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Travel Guide to Playa Blanca & Isla Baru: Cartagena, Colombia’s Island Paradise

Isla Barú, located just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, is the kind of tropical paradise that most visitors to Cartagena envision when they book their tickets. Palm trees, bright blue Caribbean sea, sandy beaches, fresh seafood and fruit juice… heaven, basically. But you won’t find that beachy paradise within Cartagena, a bustling city that is better known for its spectacularly colorful streets, flower-laden balconies, and delicious food than its beaches.

Many visitors choose to leave Cartagena to visit some of the nearby beaches on the Caribbean coast, such as Santa Marta or Parque Tayrona. But not everyone has the time to hop on a 5-hour bus to access those beaches. Luckily, there is Isla Barú, a small island floating in the Caribbean located under an hour away from Cartagena by ferry or taxi. You can visit Isla Barú for the day, sunning on the shores of stunning Playa Blanca, or you can choose to stay overnight, which is what we did. Read on for more tips about visiting Isla Baru and Playa Blanca, and our pick for the best Isla Barú hotel, written by Lia Garcia.


May 8, 2022

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Practical Wanderlust

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Hey there! We’re Lia & Jeremy. We created Practical Wanderlust in 2016, just before throwing all of our stuff in storage and embarking on a year-long honeymoon. The honeymoon was pretty much a disaster, but we had a great time anyway.

On our blog you’ll find practical, down-to-earth, budget-friendly travel tips that will help you avoid making all of our terrible, terrible mistakes. We love off-the-beaten-path travel and discovering what makes a place unique (and a little weird). Our goal is to inform you & make you laugh (preferably at the same time). We want to show that travel doesn’t have to be perfect – sometimes it’s a complete disaster, and that’s OK too!


In the end, I go to the woods to discover myself, to find out more about who I am and who I want to be.

Jennifer Pharr Davis
Hiker, Speaker, Author


Sawyer Picaridin Continuous Spray is our pick for the best all-around bug spray. This long-lasting product repels mosquitoes and ticks for up to 12 hours while warding off biting flies, stable flies, black flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand flies for up to eight hours.

Brandon Fralic


Gear is a necessity for a thru-hike (historically, my ancestors traveled the trails with less, but nowadays equipment is vital).

The Trek
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