Barú is a perfect weekend getaway for many Colombians and foreigners alike. Since the island does not have electricity or wifi in most of the places during the day, it is a perfect location to disconnect from the virtual world. If you are looking to stay in Barú, you will most likely stay on its most famous beach, Playa Blanca. This is a guide on how to reach the island by boat or a minivan.
Playa Blanca location
From Cartagena to Playa Blanca
Book your ticket online from Bookaway. The cost of the ticket is around 16-22 USD and the trip takes around 30 minutes on a speedboat and 1 hour on a normal boat. The boats leave from Muelle la Bodeguita. There are 4 gates at the port, and the public boats and speedboats generally leave from gate 1 (remember to double-check it though). Show your online ticket at the port. You have to pay for the port fee which is 23.000 COP and it must be paid with cash. You will receive a ticket for the port fee and it will be scanned at the entrance of the port.
From Playa Blanca to Cartagena
You can purchase a two-way ticket for the boat or return on a minibus, which is a cheaper option. Tickets can be purchased online from Bookaway and cost around 5 USD. The buses leave near the beach from the parking area:
How to prepare for Playa Blanca
Since there is barely electricity available at Playa Blanca, do not expect free wifi, air-conditioned rooms, or even a fan. You will be living the real life without scrolling your mobile phone 24-7! (except at night when most hotels have electricity on). The services at Playa Blanca are very basic but sufficient for a two-day visit.
Bring enough cash. Everything is expensive at the beach. A bottle of water or coke alone costs 5.000 COP. A meal at the restaurant will cost at least 45.000 COP. There are no ATMs of course. Card payments are accepted at some restaurants, but I still recommend preparing enough cash.
There are scammers and they will take advantage of you. We got scammed in a restaurant called Donde Arleth, where they promised free sunbeds if we ordered something. Turns out we had to pay 40.000 COP for using the sunbeds, despite ordering smoothies. Check the reviews before going to any restaurant. There are also massage ladies who try to sell expensive massages (some of them are nice and honest workers though). Additionally, some places do not give your change back, so be careful!
What to bring
- one bag or backpack (do not bring all your luggage!)
- aloe vera (for possible sunburns)
- basic medicine (there are no pharmacies nearby)
- enough cash, at least 200.000 – 400.000 COP for a 2-night visit
- light clothing (it’s very hot!)
- water and other drinks
- snacks, fruits
Is Playa Blanca worth it?
It depends! If you want to get away from the city and escape the usual grind (and love beaches) Playa Blanca is the place to go. It is not a luxury destination and has only a few services. It is a good place to relax. As a city person (Elisa), I am not a fan of Playa Blanca (I found it boring, but it would have been much better if I had my books with me) but Monica truly enjoyed it and needed it to have a break from the city and work.