How to get from Cartagena to Isla Grande (and back)?
Isla Grande is the main island within the Rosario Islands Archipelago, located 34 km (24 miles) off of Cartagena’s coast. It’s a popular destination for day trips, although it is highly recommended to spend at least two nights to get a proper chance of exploring the island.
Isla Grande has a collection of stunning white-sand and turquoise-water beaches, unlike Cartagena’s. This is what makes it the perfect destination for relaxing at the beach and practicing water sports like kayaking and scuba diving.
The only way to get from Cartagena to Isla Grande is by boat, so most tourists opt for a speedboat ferry that takes about 45 minutes. The service is provided by the main tourist operators in Cartagena with rates starting at 50,000 COP ($15).
Recommended transport option
|Cartagena to Isla Grande||45 minutes||68,500 COP ($20) - 98,500 COP ($28)||Check ferry tickets|
|Isla Grande to Cartagena||45 minutes||50,000 COP ($14) - 80,000 COP ($23)||Check ferry tickets|
Most tour operators also offer group day-trip options known as ‘pasadías’ which include the use of hotel facilities, lunch and some pre-arranged activities at an extra cost. You can purchase these directly at the port with your ticket starting at around 100,000 COP ($29). When choosing which ticket to buy, bear in mind that generally, the lower the price the lower the quality of the trip, as well as usually a larger group. A decent quality pasadía from Cartagena to Isla Grande will start from 200,000 COP ($58).
There’s also an option to rent a private speedboat or yacht, with prices starting from $500 a day. This can be a good idea if you want to sail around the islands at your own pace, want some privacy or if you’re traveling with a lot of people. If you’re looking for this private experience, contact the tour operators directly or check with your hotel.
PRO-TIP: Note that Cartagena is Colombia’s most visited tourist destination and ‘cartageneros’ will tend to add a gringo tax on everything so beware of tour promoters on the street. Booking online in Cartagena, like most places in Colombia, is still not the mainstream option so it is better to buy your tickets directly from the ticket shops and always compare rates between them before buying.
Itinerary from Cartagena to Isla Grande (and back)
Cartagena to Isla Grande
- 45 minutes
- Isla Grande
Isla Grande to Cartagena
- Isla Grande
- 45 minutes
Cartagena to Isla Grande by Speedboat Ferry
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 68,500 COP ($20) – 98,500 COP ($28)
All boats from Cartagena to Isla Grande depart from Muelle La Bodeguita, located right outside the old city’s walls. Most tour operators will try to sell you packages or day-passes which include lunch and the use of hotel facilities. However, it is possible to go without these packages and save some money eating at the local restaurants located at the centre of the island.
For the transport-only option, most companies will charge a fare of 50,000 COP ($14.50), plus a mandatory port tax of 18,500 COP ($5.50). Some also offer the option to book online through their website, but often at a higher rate than going directly to the port.
Boats operating from Cartagena to Isla Grande only depart when they have enough passengers so be prepared to wait a while. Also, the same boats are often used to transport people to other islands such as Baru or Cholon, meaning there can be an extra stop without any notice.
Some tour operators running on this route include Delfines tours, Juan Ballena, Costa Azul, Mary Cartagena Travel and Mary tours. They all operate from 08:00 to 09:30.
If you are arranging the service directly with the vendors at the port, keep in mind Cartagena’s port authority is pretty strict on when the boats are allowed to depart. Therefore, make sure you are at the port no later than 09:00 am as departures are not allowed after 09:30 am.
You can check the availability and book Delfines tours service through BookAway, who also include free pick-up from your hotel if you’re staying in the Bocagrande, Laguito and Castillogrande areas. Pretty convenient!
The ride from Cartagena to Isla Grande will take around 45 minutes without any extra stops. Boats often drop you at Paraiso Escondido Beach, but the drop-off place may vary depending on demand.
Isla Grande to Cartagena by Speedboat Ferry (the way back)
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 50,000 COP ($14) – 80,000 COP ($23)
Going back from Isla Grande to Cartagena is cheaper than getting there as you don’t need to pay the port fee.
There is no main port at Isla Grande, therefore, most speedboats will pick up passengers from places where there is demand. This means you need to arrange your ticket for the return speedboat beforehand.
The easiest option is to arrange your return transfer on BookAway with Delfines tours. They depart from Isla Grande at 12:30 and make a 3-hour layover at Playa Blanca on Baru island, a nice stop if you’re not planning on visiting Baru separately.
You can also arrange the return boat directly with the same company who brought you to the island, or most hotels and hostels can do it for you too.
These other boats will depart from Isla Grande at 14:00 and the last ones at 15:00, as Cartagena’s port is closed after 16:00. This also means if you are doing just a day trip, you will have only about 4 hours to enjoy Isla Grande, which is why staying is recommended.
The ride to Cartagena lasts around 45 minutes and the boat will drop you at Muelle La Bodeguita, right outside the old city where you started.
More routes to Isla Grande
More routes from Cartagena
Most popular routes in Colombia
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