Tintipan Island in Colombia: how to get there + best activities & hotels
We still have a tan in our skins as we begin to write this guide, after spending four unforgettable days in the paradisiac Tintipan Island, in the San Bernardo Archipelago in Colombia’s Caribbean Sea.
These are islands surrounded by a gorgeous turquoise sea, with white sand beaches and crystal clear water, where you can enjoy days of total disconnection, with salty water on your hair, sand on your toes, fresh seafood, and the sound of waves and wind on the palm trees.
In this guide you will find the following information:
– Where is Tintipan island located.
– How to get to Tintipan island.
– Accommodation options.
– Recommended hotel.
– What to do in Tintipan island and the San Bernardo archipelago.
– Estimated budget for a couple’s trip to Tintipan island.
Follow us on Instagram on @peekingplaces for more travel tips and inspiration.
Where is Tintipan island located
Tintipan island is located in Colombia’s carribean region, in the Morrosquillo Gulf, 50 kilometers southwest of Cartagena.
The island belongs to the San Bernardo and Rosario Natural Coral Islands National Park, with Tintipan being the largest island.
How to get to Tintipan Island?
To get to Tintipan island you must take a boat either from Cartagena or Tolú. If your are visiting Colombia as a foreigner, it’s most likely that you will visit Cartagena, so we will focus on the trip to the island from this city.
How to get to Tintipan island from Cartagena
Recommended company: Tranq it Easy Boats.
Trip duration: the boat ride from Cartagena takes almost two hours. This might sound like a long time, but the ride is actually quite comfortable and most people actually get some sleep on the way.
Where to take the boat: Gate No. 5 of the “Bodeguita” docks, just outside the old city walls.
Departure time: Boats leave everyday from Cartagena at 9:00 am. Once the boats arrive to the archipelago, it will make several stops to drop off everyone in the hotels/hostels they are going to.
For the trip back to Cartagena, the boats pick up the passengers from the different hotel/hotels at midday. We recommend that you arrive at the dock with enough anticipation, to avoid missing your boat.
Warning: all boat trips depend on the meteorological conditions of the day. If the wind/sea conditions are not good enough, the boats won’t depart for safety reasons. If possible, when planning to visit the archipelago do a bit of research and try to avoid the windy months.
Price: Each boat trip costs around $30 USD per person. Before leaving for the archipelago, in the docks you must also pay a natural park conservation tax that costs around $5.50 USD per person. You can get the ticket to pay this tax with the Tranq it Easy representative that will be standing just outside the dock’s Gate No. 5.
This tax, as well as your boat rides, must be paid on the docks when you check-in at the Tranq it Easy desk.
Reservation: you must always book your boat rides in advance. You can make your reservation through the following website https://tranqiteasy.com/ or via phone/whatsapp at +57 301 404 3633. However, your hotel/hostel will usually handle the boat ride reservations for you.
Allowed luggage: the Tranq it Easy boats have a luggage compartment, and lifevests for all passengers. Your luggage shouldn’t exceed 8 kilos per person. In our case, we took a medium sized suitcase for both, and a backpack each, and had no problems.
Quick tip: on the boat ride to the archipelago the sun falls on the left side of the boat, so if you want to be in the shade grab a seat on the right side.
What to do in Tintipan island?
Being a true tropical paradise, away from the rest of civilization, it’s obvious that most of the things to do in the island focus on the sea and nature. Here are our top things to do in Tintipan island:
The islands of the archipelago are surrounded by a gorgeous turquoise sea, with crystal clear water and lots of coral reefs, so snorkeling is a MUST DO here. A boat will take you away from the coast, find a good spot with lots of coral reefs, drop the anchor and you will be ready to jump into the sea and admire all the shapes and colors of the reefs and the fish swimming around. If you are lucky, you might also see an octopus or lobster.
This activity depends a lot on the meteorological conditions. If it’s too windy and the sea is rough, you won’t be able to do it for safety reasons. This is another reason to try to plan your trip in a date outside the windy season.
