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The Caribbean Coast and Islands

Colombia features gorgeous and deserted coastline, both on the mainland and islands. Nearly all the beaches, with a couple of notable exceptions, remain completely unspoiled.

 

By far the most popular visitor spot on the coast is Cartagena. Set right on the edge of the sea and surrounded by a stone wall, its setting is unbeatable. The colonial architecture here is among the best-preserved in Latin America and, coupled with the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, food and music; it’s easy to see why so many people – foreigners and Colombians alike – come here for their holidays. Despite Cartagena’s popularity, however, it’s rarely overcrowded with tourists, even in high season and it’s never a problem finding somewhere to stay. There are some hotels in the historic centre, but generally the more comfortable ones can be found in Bocagrande, the huge, built-up resort area to the south of the town. The beaches close to Cartagena aren’t the best.

 

Serious beach-lovers, divers and snorkellers head to the Islas de Rosario, with their wide, sandy bays, palm trees, and off-shore reefs teeming with colourful sea life. There are a couple of places to stay on the islands, but they’re so close that most people just go over on a day trip. Just up the coast from Cartagena, the fishing village of Boquilla makes a good day trip from Cartagena, It’s very quiet during the week, but livens up at weekends, when little wooden huts open up to serve up the catch of the day, accompanied with rice and plantain.

 

Further north, Santa Marta is reachable in a day from Cartagena. There’s not much to do in the town itself – most people come to gain access to Parque Nacional Tayrona, which has Colombia’s arguably best beaches. Most are set in deep bays surrounded by forest; there’s a good chance you’ll have one all to yourself. Santa Marta is also a good base from which to organise trips to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), an ancient pre-Columbian town that remained hidden deep in the thick rainforest until it was discovered by accident in 1975. There are no roads, and the city can only be reached on foot; it’s a six to seven-day hike there and back.

 

Colombia also lays claim to two Caribbean Islands, San Andrés and Providencia, each of which has a completely different feel. San Andrés is the more tourist-orientated, with a resort atmosphere attracting sun-seekers and water-sport enthusiasts, many from South America. The beaches are good and the diving is said to be the best in Colombia. In contrast, Providencia is not nearly as well-developed for tourism, which, for some, is the best thing about it. It is far quieter, the beaches are pristine, and there are plenty of good dive spots here too.









23 Sep 2009

VIVA Colombia

Sea! Sand! Sunshine!

Playa Blanca

Very few foreigners know of Playa Blanca, 30 minutes west of Coveñas. This town has small beaches separated by jetties. It's where Colombians seeking sand and sun come to vacation. During the ...
Beach
Coveñas, Colombia

The Blowing Hole

106592Only on a small Caribbean island in the middle of the ocean could a hole in the ground which occasionally blows a strong puff of air be a major tourist attraction. On the southern end of the island, ...
Beach
San Andres, Colombia

Santa Marta Beaches

122212Nothing surpasses the pale sand and warm waters of the Caribbean coast. Santa Marta is no exception. Within the city itself there\'s a beach along the camellĂłn (seafront). Although a bit dirty, it ...
Beach
Santa Marta, Colombia

The Other Beaches

121265Most visitors to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona go to the beaches near Cañaveral and Arrecifes in the humid forest zone of the park. On the western end of Tayrona are other less-frequented beaches ...
Beach
Colombia

Playa Grande and Playa Cristal

121157If the beach in town gets too familiar, try one of the other stretches of sand nearby. The knoll on the right-hand-side of Taganga Bay shelters Playa Grande, an expanse of pale golden arena. From the ...
Beach
Taganga, Colombia

La Piscina

A natural sea pool of crystalline waters has formed surrounded by rock and reef. Large and tranquil with warm waters, La Piscina is home to many species of colorful fishes that dart amongst the ...
Beach
Colombia

Islas de San Bernardo

In an effort to attract affluent clientele and foreign revenue, the Colombian tourism industry has recently begun actively promoting the tiny 10-island archipelago of San Bernardo, which is part of ...
Beach
TolĂş, Colombia

Cartagena's Beaches

143299After spending hours wandering Cartagena’s narrow streets, a perfect way to cool down is to hit the beach. Marbella is the closest to the city. This several-kilometer-long beach begins just 300 ...
Beach
Cartagena, Colombia

La Boquilla

143301During the week, the men of La Boquilla still doff their fishermen’s caps and head out to sea. But when weekends and holidays come, they are often helping their womenfolk take care of hungry ...
Other Activity, Beach
Near Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia

