A short boat trip from Cartagena will deposit you on the beach surrounded by turquoise water. A great chance to get away from the city bustle and enjoy a slice of paradise. You can lay on the beach sipping drinks, snorkel, kayak, play beach volleyball, or just make sand castles. I went for a day trip, but you can also stay overnight on the islands - there are lots of options from budget to luxury.

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Escape the city and be a beach bum

Catch a boat from the dock just opposite the Cartagena city gate and take a ride out to the Islas del Rosario, a protected archipelago of 27 coral islands surrounded by reefs teeming with exquisite flora and fauna. Island activities include snorkeling, diving, fishing, or just sunbathing on marvelous white-sand beaches—whatever tickles your fancy. Some vacation homes and hotels were built on the islands before they were designated a national park, so there are small communities on some of the larger islands. Isla Rosario has a small aquarium and oceanarium, with dolphin shows and sharks. Make sure to try local seafood like pargo rojo with coconut rice and fried plantains.

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