Playa Blanca, Colombia
Playa Blanca is white sand beach with crystal clear water one hour from Cartagena. Welcome to the Caribbean Sea! It's what the typical vacation destination picture looks like, and it is picture perfect when you wait for the people to move.
That's right, don't expect to have a glorious beach destination only one hour from the 3rd biggest city in Colombia to be yours and only yours.
How to get to Playa Blanca
I had a pleasant stay at Mystic House Hostel when in Cartagena and they organize a shuttle service to Playa Blanca - 25,000CLP one way. You can buy both tickets and it doesn't matter what day you come back with the return. Therefore if you choose to stay more nights at Playa Blanca you can.
I did not search for a cheaper option to get to Playa Blanca, I'm sure there will be local shuttle buses available, but time and convenience prevailed.
Is Playa Blanca Too Crowded?
Let's start with the crowds of people.
When you first arrive the bus will take you through a car park. With the amount of cars and buses parked there already at 9:30 in the morning, you know you won't be able to free willy on this beach.
This dream of being able to frolic on the white sand and splash your bits in the crystal clear waters while your swimsuit hangs from the branch of a nearby tree is further deflated once you reach the water. If you can see the water...
For some reason the locals must arrive and all must have the same idea that the entrance point is the best spot to stay. People were jumping over each other in the water, kids were screaming and horns were blowing.
I will say this though, don't be disheartened about visiting Playa Blanca. You can still find some quiet spots of respite. You just need to walk to find them.
These photos were also taken on a Sunday of festivo, so there is an exaggerated amount of people in comparison to other days.
On top of this, given that the Colombian people are so friendly, it is actually quite charming the interactions you can have with the locals. For example, when one of my travel companions stepped on a sea urchin, she received copious offers from the locals to have the spines cut out with a razor blade or to pee on her.
Can Playa Blanca Be Peaceful
Yes. There are spots with less people, you just need to walk a little to find them.
Alternatively, when you arrive, there is no doubt that someone will offer to take you to more 'relaxed beaches' on their lancha. This was quoted at 7,000CLP one way and was located on the other end of the beach.
You can pocket this 7,000CLP, walk there and spend that money on the delicious goods that come around usually balancing on the seller's heads.
The food at Playa Blanca
The food is in abundance.
There are plenty of restaurants to eat at with food ranging from 12,000COP for a small hamburger to larger main seafood dishes 30,000COP-50,000COP.
A cheaper option is to snack on what the locals bring around. Arepas, churros, empanadas, politos de queso, pan de coco etc. These will set you back 1,000-2,000COP each.
Crabs fresh from the sea 5000COP a pop.
Plenty of drinks are available from the various kiosks - water (3,000COP) beer (4,000COP).
If you have an esky (cooler box), bring your own.
Where to Stay at Playa Blanca
Again, there are plenty of accommodation options.
The cheapest option is a hammock. 10,000-15,000CLP a night.
For private rooms it will cost between 35,000 - 60,000CLP. Most likely more as well.
Is it worth spending the night at Playa Blanca?
- After 3pm there are dramatically less people at the beach
- The water is still warm at night so you can leave those swimsuits in that nearby tree
- You get to watch sunrise and sunset
- It is more expensive than Cartagena
- Sunrise and sunset weren't that impressive
What are the Playa Blanca Alternatives?
Buro is a National Park not too far from Playa Blanca. The beach here will have less people. Unfortunately I did not have the time to visit it look into logistics of getting there.
You can find Playa Blanca below: