There are many islands and beaches in Colombia to visit: Isla Grande, Isla Mucura, Isla San Andrés, Tayrona National Park and much more.
Colombia. Do you know all the wonders of thisv South American country? We bet not. This state is not only famous for the beautiful cities that populate its hinterland, but also for the islands and beaches that are so heavenly they take your breath away. Colombia is home to one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, a destination every year for visitors from every country who can't wait to dive and see the corals and the thousands of varieties of fish that live on the seabed with their own eyes.
In many of the islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean that surround Colombia, it is very difficult to use your mobile phone. This is because they are places that – despite being very popular with tourists – have remained practically unspoiled. But this is precisely the beauty of places like the San Bernardo Archipelago or the beaches of Tayrona National Park. Here travellers will meet relaxation and tranquillity, and they will be able to switch off after the stress of daily life in their cities of origin.
One of Colombia’s 46 national natural parks cannot be missed: We are talking about Islas del Rosario, the Rosary Islands, one of the places where the biodiversity is so diverse and rare, that it needs to be protected, especially from mass tourism. Thousands of visitors travel to Colombia from all over the world every year, and this archipelago remains one of the most visited. No one can be indifferent to its charm and the beauty of its landscapes. Don't you believe it? Here are the islands and beaches to visit absolutely in this magnificent country with a thousand-year old history.
You can discover the beaches of Colombia not to be missed:
- San Bernardo Archipelago
- Islas de Rosario (Rosary Islands)
- Barù Peninsula
- Isla San Andrès
- Cabo de la Vela
- Bahia Solano
- Isla Grande
- Isla Mucura
- Isla de Providencia
San Bernardo Archipelago
Each island has a different characteristic. Santa Cruz del Islote, for example, is an islet where concrete and houses abound, so much so that it is the most densely populated island in the world, so famous that it is even in the Guinness World Records. Its 1200 inhabitants live in just 12,000 square metres in colourful houses built on the island. It is a very famous place, the subject of studies and the protagonist of numerous documentaries. Its inhabitants, in fact, live virtually isolated from the rest of Colombia and rarely come out of Santa Cruz del Islote.
The waters around the San Bernardo Archipelago abound with fish and beautiful sea turtles, a real surprise when swimming in the waters of this heavenly place. Since 1996, the Archipelago has been part of the Rosary National Park, and is one of the Colombia's most beautiful nature reserves.
Islas del Rosario (Rosary Islands)
Also known as Corales Islas del Rosario it is an archipelago located off the coast of Colombia, about 100 kilometres from Cartagena. The islands in the archipelago are of incredible beauty: few have managed not to stare in wonder at the greatness of the coral reef and the unspoiled landscape that dominates that piece of sea. The Rosary Islands are one of the 46 natural national parks in Colombia: The site was founded in 1988 to protect what is one of the most important coral reefs on Colombia's Caribbean coast. The islands can clearly be visited by travellers and tourists: special tours have been designed to allow people to enjoy the aquarium and the oceanarium in the open sea. There are also activities for sports enthusiasts, such as snorkelling and fishing.
The Rosary Islands archipelago is made up of 23 islands, bays and relatively young islets since they formed less than 5,000 years ago. It's a magical place with white sands, crystal clear waters and mostly unspoiled landscapes that look like they came out of a dream. No photo or postcard can ever do justice to the beauty of this archipelago, covered with the lush vegetation of the Caribbean and surrounded by transparent waters with shades of colour from purple (due to the coral reef) to turquoise.
The Barù Peninsula is part of the Islas del Rosario: here are the most beautiful and visited beaches of the south of Cartagena, a real attraction for thousands of visitors every year. A special mention goes to Playa Blanca, considered the most beautiful beach in all of Colombia: this wonderful stretch of sand can be accessed by boat. Its main feature is the expanses of white sand and transparent waters. In the area there are beautiful mangroves, and the reef is visible to the naked eye. In this peninsula there are small towns similar to the villages of the times gone by: a dive into the past that tells us about distant historical eras, when people lived off the products of the sea and fields, without technology and simply living in communities. It is no coincidence that only a few people, about ten thousand, live on the peninsula of Barù.
