Though Cartagena’s city beaches will do in a pinch—renting a breezy covered lounge chair on the broad, gray sands of Boca Grande is your best bet—the water is usually murky and setting never really postcard-worthy. Heading out to one of the offshore island’s perfect palm-shaded white beaches in the crystal-clear Caribbean is always a better idea.
If you’re eager to explore the islands, but would rather not deal with the crowds, consider booking a trip to Isla Encanto. The private island, home to a nice little resort hotel, offers day trips to limited numbers of people, who’ll have the run of the pretty place. There are hammocks by the pool, chairs and umbrella by the beach, and not a single jewelry vendor in sight.
A classic Caribbean-style lunch is included; snorkeling, diving, or a massage in their breezy beachfront spa will cost a bit extra, but are easily arranged. Jet skis, kayaks and other toys are also available.