Isla Grande is the largest of the Rosario Islands, a dreamy Caribbean archipelago off the coast of Colombia.
Despite its name, Isla Grande actually isn’t that big. You can walk from one side of the island to the other in a few hours. That’s a good thing, as there are no cars on the island — no background noise to disturb the peace of the waves.
If you’re visiting Isla Grande soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to eat and how to fully enjoy this picture-perfect island in Colombia.
Also, check out our list of the best activities in Isla Grande!
Isla Grande is the ultimate beach paradise
Isla Grande ticks every box when it comes to a beach destination: turquoise sea, white sand beaches, hammocks, fresh seafood, snorkelling and so much more!
This Caribbean island is the kind of place where you forget to wear shoes, embrace the laidback vibe and simply enjoy yourself.
Need a bit more action? There are some really cool things to do on Isla Grande besides relaxing — you can go kayaking, explore the underwater world and visit the Enchanted Lagoon.
Whether you’re visiting Isla Grande as a day trip from Cartagena, or staying for a few nights, it’s a great opportunity to see yet another one of Colombia’s spectacular and diverse landscapes.
Top Tip: There are no ATMs on the island so make sure to bring enough cash to pay for your accommodation, food and any tours you want to do. Some places only take cash.
How long should you stay on Isla Grande?
A lot of people visit Isla Grande as part of a day trip from Cartagena, but we’d recommend staying for a couple of nights if you’re looking for a beach getaway.
Isla Grande is the perfect place to relax, so at least 2-3 days should give you enough time to rewind. Spend your days swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.
Where to stay on Isla Grande
We recommend staying in the accommodation that you like the most, whichever part of the island that may be. Unless you’re doing tours, it’s likely that you’ll spend a lot of time in your accommodation and eat most of your meals there.
Plus, Isla Grande is a pretty easy place to get around. You can walk to most places or hop in a local’s boat.
Accommodation on Isla Grande
There are limited accommodation options on Isla Grande and a lot of travellers want a slice of paradise. For this reason, prices tend to be higher than in the rest of Colombia and places get booked up quicker.
We recommend booking as far in advance as possible to save money and stay in the best places on Isla Grande.
Private rooms start at around $25 per night for basic facilities.
Where to eat on Isla Grande
The best thing about staying on an island is the access to fresh seafood. Isla Grande certainly isn’t short of delicious fish.
Whilst there are a few local restaurants scattered across the island, most of the restaurants are situated in hotels, beach clubs or beach-front restaurants.
A lot of people end up getting the majority of their meals from their own accommodation as it’s more convenient. It’s also likely to be where you’ll find the better food on the island.
If you do want to eat out and try what the island has to offer, here are our favourite places to eat on Isla Grande:
Bora Bora — beach club restaurant serving fresh fish
Bora Bora is a beach club on the south-west coast of Isla Grande. They offer white canopy beds and access to a small private beach ideal for swimming. It’s a great place to spend the day.
Attached to the beach club is a restaurant, which serves mainly traditional Colombian dishes. There’s lots of fresh seafood or grilled meat served with rice, patacones (fried plantain slices) and vegetables. Fresh and simple!
Sol y Papaya — beach-side restaurant ideal for chilling
Sol y Papaya, close to Playa Libre, is another great place to chill for the day and enjoy some food. The restaurant is pretty rustic with palm-leaf roofs and hammocks all around.
The food served here is traditional Colombian food, offering very similar dishes to Bora Bora. Why not treat yourself and try the lobster? Sol y Papaya also prepares incredible juices and cocktails, perfect for enjoying in the hot Colombian sun.
How to get around Isla Grande
One of the best things about Isla Grande is that there are no proper roads or cars on the island. It really adds to the tranquillity of the island.
This leaves you with just two ways of getting around Isla Grande: by foot or by boat.
Walking will be your main way of navigating the island. There are paths that run through the forests from one side of the island to the other (which takes a couple of hours).
There are some areas of the coastline that you won’t be able to get to by walking. They’re either accessed through private properties or cut off by mangroves. This is where boats come in handy…
For the areas that you can’t access by foot, you can always get a ride from a local in their boat. Whilst they’re not official drivers, a lot of them will be happy to take you where you need to go for a reasonable price.
Getting to Isla Grande from Cartagena
It’s hard to believe that you can get from the bustling streets of Cartagena to the tranquil sands of Isla Grande in under an hour.
Find out everything you need to know about getting from Cartagena to Isla Grande in our detailed guide.
How to get to Isla Grande
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Cartagena||45 minutes||from 50,000 COP ($12.50)||Cartagena to Isla Grande|
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Isla Grande. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in Isla Grande. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Isla Grande.
Day trips from Cartagena to Isla Grande are a popular choice for tourists, but if you want to experience the island at its best, we recommend staying on Isla Grande for at least two days,
If you decide to do so, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. It’s an island after all, which means that accommodation options are limited.
Accommodation prices tend to be higher in Isla Grande than on the mainland. Expect a bit less luxury compared to what you will get in other destinations in Colombia.
But hey, who needs the fanciest hotel on the island? You’ll want to be enjoying the white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters most of the time anyway!
Now let’s hope one of these gems is still available:
Hotel Coralina Island - Treating Yourself
If you’re looking to go all out and treat yourself, then Hotel Coralina is the place to do that. Whilst not actually on Isla Grande, you’ll find Hotel Coralina on the nearby Isla Marina. Only a 10-minute boat ride away, this can easily be arranged through the hotel.
Some of the bungalows are actually set on the water. Guests get to enjoy three delicious and free meals a day from the onsite gourmet restaurant. Eat, swim, repeat!
The rooms are large and luxurious, but you’ll probably want to be spending your time on one of the docks overlooking the sea. This place is somewhere that you’ll never forget!
- 3 free meals a day from their gourmet restaurant
- Private beach area
- Large and luxurious beachfront rooms
- Lots of activities available
Double rooms start from $80 per night
Hotel Islabela Isla Del Rosario - Mid Range
You’ll need to book this place at least a month in advance. It’s one of the best places to stay on the entire island. Situated right on its own private beach, you can’t ask for a better location.
The bungalows are luxurious and open up onto the beach. The local staff are just incredible. They will help to organise fun activities through the hotel that will make your stay even more memorable.
- Private beach
- Onsite bar and restaurant
- Beach front bungalows
- Incredible breakfast included
Double rooms cost between $40-$80 per night
Eco-Hotel Mar Adentro - Mid Range
While not directly on the beach, Mar Adentro fully encapsulates the beach vibes. Here you’ll be staying in beach-style huts, each with its own patio.
Only a 5-minute walk from the beach, you can experience true tranquillity without anyone else around. Apart from the staff of course, who are incredibly helpful and friendly.
- Beach-style huts
- 5 minutes from the beach
- Onsite restaurant and terrace
- Great breakfast included
Double rooms cost between $40-$80 per night
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