An Extensive Guide to Visiting Playa Blanca, Colombia

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Planning a trip to Cartagena, Colombia? Then don’t miss Playa Blanca, a nearby tropical spot for beach lovers. Keep reading for more details.

view of Playa Blanca, Colombia

Playa Blanca, Colombia, is Cartagena’s most famous beach. The shockingly bright turquoise water and golden sand create a stunning backdrop that feels like a day in paradise. Imagine sitting where the palm trees swing in the breeze as you indulge in fresh seafood caught moments before. This place is what dream beach vacations are made of. 

Below you will discover why this beach on Isla Baru has gained fame as one of Colombia’s most beloved destinations, beckoning visitors with its natural beauty and vibrant atmosphere. 

Where is Playa Blanca, Colombia?

aerial view of Playa Blanca Colombia

While many believe that Blanca Beach is located in Cartagena, it’s time to set the record straight. 

This beach is actually located on Isla Baru, a picturesque island part of the Rosario Islands. 

Its proximity to Cartagena makes it a popular choice for travelers looking to escape the bustling urban environment of the big city.

How to Visit Playa Blanca 

boat on the water near Playa Blanca, Cartagena

So now that you know Playa Blanca is conveniently accessed from Cartagena, what are your options for getting there? 

You most certainly have a few choices. 

Option One: Join an Organized Tour Group

If you wish to visit Playa Blanca without the hassle of organizing your own transport to and from, why not join a group tour? 

This is by far the easiest option. 

Tours that depart from the city will pick you up from your hotel and transport you to Playa Blanca by shuttle bus, speedboat or catamaran. 

With most tours, you’ll enjoy an included lunch and beach chairs in a designated area. The plus side? You won’t have to waste time walking along the sand, looking for the perfect place to relax in the sun. 

Some tours even include stops along the way at snorkeling locations. 

Option Two: Take Public Transport 

boat near the shore of Playa Blanca, Colombia

If you are the type who enjoys a little flexibility in your life, it’s not difficult to travel by public transport to Playa Blanca from Cartagena. 

This option is also budget-friendly. 

It will take approximately one hour from Cartagena to Isla Baru by bus. When booking a seat on the bus, a pick-up from your hotel is included. 

The bus will drop you off at Restaurante La Cherna on Isla Baru. 

Otherwise, an even faster option is to take a speedboat ferry for 30 minutes, and voila, you’re there.

Pro Tip: If you get seasick, the speedboat may not be the best option, as the waves can be a bit rough depending on the weather conditions. 

Option Three: Organize a Taxi or Private Car 

This is an easy but more expensive option for arriving at Playa Blanca. You can book a taxi through your hotel or find one on the street. 

Pro Tip: If you are traveling in a group of four people and you are splitting the cost, it becomes a lot more affordable. Particularly given the convenience and comfort of sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle. 

Playa Blanca Day Trip vs. an Overnight Stay

canoe near the roof of a palapa

The next question you have to ask yourself is whether you would like to take a day trip to Playa Blanca or enjoy the sound of the gentle waves crashing when you wake up. 

After 4 pm, the day tourists return to Cartagena and Playa Blanca feels like a completely different place. 

If you want to know where to stay in Playa Blanca, Colombia, you have a range of accommodation options, from rustic beachfront cabanas to hostels and eco-lodges. 

But don’t expect anything too glamorous. 

The more basic types of accommodation have long-drop toilets that flush into a hole in the ground. Plus, air-conditioning really isn’t a thing, and the electricity is not the best in Isla Baru. 

In saying that, it’s all about the experience of staying on an island and waking up on a pristine beach away from the crowds. 

You’ll also get the opportunity to experience the freshest local seafood, including ceviche, grilled fish and coconut rice. 

What to do on Playa Blanca  

Now that some logistics are out of the way and your plans to visit Playa Blanca are coming together, let’s dig into what you can do there. 

Relax on the Beach 

leaning palm and sandy shore of Playa Blanca, Colombia

Of course, you wouldn’t plan a trip to Playa Blanca if you didn’t want to spend time relaxing on the beach. Picture yourself with your bare toes in the soft and fine sand as you stroll along the coastline with the water crashing onto your feet. 

The sea is warm year-round, making it perfect for a dip in the ocean, which is generally clear and turquoise with calm waves. And is there anything better than cracking open a cold beer, lathering on some sunscreen and soaking in the sunshine rays? 

Sounds like the perfect holiday, right? 

Go Snorkeling 

boats near the reef at Playa Blanca Colombia

Just off the shore, there is an opportunity to go snorkeling at a small reef. You will quickly realize it reveals a variety of fish swimming amidst the underwater beauty. 

For those keen to see more sealife, why not book a tour to Playa Blanca from Cartagena that includes snorkeling as part of the package? Alternatively, you can find boats to take you out from the beachfront. 

