Isla Grande
Isla Grande
4.5
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Bozeman-Dublin
Trim, Ireland8,868 contributions
Jul 2022 • Friends
We spent a day our cruising the Rosario Islands. Sone of the beaches areceobderful, clear waters and white sands. Some good snorkeling opportunities.
Facilities are limited and it's a bit rough and ready, but very relaxing all the same.
Written July 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Milo
San Diego, CA73 contributions
Dec 2017 • Couples
Isla Grande has that Caribbean paradise feel and is only an hour (or so) boat ride from Cartagena. Skip Playa Blanca (it's a zoo) and go here instead. It's a large island and there are several desirable areas, so be sure to tell your boat operator where you want to be dropped off. Your best bet - especially if you're doing a day trip like we did - is to find a place and stay there all day. I'll explain below.

If you get dropped off in the wrong place, there are trails that run through the interior of the island, but the signage is poor (obviously) and you'll most definitely get lost at least once. We ended up stumbling upon and spending the day at Rosario Beach Resort, which was AH-mazing. Pay for a bed or umbrella, get some beers, and relax.

Side Note: Getting a boat to the islands can be confusing. I'm going to request that TripAdvisor open a page for Mary Cartagena Travel (the operator we used) so I can share our experiences, but for now I'll list them here because they are applicable.

First, the dock is located very close to the walled City. Our taxi driver took us out to the end of Boca Grande when we told him we wanted to go to the dock. The vibe out there is obviously fishy and seems like some black market type operation. So short story is that if you're trying to go to one of the islands and your taxi driver starts taking you out to Boca Grande, tell him to turn around. You're going to the wrong place.

Second, make sure you understand that transportation taxes are paid separately from the boat fees. There were a handful of people who we talked to or heard about that paid "in full" through their hostel only to show up at the dock and have to pay taxes. In December 2017, we paid $70000 COP for the ride (per person) and $7500 COP for taxes (per person).

Third, if you're trying to go to just Isla Grande, make sure you get a boat that is going directly there and not stopping along the way. We had to stop at Playa Blanca to drop some passengers off and pick some passengers up. Not a huge deal, but it did add 30 minutes to the ride.

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you are clear where and what time you are getting picked up by your boat. We were told 3 PM, 3:30 PM, and 4 PM by three different people. When we showed up on our beach at 3 PM to be safe, the boat was gone. They left at 2:30 PM. High winds that pickup in the afternoon make the channel crossing pretty sketchy if you leave the islands too late. Luckily, we got in touch with our tour company via WhatsApp (way better than trying to email), and they arranged a ride for us with some locals who were coming back to Cartagena. I grew up in Hawaii and spent a decent amount of time in the open ocean, but even I will say that the channel crossing was rough. We got soaked, caught some airs on the speed boat, and probably almost flipped about 10 times. We got dropped off about half way back once we got near the mainland (I don't think they're legally allowed to bring tourists into the harbor that late or they'd get in trouble) where our tour company met us with a cab for the hour-long ride back to Cartagena. In the end, it was an adventure and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, but I figured the story was worth sharing for those who don't want to go through something similar.
Written January 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Odion
Vancouver, Canada94 contributions
Jul 2019 • Friends
Writing this review on a few different places as there is no single spot to put Rosario Island reviews. Found much conflicting opinions, decided to talk about my experience.

Firstly, I did a lot of reading around where the best spot would be. I did not want to go to a beach where I would be hassled and bothered by vendors, as that defeats the purpose of going to relax at a beach, so for me a private beach was important.

Where we went: Isla del Sol, at a private beach there. Port at 8h30, leave at 9h00, arrive at island at 10h00, depart at 15h00, arrive back at port at 16h00. Perfect amount of time.

Price: 187,000 COP, my buddy and I booked it from our hostel the morning of, and hence did not much haggle power, but use this price as your benchmark. Included transport to the port, boat ride there and back, private beach (including umbrellas, chairs), and delicious lunch, fruits, coffee. It did not include the visitor fee to the islands (I believe around 17,000 COP each) or any extras you do at the beach (hiking tour, snorkel, scuba).

Beach experience: 10/10! Honestly, probably the best beach I have ever been at, and I have travelled to 40 countries so far. Water was incredible, that aqua blue colour, it was clean, beach was clean, there was even a fenced off area (which gives privacy, but also keeps jellyfish away, as I found out first hand swimming outside). And since it's private, no one bothers you!

Boat ride: Fast boat, took 1 hour each way. Seats about 40 people. A lot of negative reviews about the boat ride, overall it was actually decent. On the way there, was totally fine. On the way back, some choppiness, so a few people at the back got splashed. My buddy has bad motion sickness, but he was fine. We sat in the back - more comfortable for those with motion sickness, but more prone to getting splashed. So find out what's more important to you and sit accordingly.

Activities: We did snorkelling, 50,000 COP, 1 hour, which was actually incredible. The reefs are awesome, water is shallow consistently, lots of fish. Would definitely do this again. Some people did SCUBA for 150k, even with no prior training.

Food: Lunch was awesome, traditional lunch. I bought a live lobster from this guy Victor that comes by the fence and sells his catch of the day - he then cooks it and serves it with plantains (haggled to 35,000 COP), absolutely delicious and fresh, and hey, supporting a local fisherman.

