Located on a little beach on an island near Barú, Cholón is one of Cartagena’s best hot spots. Most well known as a boat and beach party spot, Cholón makes for a great day trip from Cartagena. After being closed for much of 2020, it is now reopening in early 2021. Read on to learn all you need to know about having your own boat party in Cholón near Cartagena.
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*Date of last update: January 10, 2021
Guide to Cholón, Cartagena – Contents
- Why Go to Isla Cholón in Cartagena?
- Is Cholón Island Open?
- Where is Cholón in Colombia?
- How to Get to Isla Cholón? – Options for Tours to Cholón from Cartagena
- Packing List for Cholón, Cartagena
- Can I Spend the Night in Cholón? – Where to Stay Near Cholón
- Practical Tips for Enjoying Playa Cholón, Cartagena
Why go to Cholón, Cartagena?
Cholón is just a little speck of a beach that was turned into one of the top attractions near Cartagena. It is most well known as a boat party spot.
In front of the little beach area, there is a double line of little palm thatch roofed shacks in the waist deep in the crystal clear water. It’s a pretty spot, and makes for one of the best spots to include on a private boat rental.
Boats pull up around those little covered areas, making a big sort of semicircle where everybody pretends they are in a Reggaeton music video with dance parties on their boat while taking breaks to play in the water.
It’s a fun place, and is certainly one of the top things to do in Cartagena. Before the events of 2020, it had become increasingly crowded, and the truth is there’s not much else to do but drink and dance on your boat and go for the occasional swim.
As someone in my early 30s who has gone to Cholón like 8 times, I liked it a bit more the first couple times I went 6 or 7 years ago than I do now, but still, it is good fun. So whether its because I’ve been there several times, because I’m becoming a middle aged fart, the bigger crowds, or because Susana’s friends won’t let me DJ the Ipod on the boat, I’m not so wowed by it anymore. That being said, boat parties are fun, period, so don’t let me downplaying it convince you not to go.
Most private boat rentals will give you 3 stops during the day. I strongly recommend going out to the Rosario Islands to see them and do some swimming and snorkeling first, then head to Cholón to enjoy the party for a bit. If you’re enjoying it, stay, and if you’re not feeling it, there are some other neat beaches nearby or you could head over to Playa Blanca to enjoy the late afternoon.
So if you’ve decided you want to visit Cholón from Cartagena, read on to learn how you can plan your boat trip to Cholón and some practical tips on how to best enjoy Cholón.
Is Cholón Open?
Isla Cholón was closed for the brunt of 2020 due to Covid-19. As some of the beaches in Cartagena reopened, it remained closed. By the way, if you’re planning a trip to Cartagena, be sure see my article on the latest requirements for travel to Colombia, and you may also want to learn more about the reopened beaches in Cartagena in this post.
On January 9, Cholón was announced as reopening. That reopening seems to be immediate, however there are a handful of restrictions and protocols to be followed for boats to arrive to Isla Cholón from Cartagena.
Bio-Protocols for Visiting Cholón, Barú
Like most of Colombia and Cartagena, Cholón also has some special restrictions for the time being due to Covid-19.
As of the announcement of the reopening of Cholón (source here), the restrictions are:
- Only 60 boats may anchor in the bay around Isla Cholón
- Boats can only be present in Cholón until 3 PM
- There will be a specifically demarcated swimming area where boats cannot enter
- Jet ski rentals are prohibited
Presumably other standard restrictions in Cartagena, like the requirement to wear a mask when not eating, drinking, or swimming will also be in place. It also seems to follow you should stay within your group’s bundle, although it’s not clear how that would work or be enforced logistically at Cholón Isla.
*Need some masks for your boat trip to Cholón? You could use simple reusable masks or reusable, moisture wicking neck bands and face masks that would be good for the heat of Cartagena and Cholón. If you prefer single use, check out these N95 disposable masks.
Please note that these restrictions and protocols for Cholón in 2021 are subject to change, and my experience this past year in Cartagena and Colombia means restrictions may very well change without a lot of advance warning.
I will do my best to keep this up to date as things change, but if you are reading this much later than the most recently updated date listed at the top, it’s worth double checking that Cholón is open and if there are any other restrictions in place.
Where is Isla Cholón in Cartagena?
Playa Cholón is located on a small point at the western tip of a mostly mangrove swamp covered island just off the island of Barú to the southwest of Playa Blanca and Cartagena.
How to Get to Cholón
Reaching the area by land over Barú and then by boat is possible but a multi-hour and difficult trip. The most common way of getting to Cholón from Cartagena is to do so by boat, usually on private boat rentals. The best way to get to Cholón from Cartagena is by doing a private boat rental for the day.
