Playa Blanca in Baru is one of the most famous places to go and spend a beach day near Cartagena. It was originally a peninsula, but it was separated from the city during the construction of the Canal del Dique, and is now an island. About 20,000 native people live in Baru who make their living from fishing, tourism, and the sale of handicrafts on the beach. In recent years, the growth of hotels, eco hotels, and hostels has continued to increase, as has the demand from visitors in search of one of the best beaches near Cartagena.
Baru has many beautiful beaches, but only a few of them are open to the public, including Playa Bobo, Punta Iguana, Puerto Naito, and Playa Blanca (the most popular). The others, sadly, are either private beaches, or they belong to hotel complexes.
How to get to Playa Blanca by Land
There are many ways to get to Playa Blanca by land. You can go on your own by taking a bus that leaves from the statue of the India Catalina in the centre of Cartagena and goes to the town of Pasacaballos. From here, you can take a motorcycle taxi that will take you directly to Playa Blanca for about COP$10.000 ($3.25USD). Another option, if you are going in a group, is to take a taxi from Cartagena, which will cost about COP$60.000 ($20USD) to Pasacaballos and take a motorcycle taxi to Playa Blanca, as mentioned above. If you are only planning to stay at Playa Blanca for the day, you can coordinate your return trip back to Cartagena with the drivers that brought you in.
If this is too much for you, you can book with us a shuttle service that picks you up in your accommodation in Cartagena and takes you to Playa Blanca and, depending on your choice, will take you back to your hotel in the city. You can read more about this shuttle service by clicking here.
If besides transportation you want to go to Playa Blanca with a nice place to have lunch guaranteed, you can simply book a tour by land to Playa Blanca that will pick you up in an air conditioned vehicle so that you won’t have to worry about anything. You can book this tour by clicking here. Another advantage is that you won’t have to pay the boat fee of COP$14.000 ($5USD) that you would otherwise have to pay if you went by boat, nor will you have to depend on sailing conditions for your return trip back to Cartagena. Additionally, the other great advantage is that the trip begins from your own hotel.
Getting to Playa Blanca by Boat
You can find the authorizes maritime transportation companies which will take you to Playa Blanca in the windows of the Bodeguita dock. The companies usually offer service to Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca in the same trip, however, if your plan is to spend a day relaxing on the beach, it is not worth it to stay on the boat for the entire ride. Instead, ask the boat’s captain to let you off at Playa Blanca, as the trip to Rosario Islands is nothing more than a stop at the aquarium (the ticket to the aquarium is not included) and you’ll spend more time sailing instead of spending a quiet afternoon on the beach. Going to the aquarium is recommended if you are travelling with children and you are looking for things to do with them, however, we personally recommend that you head directly for Playa Blanca to spend the day there when the boat arrives.
Travelling by boat is an adventure, especially on the way back to Cartagena when the waves are a little stronger. Because of this, we recommend that you wear beach clothing and protect your belongings from the water, because you will get completely soaked.
If you book a day trip to Playa Blanca by bus or by boat you will have lunch included. The food options that you’ll find in this destination are usually the same: Fried fish, coconut rice, fried plantains, salad, and lemonade with cane sugar, the traditional lunch of the region. The price difference between taking this day trip to Playa Blanca and Baru without lunch included is only COP$10.000 ($3.25USD), however, for this price you won’t even find a coconut water in Playa Blanca. Because of this, we recommend that you choose the option with lunch included. If you don’t like the menu options, you can look for something else, or upgrade the lunch included in your tour for at an extra cost.
What to Expect at Playa Blanca:
Playa Blanca is no longer a place of pristine, untouched beaches that it was just 5 years ago. Since the construction of the bridge that links the beach with Pasacaballos, the area has turned into a very popular destination in Cartagena with a wide variety of hotels and rustic hostels with prices that start at just $5USD a night.
Advice: In order to find more empty spots on the beach, we recommend that you walk to the left side of the beach, past the blue tents.
One of the negative aspects of Playa Blanca are the beach vendors. If you read any travel forum online, all of the bad reviews talk about the uncomfortable ways that the vendors address tourists. The truth is that they are only looking to make money for their families and they see visitors as an opportunity to bring food into their homes by doing honest work. We are not justifying their behaviour, as in some cases they really are annoying, but we believe that saying a simple and convincing “No Thank-you” is enough to keep them away.
A piece of very practical advice is to completely ignore the oyster vendors. Oysters are delicious, we know, and even more so because they are fresh from the sea and a very difficult dish to resist, especially with a little bit of lemon over top of them. The vendors will come over to you saying that the first one is free, however, this is a lie. Nothing is free, and if you actually want to eat them, you should establish a price for how many you want to eat first. If not, you’re likely to return to Cartagena with empty pockets.
The local women are usually responsible for giving massages on the beach, and they will also try to persuade you and charge you excessive prices. They tell you that they will give you a “free trial” of their work. Again, this is a way to trick you. When you accept the “free trial”, one woman will grab your feet, another your hands, and another will massage your shoulders and back, and all 3 of them will demand payment. To avoid this, agree on a price with them beforehand. They are hardworking and friendly women; if you speak clearly with them, you will surely be able to reach an agreement and enjoy a relaxing massage on the beach.
The recommendations above were given so that you can make the most of your trip to Playa Blanca and Baru, but not reason enough to not enjoy and explore one of the best beaches near Cartagena. The white sand and warm, sky blue sea provide the perfect Caribbean image that you’ll have searched in google several times before arriving in Colombia.
We recommend that if you are only going for a day trip, to go mid-week when the beaches are not so crowded. After 4pm when most of the day tours leave, the beach becomes practically empty until about 11am the next day, when tours begin to arrive again. If you have the opportunity to spend at least a night in Playa Blanca, you have to do it. Keep in mind that unless you decide to stay in a hotel, you won’t have access to fresh water. For drinking water this is not an issue, as you can buy bottles of water at a normal price. However, if you want to bathe then yes, you will have to pay a bit more money.
You can see here the activities that we offer at this famous Cartagena beach. You can also use our online chat feature to solve any questions or concerns you may have.
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