An aerial view of Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario) in Colombia's Carribean Coast

Things to do in  Caribbean Coast

Get your feet wet

Boasting big hitters such as Tayrona National Park and the port city of Cartagena, Colombia’s Caribbean Coast offers a wealth of things to do. Though most famous for its tropical beaches lapped by the warm and welcoming waters of the Caribbean Sea—particularly those of the Rosario and San Bernardo Islands—the coastal area will also surprise you with its mud volcanoes and delectable cuisine that showcases the best of Latin American and Caribbean flavors. Whether you’re looking to post up in a tranquil mountain town like Minca or party it up in Barranquilla, culture and nature are in no short supply.

Top 15 attractions in Caribbean Coast

Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario)

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The Rosario Islands(Islas del Rosario) are a highlight of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, famous for their vibrant marine life, pristine white beaches, and sun-soaked beach resorts. A cluster of 28 idyllic islands dotted offshore of the port city of Cartagena, this archipelago sits atop the world’s third-largest barrier reef and makes up Islas del Rosario National Park.More

Totumo Mud Volcano (El Totumo)

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Totumo Volcano (El Totumo) ranks among Cartagena’s most popular day trips. A small volcanic caldera has become a top attraction—a naturally heated bath of grayish brown silt. After bobbing around in the soupy mix, head to the lagoon next door to wash off the mineral-rich mud, thought to have therapeutic properties.More

Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)

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Deep within the Sierra Nevada, the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida is an indigenous archaeological site accessible only via a challenging multi-day trek through the surrounding jungle. Prepare to wade through waterfalls and climb more than 1,000 stone steps to reach the secluded ruins, where you’re rewarded with panoramic views.More

Old Town Cartagena

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With brightly-colored buildings, colonial landmarks, and bougainvillea-covered balconies, Old Town Cartagena is known for its beauty and its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Highlights include the leafy Plaza de Bolivar, the striking Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj), and the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro).More

San Felipe de Barajas Castle (Castillo San Felipe de Barajas)

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Some historians say that if it weren’t for San Felipe de Barajas Castle (Castillo San Felipe de Barajas), South America would now speak English. The 14th-century fortress protected the coastal city of Cartagena from English invasion, allowing the Spanish to maintain their rule. Besides the role it plays in Colombia’s history, the castle attracts visitors with its panoramic harbor views.More

Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona)

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Ruins, reefs, mangroves, and beaches make up the 37,000-acre Tayrona National Park, one of Colombia’s most popular ecotourism destinations. Visit to hike along the coast, relax on the beaches, snorkel among the coral reefs, or simply disconnect from daily life.More

Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal)

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Part of Tayrona National Park, Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal is a white-sand haven that provides ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Marine life off Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal includes sea turtles, dolphins, and several species of fish. Even without spotting one of these creatures, the coral and sponges of the reef provide colorful underwater scenes.More

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

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Just off the coast of northern Colombia, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park is home to a wealth of endangered flora and fauna as well as the world’s highest coastal peak. Dominated by mountains and popular among hikers, this UNESCO-recognized national park is home to bird reserves, archaeological ruins, and indigenous villages.More

Cartagena Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena)

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Discover paintings and sculptures from Colombia and beyond during a visit to the Cartagena Museum of Modern Art, or the Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena. Located within the 17th-century Royal Customs House, this museum is home to both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions featuring young artists from around the world.More

National Aviary of Colombia (Aviario Nacional de Colombia)

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Home to around 190 different species of bird, the National Aviary of Colombia harbors diverse flora and more than 2,000 birds. The 17-acre (7-hectare) park categorises birds according to three Colombian ecosystems—tropical rainforest, coastal zone, and desert—and promises an enriching experience for wildlife lovers.More

Convento de la Popa de la Galera

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Sitting atop the highest point in Cartagena, Convento de la Popa is a 17th-century convent characterized by graceful stone arcades and an interior courtyard filled with flowers. History and architecture aside, the biggest draw of the convent is the scenery: from the 500-foot (152-meter) perch, travelers are rewarded with sweeping views of the Caribbean coast and colonial city.More

Santo Domingo Church (Iglesia de Santo Domingo)

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Founded in 1534, Santo Domingo Church (Iglesia Santo Domingo) is the oldest church in Cartagena. As well as being notable for its marble altar and imposing central nave, the church boasts a prime location on Plaza Santo Domingo, where street vendors and al fresco cafes create a vibrant atmosphere.More

Bolivar Square (Plaza Bolivar)

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As well as offering respite from Cartagena’s Caribbean heat with its leafy trees, Bolivar Square (Plaza Bolivar) is home to both the Palace of the Inquisition museum and the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro Zenu). In between museums, sample Colombian coffee and snacks from street vendors and admire the eponymous statue of Simon Bolivar at the square’s center.More