If I had spent more time in Cartagena, would have done this day trip every day. Hope that says enough.
I think the most important part is that you go to a private beach, where you can properly relax. I imagine the rest of the Rosario islands would be similar in the other aspects.
Written July 11, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nacho Z
2 contributions
Feb 2019 • Couples
Mary travel agency will make your trip back to Cartagena a nightmare.
In the back of boat you and your stuff will end up soaked and the wind will freeze you. In the front... Luckly you won't fly overboard at 60kmh. Ot injury your back, or teeth, or tongue.

They won't warn you in advance or apologize at the end.

The national park is bs.
1000 people live there, stray dogs everywere that eat everything that moves or rots.
A garbage dump close to town.

ECOHotels are bs too. No welcoming speech about no litering, water saving. So the trails are full of cans and bottles from careless gringos.
No plastic, metal, organic, bins.

You won't have to ask for anything, they will offer you snorkel tours, food and drinks many fking times a day.

There is one real, non private beach. Playa libre 50m long. Full of people.
The rest is rocky bs.
Written February 7, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Global267287
Cartago, Costa Rica1 contribution
Feb 2019 • Friends
We took Mary Cruz boat company to Isla Grande and the ride there was relatively smooth. Ride back is a whole other story! They didn’t pick us up until 2:30 which meant the winds had picked up and ocean was choppy— we had waves coming over the side of the boat soaking us and everyone’s luggage for a solid 10 minutes. Not to mention you are also holding on to not fly off your seat. Then we had engine trouble and were stopped for awhile. When we finally reached land ( 3 hours later!!!! This was supposed to be around 1 hr) they dropped us off way away from main port that even I, as a well seasoned traveler that’s been throughout Central America and Africa, would say is slightly sketchy.
Written February 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

worldanub
Berlin, Germany54 contributions
Nov 2019 • Solo
Really save your money fly elsewhere unless you are planing to sofocate halucinate in Rum.
Dead waters no beach the worst infrastructure.
Written November 2, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lisa026
iceland473 contributions
Jun 2019 • Family
On our tour, we left at 9 AM and got there about 10.30. We were briefed on options on what to do on the island and by the time we had all gotten sorted, it was just before noon. We went on a snorkling trip that was fine. By the time we got back, had the lunch ( with slow service) we had 30 minutes on the beach until the boat left. But they started calling us 10 minutes after we had sat down on the beach so off we went. So really all we did was snorkel and eat.! But the trip back was horrible. It scared the life out of me and also soaked me to the bone. I was sea sick for the rest of the day.So totally not worth the trip since the island is not even really nice from what we saw.
Written July 7, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

femtiotre
Sundsvall, Sweden298 contributions
Dec 2017 • Couples
Went with mary cruz from Cartagena. Booked ticet the day before but also ok to buy ticet the same day. Were suppose to be there 8.20 but the boat didnt left before 9.30. 1hour ride and the boat droped us of at the Hotel 10.30. Very calm island. In the week there was no pubs and not so many turistas. Small but Nice playa libre. Boat next day left at 3pm. We payed 40.000 pesos one way. Bring flash light if you staying the night.
Written December 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elise H
Tromso, Norway9 contributions
Oct 2017 • Solo
I went to Isla Grande to get away from the buzz of Cartagena. Booked a hostel directly with the owner by email (a lot cheaper than through web-pages such as booking.com), got a lancha from El Muelle turístico (also a lot cheaper than buying from salesmen in the street), and arrived with no other expectations than to chill in a hammock for three days. My expectations were exceeded indeed! The first evening the community guide took me out in a boat to swim with illuminecent plankton. It was the most magic experience I ever had! Next day we went snorkeling, and we visited a planewreck at the bottom of the sea. All in all I had a fabulous stay. Would very much recommend the eco tourism-options.
Written October 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

rapha_y_nici
Zurich, Switzerland5,972 contributions
Jul 2017 • Friends
We read in the travel guide that it is possible to take a boat from Muelle de Mercado Bazurto which is not that far from Getsemani barrio. We asked there which boat was leaving to Islas del Rosario in ghe morning at about 8am and the speedboat with many locals, some cargo and us left when full. Already a great insight how it works. Cost was 35'000cop per person one way. We disembarked at the final destination which was the general point if you don't get to a specific hotel/hostel.

For accommodation on the island we didn't have any reservation and just went there by chance. Luckily a guy on the boat brought us to his uncle who has a hostel. We decided to stay at his hostel Hostel Casa Lola near to the Pueblo which was nice and good value for money on this rather expensive island compared to other places in Colombia but it's understandable in this nice environment and the electricity which is much more expensive than in Cartagena.

On the island we enjoyed the free beach which is located on the north eastern shore. There it's possible to go even your accommodation has no private beach. It was surprisingly quiet and not crowded. We expected more people there but it was easy going and the beach was nice. It's just not allowed to go the private pears over there where the boats park. But definitely nice overthere. Additionally there is the Laguna Encantada where you can see a nice light show in the dark if the moon is strong enough. Just ask a local, everybody knows about it.
Furthermore it's cool to walk through the pueblo which has a nice atmosohere and lovely people. Maybe there is disco at night where they play great music of the regions typical style Champeta. Was great to hear this music. It was on a weekend, don't know if they have discoteca on weekdays.
For dinner we just asked a guy at the beach and lucky we, he brought us directly to his sisters small restaurant and we got a dinner immediately which was delicious and for 20'000cop fairly priced. The fish was very fresh and tasty.

Overall, we definitely recommend a trip to Isla Grande, if possible a 1 or 2 night stay which was nice. Lovely people and great experience. Would go again.
Written August 5, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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