What to do on the Barù Peninsula? Surely spend at least a few hours at Playa Blanca, the most beautiful beach in Colombia. We recommend that you arrive before noon or after 3pm to avoid the crowds that at some point inevitably spill onto the island. What do you need? Swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, sunglasses and a good book for relaxing by hearing the sound of the waves. Around the beach there are many places to drink or eat, but it is advisable to bring cash since not all the locals near Playa Blanca have card facilities.
Another activity not to be missed in the Barù Peninsula is snorkelling: you don't want to leave this magical place without seeing the reef! Arm yourself with mask, fins and snorkel, for if this stretch of sea has been proclaimed a national park there's definitely a reason for it.
Do you love animals? There is a little-known attraction on the Barù Peninsula, and it is The Avario Nacional de Colombia. It is a sanctuary that is home to a large variety of birds: Here you can see flamingos, peacocks, macaws, and condors. These animals are located in giant enclosures designed to recreate the native habitats of the birds.
Isla San Andrés
Welcome to Isla San Andrès, the island of Colombia where it is summer all year round. Warmth, palm trees, white sand, corals, goldfish, sea ranging from transparent, to turquoise, to blue, to teal, with a temperature so pleasant that you can stay in it hours. San Andrès is the capital of an archipelago that includes two other islands: Providencia and Santa Catalina. Due to its beauty, the island of San Andrès is one of the most visited by tourists from all over the world. Yet, despite mass tourism, San Andrès has kept its identity, carried on with pride by the native raizales, that is, descendants of African immigrants enslaved by English settlers who lived in the archipelago between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The island of San Andrès can be visited either on the numerous tours offered by the agencies on site, or independently, perhaps renting the characteristic colourful chivas. There are several obligatory stages to enjoy its beauty: the neighbourhoods of San Luis and La Loma, where the first settlements were established. Climbing to La Loma, you will soon reach the highest point of the island at 120 metres above sea level, from where you can see the gorgeous gradation of water colours. At this point, in fact, there can be up to seven.
In San Andrès, mangroves grow, the trees that are born in salt water and form suggestive forests: to see them better you can take advantage of the numerous kayak tours organised specifically for tourists, a real must if you decide to visit the island.
The sea of San Andrès is populated by coves. Some of these small islands are within walking distance of the shore, while others are worth a boat trip. Many of these islets are populated by iguanas and hummingbirds, and are characterised by the heavenly beaches, palm trees and drinks served in the classic coconuts. Given their beauty, these are obviously very busy places but that are absolutely worth seeing. The San Andrès reef is home to thousands of fish that differ in shapes and colours, hedgehogs, starfish and anemones.
Taganga is a small fishing village located in a beautiful bay near Santa Marta. If you're a backpacker, this area of the Colombian Caribbean is for you. Taganga is the best choice for those who prefer the quiet and natural beaches, far from the crowding typical of tourist spots. It is also close to Tayrona Park and is an ideal spot for beautiful boat trips.
Taganga beach is located in a beautiful and very scenic bay surrounded by small mountains. Despite the magic of the landscape, the town is very poor, with many shacks, unpaved dirt streets along which many stray dogs walk. Despite this, it is one of the favourite destinations for those who want to get to know the different souls of Colombia, which is not only Caribbean and coral reef, but also rural life and poor infrastructure. On the other hand the promenade is very nice, the atmosphere is quiet and relaxed and the beach area is full of restaurants and places to relax drinking in peace.
In addition to Taganga beach, another well-known beach is Playa Grande, the Great Beach, with white sands and crystal clear waters. It is a very popular area for travellers, who want to spend a day relaxing at the seaside, but also visiting the fishing town that stands around the small bays.