Pro Tip: If you are a marine-life lover, head to the more remote islands in the Rosario Archipelago. Being a protected national park, the area features some of Colombia’s most stunning coral reefs. 

See the Bioluminescent Plankton

Bioluminescent Plankton in Playa Blanca

Looking for a unique experience? 

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing phenomenon of bioluminescent plankton. 

Bioluminescent plankton are teeny-tiny organisms resembling shrimp that play a vital role in the underwater ecosystem. They emit a glowing light, particularly when disturbed by waves or movement. 

In the evening, a 20-minute boat ride will take you to a designated area where you can swim with them, surrounded by a captivating bright blue glow. 

Local vendors on Isla Baru can assist in booking this for you. 

Check out the Nearby Bird Sanctuary 

toucan in a tree

The Aviario Nacional de Colombia is a conservation and captive breeding home for endangered species. 

Best booked as part of a tour, you’ll see many feathered friends, including flamingos, peacocks, macaws and toucans. There are over 2,000 birds from more than 170 species. 

The sanctuary provides spacious habitats that resemble the birds’ natural environments, allowing them to fly freely and exhibit typical behaviors. 

Pro tip: It’s too far to walk from Playa Blanca to the bird sanctuary, so you need a tour from Cartagena. 

Enjoy Some Water Sport Activities 

picture of banana boat and jet skis in the background

Is Playa Blanca good for families? 

It sure is. With lots of water sports activities on offer, you will all be in for a great time. 

If you want to feel the thrill of the waves and wind in your hair, it sounds like jet skiing is for you. 

Otherwise, if you want to partake in a group activity, book a banana boat ride. The bumpy ride as you’re pulled through the water by a speedboat will surely create some laughter—and splashes.

For those who prefer to take things slow, hire a kayak to enjoy the calm water. It is a great way to explore the area around the beach and take in the scenic beauty of the area. 

Take a Tour of the Mangroves 

mangrove in Playa Blanca, Colombia

Touring the mangroves in Playa Blanca, Colombia, is one of the most unique experiences. 

Local operators offer tours that typically take you on a leisurely boat ride through winding channels and dense mangrove forests. 

Seeing this remarkable ecosystem up close and personal is not only breathtaking but also an educational experience. Guides typically share information about the mangroves’ environmental significance, their adaptation to the coastal environment and the conservation efforts to protect them.  

Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the experience. 

Enjoy a Fresh Seafood Lunch and a Cold Beer

seafood lunch in Colombia

It’s time for food. 

It’s always needed after a few hours of lying in the sun and swimming in the ocean. 

As you can imagine, the seafood in Playa Blanca is exceptional. You can indulge in a wide selection of seafood dishes, including grilled fish, ceviche and shrimp.

Try a few traditional Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa (a hearty plate with rice, beans, meat, and plantains) and sancocho (a flavorful soup with meat and vegetables).  

Wash it all down with a few Colombian beers, and you’ll blend in with the locals. 

Book an Island Hopping Tour

overview of the Rosario Islands in Colombia

If you are spending a night or two on the island, you won’t want to miss an island hopping experience to visit the Rosario Islands. 

Playa Blanca is very popular with tourists, so the island hopping tour is perfect for those who wish to escape the crowds. 

Throughout the tour, you can snorkel in a few different spots, visit some remote sandy islands, and swim in the most beautiful aquamarine water. 

Enjoy a Massage on the Beach

Beach massage sign written in rope

Since vacations are all about relaxing, it seems only fitting that you get a beach massage. 

As you are tanning on the beach, local ladies will walk past, offering their massage services. The best part? You don’t even have to move. 

The experience is very informal, so how long you would like the massage to last is up to you.

Hot Tips for Visiting Playa Blanca

palms and shoreline of Playa Blanca, Colombia

Now that you’re seriously considering a visit to Playa Blanca, below are some of the best tips:

Tip #1: Negotiate 

Is Playa Blanca expensive? 

Well, here is a tip for you. 

Be prepared to negotiate prices for tours, watersports, transport, and other services. It’s common for prices to be inflated for tourists, so bargaining can help you get a fair deal. 

At the same time, remember their livelihood depends on tourism. Consider supporting local businesses and vendors by buying their products or services. 

A good rule of thumb when bargaining is to aim to get 20-30% off. 

Tip #2: Limited Electricity 

Keep in mind that electricity is limited in Playa Blanca, especially in budget accommodations. Most places only provide electricity after 6 pm, so check with your accommodation before arriving. 

Tip #3: Prepare for the Heat 

Playa Blanca’s weather is hot and humid. 

If you are staying a night or two, air-conditioned accommodations are rare. However, you will have access to fans. 

Otherwise, find a higher-end hotel if you need A/C.  

