Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park is one of the 59 national parks in Colombia. It is located in the department of Bolívar, on the country’s Caribbean coast, about 45 kilometers from the city of Cartagena. The park was created in 1977 and covers an area of more than 1,200 km2, which includes marine and terrestrial areas.
The park is home to the largest and one of the most important coral reefs on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It includes two separate archipelagos, the Rosario Islands and the San Bernardo Islands, as well as the surrounding ocean and seabed. The park is home to a wide variety of marine species, such as many types of coral, fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and marine plants.
How to get to the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park from Cartagena?
The Islas Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Natural Park is located off the coast of Cartagena and is usually accessed by boat. Here are some options for getting there:
- Organized Excursions: Many Cartagena travel agencies offer one-day or multi-day excursions to the park. These excursions usually include boat transportation to and from the park, sometimes with meals, activities such as snorkeling or visiting an aquarium, and sometimes even accommodation if you opt for a multi-day excursion.
- Public Boats: There are public boat services that operate daily between Cartagena and the park islands. Usually, the boats leave the port of Cartagena first thing in the morning and return in the late afternoon.
- Private Boats: If you prefer a little more flexibility, you can also charter a private boat to take you to the park. It can be more expensive, but it allows you to set your own hours and avoid the crowds.
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What types of flora and fauna can be seen in the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park?
The Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park is a protected area that is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, especially marine species due to its location in the Caribbean Sea. Here are some examples of what you can see in the park:
- Corals: The park is known for its coral reefs, which are among the most important on the Colombian Caribbean coast. You will find a wide variety of hard and soft corals.
- Fish: The park’s coral reefs are home to many types of fish, including parrotfish, clownfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish, among others.
- Shellfish: The park’s waters are also home to a wide variety of shellfish, including lobsters, crabs, crustaceans, and sea cucumbers.
- Birds: On the islands themselves you can see various birds, such as some species of seagulls, pelicans and frigates.
- Plants: The park’s islands are home to a wide variety of tropical plants, including mangroves in some areas.
- Marine Mammals: Although less common, you may also be lucky enough to see marine mammals such as dolphins or manatees in the park.
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What activities are offered to park visitors?
The Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park offers visitors a wide variety of activities, mainly focused on the discovery and appreciation of nature and marine ecosystems. Here are some examples:
- Snorkeling and Diving: Thanks to its colorful coral reefs and the wide variety of fish and other marine life, the park is a popular place for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are numerous dive sites in the park, suitable for different levels of experience.
- Boat Tours: Boat tours are a popular way to explore the park’s islands. Some include stops to swim, snorkel, or visit local attractions.
- Hiking and wildlife watching: some of the islands offer opportunities for hiking and wildlife watching, especially bird watching.
- Educational excursions: Some local organizations and travel agencies offer educational excursions focused on conservation and knowledge of the marine ecosystem.
- Kayaking: Kayaking is another popular activity in the park, allowing visitors to explore the calm waters surrounding the islands at their own pace.
- Relaxing on the Beach: Of course, many visitors choose to spend their time simply relaxing on the park’s beautiful white-sand beaches, swimming in the crystal-clear waters, or sunbathing.
Also read: Rosario Islands plans
What accommodation options are there in the park?
The Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park has several islands, some of which offer various accommodation options to visitors. Options range from luxury accommodations to more basic options. Here are some examples:
- Luxury Hotels: Some islands offer luxury hotels with all modern comforts and additional facilities such as swimming pools, restaurants and spa services.
- Ecolodges: These types of accommodation are usually more respectful of the environment and blend harmoniously into the natural landscape. They can offer a more rustic and authentic experience.
- Bed and Breakfast: There are also small bed and breakfasts or inns that offer simple and comfortable accommodation.
- Rental of private houses or villas: Some islands have private houses or villas for rent. It can be a good option for large groups or for those seeking more privacy.
- Camping: Camping is allowed on some islands, although it is usually limited and requires a permit. It is important to educate yourself in advance and make sure you follow all the camping rules of the park.