Cabo de la Vela
In distant northern Colombia there is a place where sea and desert meet to create landscapes never seen before: it is the area of La Guajira. The road to reach this place is not easy, and it is a bit challenging since you have to cross the desert: so be sure to do so with a suitable vehicle that does not get stuck in the dunes halfway. On the way to the beach at Cabo de la Vela, you will encounter very few homes on your path, where the locals reside. These are isolated houses, and there can be several kilometres between them.
Cabo de la Vela is a small town, with limited access to fresh water and electricity. Ironically, what for us seems to be a big limitation to the well-being of everyday life, is what allows the landscape to retain its charm. The beach of Cabo de la Vela is very special: it is windy, yet the sea is calm. So much so that it's a favourite place for kitesurfers. But there are many beaches to visit in this place. You can't get away from this part of Colombia without seeing the magnificent sand dunes that cross the desert and then go straight into the sea.
Arcoiris is one of the most beautiful in Cabo de la Vela. Also known as Rainbow Beach for its spectacular colours at sunset, it is characterised by its azure waters and the hill that gently descends to the sea. Pilon de Azucar is very similar, which seems to be the meeting point between two planets: Mars, with its ground of red colour, and the Earth with its blue waters. Here you can find stalls where locals sell characteristic Colombian products such as Mochilas, that is, the handmade bags typical of the indigenous communities.
Rainforests, mountains and paradise beaches alongside extraordinary colonial cities: Colombia has such a varied landscape that it is able to please any kind of traveller. It is a country that is still little known and where tourist numbers – although there are many – still do not reach the same amounts as in other parts of the world. This is because people often have the wrong idea of Colombia and consider it a very dangerous country, where it is better not to go. But that's not the case. While in some areas you obviously have to be careful (as in any city in the world), in others the only thing you have to do is put on your swimsuit and relax with the sound of the waves. You surely don’t want to deprive yourself of the pleasure of seeing one of the world's largest coral reefs?
Bahia Solano is a paradise that combines sea and jungle. It is home to the Utria National Park, a destination for thousands of visitors every year. The most important village is Mutis: Although it doesn't have a real beach, you can't help but take a tour around this small, distinctive town. The second most important village in Bahia Solano is El Valle, A, where one of the most beautiful beaches in the world is located: the beach of Almejal, with its several miles of soft black sand. It is no coincidence that most of Bahia Solano's hotels are located here, especially since El Valle is also a good place to start your visit of Utria National Park. During whale season, Almejal Beach is a good vantage point for seeing these giants of the sea up close, although you have to use binoculars to spot them. Seeing them, at least once in a lifetime, is a unique experience in the world.
Another very beautiful beach of Bahia Solano is Huina. Unlike Almejal, its sand is golden, a tone of colour that contrasts perfectly with the vegetation of the place. It's not very big, so it's the perfect place to spend a day in complete relaxation and tranquillity. Huina beach is the perfect place to go snorkelling, especially when the tide is low: it is a perfect place even for children, since fish and corals are also located near the shore.
In addition to whales, Dolphins can also be seen in Bahia Solano. To see these beautiful animals, you can take advantage of the numerous guided tours organised by the local hotels and agencies.
When you arrive at Nuquì, forget your phone. This region is part of the Colombian Pacific area: the cellular network works very rarely, and hotels do not always have wifi. Going to Nuquì means going back to basics, and abandoning yourself to a place where technology has not yet arrived completely. It means clearing your mind, relaxing and letting yourself go to relaxation and total tranquillity. Many travellers come here for different reasons: fishing, surfing, whale watching. Like other parts of Colombia, Nuquì is famous for whales.
In the Pacific there is a different magic from that of the Colombian Caribbean. Although its sand is not white and its sea is not seven different hues, seeing the immensity of the jungle merging into the beginning of the beaches is something you can't describe in words. Of course, since Nuquì is a pretty much uncontaminated place, it is advisable to bring cash to pay, since finding card machine in the middle of the jungle is virtually impossible.
