Isla Baru: An Island Paradise Steps from Cartagena

The ultimate traveler’s guide about Isla Baru, Colombia: when to go, the best things to do on the island and how to get there. Keep reading.

Baru Island

Isla Baru, or Baru Island, Colombia, is every beach lover’s dream. It’s a stunning island a mere stone’s throw away from the mainland. But don’t let the proximity to Cartagena put you off. It’s worlds away from the frenetic big city. This incredible slice of paradise is the perfect location to truly relax and unwind.

With beautiful white sand beaches (hello, the main beach is called Playa Blanca for a reason!), crystal clear cerulean waters, and plenty of bars and restaurants, this Caribbean island really is heaven on earth. 

How to get to Isla Baru

Playa Blanca, Isla Baru aerial shot
©Felipeortegag Wiki

So, how far is Isla Baru from Cartagena? It is a mere 42 km (~26 miles) southwest of Cartagena, right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. 

Because the island is so close to Cartagena, it is effortless to get there. You have three transportation options to get to the island: a bus, a ferry, or a car/taxi.

The bus from Cartagena to Isla Baru takes about an hour and a half and costs $8 per person. 

A private car would take about the same time and cost about $25. 

The fastest way to get from Cartagena to Playa Blanca is by direct ferry. These trips take about thirty minutes and cost $13 per person. If you plan to take the ferry, you can take a day trip from Cartagena. But pay attention to the ferry times to ensure you get the most time at the beach!

Things to do on Isla Baru (besides the obvious)

cart in the sand with pin colada drinks and coconuts
©camilo_marino Flickr

While it is absolutely possible to take an Isla Baru day trip, try to stay at least one night. This will allow you to luxuriate on the beach, especially after the swarms of tourists head back to the mainland. 

Beach Clubs

comfy bed at a beach club

One of the best things to do on the island is chill out at one of the beach clubs. Plenty of places rent out lounge chairs and umbrellas along Playa Blanca.

However, Nena Beach Club is one of the nicest, with luxurious four-poster beach beds on the sand. It can be a bit pricey, but you can often negotiate the price of your bed, especially after lunchtime. 

Or lay on the beach for a few hours without renting a chair. Simply bring your own towel and set up camp! Relaxing on Playa Blanca is an absolute must!

Boat Tours

Boat is turquoise water

If you want to explore more of the island, why not try an Isla Baru tour? Several boat tours operate from both Playa Blanca and Cartagena. 

One of the best is a nighttime bioluminescence tour. This tour leaves around 6 pm, and you’ll experience all the magic of the bioluminescent plankton as the night gets darker. 

For all marine-life lovers, scuba diving and snorkeling in the Rosario Islands are spectacular. This group of islands is home to the most beautiful coral reefs in Colombia. Plus, it is far less crowded than Playa Blanca, making it a great place to check out underwater life. 

The islands are a bumpy 45-minute boat ride. Grab a boat from the Isla Baru dock, and it will drop you off for the day. Many companies also offer return tickets.

See ALL the birds

green hummingbird

Isla Baru is home to one of the most impressive aviaries in the world. Aviario Nacional de Colombia is the largest aviary in Latin America and is home to countless bird species. This is the perfect way to escape the heat and learn more about the island’s flora and fauna. 

This tiny island packs a lot of charm. You will be happy spending an afternoon or a few nights here, especially if your goal is to relax, rest, and recharge.

Best time to go to Isla Baru

Palm tress on white sand Playa Blanca, Isla Baru

When you’re ready to plan your trip, consider traveling sometime between late December and the end of April. This is when you’ll experience the best weather. 

However, December is the most crowded and most expensive time to visit Isla Baru, followed by June and July, because many people travel during school breaks.

Rain tends to be heaviest in the fall, especially in October and November. Temperatures are still mild, though, and prices are low! So if you don’t mind a little rain, try booking in September or October to save some cash. 

Spring is the shoulder season and the least likely season to see tourists. The benefit of traveling between March and May is that prices will be at their lowest. Temperatures range from 31°-32.5℃ (88°-90℉), and it rarely rains, so it’s a lovely time to travel.

No matter when you head to Isla Baru, Cartagena, this slice of paradise won’t disappoint. Taking the time to relax on the powder sand beaches and swim in the Caribbean Sea is the perfect way to spend a vacation!


Is there electricity on the island?

Yes and no. If a hotel or hostel doesn’t have its own larger generator, you might only get 6 hours of electricity per day. Air conditioning is definitely not guaranteed! So, be sure to ask if that is important for you.

Is there WiFi on Isla Baru?

Unless you are staying at a fancy resort, WiFi will be limited.

What currency is used on Isla Baru?

It is still part of Colombia, so Colombian pesos are the legal tender. You can use credit and debit cards, but a fee is often attached to using them. There are no ATMs, so you must draw your money in Cartagena before leaving. 

Posted August 17, 2022
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Samantha Bryant
Samantha has been wandering the globe since 2010, when she hopped on a plane for a gap year in order to wait out an age restriction for a job application. Twelve years, four continents, and countless experiences later she has decided that she is perfectly content embracing her wanderlust. Samantha works as an English and ELL teacher at an international school in South Africa, but her passion for writing has kept her busy in what spare time she can find. If she isn't working or writing, you can find Samantha exploring a new city in an off-the-beaten-path destination or relaxing on a beach somewhere.
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