The City of Cartagena was one of the first sanctuaries in the Americas for freed African slaves, and the modern population reflects a unique ethnic mix. An extremely popular tourist destination, the Port of Cartagena becomes quite crowded during December. Tourists tend to gather at the walled colonial city (called "ciudad amurallada") and at the Bocagrande Beach. Filled with modern condos, nice jogging trails, and a quiet beach, the exclusive Castillogrande neighborhood is also worth the visit. For details on tourist attractions, please visit the city's tourism website.
The climate of the Port of Cartagena is generally hot and humid, although sea breezes make it more comfortable than many tropical cities. The rainy seasons are in April and May and in October and November. The windiest months in the summer from November to February keep the climate comfortable. Temperatures range from an average high of 32 °C (90 °F) from May to July to an average low of 24 °C (76 °F) in January and February.
Visitors to the Port of Cartagena will not want to miss the 1657 Castillo de San Felipe that protected shipments of gold leaving the Spanish town from pirates. Standing on a hillside overlooking the harbor, the fortress was the biggest and strongest fortification built by the Spaniards in the New World. Repaired many times after attacks by pirates and foreign powers, the Castillo de San Felipe protected the Port of Cartagena successfully for centuries.
Another popular attraction in the Port of Cartagena is the 1610 Palacio de la Inquisicion (Palace of the Inquisition). In this structure, the Spanish tortured and convicted men of religious crimes. The building contained jails and torture chambers that operated until 1821 when the inquisitors were expelled by the independence movement.
The Museo del Oro Zenu (Gold Museum) in the Port of Cartagena was opened in 1982 to display a marvelous collection of gold and ceramics from pre-Columbian cultures. A regional museum for the Zenu culture, it contains 538 pieces of gold work, 61 ceramics, and other materials (12 stone, 48 shell, and 6 bone pieces) used by the indigenous peoples before the Spanish arrived to forever change their world.
Visitors to the Port of Cartagena will enjoy a trip to the Playa Blanca (White Beach), possibly the best beach in Cartagena. Reached by car or ferry, the beach is quiet and peaceful in the late afternoons after the tour boats leave. Several booths and cafes offer hammocks, food, and drinks. Vendors on the beach can be irritating, and some of them are even a bit unethical. Further down from Playa Blanca on Isla Baru is Sportbaru, a popular beachfront resort where visitors can find boat tours, eco hikes, boat tours, gaming, fine dining, and wonderful cabanas for overnight stays.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Cartagena by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.