I had the marvellous opportunity to live in the gorgeous city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia for 6 months, and it was truly amazing. This time I would like to share with you some of the top beaches and restaurants I met while living there, and would recommend to any traveller.
Best beaches in Cartagena
One of the reasons that make the “heroic” city fo Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, one of the most attractive touristic destinations in Latin America, is the weather. Its average temperature is 27 ºC and it’s regularly sunny, like the city of the eternal summer, which makes pretty much every day a good day to go to the beach. Also, Cartagena has 19km of beaches in the metropolitan area, nearly 100km of beaches heading north and the island archipelago, Islas del Rosario, which gives you plenty of diversity when thinking about exploring the beaches of the area. Some of my personal favourites are:
Islas del Rosario
Photo by: Catalina Santos Ruiz
This is the island archipiélago located by the Atlantic coast of Colombia. These islands are home of multiple coral formations that inspired the creation of the National Natural Park “Islas Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo”. They are located by the same latitude as the Barú peninsula and hold without a doubt some of the most splendid beaches you will find around.
Playa Blanca is the most known beach paradise outside of the city. It is located in Barú Island. There I recommend especially the Scooba diving experience with the Scooba diving centre El Pez León, ask for its owner, Helmer Torres, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun diving with him and you’ll be safe. I also recommend visiting Playa Blanca in low season, because in high season you will find many visitors and vendors.
Fenix Beach is a super nice beach hotel located in Punta Arena, which is one of the nicest spots of one of the most famous islands in the Rosario islands, Tierra Bomba. It’s 15 minutes far from the city of Cartagena by boat and it’s super easy to find a boat that takes you there. I personally love it because I spent there one of the loveliest, most calm and delicious beach days I’ve had in Cartagena, and also for one of the best parties ever, which was the Corona Sunset Party that took place there. That means this is a very complete spot to visit during your vacations in Cartagena; comfortable, stylish, with awesome facilities and really nice staff.
There are special tours with certain hostels like Republica Hostel Cartagena, that are designed for the travellers who want to spend a natural style beach day in a private virgin beach in Barú island or in any other island among the Rosario Islands, this is like a day trip, you go to the island very early in the morning and return around 3 pm, not later because the wind gets stronger by the end of the afternoon and the ocean can get hectic. The hostel staff will organize everything for you, the boat, the food and the drinks.
Gente de Mar Beach Resort
There are other types of private beaches, like the ones owned by resorts. Though you may easily find the huge international resort chains, there are others that are more exclusive, like Gente de Mar Beach Resort. I went there once to spend the day, and I found beautiful facilities, wonderful staff, and a heavenly beach spot to hang out. You can also do snorkelling and the food… oh my God, there I tasted the most aphrodisiac lobster I have ever had!
Bocagrande is the most famous urban beach in Cartagena. Bocagrande is also the name of this well-known neighbourhood in the city. I will suggest you go there if you want to have a more general perspective of the multi-facet city you are visiting but seen from the beach. It is a busy beach, full of life, people of different kinds, commerce, hotels, home-building, and much other stuff.
Photo by: Rodrigo Rivera
El Cabrero is a residential neighbourhood heading towards the airport. Is not very known by tourists, but is a really nice spot as you can see in the picture. The walls of stone control the water currents, so it’s great to swim calmly and have a chill beach day without leaving the city.
Must visit restaurants in Cartagena
Cartagena is a city to delight your palate while enjoying splendid, colourful and romantic days and nights. Most of the greatest restaurants are located between the historic centre of Cartagena and the known bohemian and artistic neighbourhood, Getsemani.
Gaucha Bistró is my personal favourite. It is located in the sidewalk of a street in Getsemani, nearby the Media Luna street. When I went there I was lucky enough to meet the owner of the place, a charming Argentinian gentleman called Rodrigo Rivera. I have always thought the owner speaks for the place, as the place speaks for the owner, in this case, both were fascinating. The menu has plenty of options, from Argentinian beef cuts to gourmet seafood dishes. What I would always do is to sit in a table outside, order white wine and roasted octopus with mashed potatoes. Delicious!
I think we all probably agree on the fact that seafood will always be the best option when you are by the sea. The facilities of La Cevichería are gorgeous, very folkloric and fresh. The menu includes several preparations of sea fruits, not only ceviches, though they are definitely one great option to choose while visiting this exquisite restaurant. I personally loved the lobster!
If you are a fan of sushi, and a fan of octopus, like me, you must visit Perú Fusión. There was the only place in Cartagena where I found octopus sushi and is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted, I promise! Besides, when it comes to seafood, Peruvian preparations are hardly surmountable. It is located nearby the Santo Domingo square, inside the historic centre of Cartagena.
Café del Mar
Café del Mar is one the most romantic spots to see the sunset while enjoying a drink and perhaps some seafood appetizer. It is located on top of the wall that surrounds the historic centre of Cartagena. A Colombian flag is constantly raised in Café del Mar, this iconic image transmits the “heroic” feeling that is certainly wanted to evoke. Cartagena is a magical city. It offers plenty of options to have fun day and night, learn about history, make friends and taste different drinks and dishes. Definitely worth visiting! Final hint: Use sunscreen!
Photo by: Catalina Santos Ruiz