Cartagena is a beautiful colorful city on the Caribbean. It was the richest city during Spanish rule because all of the gold and jewels from the Incas were sent here before being put on ships back to Spain. The old city is a UNESCO world heritage site and is surrounded by a huge wall. Because of all of the money in the city the Spanish wanted to defend the city to the max so the wall was built along with multiple fortresses.
We spent 2 of the days in Cartagena on the Islas del Rosarios which is a cluster of islands about an hour boat ride from the city. We decided we needed to take a vacation from our vacation/traveling and just relax by the pool before heading back to the states. The Islas del Rosarios is surrounded by a protected reef so we got a few more dives under our belt. Our favorite dive was a night dive where we saw a ton of lobsters and crabs. Then at the end of the dive we turned our lights off and got to see the bioluminescence in the water.
Another one of the highlights was during dinners one of the guests would play the guitar and sing traditional Spanish songs. It was such a cool experience. Then on the last night the owner of the hotel shared a bottle of rum and Cuban cigars with all of the guests and the musician to thank him for playing. He also invited us all down to the lagoon near the hotel because it was one in five lagoons in the world where you could see great bioluminescence.
Heading back to the city we had a pretty epic boat ride where the driver seemed to only drive the boat at full throttle over enormous waves. All of the passengers in the back of the boat were soaking wet by the end of the ride. Dan and I lucked out and only got a little wet. During this ride Dan coined the term #backlivesmatter so more attention would be put towards passengers at the back of the boat.
Once back in the city we spent our time strolling the beautiful streets and city walls. At night the city really came alive with street musicians, dancers, and a male Shakira impersonator. These performers would rotate down the plazas to each of the restaurants. So each night you could sit on the patio of a restaurant on the plaza and have free entertainment.
Nighttime is when the city really comes alive. The streets fill with tourists and locals, street performers, and horse drawn carriages. We took one of these carriages around one night. It was actually real affordable for a 20 minute ride where the driver tried to explain in broken English what the sites were. It ended up being a really cool way to see the city at night.
Since Cartagena is on the coast we had a bunch of great seafood including some delicious ceviche. We ended up going back to the Cevicheria twice during our stay. The Cevicheria was also visited by Anthony Bourdain.
Top 5 Things to Do in Cartagena:
- Take a boat trip to the Islas del Rosarios
- Sit on a patio sipping a mojito watching the street performers
- Get a horse drawn carriage tour of the old city
- Wander the city walls during sunset
- Eat ceviche