Fun Family Vacation In Colombia

Fun Family Vacation In Colombia

Welcome to our vibrant world of exploration and discovery! We are Peter, Julia, Nikita, and Victoria – an adventurous family united by our love for travel and the excitement of new experiences. Join us on this incredible journey as we share the tales of our wanderlust, uncover hidden gems, and create lasting memories together. visit our website https://travelwithkids.info/

Boy, is Colombia a controversial destination! It is the homeland of the drug lord Pablo Escobar, but it is also a place where Gabriel García Márquez, Fernando Botero, and Shakira come from. 🙂 We were intrigued by Colombia for a while; watched YouTube videos, read blogs online, and finally felt reassured that conditions have improved significantly in recent years and planned a 

2-week trip during the kids’ winter break. This trip undoubtedly exceeded our expectations. So in this blog, I want to share our experiences, links, recommendations, and other details for you to check out. 

Arrived to Cartagena! 

We flew from San Francisco to Cartagena with a quick stop in Panama City. The first couple of nights we stayed in  Palmetto Sunset. It’s a very tall skyscraper condo building right along the waterfront. It’s not in the Old Town, which would be our first choice, but we were traveling during the Christmas/New Year holidays and everything was either sold out or too expensive. Our two-bedroom apartment on the 27th floor was very comfy, had everything we needed, and had views from every room. The patio was exceptional, with stunning views and comfy sofas. It was phenomenal to have our morning coffee there and even more so to enjoy a glass of wine during sunset! The rooftop swimming pool was a bit shabby but with some spectacular views.

The location was very convenient, we were taking short inexpensive Uber rides everywhere, mainly to avoid walking in the hot weather. Overall, we were happy with our stay. 

Old Town 

Old Town 

We spent our second day exploring the Old Town. I have to say Cartagena’s Old Town completely swept me off my feet. The colors, architecture, horse-drawn carriages, colorful fruit vendors, men playing board games, women in traditional vibrant outfits… it’s all so magical!

We knew about Parque del Centenario from our research and kids couldn’t wait to see the monkeys and sloths! When we stumbled upon the park, it did not disappoint despite my worries. We saw plenty of really cute monkeys, kids even had a chance to feed them. A friendly local pointed us to the tree where excited kids finally saw a chilling sloth. 🙂 We stopped by LA MULATA for lunch. The place was excellent, just one warning which is true for every single place we ate in – the service is very slow. Make sure you don’t plan a quick half an hour meal in a restaurant. It always takes at least an hour, maybe longer. 

We had the best day in the Old Town and I was very happy to know that we’ll be back for a couple more days for the New Year’s! 

Day trip to a Beach Club 

Day trip to a Beach Club 

While Cartagena was amazing, the city beaches tend to be overcrowded and a little dirty. Eager for a beach day in the sun, we decided to visit the BLUE APPLE BEACH club on Tierra Bomba Island for a day. We booked it online. After breakfast, we took an Uber to the harbor, presented

our electronic tickets at the station, and were directed to the boat. The boat ride turned out to be really fun, taking about 25 minutes as the boat seemed to ‘fly’ across the water. We enjoyed the speed, the wind, and the breathtaking views, especially on the return journey when the cityscape during sunset was sensational. 

The beach club was cute, the kids had a blast in the swimming pool, and we enjoyed some delicious drinks and food while relaxing on a comfortable pool bed. There were paddle boards free for us to use and kids had some fun in the sea with them. Overall, it was a great day. The following day, we packed up our bags and headed for a three-night stay on the island of Tintipan. 

Tintipan 

Tintipan 

Tintipan Island has the largest biodiversity of the entire archipelago, which makes it ideal for those who love to be among nature and enjoy activities such as diving and snorkeling. 