Las Bovedas

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Shoppers, barhoppers, and photography enthusiasts flock to picturesque Las Bovedas, located at the northeastern corner of Cartagena’s old walled city. Dozens of archways—stretching from Santa Clara to Santa Catalina Fortress—are home to souvenir shops, jewelry stores, small bars, and galleries.More

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

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The final resting place of South American liberator Simón Bolívar, the 17th-century Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is now a historical landmark, museum, gallery, and botanical garden containing over 200 works of contemporary South American art. See where Bolívar took his last breath, marvel over antique artefacts, wander the expansive gardens, and admire artworks from the countries that Bolívar liberated.More

Top activities in Caribbean Coast

Bora Bora Cartagena Beach Club Full Day Experience
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Palenque History Tour

Palenque History Tour

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$110.00
Freedom Tour of Palenque

Freedom Tour of Palenque

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$110.00
Cartagena Gourmet: Cooking Class with a View, Elegance & Flavor
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Cartagena Gourmet: Cooking Class with a View, Elegance & Flavor

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$58.50
$65.00  $6.50 savings
Sunset Cruise in Cartagena

Sunset Cruise in Cartagena

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$26.00
Private City Tour of Cartagena

Private City Tour of Cartagena

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$135.00
Lodotherapy in the Totumo Volcano with Visit to Galerazamba
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Lodotherapy in the Totumo Volcano with Visit to Galerazamba

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$30.40
$32.00  $1.60 savings
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All about Caribbean Coast

When to visit

Rio de Janeiro isn’t the only place in South America famous for its Carnival—Barranquilla hosts one of the world’s largest Carnival celebrations every year around mid-February. Expect kaleidoscopic parades that showcase the best of the country’s costumes, dances, and folklore. For the best weather, North Colombia’s spring and summer months coincide with the Caribbean Coast’s dry season, which runs from December through February.

Getting around

Cartagena and Barranquilla both have international airports, making reaching the Caribbean Coast by domestic or international airline a breeze. Coaches and minibuses are a great way to travel between cities. For travel to Tayrona National Park, you can either take a bus from Santa Marta or ride a boat from Taganga. The Rosario Islands are only accessible by ferry or speedboat.

Traveler tips

Just a couple of hours south of Cartagena, you’ll find the hidden gem of Santiago de Tolú, a small and charming pueblo surrounded by the mangroves of the Ciénaga la Caimanera nature reserve and white-sand beaches characteristic of the Caribbean Coast. Though a favorite among Colombian locals during the peak summer season, this town is quiet throughout the year and draws far fewer foreign tourists than other parts of the coast, so you’re guaranteed a more authentic Colombian experience.

Local Currency
Colombian Peso (COP)
Time Zone
COT (UTC -5)
Country Code
+57
Language(s)
Spanish
Attractions
35
Tours
1,181
Reviews
28,263
EN
c36ec667-5190-482a-b531-283a56491bbb
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People Also Ask

What is there to do on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia?

You could spend weeks exploring Colombia's Caribbean Coast. You can wander around the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Cartagena, hike and swim in Tayrona National Park, go scuba diving in Santa Marta and Taganga, explore the paradise archipelago of the Rosario Islands, or fly out to remote San Andrés, famous for its coral reefs and reggae.

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How long should I spend on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast?

You should spend at least a week on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. That’ll give you enough time to explore Tayrona National Park, go scuba diving in Taganga, experience the rich history and food of Cartagena, sample world-famous coffee in the mountain town of Minca, and relax on the white-sand beaches of the Rosario Islands.

...More
What are the three most important cities on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast?

The three most important cities on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast are Cartagena, famous for its colorful 16th-century architecture and UNESCO-listed Old Town; Barranquilla, which hosts one of the world’s biggest Carnivals each year in February; and Santa Marta, the gateway to Tayrona National Park and a world-class scuba diving destination.

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What food is in the Caribbean region of Colombia?

As you’d expect, there’s a lot of freshly caught fish on offer on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. The cuisine celebrates the fusion of Colombia and Caribbean culture, and signature dishes include seafood stew (cazuela de mariscos), fried fish and coconut rice, arepas with spicy sauce, and a rich variety of sweets.

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What’s the most beautiful beach in Colombia?

Often topping the lists of Colombia’s best beaches is Playas de Palomino. East of Santa Marta, it’s a white-sand stretch backed by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. A close second is Playa Blanca on Baru Island (Isla Baru), part of the Rosario archipelago, where palm trees sway in the breeze and the water is a vibrant turquoise.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Caribbean Coast?
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