This is, of course, most cost effective if you have a group of at least 7+, however there are some shared tours to Cholón as well, but truthfully the best option is if you can organize a group and/or afford the private boat yourself. Below are a few options for private rentals as well as shared tours to Isla Cholón.
Tours to Cholón from Cartagena
So, the very best way to organize a tour to Cholón from Cartagena is to have a group and/or budget that is large enough to do your own private rental. You’ll want at least 7 or more people to make it truly cost effective, and of course, larger boats (or larger wallets per person) will get you a nicer boat for your tour to Cholón.
We have done the private boat to Cholón a number of times and it seems like something like 10-15 people and 120-150,000 pesos a person is a good sweet spot between a nice boat and not being overcrowded.
I can attest that we have had very good experiences with Botes de la Bahía, who we have gone with several times. Their service is good and they have a number of different sized boats available for your group’s size. We have also had good experiences with Boating Cartagena.
If you’d like to see what other tours to Cholón you have as options for how to see Cholón, Colombia, see the options below. Note that you may be able to get or negotiate a better deal reaching out to companies or on the ground in Cartagena, but these options below offer the convenience of being able to be reserved online:
- Baller Yacht Rental for Cholón (via Viator)
- Even Bigger Yacht Rental (via Viator)
- Shared group tour to Cholón (great option for individuals, couples or small groups) (via GetYourGuide)
- Standard Private Boat Rental (via Viator)
- Private Boat Tour (via GetYourGuide)
- Large Group Tour Around the Islands including Cholón (via Viator)
Packing List for Cholón
If you’re wondering what to take to Isla Cholón outside Cartagena, see the ideas listed here below.
- You’ll have to travel by boat to Cholón from Cartagena, so a nice waterproof dry bag will come in handy.
- You’ll also want some nice shades for your boat party in Cholón, and I can’t think of a better pair than these RawWood Bamboo shades. I own a pair myself and love them, and you can read my review here.
- You’ll want a nice swimsuit as well to show off to the crowd at Cholón. The ladies will like this sporty bikini, and the guys will like these colorful trunks.
- Finally, dancing and drinking all day can make you forget you’re under a hot Caribbean sun. You’ll want to make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. My favorite option is Coppertone Sport.
Can You Spend the Night in Cholón? – Where to Stay Near Cholón
So, you cannot stay at Cholón itself. It’s just a little spit of beach where you can go for the day. However, there are some places you can stay close to Cholón.
Places to Stay Near Cholón:
Casa Miramar – Private Home Near Cholón
Located not far from Cholón, Casa Miramar is a private vacation rental that can house up to 30 in its 9 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. If you really have a great group and/or want a truly exclusive experience while visiting Cholón, Barú, this might be the place for you.
Hotel Las Islas – Great Luxury Island Hotel
Located on a private stretch of beach on the tip of Barú a bit south of Cholón, Hotel Las Islas is one of the top resorts in the Cartagena area. A luxury style property, this makes a great place to just be away from it all after a party in Cholón.
Hotel Isla del Encanto – Another Luxury Beach Option
Also located on the mainland of the peninsula of Barú, Hotel Isla del Encanto, is another one of the nicest luxury resorts near Cholón in Barú. Its beautiful property makes for a great option for couples or families.
Practical Tips for Cholón, Colombia
- Be sure to take cash. There are no ATMs near Cholón. Even if you are on a tour, you’ll want some cash in case you you want a snack or the like near the beach.
- No joke about the sunscreen above, wear it! It’s very easy to be on a boat all day and forget to reapply, I’ve been there, be sure to reapply, trust me.
- While the designation of a specific swimming area after the reopening seems to be an attempt to help with this, be very, very careful swimming outside of the interior area at Cholón. There have been a number of accidents, including at least one where a person was killed by a boat outside the area. I definitely would not stray far from where your boat is parked as there tend to be lots of boats, boats pulling floats, and jet skis not far, and lots of drunk people.
- Be sure to take along some water in addition to your booze on the boat, and you know, actually drink some of it. Again, it’s a hot sun out there.
- Agree to prices, whether it be for lunch, for a jet ski, for a float, or for a beer before hand. Expect to pay more at Cholón than in town, but be clear about it before committing.
When are you planning to go to Cholón?
There you have it, a complete guide to visitng Cholón from Cartagena. A popular boat party hot spot, Cholón makes for a nice addition to any list of things to see and do in Cartagena, especially if you’re looking for a party combined with a beautiful beach.
Have you been to Cholón? Let us know about your experience in chat below!