Playa blanca, the footprints of mass tourism

Country : Colombia
Outdoor Activity : Snorkelling

Sustainable tourism rating : écotourisme-1-SOL

We are used to share with you the best spots for the sports activities. Today we wanted to write about our last snorkeling trip in Colombia’s Caribbean Sea. We were very disappointed about this place and wanted to insist on how mass tourism and uneducated people and no respect for the places they visit can destroy the most beautiful places in the world.

We went to the Rosario Islands (1 hour boat ride from Cartagena) to enjoy the shade of palm trees and snorkel with beautiful colored fish in the Caribbean Sea’s turquoise waters.


As soon as we arrived we were disappointed with the state of the beach that does not look anything like what its name suggests Playa Blanca (white sand beach) or the pictures we’ve seen in the descriptions or dealers …

It rather resembled the banks of the Seine river in August (very crowded and noisy), and even worst as you could see while walking on the beach lot of garbage. The unbearable polluted air and noise of the jet-ski, boat and other activities for tourists made it even worst. In addition, for a perfect disgusting cocktail, lots of vendors will harass you every 2 minutes.


Awful! We therefore took our masks and snorkels to run from the noise and find the peace and tranquility in the water, but to our disappointment in the water it was even worse!


The jet-ski and boats are everywhere! There is no restriction so it’s up to you to avoid them, like when you go snorkeling you check for the boats and not for the fish!


Then while struggling to seek the few “survivor” fish, we discovered that the corals were dead, destroyed by a lamentable management of this natural park which housed only few years ago a coral reef with a great diversity.

But the worst was yet to come! We swam further and… the images speak for themselves! Plastic bottles, beer cans, plastic packaging, broken sunglasses and lots of other crap that tourists and locals have thrown brainless and continue to throw on the beach and in the sea.


We talked with some local snorkel renters but we quickly realized that it did not matter much to see this ancient aquarium turned into giant garbage bin.


You can only invite you to boycott this destination and to share with all the Sportrotters your own experiences because if we continue to go to places where the government does nothing to stop the destruction of these very fragile ecosystems, there will be nothing left for future generations.


The pros
If you insist to go. You can take a bus + motorcycle taxi and arrive early before the hoards of tourists and the beach is fairly quiet (before 9 H30). In addition there is less of waves and wind. The section of beach in front of the hostel (which we do not recommend because it’s dirty) is a bit more quiet. The other possibility is to go on a boat tour.
The cons
There are no more corals in these waters.
The air is polluted because of all these jet ski and boat.
False advertising for these Islands which, certainly were once beautiful, but now are devastated by tourism and inefficient management.
The companies that organize tours to the islands do nothing to protect the Islands.
Do not expect to relax as you can’t because of the noise and the incessant passage of beach vendors.

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