Accessible through a two-hour boat ride from Cartagena, the journey itself became a memorable experience, especially on the way back when the sea was stormy. The boat was

going very fast, practically flying above the waves, exhilarating us with splashes of seawater to the loud delight of the kids. It was an adrenaline rush from start to finish. 🙂 I recommend staying in Hotel Puntanorte. You can unwind on beach beds or in hammocks, enjoy swimming and snorkeling, take boat tours, go diving, etc. We had one of the most magical experiences swimming in bioluminescent plankton at night! As you glide through the water, the plankton comes to life leaving a trail of sparkling diamonds in your wake. These microscopic plankton are only visible at night and you can only find them in a few parts of the world. Additionally, the nighttime boat rides were super fun. Cruising along the estuary, our captain would shine a flashlight on different spots, revealing fish leaping from the water.

Back to Cartagena for the New Year! 

Back to Cartagena for the New Year! 

When we came back to Cartagena for New Year’s celebration, we stayed in the heart of the Old Town in Nacar Hotel Cartagena, Curio Collection by Hilton. It’s a very cute hotel with a really nice Peruvian restaurant with live music at dinner time and an amazing rooftop with a swimming pool, beds, bar, lounge, and beautiful views. We made a reservation in the restaurant UMA CANTINA PERUANA beforehand and were very glad we had the reservation because the place 

is very popular and was completely sold out. We used the pool many times in those two days

and ate and ordered drinks from LA MAGNOLIA lounge on the roof. It’s an awesome spot and the best perk of this hotel! 

New Year’s in Cartagena was an absolutely spectacular night! The streets were buzzing with people dressed to the nines, music echoing from every corner, and festive parties in every restaurant, cafe, and bar. There were even tables set up right on the streets with big families, youth, and elderly eating, dancing, and partying. We went to the city walls to see the fireworks, which was another spectacle to admire. We loved it so much that we now dream about another NY in Cartagena someday! 

After relaxing in our rooftop pool one more day, we ventured out to explore more islands. The next island on our itinerary was San Andes, a quick 1h 25m flight away from Cartagena. 

San Andres (First Stop) 

San Andres (First Stop) 

San Andres is a beautiful and fascinating Colombian island located closer to Nicaragua than Colombia, right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Due to their history and the English, Dutch,

and Spanish colonization, they have traditions such as drinking tea, speaking Creole (a Caribbean variation of English and African legacy), and love for music – rhythms like reggae, reggaeton, soca, calypso, merengue, vallenato, and salsa. 

We wanted to explore the whole island, so we split our stay in San Andres into two parts. Initially, we spent two nights on the east side, and later, on our way back, we enjoyed two nights in the North End, which is where downtown San Andres is. 

The highlight of the east side was Rocky Cay, a tiny coral island with some great snorkeling, located right across from the gorgeous turquoise Rocky Cay Beach. The proximity was such that you could practically walk from the beach to the island, though the water level varies with the seasons. During our visit, there were short distances where we needed to swim. We put our masks on and walked/swam all the way to the island. We enjoyed snorkeling for an hour and then swam/walked back. If you don’t want to swim, you can get a water taxi from the beach for a small fee. 

You can stay in Hotel Cocoplum Beach, which is an ok hotel, but the location right on the beach is unbeatable. There is a decent beachside restaurant and a small swimming pool with a shower proved to be incredibly convenient for rinsing off sand and saltwater. 

PROVIDENCIA

PROVIDENCIA

I can’t say enough good things about Providencia. It is truly a little paradise – cozy and small but full of thrilling attractions. There is only one road that runs around the island and not many cars, so the first activity on your list should be to rent a golf cart. Scoot around to get familiar with the island, stopping at the scenic spots, beaches, and restaurants; be sure to park your cart by the 

Lovers’ Bridge to cross over to Santa Catalina. We also rented a couple of kayaks on Santa Catalina and had an amazing afternoon kayaking along the coast, admiring the amazing water shades, hidden beaches, Morgan Head, and enjoying some great snorkeling along the way. The islanders make a living mainly from tourism and fishing. We found them very friendly, welcoming, and easygoing. We were staying in Cabañas Ismasoris Agua E Coco B&B. We

loved our stay with Ricardo and Soky! Our two-bedroom cabaña was spacious, clean, and comfortable. The location was great, next door to the island’s best restaurant, CARIBBEAN PLACE DONDE MARTIN, and across the street from the perfect place with some epic sunset views for a drink, La Terraza. Ricardo and Soky were great hosts who gave us a lot of hints about what/where/how/who, cooked a beautiful breakfast for us every morning, and were very accommodating with our two young very picky eaters. We definitely recommend them for your stay! 

