The Colombian Caribbean. This was a place of colorful bliss.
We flew Jet Blue Airlines to get here. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express Bocagrande. Let me tell you it was amazing. The staff were so friendly, the room was large and clean, and the location was perfect. We had a McDonalds and Burger King across the street and the beach. We had a large window with a panoramic view of the city.
Day 1: Cartagena
Our first day in Cartagena we decided to go see the old walled city. It is so iconic and has so much history behind it. The colorful building are extraordinary. It was such a fun day walking through the streets and the market. Be sure to carry your Colombian Pesos and don’t take the first offer of anything they give. They will go down on the price. Also your best used phrase will be “No Gracias!” We also ate at Hard Rock Cafe in the old walled city. There was a lot of local places too if you are interested in the local cuisine.
We then took a hop on and hop off bus tour around Cartagena. We paid $24 on Expedia for this tour. We just stayed in the bus and enjoyed all the views. You can get off at any stop and they are the major locations in Cartagena.
Day 2: Rosario Islands
Paradise is the definition of this location in Colombia. We decided to take a day tour from Cartagena to the Rosario Islands. We booked through Get Your Guide.
-$72 for all day
-Lunch is provided at a local restaurant
-They pick you up and drop off at your hotel
-Transportation for each island is included by speed boat and bus
-The guide spoke good English
-All four islands are included
The first stop we made was at The Island of Baru. This island was my second favorite.
We got on a boat to head to our second island which was a National Park. There you had the choice to snorkel or relax on the beach.
The next stop was Cholon! This was my favorite. It is known as the party island. We got off the boat and there were huts in the waist deep water. This was included in our guided tour. We got to stay under a hut in the water and walk around and enjoy the music. I decided to buy a pineapple drink and it is worth it because you are in Colombia in a hut!
The next island of The Rosario Islands we came to was very chill. They served you free octopus and shrimp. I passed on this because I am not much of a seafood person. I did get a massage for a 20 minute back massage that was $11 US dollars. It was very relaxing.
The last stop was back at Baru. Here we got a local dish that was included in the tour. We then got to lay out on the beach a bit after we ate.
-Bring the Colombian pesos
-You have to tip the guides
-Be sure to not take a massage if they try to offer because they will make you pay.
Day 3: El Totumo Mud Volcano and Pink Sea
We decided to do another tour from Cartagena. Again this was through Get Your Guide and we paid $62. This had the transportation and meal included also. We got the tour guide Charlie and he was the best. The mud volcano was a neat experience. It is called El Totumo Mud Volcano. We had to go through this indigenous town to get there. I decided not to get into the mud because I have sensitive skin. I just dipped my hand in. The mud is thick and you actually float. It is 10,000 feet deep and you wouldn’t even know it. Crazy!
-You have to tip them to take your picture in the mud
-If you get a massage in the mud you are charged
-You have to tip them to wash you off in the water
They served us breakfast at the local restaurant in the indigenous town.
We then went to the red/pink sea. It's called El Salar de Galerazamba and it's located about an hour Northeast of Cartagena within the small pueblo of Galerazamba. The sea is actually a salt mine and the bright pink hue is caused by colorful salt-loving microbes which create pigmented protein to absorb the sun's energy. Now everyday is different here the guide informed us. Some days the water will be light pink and others dark pink. It depends on the wind and sun of that day. The water is safe. I repeat it is safe. It is pink because of the salt, sun, and wind. It is about calf deep. You get into the water to get a photo. Now there are a few benches out in the water. If you get a picture on them you have to tip them. The day we went the water decided it wanted to be a dark pink/red hue. It was still amazing to see this.
Our tour guide then went and took us to eat in the indigenous town right on the coast. Charlie also taught us Colombian dances with the locals. This was such a fun and cultural experience.
Day 4: chill day in Cartagena
It is the coast so of course it’s going to rain. We made this day super chill and slept in and got a massage at our hotel. The massages are a must because it was full body for 45 minutes and was $31 US dollars. Can’t beat that.
The Colombian Caribbean is a must to visit and it is a very reasonably priced trip! I went in October and it was still super hot and humid.
*Side note: I went with another girl and we never felt unsafe. We had the best time and the people were so kind and friendly. Only hardship was the language barrier. Google translator was our best friend!