Isla Grande, Colombia: Tips, Hotels and Activities

Who doesn’t dream of unwinding on a Caribbean island from time to time?

You can do this in many different ways on Isla Grande, but even if you are looking for adventure, you are sure to find it. You certainly won’t get bored on the island, as there are also a number of activities that you can pursue.

Isla Grande is a truly paradisiacal place on the Rosario Islands, just two hours from Cartagena de Indias. I hope I can give you a few tips to make your stay unforgettable. In this travel guide, I’ll tell you how to get from Cartagena to Isla Grande, what to expect there and which accommodation I can particularly recommend.


  • Location of Isla Grande
  • How to get to Isla Grande
  • Accommodation recommendations
  • Activities and experiences on Isla Grande
  • Other things to do on Isla Grande
Isla Grande

Where is Isla Grande located?

Where is Isla Grande located? Isla Grande is one of the so-called Rosario Islands and is part of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park. For you as a traveler, this means a paradise that is only a 2-hour speedboat ride from Cartagena de Indias. This island is a must-see for many in the Colombian Caribbean, and not just because of its cultural, gastronomic and natural wealth. You will get to know the traditional islanders, taste Afro-Colombian cuisine, roam through mangrove forests on the coast and explore one of the country’s most important coral reefs.

Are you interested in more dreamlike destinations in Colombia? Then take a look at these cool beach towns. Tolú and Coveñas are small villages located along the northern shores of Colombia on the Caribbean Sea. Check out my post here and get some idea about these Carrribean town perfect to chill on the beach and relax far away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Hotel Isabela

How to get from Cartagena to Isla Grande?

To get to Isla Grande, simply take a speedboat from the La Bodeguita pier in Cartagena, which is just a 10-minute walk from the city walls. The crossing takes around 2 hours and a return ticket costs around COP 150,000 per person, including a tourist tax of COP 20,000.
A little tip: try to be at the pier before 8:00 am, as the boats fill up quickly. If you only want to visit Isla Grande for one day, note that you have to return to Cartagena by 3 p.m. at the latest. However, it is worth staying on the island for at least one night to fully enjoy the beaches and discover everything this enchanting destination has to offer.

If you are staying on Isla Grande and are not sure how to get to your accommodation, don’t worry: just tell the captain of your boat the name of your hotel or hostel and he will tell you where to disembark.

The Best Hotels and Hostels on Isla Grande

Isla Grande has everything from very basic accommodation to exclusive hotels with private beaches. Here are a few recommendations from luxury to budget:

Bora Bora Beach Club & Hotel - Upper Price Range


Bora Bora Beach Club & Hotel on Isla Grande features an outdoor pool, a terrace, a restaurant and a bar.

Each room at Bora Bora Beach Club & Hotel is equipped with a cozy seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom, including free toiletries and a shower. In addition, each room is provided with bed linen and towels.

Hotel Islabela Islas Del Rosario - Medium Price Range

Hotel Isabela Isla Grande

Hotel Islabela Islas Del Rosario offers a garden, a terrace, a restaurant, a bar and a private beach area Free WiFi and room service are available.

At the hotel, the rooms are equipped with a seating area. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, selected rooms at Hotel Islabela Islas Del Rosario also offer a sea view. All guest rooms have a safe.

The hotel serves an American or vegetarian breakfast.

Isla Grande Eco-Hostal - Lower Price Range


The accommodation will provide you with a seating area. Some units offer a terrace and/or balcony. Some bungalows also have a kitchenette, equipped with a stovetop. There is a private bathroom with a bath or shower in each unit. Towels are provided.
Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant.

Another beautiful island in the San Bernado Archipelago, which also belongs to the Rosario Islands, is Isla Múcura. If you’re looking for travel tips for another Caribbean pearl, then you’ve come to the right place!

What to do on Isla Grande?

Discover The White Sandy Beaches

Beach Isla Grande

If you’re someone who loves beaches and enjoys lying in the sun, then Isla Grande is the place for you. Here you will find a number of accommodations with their own private beaches, such as the Hotel Coralina Island, the Hotel Isla del Sol and the Hotel San Pedro de Majagua. There is also a large public beach where you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

If you decide to book accommodation without a private beach, no problem, the public beach in the south of the island is within easy walking distance. Take the opportunity to breathe in the tropical air and wander through the tropical dry forest, marvel at the mangroves and photograph the murals of the village. The walk to the beach takes about 20 minutes from most hotels.

Snorkeling Around The Coral Reefs

Snorkeling Isla Grande

The Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo is a true paradise for discovering the diversity of marine ecosystems in the Colombian Caribbean. Impressive coral reefs and an underwater world with 513 species of fish, 149 species of decapod crustaceans and 244 species of molluscs await you there.

Snorkeling is a fantastic way to get closer to this fascinating underwater world. Remember, especially if you are snorkeling for the first time, it is important to control your buoyancy so as not to accidentally damage the corals or the seabed. In this way, you are helping to protect the marine environment.

Remember, we all have a responsibility to preserve this paradise. Therefore, try to minimize the use of single-use plastic, reduce your environmental impact and take back the waste you create.

Kayaking in the mangrove forests

Fancy exploring the island in a kayak? Then you can hire one here and paddle along the coast. Navigate through the hidden lagoons in the heart of the island. Your adventure will take you through mangrove forests where you will have the opportunity to get up close to different Caribbean mangrove species such as the black, white and red mangrove.
A leisurely kayak tour is a particularly peaceful activity. You will experience the silence of nature up close and, if you are lucky, you will be able to observe some bird species such as herons, mariamulatas and woodpeckers in their natural habitat.

Admire Bioluminescent Plankton

Even though this natural spectacle is breathtaking, you should not raise your expectations too high. It is a completely natural phenomenon that depends on many environmental factors, which is why there is no guarantee that you will actually see it. Nevertheless, it is advisable to wear diving goggles to be able to see the luminous phenomena better. Many accommodations offer tours to experience this phenomenon.

Visit to the Orika village

Orika is a hidden gem in the middle of Isla Grande, in the vibrant heart of the Rosario archipelago. It’s a place where authentic Afro-Colombian customs and traditions are alive and well – perfect for experiencing real island life, savoring the local cuisine and experiencing the coastal lifestyle first-hand.
If you have a heart for old villages and cultural exchange, you should definitely stroll through the alleys of Orika. Immerse yourself in the social dynamics of the locals and feel how time seems to have stood still here in a very special way. A visit to Orika is without a doubt one of the most unique experiences you can have in Colombia.


The culinary offer on the island depends entirely on your budget and preferences. In the large resorts you can enjoy first-class seafood, which is quite cheap compared to European prices, but not when compared to local Colombian prices. However, if you dine in Orika or with local vendors, you can eat excellently for little money. An inexpensive meal for around 20,000 pesos includes coconut rice, patacones (fried bananas), a small salad and a protein component, usually fried chicken or fish.


Beim Wetter musst du, wie überall in Kolumbien, mit plötzlich einsetzendem Starkregen rechnen, der auch den ganzen Tag anhalten kann. Eine leichte Bewölkung ist bei der Hitze übrigens durchaus angenehm. Mir wurde gesagt, dass der Klimawandel deutlich zu spüren ist und die Niederschlagsmengen stark zurückgegangen sind, was ernsthafte Wasserprobleme auf der Insel verursacht, da es sehr teuer ist, Wasser von außerhalb heranzuschaffen.

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