Smiling faces, crystal-blue, Caribbean waves, and smooth sands. Isla Baru, Colombia is a dreamy gem located about an hour outside of Cartagena’s main walls. Solo travel around Isla Baru is very common. Known for its beaches, water sports, friendly locals, it’s high on the list for solo locations to visit in Colombia. If you want to immerse yourself in Colombia’s vibrant culture, be sure to add Baru to your Colombia travel itinerary.
Getting to Isla Baru
Take a Taxi
A taxi from Cartagena airport to Isla Baru will be about an 1.5 hours, and will cost you anywhere between $15-$20. ⭐️ PRO TIP; Before getting into ANY taxis in Colombia, make sure you discuss a price before the trip starts! Another safe option is to use Cabify, which is basically the South American equivalent of Uber (preferable for solo travelers, so you can track your route on the map.)
Travel by Boat
There are numerous boating options to reach Isla Baru; however, for the fastest way, opt for a speedboat! The waters surrounding Baru are breathtaking, and in just under 30 minutes, you’ll arrive to the crystal-clear waters here (and at a budget-friendly price of under $16!)
Take a Shuttle Bus
A cheap and air-conditioned alternative, there are also many choices for bussing it to Isla Baru. This tour has several departure times from both Cartagena and Baru, for under $13 (50,000 COP).
Use Hotel Transportation
Due to the fact that Baru is quite a distance away from Cartagena, most hotels out there offer transportation at a small price. I stayed at Soy Local Baru, and our driver picked us up at the airport and then dropped us back to the airport when we departed (round-trip this cost about $60 split between two! A little on the pricier side but sooo worth it!) Our driver, Juanchito, was WONDERFUL. He waited at arrivals for us for two hours (immigration, ugh), and then picked us up for our early early departure at 5am. For us, arriving to a new country, this was just way easier and hassle-free!
What to Pack for a Two-Day Trip to Isla Baru
Due to its proximity to the equator and along the Caribbean seas, Cartagena is known for being significantly warmer and more humid than most other parts of the country. The humidity here is unbelievable, and will take you by surprise when you exit the airport! My biggest advice is to bring loose fitting clothing and hats. All I wore on Baru were bikinis, cover-ups, and flowy clothing.
Hats will also be your best friend, because the sun is very very strong and you’ll be thankful for a little shade. TIP; Bring a mix of shorts, skirts, and longer pants and tops. If you get burnt day one, you’ll be happy to cover-up your skin! Below is a mini packing guide for your two day Isla Baru trip! 👇
Isla Baru Hotels
About an hour and a half from Cartagena airport is Playa Tranquilla. An alluring area of Isla Baru that’s lined with beach front properties, unique restaurants, soft sands, snorkeling, blue waters, and sociable locals. Soy Local Baru was our choice of accommodation, and it truly was the oasis getaway we needed. Immediately upon arrival we were blown away by the friendly atmosphere and warmth of this family-run business. Jose and his brother are out of this world hosts, and their cousin Juanchito was an excellent chauffeur to and from the hotel.
The hotel has a few rooms, which all offer Caribbean sea views. While the rooms are not air conditioned, that thatching offers a night-time breeze, and circulating fans help during the day. Each room has its own, little outdoor area, so you can enjoy a morning coffee or cocktail with a view.
There’s also a small kitchen on the property, run by the locals. They are WONDERFUL, and offer traditional Colombian meals like arepas with scrambled eggs and fresh caught fish with salad. The people who work at the hotel are just so friendly, and if needed will give you recommendations of where to eat, what to do in the area, and will even help you book some excursions at a good price!
I would rate Soy Local Baru 5 stars for your Isla Baru, Colombia trip. The area of Playa Tranquilla is filled with locals staycationing (which is always a good sign!) It’s also an extremely safe area to stay. The family-feel and hospitality are the main reasons I’d 100% stay here again.
Other Stay Options
- Hotel Las Islas; a luxury, environmentally friendly retreat along the beach. If you’re willing to spend a little more, here’s your spot.
- Media Luna Hostel; Disconnect from nature and experience the budget beauty of Media Luna
What to do in Isla Baru
- Visit the Bird Sanctuary of Aviario Nacional de Colombia
- Experience the Bioluminescent Plankton at night
- Snorkel around the Rosario Islands
If you’re not in the mood to plan a tour, you can wake up, grab a coffee, and wing it! Beaches are teeming with banana boats, boat tours, beach massages, jet skis, and more! If you spend the day just walking up and down the beach front, you’re sure to find an activity that’s enjoyable for everyone! Another good way to find out what to do is to ask the locals- they’re always willing to help!
What to Know Before Visiting Baru, Cartagena
Most places do take card here, but sometimes it’s a lot easier to use cash. Remember, Isla Baru is a little more remote than the larger cities. ATM’s are scarce (if any), and many of the restaurants/bars are traditional, in the sense that they may not have access to card machines at all.
Learn these Phrases
“Podemos pagar por separado?” (Can we pay separately?) and “No gracia!” (No thank you!) Many people on Baru speak little to no English. It’s always handy to ask to pay separately if you’re traveling with a friend or to turn away beach vendors if you’re not interested in buying anything.
Bring Bug Spray
Bugs thrive in the evenings, especially in humid, beachy locations. A good ole’ bug spray will do the trick. Bug bracelets are also a good idea if you don’t want the hassle of reapplying constantly Amazon sells packs of these.
Download offline maps and Google Translate
Opt for airport/hotel pickup if it’s available through your accommodation. Many people speak little-to-no English in Isla Baru, so having these tools will really be useful. The locals also appreciate tourists trying to communicate in their own language, and you’re sure to get a little smile if you try!
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
“Vendes agua?” (Do you sell water?) A phrase you’ll 100% be asking a lot in Cartagena. Water is less than $2/bottle; however, because it’s SO hot here, you’ll find yourself de-hydrated fast. Bring a reusable bottle to re-fill and a steri-pen (these are really convenient for countries where the tap water may not always be the safest to drink).