air conditioning, and sea views.
Guests are offered a breakfast plan or 3 meals for an additional fee, and they can choose to order gourmet dishes at the restaurant. In the area, guests can engage in snorkeling and diving activities, as well as boat excursions, for an extra charge.
The Coralina Isla Boutique is located 20 km from Los Pegasos Pier and a 10-minute boat ride from the Oceanarium. There is a boat transfer service from Cartagena for an additional fee. Hotel Coralina Island is an exclusive and secluded place in the heart of the Rosario Islands. It offers a close-to-nature space in a comfortable environment with food and wine.
The Hotel Coralina Island has two complementary environments: The Hotel Coralina Island and the romantic mangroves. The atmosphere of the romantic mangroves at Hotel Coralina Island is an exclusive place for adults and designed for couples, offering silence and tranquility. Bayside by Coralina is another environment of the hotel with family cabins and quadruple rooms overlooking the small bay and offering views of the ocean, garden, and sea jungle, sun, and sand.
Hotel: Hotel Isla Lizamar This hotel is located on one of the islands of the Rosario Islands archipelago. It offers a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for disconnecting and enjoying the beach.
Hotel Isla Lizamar offers an outdoor pool and restaurant and is located on Isla Grande, a secluded island off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The rooms are bright and have views of the gardens, air conditioning, satellite TV, minibar, and coffee maker.
They also have a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries. At Hotel Isla Lizamar, you will find lush gardens. The property also has a shared lounge and game room. The island is 15 km from La Bodeguita Tourist Pier, and Rafael Núñez International Airport in Cartagena is 45 km away.
Hire the Best Tours for Rosario Islands
It is an ideal place to engage in a variety of activities as mentioned, and here you can hire them directly. The best Tours from Rosario Islands. You can also hire door-to-door transportation, as well as transportation from the airport to the hotel or to the final destination you need to reach.
What are the electrical outlets like in Colombia?
- Voltage: 110 V
- Frequency: 60 Hz
- Plugs: Type A / B
In Colombia, the common voltage is 110 V, and the frequency is 60 Hz. The plugs and outlets are of Type A / B. In the following images, you can see the types of plugs and power outlets.
Whether you need an adapter or converter depends on the voltage, frequency, and plugs in the country where you live. If you’re unsure, you can select the country in the right column.
The plugs used in Colombia are Type A / B:
Type A: Japanese Type A plugs can be used in the USA, but often not vice versa.
Type B: Sometimes valid for Type A plugs.
If you need to buy a travel adapter, I personally buy power plug adapters on Amazon, where you can find a wide selection of Travel Adapters. If you need more information about plugs in any part of the world, you can visit the Plugs of the World website.
National Holidays in Islas del Rosario
The Islas del Rosario, located in the Colombian Caribbean near Cartagena de Indias, do not have their own national festivities. These islands are primarily a tourist destination and do not have a significant resident population that celebrates specific local festivals. However, tourists visiting the Islas del Rosario can enjoy national festivities and events celebrated in Colombia and nearby Cartagena.
Some of the national festivities and cultural events that visitors can experience in the region include:
Barranquilla Carnival (February or March): Although not directly celebrated in the Islas del Rosario, this is one of the most important events in the Colombian Caribbean region. It is a colorful and joyful festival full of dances, music, costumes, and parades.
Independence Festival of Cartagena (November 11 to 15): This is one of the most important festivities in Cartagena and can be enjoyed by visitors to the Islas del Rosario. During this time, the city celebrates its independence with parades, concerts, cultural activities, and traditional events.
Holy Week (March or April): Holy Week is a significant celebration throughout Colombia and in Cartagena. During this week, religious processions and Easter-related events take place in the city, which can also be experienced from the Islas del Rosario.
While enjoying the Islas del Rosario, you can also take advantage of the proximity to Cartagena to participate in the festivities and cultural events held in the city.
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Rest of articles about Colombia:
- What to see in Salento
- What to see in Cartagena de Indias
- What to see in Bogotá
- What to see in Valle del Cocora
- What to see in Colombia
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