Camilla’s Lowdown: Isla Grande, where the water glows


Brilliant, turquoise-coloured water, stretches of white sand, and low hanging palm trees to loll under for when the sun gets that little bit too hot. What’s not to love about Isla Grande? As the name suggests, this picture-perfect haven is the largest of the 27 surrounding coral islets and is reached in just under 50 minutes by speed boat from Cartagena. Be one step ahead of the tourists and weekend trippers as they flock to Playa Blanca in Baru and have the beaches of this Rosario Island all to yourself.


Inland, it’s a nature lovers paradise with patches of woodland that invite you to wander and weave between the centennial trees along one of the many eco-trails. But, perhaps one of the island’s most spectacular sights is it’s enchanted lagoon, Laguna Encantada, engulfed by mangrove trees. By moonlight, dip your toes in the water and be dazzled as it starts to glow. Laugh like children as you dive in, every splash and movement you make will spark the bioluminescence magic, creating a galaxy of shimmering stars before your eyes. The brackish water – a mix of salt water and fresh water combined with nutrients from mangrove trees – make this area the perfect environment for the plankton that create this light show to thrive. Step out of the water and see for a spilt-second glowing dots slithering down your skin back into the lagoon. Don’t even try to take photos of this surreal experience – it won’t do it justice – that’s part of the magic of it. Come and see for yourself. But Shhhh! It’s a secret.


How to get there?

Avoid the ‘tourist trap’ slow boat that takes you on a tour of all of the islands. Instead, take a fast speedboat, ‘lancha’ direct to Isla Grande from Cartagena’s Muelle Turístico.Boats leave from 9am and take approximately 45 minutes. Arrive one hour before.

Camilla Harrison-Allen

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Twitter: @charrisonallen