Price: Your hotel/hostel will arrange the boat for you, and it costs an average $8 USD per person
Arguably one of the best experiences you can have in Tintipan island. The activity itself takes place in one of the “lagoons” of Tintipan islad. If you are staying at Mucura island or other places like Isla Roots or Casa en el Agua, you will need to take a boat ride to one of these lagoons in Tintipan.
It is absolutely necessary that there is NO moon at all to be able to see the plankton, the night must be as dark as possible.
It’s hard to describe this experience with words, but try and imagine this: you are floating in a lagoon, it’s pitch dark, and as you move your arms and legs to stay afloat, countless little lights begin shining in the water around your body. You can even see all the little shiny spots on your skin as you float.
There’s no other thing that we can compare this experience to, it’s something that you have to see with your own eyes. If you are lucky, you might also see some small jellyfish that shine with a blue light that is just UNREAL.
Because it’s so dark, it’s impossible to capture this in video or photos (believe us, we tried!). It’s the kind of experience that remains only in your memory.
Price: depending on where you are staying, it can cost somewhere around $9 USD per person. We must now say that if you stay at Casa Tinti hotel (which we will cover in detail later) this activity is completely free, and you don’t even need to take a boat ride, you just walk 10 minutes to a “private” lagoon within the hotel’s terrains.
Visit Santa Cruz del islote
Just between Tintipan and Mucura islands there’s Santa Cruz del islote, a tiny, artificial man-made island where people actually live, despite the hard conditions. Considering the amount of people that live here, and the island’s tiny size, it’s actually the world’s most densely populated island! They rely on solar panels for a good part of their electricity, and the fresh water is hauled in boats from the mainland.
It’s not a particularly pretty place, but we think it’s a unique place you shouldn’t miss if you are visiting the archipelago. A walk around the island doesn’t take more than 20 minutes, and you can learn a bit about the place’s history and how people live in harmony there.
Besides, there’s a small “aquarium”, which is really a small, natural pool where for $1.50 USD you can swim with turtles and a harmless, not that big species of shark.
Price: you can arrange the visit to Santa Cruz del Islote with your hotel/hostel, and it costs around $9 USD per person. The visit to the island can be a stop before or after snorkeling.
Kayak or paddleboard
Most hotels/hostels offer their guests the possibility to do some kayaking or paddleboarding, which cost somewhere between $8 and $12 USD.
Walk around the island
This is something you can do especially if you stay at Casa Tinti Hotel, or in Mucura island. Because the hotel’s terrains are big, you can walk around the island, passing below coconut trees and through mangroves.
You can even reach the opposite side of the island, where you’ll find an amazing hidden beach with a calm and crystalline sea.
Walking around this beach you can also see some starfish!
Enjoy the beach!
Being on a paradisiac island, you have to enjoy the beach itself! Take a dip in the sea, sunbathe in the sand, read a book or sip a cocktail!
Few feelings can rival that of listening to the sound of waves and the wind on the palm trees, with you feet deep in the sand. After all, there are moments where the only thing you want to do is relax and enjoy!
Hotels in Tintipan island
There are various accommodation options in the island and the archipelago, from a hammock in a shared room, to a double room with views to the sea, AC and a private bathroom.
Casa Tinti Hotel Boutique
For our trip we chose Casa Tinti, a beautiful, small hotel right on the beach, perfect for a couple’s getaway. The hotel has double rooms with AC and private bathrooms, some of them with views to the sea, as well as rooms for 4 people.
The double rooms cost between $165 and $188 USD, depending on the season. The quadruple rooms cost between $280 and 328 USD. These prices include breakfast, coffee and drinking water.
The hotel has wifi, which is pretty useful, considering that phone signal in the archipelago is poor or nonexistent. The food is delicious, every day they offer 3 different options for lunch and dinner, which usually consist of two seafood options (fried fish, octopus, etc.), and another one of pork or chicken for those who don’t eat seafood.
One night we ordered a special lobster dinner and it was fantastic! The best thing is that you know that all the fish and seafood come from the surrounding sea and are as fresh as they can be.
