Updated September 2019
During a trip to Cartagena, visiting Playa Blanca is at the top of most people's bucket-lists - but getting there can either be very expensive, or quite a mission.
And whilst there are a number of tour companies offering day-long boat excursions out to Islas de Rosarios, the general consensus from people who have visited is avoid them. Stops at aquariums or snorkelling points are all accommodated for on the way, but they will cost an additional COP 20,000 and delay you from getting to where you really want to be - lying on white sand and drinking from a coconut!
So, instead, why not pick an alternative way to get there, spend the night and then, once the day-trippers have left, enjoy Playa Blanca like it was meant to be. To help you along the way, here are the three best transport options to reach Playa Blanca from Cartagena!
OPtion 1 - Take a shuttle
There may be alternative companies that offer a direct shuttle bus to Playa Blanca, but hostel 'Mamallena' has pretty much cornered the market.
Updated 2019: There are three departures per day, 8.30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., with returns at 10.30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. each day. A return shuttle costs COP 50,000 and you can come back whichever day you like - although it's best to advise the hostel to ensure they have space for you.
OPtion 2 - Take a bus and a bike
For those looking to do Playa Blanca on the cheap, well, this is the one for you. This route used to be a lot more complicated but, with the completion of a new bridge, it's now relatively speedy.
Simply take a bus to Pascaballos from the intersection of Calle 30 and Carrera 17 (30 minutes, COP 2,500) and then a mototaxi to Playa Blanca from Pascaballos. The mototaxi should take 20 - 30 minutes and cost no more than COP 10,000, but you may need to negotiate a little. You can bring your large backpack with you, but be warned - it will be balanced atop the handlebars, so if travelling by motorbike along winding roads scares you a little, maybe consider leaving your luggage with the hostel and taking a smaller bag only.
OPTION 3 - TAKE A SPEEDBOAT
And by fast boat, we mean really fast! If you're prone to sea-sickness, this might not be the best route for you.
For everybody else, take a bus down to Mercado Bazurto and start haggling for your place in the speed boat - which depending upon how good your negotiation skills are, will cost anywhere from COP 20,000 to 40,000 one way. Once the deals done, and you've got your place, that's it; you'll be sunning yourself on Playa Blanca in 45 minutes.
Returning is much easier as many of the tour boats will take you for COP 15,000 - just make sure you're at the dock by 3 pm, or you may find yourself having to wait until the next day.