Playa Blanca is considered one of the most beautiful beaches not only in Colombia, but in all of South America. With powdery white sand and crystal clear waters of several shades of blue, it’s the kind of beach people dream about. Playa Blanca is easily accessible from Cartagena and many companies offer day trips by boat or by bus. I was fortunate enough to visit twice – once on an organized day trip and another time on my own for an overnight.
After an adventurous bus ride and motorcycle taxi, we arrived at the entrance to Playa Blanca on the crowded touristy part of the beach. Immediately, people started coming out of their hostels and restaurants pleading us to stay or eat with them. We didn’t want to be near the crowds so we took the advice of my friend Tyra who told me to walk as far down the beach as possible before deciding on a place to stay.
Finding a Place to Stay
There are some very simple places to stay on the beach in a more isolated area with less people. You can find a cabana for COP$50,000 for the night or stay in a hammock much cheaper (as of December 2014). Tyra recommended El Paraiso de Mama Ruth but there were still too many people around for our liking. When Tyra visited six years earlier, Mama Ruth’s place was the last one on the beach. Things have definitely changed!
Hostal Playa Blanca
We kept walking until we arrived at the very quiet Hostal Playa Blanca, about 15 minutes from the entrance to the beach. It’s a wooden structure with cabanas and a balcony on top. They have sun chairs and a small restaurant under the cabanas. It cost COP$50,000 for the cabana and there was free wifi (as of December 2014). With no running water, bathrooms and showers are very simple. There’s one shower and one toilet shared by everyone at the hostel. There are no doors to the cabanas, but we didn’t have a problem with our valuables.
Food was COP$15,000 for chicken, spaghetti, or breakfast, and COP$20,000 for fried fish. Fresh juices, beer, water, and soft drinks were available to drink. If you don’t want to eat at the hostel, you can walk up the beach and find several other hostels and restaurants with delicious fish, seafood, and other dishes.
The cabanas were comfortable but the mosquitoes at night were unbearable. Make sure you bring plenty of bug spray. We did and were still eaten alive! It was the main factor in our choosing to return to Cartagena the next day rather than stay another night on the beach.
The beach itself is wonderful. It was great being in a quieter and more secluded area of the beach. It was very peaceful. The only problem was the occasional men on jet skis racing through the water without caution. We thought it was a bit dangerous for people who wanted to go further out than waist-deep water, but this occurrence was much less frequent than on the more crowded section of the beach.
Getting Back to Cartagena
When we were ready to leave, the hostel had its own boat to take us back to Cartagena. It was COP$20,000 per person for a speedboat and was supposed to take 45 minutes. One of the motors just happened to die just after we left the beach and it ended up taking double. It was pretty dangerous when the boat stopped and the waves started knocking us around. It was also dangerous for the fact there were 15 people plus all of their bags piled into it, and the captain didn’t have a phone or radio. We did make it back safely, but some of the people were a bit traumatized from the experience.