Playa Blanca

One of the must-do tours from Cartagena is Playa Blanca, on Isla BarĂş. This is the dream beach: A palm-shaded white strand of fine sand skirting a crystalline turquoise sea. Many dream of a paradise ...
Beach, Other Activity
Near Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia

Providencia And Santa Catalina Beaches

Providencia has some of the Caribbean\'s premier beaches with calm waters. The most secluded is Manchaneel (Playa Manzanillo), which is accessible only by taxi or private transport. Get here early ...
Beach
Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia

Hottest Caribbean Nights

Richard's Place

Richard’s Place is ideal for a sunset on South West Beach. It\'s a rustic Rasta joint, with hammocks and hand-painted tables. Enjoy a potent piña colada or coco loco (liquor-spiked coconut), or ...
Bar
Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia

Bartolomé

You don’t have to come to Valledupar in April to catch live Vallenato music. Any weekend night, Bartolomé is just about the only place in town in the off-season where you can catch conjuntos ...
Bar
Valledupar, Colombia

Matasuegra

At first glance, this word seems to mean “Kill Mother-In-Law”—but this bar actually takes its name from a type of firework. This is the townspeople\'s bar, with guys sitting out front drinking ...
Bar
Taganga, Colombia

Babar

Babar is one of Cartagena\'s most successful nightclubs in El Centro. Across the street from the Naval Museum, you will find this very hip and colorful spot on the second floor, with three balconies ...
Bar
El Centro, Cartagena, Colombia

La Esquina Sandiegana

One of the only authentic salsa bars in Cartagena, La Esquina Sandiegana is a real gem with friendly local people, salsa, and more salsa. The music and dancing gets going once the sun goes down and ...
Bar
San Diego, Cartagena, Colombia

Bar Restaurante La Cueva

La Cueva of today is definitely not the laid-back, eating and watering hole it was back when the writer and his literary friends, the Grupo de Barranquilla, would stay into the wee hours. Today it ...
Bar
Barranquilla, Colombia

La Casa de la Cerveza

Perfectly perched atop the old wall of the city at the crook of GetsemanĂ­, La Casa de la Cerveza is a hip outdoor restaurant and bar that provides lovely views of the inland lagoons and Castillo de ...
Bar
GetsemanĂ­, Cartagena, Colombia

La Puerta

Founded by the same French couple taht established Santa Marta’s Alliance Française, La Puerta has become the spot to go —even for Taganga backpackers. This café has long been a meeting place ...
Bar
Santa Marta, Colombia

Laùtrec Café-Bar

Laùtrec Café Bar is a bar for everyone, it is said, from straight to gay. Bodies sweating in this tropical heat boogie to cross-over music—vallenato, salsa, raggaeton—on the two large dance ...
Bar
Santa Marta, Colombia

Café de las Madres

Where do Valduparenses go when the setting sun paints the sky? To Café de las Madres, tucked behind Parque de las Madres. The wrought-iron garden tables fill quickly with colleagues and couples ...
Bar
Valledupar, Colombia

Piche Caliche Café Bar

Piche Caliche is a serious party bar. It claims to be the best \"Wild On\" rumba in the city. It has an open bar with all-you-can-drink rum or beer for one set price. The clientele are mostly ...
Bar
Barranquilla, Colombia

Great Off-Shore Adventures

The Blue Diamond wreck dive

106520 According to local lore, the Blue Diamond was impounded in the 1990s by the Colombian government for running drugs before being scuttled to create a dive attraction. Whatever its history, this ...
Diving
San Andres, Colombia

West View

106537 West View, also called La Piscinita, is one of San Andrés\' best snorkeling spots. A short pier juts into the ocean. Water-shy tourists toss bread (included in the entrance fee) into the sea, ...
Diving
San Andres, Colombia

Scuba Diving

121154Coral reefs that fringe the coast or old Spanish galleon shipwrecks out in the wider bay, which piques your curiosity? This part of Colombia’s Caribbean hides many wonders under its sea. Taganga ...
Diving
Taganga, Colombia

Diving in Providencia

Arguably having clearer water that its larger and more frequently visited neighbor, San Andrés, Providencia is a scuba diver’s dream. The island has calm, crystalline waters and an abundance of ...
Diving
Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia

Cartagena Water Sports and Activities

Sea breezes usual dance into Cartagena in the early afternoon, making this a perfect time to play in the water. Surfers can hit the waves off the north coast of Isla BarĂş. The best spot for ...
Other Activity, Snorkeling, Diving
Cartagena, Colombia
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