Where are the Rosario Islands?
The Rosario Islands are located off the coast of Cartagena. They are also called Islas del Rosario, or Corales Islas del Rosario. The islands are an archipelago located off the coast of Colombia, approximately 100 kilometres from Cartagena. The islands are one of the 46 Natural National Parks of Colombia.
Why are the Rosario Islands protected?
The Rosario Islands are integrated by 28 islands, all of them form a national park created to protect one of the most important coral reefs in the Colombian Caribbean Coast. They have been protected since 1977.
Does it cost money to enter Rosario Islands?
Yes, since it is a national park you must pay to enter. The cost is COP$15,500. Most tours do not include this price, you have to pay when you arrive.
Can you visit the Rosario Islands?
You can visit the islands on day trips from Cartagena, stay at one of the hotels, or visit as part of a scuba diving course. While there are many small private islands, the two largest islands (Grande and Rosario) of the group offer activities beyond the water.
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Should I take a guided tour to the Rosario Islands?
Eh, this one is up to you but I would suggest going a different way. Many of the tours are quick and not really worth it. They taxi you from one point to another with barely any time to enjoy. The longest relaxation point is on Playa Blanca which actually is not apart of the islands.
Instead of going the tour route, I suggest giving yourself a chance to really experience the islands. There are a number of great and affordable hotels on the islands which often include transportation as part of your stay.
You can also spend the day at the resorts without having to stay the night. Lizamar, Cocoliso, Isla del pirata, Isla del Encanto and Isla del Sol, are the most popular resorts for day excursions from Cartagena to the Rosario Islands. Also, there are more exclusive places like Isla Coralina, Hotel Pedro Majagua, and Gente de Mar; the last one, has the bigger beach space, and would be my pick!
What is there to do on Isla Rosario?
- Most tours make a brief stop on the Isla Rosario to visit the Oceanario Aquarium.
- Most travelers say the aquarium is pretty rundown so try to avoid it.
- Tours do not include the price of admission!
- The aquarium is small and geared towards conversation rather than entertainment. There is a small dolphin show.
What is there to do on Isla Grande?
- The largest of the Rosario Islands.
- Very few local residents.
- Most tours avoid this island.
- Shoreline has private homes and hotels!
- The interior of the island is a great place to wander around and has a few small communities where the workers who care for the vacation homes live with their families.
- There is also a great private bird sanctuary on the island that almost no tourists visit, despite it being free.
Can you just take a boat to the Rosario Islands?
Eh, kind of. You can speak to the sailboat captains in the Cartagena harbor. There is a large market for taking tourists to Panama but a number of the sailors are also willing to take you out to the islands for a weekend. You will have to negotiate price. But if you succeed, this is the absolute best way to visit the islands as you can literally put down anchor and swim through the crystal clear waters to shore.
One last things on Rosario Island tours
Be extremely wary of tours that include snorkeling or the aquarium in Cartagena, specifically when visiting the Rosario Islands. Often times you will pay for a full tour from one person, get on a boat with someone else and then when you arrive at the Rosario Islands you have to pay for snorkeling again.
Even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
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