The countries of South America are becoming increasingly popular vacation destinations, especially with people who like to head off the beaten path and have new, unique experiences during their travels. Each of the many South American nations has its own culture, cuisine, charms, and traditions, so it can be a lot of fun to explore them all. Colombia is a wonderful place to visit if you like lively festivals, stunning scenery, warm weather, and outstanding cuisine, and one of the top spots to stay in Colombia is undoubtedly Cartagena.

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Situated on the Caribbean Coast, Cartagena is a port city with a rich history and lots of amazing colonial architecture for visitors to enjoy and admire, with the likes of the Palace of Inquisition and Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas being a couple of Cartagen's top hotspots. The city also enjoys lots of very warm and sunny weather all through the year, making it a great location for people who like to spend time relaxing on the beach, working on their tans, and enjoying the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.

To take your beach-going adventures to the next level in Colombia, you might also choose to do a day trip to the Rosario Islands. Known as the 'Islas del Rosario' to the locals, the Rosario Islands are an archipelago some 60 miles off the coast of Cartagena. They make up one of Colombia's many national parks and are famous for their coral reefs, with snorkeling and scuba diving being very popular around these islands. They’re among the best places you can visit in Colombia, especially if you love soft sands and clear waters, so here’s how to plan the perfect Rosario Islands day trip.

Getting to the Rosario Islands

The first part of planning your Rosario Islands day trip is learning how to actually access the island. Many people in Cartagena hear about the beauty of the islands but aren’t always sure how to get there. It’s actually quite simple. You'll be traveling by boat, and there are quite a lot of options to choose from, including organized tours with local guides who can teach you all about the history and ecology of the islands to simple sailors who will be willing to take you over to the islands for quite a small fee.

In Cartagena, you’ll see a lot of different tour operators offering trips over to the Rosario Islands. Many people choose to sign up for these trips, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you go. Some of the trips can be quite disappointing as they’ll hop about from one island to another quite quickly, giving you minimal time to actually explore and enjoy each location. Speak to the various tour operators to learn more about the tours before making a decision, or choose a small boat trip over to the islands if you want more freedom to spend time on the beaches and see the sights.

Important Information and Things to Do

- Cost - Don't forget that the Rosario Islands are a national park, and this means you need to pay for a pass to gain entry. The fee isn't too high, but it's something you'll need to remember, and a lot of the organized tours and day trips from Cartagena to the Rosario Islands don't include this fee in their package costs.

- Guided Tours - Should you take a guided tour of the Rosario Islands? Well, this all depends on what you want to get out of the day. As mentioned previously, a lot of the tours can be quite disappointing, rushing from one island to another too quickly to really let you explore. Others are much better organized, however, so it's worth looking around and getting an idea for the different options available before making a decision.

- Things to Do - If you visit Isla Rosario, be sure to stop off at the amazing Oceanario Aquarium, which is one of the top family attractions in the Rosario Islands. There's also a regular aquarium, but it's not as good as its oceanic counterpart. If you head over to Isla Grande, the biggest of the Rosario Islands, you can find a lot of quiet spaces for romantic moments with a loved one. There's a lovely bird sanctuary on the island too which most tourists don't know about. Over on Isla Baru, you can visit Playa Blanca, which is one of the best beaches in the area, very popular with kids.