Isla Grande, Colombia: Why it Should be on Your Bucket List

About Isla Grande, Colombia

Isla Grande Colombia

Isla Grande, Colombia, is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire country. About 40 km (~21 miles) southwest of Cartagena, this island is truly heaven on earth. 

This island is the largest of the Rosario Islands archipelago and has the most amenities. With plenty of restaurants, bars, and things to do, you’ll have no problem keeping busy during your stay. Unless, of course, you don’t want to be busy, then be as lazy as you want on the beach all day.

Many tourists come on a day trip from Cartagena, but you’d be missing out. Relaxing and enjoying the beautiful surroundings when swamped with day tourists is hard. So instead, stick around after the ferries leave and stay a few nights. This way, you’ll be able to watch the sun go down, sip cocktails, and maximize your time in one of the Rosario Islands resorts.  

Fun Fact: Most other islands along the archipelago are independently owned. Even one of the infamous Pablo Escobar islands is part of this chain. His house is still there, but thankfully, you’ll be too busy relaxing on the beaches or exploring the sea life to worry that you cannot take a tour. 

Best things to do on Isla Grande

aerial of Isla Grande

Of course, the best thing to do on Isla Grande is to relax on the beach. Start with Playa Libre. It’s a quiet little beach with perfect turquoise waters and powder-soft sand.

While there, be sure to take advantage of the amazing seafood on offer. It won’t disappoint!

Snorkeling is a great option—the island’s coral reefs are colorful and teeming with marine life to explore. There are many great snorkeling trips for you to choose from. Many options are bookable directly through your accommodation. For example, you can book a tour with a guide and equipment for about 30,000 COP (~$10), and you’ll have two hours to explore all the underwater activities and sea life. 

If all that relaxing sounds boring, there are some very cool beach clubs in Isla Grande, Colombia.

You can also visit some other islands in the Rosario archipelago. Isla Cholon and Isla Barú are easy to explore during a boat tour.

There are plenty of other water sports, like stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing through the mangroves, and scuba diving. 

Coral near Isla Grande

You can also opt to trek or hike. 

The island is so tiny that you can easily walk the entire thing on your own in a few hours—it’s only 6 km (~3.7 miles) around. Or go for a trek through the middle of the island. It’s a great way to see more of the natural flora and fauna while getting your sweat on. 

Another must-do while you’re on Isla Grande, is to walk around the Enchanted Lagoon. This magical spot is full of bioluminescence and absolutely stunning at night. It’s possible to do a tour if you aren’t up for walking or traveling alone. 

Be sure to wander through the main village during your stay. As the island is still pretty rustic, you’ll find it has a truly authentic feel. In addition, most locals have lived on the island their entire lives and are extremely friendly. 

Where to stay in Isla Grande

thatched roof beach view

Even though the island is small, there are a few choices when it comes to Isla Grande hotel options.

If you are looking for an affordable option with opportunities to meet other travelers, head to a hostel. There are several cool options right next to the beach; some have swimming pools and a bar.

There are also a few luxury options. These hotels typically offer AC, WiFi, and other great amenities. 

If you don’t have the budget or prefer more rustic places, try an eco-lodge. There are plenty dotted along the island with basic amenities. 

A company called Paraiso Secreto owns several of the resorts and hostels in Isla Grande. However, they have a wide range of accommodation to choose from—go for a single bed in a 16-bed dorm room or splurge for a private villa. 

Pro Tip: No matter which option you go for, be sure to book as far in advance as possible. So many accommodations book up, especially if you are traveling around a major holiday in Colombia. 

How to get to Isla Grande, Colombia

beach hammock

Isla Grande is an easy weekend away from Cartegena. Because it is part of the Rosario Islands, the only option is to take a ferry. 

Luckily it is only an hour boat ride from Cartagena to Isla Grande. Ferries are organized by a few speedboat companies and cost around $13 per person.

The boat isn’t especially comfortable, but it is a quick trip, and it will all be worth it once you arrive.

If you are looking for islands near Cartagena, look no further! This is the place to go.

Overall, Isla Grande is one of the best islands in Colombia and absolutely worth a visit. 

Not sure how to get around the country? Check out all the ways Bookaway can help you travel around Colombia easily.

FAQ

When is the best time to visit Isla Grande?

November, January, and February. It’s shoulder season, so you’ll experience the best weather with lower prices than Christmas and Easter. The rainy season is April, May, September, and October. Avoid this time unless you enjoy a rainy day on the beach!

Are there ATMs on Isla Grande?

Unfortunately not. Plan to grab your pesos in Cartagena before leaving the mainland. And cash is king. Many places will add a surcharge to use your credit or debit card, including some accommodations.

Can I connect to WiFi during my stay on Isla Grande?

Accommodation options vary, but many remain pretty bare-bones, so WiFi isn’t always a given. In fact, your hostel or B&B may not have electricity all day. You might be able to find a somewhat reliable 4G connection, but don’t count on working on the beach while you’re here. 

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