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“Hot!” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Islas del Rosario

Islas del Rosario
55 kilometers from Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Colombia
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Ranked #9 of 39 attractions in Cartagena
Type: Islands
Attraction Details
Denver, Colorado
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Hot!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

Very small acquarium was fun to visit. We didn't stay here at the hotel, just visited from the Decameron Baru. The Acquarium had a nice short dolphin show.

Visited November 2012
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NYC
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Great day trip”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

If you're in Cartagena for a short visit you should definitely take advantage of the speed boat ferry lines that offer day trips to the islands. The water quality is much, much better than you'll find in Boca Grande. Some of the islands have mid-range resorts on them where day trippers can spend most of the day in the pool, on a beach or just lying in a hammock.

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montevideo, Uruguay
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“One day”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

Choose lizamar to do the tour on the rosario islands, they charge the same, the boats are better and they depart early (you don't waste time waiting). If you have another day to go, go directly to playa blanca, the beach side near the decameron hotel, wich is quieter.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lausanne, Switzerland
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Be Prepared”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2012

Having gone to Cartagena for 3 days with the beaches there being less than ideal, we thought a trip to the Islas del Rosario would be a good idea. We asked our hotel, who just told us to go to the Muelle de la Bodegita. So we did and were faced with vendors of all kinds and did not immediately see the "official" ticket booths which were further down the way. We did not risk buying from the vendors as we were warned they could be a scam. We ended up buying tickets for 45,000 pesos each that included the speedboat ride and lunch on the same day. Not a bad price for a day trip like this actually.

Then we went in and had to wait in the ridiculous heat. It was packed with people and we had no idea which speed boat we would get on. Finally the lady who sold us the tickets gathered everyone and loaded us onto a pretty crappy looking speedboat. It had to be fixed twice on the ride back to Cartagena, although the boat "captain" did a fine job doing what he had to get it going again. The ride itself was insane. I took dramamine and was fine but without it, I would probably have died. It was truly a roller coaster ride. At least they gave us life jackets (though their quality was again questionable).

Note that these boats drop off and pick up locals at some of the islands on the way (islands that appear deeply impoverished) and little boys jump into the water and essentially jump onto the boats. We also stopped in the middle of the sea to tie ourselves to a little local boat selling empanadas and drinks. This was unexpected and I personally did not need to bob in the water (this did almost make me seasick) while people bought these local goodies.

Our first official stop was an island with an aquarium. You can go snorkeling instead for 25,000 pesos or go to the aquarium. I highly suggest the snorkeling although the coral reef itself is not so great, particularly not for avid snorkelers but better than an aquarium I think. You can also buy some food here if you are hungry before lunch. Had a delicious cheese bread with guava.

Finally we arrived to Playa Blanca in Baru. Lunch was fish, rice and patacon (fried green plantain). It was surprisingly good in my opinion.

The water and sand is indeed gorgeous but hard to enjoy for a number of reasons. First, you get only about 2 hours to enjoy after finishing lunch. You have to negotiate if you want one of the beach chairs with cover (we paid 10,000 pesos but you could probably negotiate lower). Then begins the constant harassment from those selling massages, necklaces, food, drink, etc. I was not really bothered by this because with a firm "No, gracias" they usually moved on. They do tend to be more persistent if you look foreign. Apparently, the food vendors also give you samples which they then charge you for an arm and a leg for. This never happened to us but best to mention in case you do - don't accept samples! And lastly, all the speedboats park all along the beach, and there are jet skis and banana boats that all fire their engines within inches of the shore. I went in, regardless, and it was nice and warm as it would be expected.

And finally, a lesson to foreigners, if you take one of these speedboats and decide to stay the night, you will have to pay the full price again to return the next day. This happened to some Irish tourists while we were there and we had to help them in talks to the police (which had been called) to sort the situation.

Is it worth it? I don't think so. It is certainly beautiful there but perhaps paying more for a private tour would be best (although I imagine those still might include surprise stops).

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Vendors EVERYWHERE - not a good place.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

This tour was a disaster from start to finish. Firstly, the transportation provided to the port arrived 45 minutes early, great right? Nope! We rushed to wait for 2 hours, in the Colombian heat, on a packed bus without any AC. We arrived at the port, paid the tax to go to the island, and had to push our way through the gate to the area where you board the boats. The boat ride was pretty rough, take dramamine if you decide take the isla del rosario tour. Now to the real drama...

Arrive at Rosario, get off of the boat, and my boyfriend had a local man pushing sea food into his mouth, LITERALLY!! Then requested 20,000 pesos - We settled on 5000. Cabana, 20,000 pesos, women requesting to massage you, EVERYTHING BEING SOLD!!! These people REFUSE to leave you alone. You cannot relax, you cannot even take a nap without someone LITERALLY WAKING YOU UP to ask you to buy something. After the oyster (whatever it was) scandal, we were approached by a man named Manuel (I will also post about a fantastic guide we met named Manuel, not the same guy). This man pretended to be our friend. He set us up in a cabana, got us cocktails, made conversation, and then I noticed he was had necklaces for sale. We had already spent 300,000 pesos, had run out of cash, and there are not any ATMs on this island. When I told him this, he gave me the necklaces. Before you know it, I am being introduced to the tour guide from our boat who would come with us to the hotel to collect the money for the necklaces because he would be returning the following day and could give it to Manuel. When I said, 'Nevermind" he refused to take the necklaces back and had this man follow us to the hotel to collect the ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS!!! Our tour guide Manuel (great guy, not the same as the man with the necklaces on rosario) is awesome and became very upset about this situation. He informed me that those necklaces can be purchased for 1000 pesos.

I would not go to the island ever again! Met a few locals that said to go to Santa Marta or San Andres if you want a beach. Oh yeah, you have to pay 1000 pesos to use the Restroom!

Do not go to Rosario. If you do, DO NOT TAKE TOO MUCH MONEY OR GIVE ANY ATTENTION TO THE VENDORS!!!! Tourist TRAP!! My boyfriend uses the term "street hustled" to describe the experience.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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