The waves crashing on the Nuquì reef are huge, ranging from three to six metres high. That's why it's one of the most popular destinations for Surfers. Nuque is definitely the ideal destination for those who want to break their routine, who are not afraid to be without the internet for a whole day, and who just want to give in to the beauty of nature, its pristine jungle and its blue waters with its waves several metres high. It is a perfect place for recharging your batteries and escaping the stress of metropolitan life, which can often be chaotic and a source of jitters that have never found a home in Nuquì.
Isla Grande is– as the name also says – the bigger of the Rosary Archipelago. It is crossed by a single unpaved road, and you can visit it by renting bicycles from the various shops that welcome tourists to the area. The only thing: pack a large water supply to survive the day. The mangrove forest that grows on the island is beautiful, as well as its pristine beaches and its crystal clear waters, made even more beautiful and evocative by the coral reef that grows and lives on the sea bed.
The beach of Bonita is the most famous on Isla Grande, with its beautiful expanse of white sand and azure waters. Another unmissable place is what is also known as the "Enchanted Lagoon". It is a bioluminescent lagoon full of phytoplankton that gives the impression of being a bright body of water. There are no signs along the way and it is very easy to get lost: it is advisable to visit it as a group or carry a map.
Isla Mucura is part of the San Bernardo Archipelago, and its beaches are amongst the most beautiful in the world. It is a relatively small island, known for its hospitality and tranquillity. The beaches have white sands, dotted with straw-covered huts and swaying coconut trees. The turquoise waters, a pleasure for swimmers, are crystal clear, calm and temperate and the sunsets are breath-taking. The area is part of a marine wildlife park and perhaps one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. It is a perfect place for travellers who want tranquillity, but also for those who prefer to enjoy a holiday doing some sports: on the island of Mucura, in fact, you can do various activities including windsurfing, kayaking, snorkelling, volleyball and tennis.
The surprises however, do not end there: because there is nightlight on the island of Mucura too. From here, in fact, the boats sail for the neighbouring Tintipan, where you can see the waters rich in luminous plankton. The island of Mucura is located 80 kilometres south of Cartagena, Colombia's fifth largest city, and can only be reached by boat. It is one of the must-visit places and is a truly out of the ordinary experience.
Isla de Providencia
Isla de Providencia is part of the archipelago formed by San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Despite being a popular place and loved by tourists, some people give up on visiting it because getting there is not exactly easy and cheap. But those who come here must be ready to have one of the most beautiful experiences that life can reserve for them. The inhabitants of the island speak a very difficult language, Sanandresan, incomprehensible for tourists. But don't be afraid: most of them also speak Spanish and English, and you can communicate without problems.
Communicating in Colombia, in fact, is easy. Many people, despite speaking the local language that is incomprehensible to those who come from outside, also know English and of course Spanish. Not to mention the fact that they are also very hospitable populations who, as they live on tourism, are very keen to make the traveller enjoy a unique and unforgettable experience. Colombia is a country for everyone, especially for those who have an adventurous spirit and love challenges. There is something for all tastes: both for those who, backpacking, want to discover the history of this wonderful place, and for those who want to lie in the sun in a place that seems to come straight out of Dante's paradise.
The island of Providencia is very small, just seven kilometres long and four kilometres wide. One of its most interesting features is the volcanic rocky terrain, which make it something out of the ordinary. Being very small it can all be visited in a day by renting a bike. The reef on Providencia Island, on the other hand, stretches for 33 kilometres and is one of the largest in the world, making it an ideal place for snorkelling and diving. It has a very diverse fauna, and you can see sharks, clownfish, turtles, and stingrays.
The island of Providencia is the central part of the marine area protected byUnesco: its reserve, in fact, makes up 10% of the entire Caribbean Sea, which contains much of the world's marine biodiversity. One more reason to pack your bags and visit the island of Providencia.
Discover Colombia with Costa Cruises
Take advantage of a Costa Cruise to admire Colombia's most beautiful islands and beaches, such as the San Bernardo Archipelago and the Rosario Islas. Breath-taking natural landscapes, white beaches, crystal clear waters and lots of fun await you!