Food and drinks prices: breakfast is included in the room price. You can pay lunch and dinner separately,, or you can pay the “all included plan” that includes lunch and dinner and costs an extra $23 USD per day per person. This plan includes dishes like fried dish, pork, chicken or octopus.
For seafood dishes like shrimp or lobster there’s an additional cost of around $8 USD. Cocktails cost aprox. $5 USD and bottles of red or white wine at $11 USD. In the public beach of Tintipan island you’ll find other options for lunch or drinks.
One big advantage of Casa Tinti Hotel that, in our opinion, separates it from all the other accommodation options in the archipelago is the size of its terrains, where you find a “private” lagoon just 10 minutes away from the hotel where you can go in dark nights to see the bioluminescent plankton. You can also walk to the other side of the island to this gorgeous hidden beach:
Besides all the good and beautiful things of the hotel and its surroundings, the best thing is without a doubt the warmth and hospitality of the hosts and staff. The owners make their best effort to make guests feel at home. Actually, they say that “the hotel does not belong to us, but to our guests”, and everything is thought to provide the greatest comfort and satisfaction to all those who have the pleasure of staying there.
We can’t finish our review of Casa Tinti without mentioning Esneider. He’s the owners’ right hand, and he’s the one who guides you on activities like the walk around the island, the visit to Santa Cruz del Islote and the bioluminescent plankton. He always has a smile on his face and does everything he can in order for you to enjoy your stay.
For all the above reasons, we think Casa Tinti is the perfect option for a couple’s getaway in Tintipan island and the San Bernardo Archipelago.
Other accommodation options:
If you are looking for a backpacker-type of accommodation, there are some hostels in Tintipan island that might interest you, like Isla Roots, or Isla Múcura Hotel in the neighboring Mucura island. For a luxury option in Mucura island nothing beats Hotel Punta Faro, where we spent our anniversary four years ago. Click here to read about our experience at Hotel Punta Faro!
Another very famous hostel is Casa en el Agua, located in the middle of the sea. It’s a very popular accommodation option for backpacking foreigners, known for its party ambiance.
Budget for a couple’s trip to Tintipan island
If all of this got you in the mood of booking a trip to Tintipan island, you might be wondering “ok, and how much would it cost me?”
Here’s all you need to know:
Boat ride to the island and back: ~$125 USD for both.
Taking the boat from Cartagena, the round trip for two people costs around $115 USD, plus $5 USD per person for the natural park conservation tax.
Accommodation: between $150 and $350 USD for two nights.
For a couple’s trip to this paradise, we recommend that you invest in a nice double room in a hotel in front of the sea, with all the comforts and excellent service, like Casa Tinti. The price for two nights here in a double room is around $340 USD. Take into account that at Casa Tinti you don’t have to pay extra for the bioluminescent plankton activity, and that you would have a secluded, private beach on the opposite side of the island.
If you choose another accommodation option, in a more rustic hotel or in a double room in a hostel, the price for two nights could be as low as $140 USD.
Activities + food + drinks: $150 USD approximately.
This includes three daily meals, activities like snorkeling, visiting Santa Cruz del Islote, drinks like cocktails or beers, etc. Obviously, this value will be higher if you order more cocktails or bottles of wine, or special dinners like lobster.
As a reference, we stayed 4 days and 3 nights at Casa Tinti, we had octopus for lunch/dinner like 6 times, ordered several beers and cocktails each day, had like 3 bottles of wine and one night we shared a lobster for dinner, and the final cost of everything rounded up to about $225 USD, which we think was quite ok.
Total budget: between $425 and $630 USD
In summary, a 3 day/2 night trip for two to Tintipan island could cost somewhere between $515-$630 USD if you stay at Casa Tinti, and between $425 – $460 USD in a more rustic accommodation.
This brings our guide of Tintipan island to an end. We hope you found it useful and that it got you craving to visit this tropical paradise soon! If you liked our guide, please share it!