Providencia has a 20-mile-long barrier reef that is the third-largest in the world. Only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef are more extensive. The best place to enjoy exceptional snorkeling is the tiny island called Crab Cay. You can also enjoy an incredible view of the ‘sea of seven colors’ from the top of Crab Cay. The hues of the water were unlike anything we’d ever seen before! 

There’s a boat that leaves from Agua Dulce (freshwater bay) every day at 10 am. The price of the tour is $50,000 and includes crab cay. For a lot of the tours, the guide provides transport alone. But, there are tours available if you’d like a guide to come snorkeling with you. Ask around :). You can also rent a kayak from Deep Blue to many of the snorkeling hotspots including Crab Cay. The daily cost is $60,000 COP per kayak. 

For us, my son really wanted to do some fishing, so Ricardo and Soky recommended a local guy who took a small group of us first for some really fun line fishing and then to Crab Cay for snorkeling. The fishing experience was great, we kept catching fish one after another. We also had a young couple from Portugal with us and a daughter of our captain, who was the same age as Victoria. We all had an amazing time together! 

The next day it was time to start our return journey. In the morning we took a half-an-hour flight back to San Andres.

STOPS ON THE WAY BACK 

San Andres (2nd Stop) 

STOPS ON THE WAY BACK 

This time we stayed in El Centro, the biggest urban part of San Andrés located at the northeast tip of the island. We stayed in a spacious 3-bedroom apartment Apartamento Vip Edificio Calima, located around the corner from the Avenida Colombia that runs alongside the main beach. I definitely recommend this place! It’s huge, modern, and comfortable, each room has its own bathroom and a balcony. 

As soon as you leave the building, you are surrounded by shops and restaurants, and you are steps away from the main beach, Playa Spratt Bight. It is crowded, full of tourists and islanders offering braids, massages, and tours. The beach is very pretty, with white sand and turquoise water. Also, the area to swim in is very wide and is well away from all the jet skis and party boats, so you don’t have to worry about that. So on our first day we just rented a beach cabana and chilled on the beach, played Uno, swam, and played in the waves.

The second day we found a water taxi and headed out to Jonny Cay, a little island located just off the coast of San Andrés, I would say a 10-minute boat ride. Jonny Cay was beyond gorgeous! The sand can’t get whiter and the water can’t get more turquoise. It’s really beautiful! There was also incredible snorkeling, tide pools, and big waves where kids had a blast body surfing. 

Last days in Cartagena 

Last days in Cartagena 

Finally, we were back in Cartagena for our last couple of days. We stayed in Hotel Las Americas Torre del Mar Cartagena. I thought it was a perfect place for our last night in Colombia. It’s near the airport and only a 10-minute Uber drive to Old Town. It had so many pools – on the roof, on the main level, a water park for kids, a beach, and many restaurants. 

In the evening we went to our last dinner in the Old Town. We ate at EL BURLADOR GASTROBAR. We enjoyed that place – slick, and modern, with good food, amazing cocktails, great atmosphere. In the morning, kids had a lot of fun in the water park and Peter and I relaxed in the rooftop pool with incredible panoramic views in every direction before our flight home.

To summarise, our two weeks in Colombia were absolutely fantastic! Colombia’s got it all – awesome culture, delicious food, stunning nature, and some of the most gorgeous beaches you’ll ever see. Sure, we hit a few bumps like delayed flights, quirky B&Bs, and attractions being packed, but they were nothing compared to the overall awesomeness. We’re already itching to go back for more. Next time, we’re thinking of checking out more spots around Cartagena, like those cool beach clubs on the nearby islands. Can’t wait to dive into more Colombian adventures!

2 thoughts on “Fun Family Vacation In Colombia

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