Tip #4: Cash Payments and Exchange 

Woman in hat holding Colombian pesos

Many places do not accept credit cards, or there may be an additional charge for card payments. Bring enough Colombian pesos, as there are limited exchange options. 

Tip #5: Set Expectations and Relax 

Playa Blanca is a beautiful beach, but it can get crowded and lacks proper infrastructure. Enjoy the simple island life, embrace the basic accommodations and don’t stress over missing conveniences. 

Tip #6: Choose your Location Wisely 

Weekends are a lot busier than during the week. To avoid crowds, set up away from the main entrances and parking lots, as it tends to be less congested.      

Tip #7: Be Mindful of the Environment 

Playa Blanca’s ecosystem is under stress due to the number of visitors. 

Do your part by taking your rubbish off the island with you.

Weather in Playa Blanca 

drone view of Playa Blanca, Colombia

Great news! In Playa Blanca, Colombia, the weather is beautiful year-round. 

There are, however, two distinct seasons to be aware of—a dry season and a rainy season. 

The dry season typically occurs from December to April, with relatively lower rainfall and clearer skies. This period is the peak tourist season, attracting visitors seeking sunshine and outdoor activities. 

The average temperatures during the dry season range from around 28°C (82°F) to 32°C (90°F), providing a hot and tropical environment. 

From May to November is when Playa Blanca experiences its rainy season. You can expect increased precipitation and higher humidity levels. During this time, short bursts of heavy rain showers can be expected. 

But don’t let that deter you. The temperatures remain warm, with averages ranging from 26°C (79°F) to 30°C (86°F).  

Packing List Essentials for Playa Blanca 

chairs under a palapa in front of the ocean

Now that you are dreaming of your beach holiday, it’s time to determine what you should bring. Of course, you will need your swimsuit, a towel, and some light beach clothing, but below are a few other essential items you won’t want to forget. 

  • Sun protection: The tropical climate and strong sun call for effective sun protection. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. 
  • Snorkeling gear: You may book a tour that includes snorkeling gear. But if you wish to snorkel on your own, pack your equipment which will allow you to freely discover the coral reefs and colorful fish at your leisure. 
  • Portable waterproof bag: This is a valuable accessory to protect your belongings from sand, water and potential rain showers. It’s handy for storing your phone, wallet and camera. 
  • Insulated water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial in the hot and humid climate of Playa Blanca. Not only will you avoid being dehydrated, but your own water bottle reduces the need for single-use plastic bottles, promoting eco-friendly practices.  

Map of Playa Blanca and Surrounds 

Take a look at Isla Baru and Playa Blanca on this map. It’s super close to Cartagena and other islands in the area, so island hopping is a must.

How to get to Playa Blanca Colombia

tall palms Playa Blanca, Colombia

On the map, you can see how close this gorgeous beach is to Cartagena, so make it your starting point. 

From Bogota to Cartagena, you can take a 1-hour 30-minute flight with LATAM Airlines or Avianca. Otherwise, if you prefer slow travel, take the 18-hour tourist bus. 

From Medellin to Cartagena, you also have the option to fly or take a tourist bus. The flight takes a little over an hour, while the bus takes about 12 hours. 

Once in Cartagena, you can take a speedboat ferry, bus, taxi or private car to Isla Baru. There are many group tours that depart from the city. 

From Cartagena to Isla Baru by speedboat ferry, it will take 30 minutes, while the bus will take an hour. 

Playa Blanca, Colombia, Wrap-Up

Ok, so now you know all the details about Playa Blanca. But don’t book it without reading about some other beautiful beaches near Cartagena. You need to know just how many beach days to plan before exploring more of Colombia.


What is the closest airport to Playa Blanca?

The easiest airport to reach is Rafael Nunez International Airport (CTG) in Cartagena, Colombia. 

What is the closest town to Playa Blanca?

The city of Cartagena is 39.5 km (21.7 miles) from Playa Blanca. 

Is Playa Blanca safe?

Generally speaking, Playa Blanca is widely regarded as a safe location for tourists. However, like anywhere in the world, taking certain measures to ensure your safety, like not leaving your valuables unattended, is important. 

Can you swim at Playa Blanca?

Swimming at Playa Blanca is one of the top-rated things to do there. The aquamarine water is warm, and the waves are calm. 

Posted June 13, 2023
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Kate and Olly of KO Travellers
Kate Torpy and Oliver Neville of KO Travellers are travel bloggers and content creators from Australia. They caught the travel bug from a young age and have not looked back since. The things they love about travelling the most are meeting new people, experiencing diverse cultures and exploring lesser-known corners of the world. Whether they are on assignment or travelling for pleasure, they document their travels on Instagram and provide detailed accounts on their Blog. From picturesque landscapes to island paradises, they cover it all - even the underwater marine world.
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