When I started researching beaches near Cartagena, Colombia I quickly realized that to get the Caribbean blues, one must go to the outer islands. Many of these little islands are located in the Rosario National Park, a chain of picturesque islands that lie on the turquoise waters. We waited until the last minute to book and our hotel (Tcherassi Hotel) recommended we go to Isla del Encanto. A day trip from Cartagena was in order for a beautiful beach day.
About Isla del Encanto
Isla del Encanto is located in the Rosario National Park and it’s a 45-minute speed boat ride from the city. It makes a perfect day trip from Cartagena as you get to escape to a beautiful island surrounded by crystalline turquoise waters. The island serves as a private resort as well. Beyond the day trip, guests have the option to stay overnight in cute little cabanas. If we would’ve had more days in Cartagena, we would’ve looked into staying overnight. For the day trip, we paid around $70 per person (the baby was free). The fee included transportation from the hotel to the dock, lunch, boat ride, and other amenities at Isla del Encanto. More about the amenities here. Make note that there’s no transportation provided upon return. Return transport is a point for improvement, given the price point.
Getting to Isla del Encanto
We booked the tour with our concierge and were picked up early in the morning by van to go to the docks. Make note to bring cash to pay for a small port fee before getting into the boat. Our speedboat had around 30 people. We were traveling with la piccola so we decided just to bring baby carrier because the stroller would be to cumbersome. That was a great call. She was four months at the time but she did fantastic on the boat. We also appreciated the lady who was the leader of the tour group. She was very accommodating, even saving us a seat on the boat which provided the most shade for the baby.
We loved the relaxed vibe of Isla del Encanto. There are options to go diving and snorkeling but since we had the baby we just lounged by the beach and pool. There are plenty of cabanas available that provide shade. A must if traveling with a baby! The beach was pristine with clear waters and very fine sand. After the baby had a very brief first dip in Caribbean waters, we moved to the pool area. We enjoyed frozen limonadas de coco (a very popular drink in Cartagena) and played with our picola in the pool.
This day trip from Cartagena offers a buffet lunch and some water sports for free. You can buy alcoholic beverages and other premium food items like lobster for an extra charge. Cocktails run around $3 per person. A steal if you’re coming from a city like Washington, DC. The service was impeccable: our waiter came often to check up on us, the tour leader was very accommodating, and nobody soliciting at the beach. It was the perfect environment for a relaxing day. The lunch was solid for a buffet. I particularly enjoyed the arroz con coco (rice with coconut) and fresh fried fish.
Day Trip from Cartagena: The Verdict
If you’re looking for a day trip from Cartagena with a gorgeous beach, great service, and plenty of activities, Isla del Encanto is the place for you. Isla del Encanto is appropriate for families, groups of friends, and even couples. We saw a bit of everything and it seemed like everybody was having a great time. Overall, great experience. The only point for improvement would be for the resort to arrange transportation back from the dock to the hotel.