Rosario Islands Colombia Travel Guide

Your Rosario Islands guide: Maximize your enchanting island experience

Tropical island paradise with turquoise water and lush palm trees.

Rosario Islands in a few words

Territorially, it lies between Bolivar and Sucre and covers an area of 120,000 hectares. It forms two archipelagos in both departments: the Rosario Islands and the San Bernardo Islands. Its temperature ranges from 27 to 30 °C. 

The ecosystem is composed of coral reefs, sedimentary bottoms, sandy beaches, mangroves, wetlands, seagrass meadows and tropical dry forest. Few places in the world offer such an extraordinary spectacle of beauty as this one. 

On the other hand, these formations serve as substrate for an enormous variety of colorful species: calcareous algae, sponges, feather duster worms, sea lilies, anemones and soft corals, among others. As if this were not enough, there are many fish and invertebrates that move over the corals or take refuge in their holes and chinks. This wonderful spectacle can be seen at very shallow depths, thanks to the transparency of the waters. 

The terrestrial portions of the park in Bolivar’s territory are the islands of Tesoro, Rosario (Isla Grande, Pajarales and Periquito), and Barú; the Mohán swamp and the surrounding mangrove forest. 

One of the park’s most outstanding characteristics are the coastal lagoons found within the islands, which are connected to the sea by channels and mouths that allow for water exchange. For example, the Mohán swamp forms a corridor between Barbacoas Bay and the open sea. The Cholón swamp is located on the western side of Barú Island and is the park’s largest coastal lagoon. 

The park’s fauna is abundant. There are more than 50 known species of corals that form reefs, constituting the coral reefs of the Colombian Caribbean, 167 species of fish and 60 species of birds. 

Islas del Rosario colombia @Tristan Quevilly
Islas del Rosario colombia @Tristan Quevilly

The vegetation is mainly underwater, and its meadows protect the diversity of fauna. Many vertebrate and invertebrate species are ecologically and commercially important. The ecosystem of the surrounding area and the Canal del Dique has allowed shrimp farming. 

How to get the Rosario Islands

To Baru Island

Land route: to cross the Dique channel, take a ferry from Pasacaballos, and then continue by unpaved road to the town of Santa Ana de Barú or Playa Blanca. 

Water route: from the tourist pier of La Bodeguita, on Blas de Lezo Avenue in front of the Marina Park, boats depart to different destinations on the island. 

To the Rosario Islands 

Aquatic route: you depart by boat from the tourist pier La Bodeguita, in Cartagena. These operate between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. The trip lasts from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the destination island and the boat you are traveling on. If you leave from the town of Baru to the Rosario Islands, the trip takes 20 minutes. 

The traveler has the opportunity to interact with the communities, mainly Afro-descendants, who provide various ecotourism services of environmental guidance and interpretation. 

On the islands that are not part of the protected area, practices have been consolidated around artisanal fishing, conventional tourism, cultivation of small plots of land, and extraction of mangrove resources. There are groups of wood artisans and manufacturers of other handicrafts that market their products to visitors. 

Things to do in the Rosario Islands

  • hiking, flora and fauna observation -especially birds-, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing and kayaking. 

The main underwater routes are those of Punta Brava and Luis Guerra, but it is advisable not to stray far from the demarcation buoys. Both allow you to observe a great variety of corals, sponges, fish, and

Both can be reached by boat from Isla Grande: the first from the Las Mantas inlet sector, and the second from the southern sector. 

Ecological trails 

In Isla Grande, the largest of this archipelago, there are several trails that can be traveled on foot or by bicycle and that cross the island from one end to the other. While walking along them, you can have contact with some native communities or baquianos, who accompany and guide tourists on their walk. 

El Indio Encuera Environmental Interpretation Trail
For adventure lovers, this trail among the tropical dry forest 

and mangroves, wetlands, beaches and bodies of water, will allow you to observe the interaction of species such as barack ducks that migrate from as far away as Canada, and other birds such as the white-crowned pigeon that travels through the Antillean belt, as well as reptiles such as boas and iguanas.