The perfect healthy day in Cartagena, Colombia
Fitness pro Bec Donlan swears it's one of her fave destinations.
Bec Donlan didn’t plan her trip to Cartagena, Colombia, with very high expectations; in fact, she didn’t do very much advance planning, period.
“One of my best friends from Australia fell in love with a Colombian, and I was invited to the bachelor party,which was on a Monday, and then the wedding was on a Friday. I knew it was coming six months in advance but didn’t book a thing—because I’m useless,” the New York City-based personal trainer (and brainchild of the very-travel-friendly Booty Bands) recalls. “So I was a little nervous, to be honest.”
Turns out, she didn’t need to be; what awaited her at this Caribbean coast port city was, as she puts it, “the best trip I’ve had in a long time.”
Her list of reasons is long: “It was 95 degrees—which is my jam—I didn’t feel unsafe at all, the whole week I spent $350,” she ticks off, before adding, “And it was easy to eat super clean, which for me is always a thing.”
In fact, Donlan lists it as one of her all-time fave destinations for having a very chill, very healthy vacation. “It’s not like they’ve got workout classes, but as far as the food, there’s so much fresh fish and so many vegetarian options.” And more importantly, it was relaxing. Like, really, truly relaxing.
“With most of my vacations, I’m trying to ram as much down my throat as possible. What can I do? What can I see? But in Cartagena it was a different pace,” she explains. “If you’re a fitness nut like myself, it’s not the usual destination. It’s such a forced shutdown–you have to relax—and that’s really nice.”
Even better news? If it’s hard for you to get away from your go-go-go life, Cartagena is a quick flight (under three hours from Miami) and, according to Donlan, you can do it up in a long weekend. “You have to go to Rosario Island for one day, because it’s so close, and then spend two-to-three days in the city—because it takes a day to get into it, and then a day to straight-up chill.”
But if you’re short on time, here’s how to have the perfect healthy day in Cartagena, Colombia:
Move: In-room workout
“You have to use a bit of your own initiative—my recommendation is go for a villa over a hotel, because the spaces are just incredible, and I made sure I had a terrace for working out. Every morning I’d use my bands and have my routine down pat.
Breakfast: Beiyu Cafe
“It’s a cute bar in Getsemani that has super-fresh juices, light plant-based bites, and amazing Colombian coffee.”
Calle del Guerrero No. 29-75, Cartagena; +57 312 287 8694
Explore: the Walled City of Old Cartagena
“It’s such a cute city, and you end up walking around so much, because it’s the only way to get around. [I loved] spending time around the walled city, taking photos of all the colorful buildings.”
“There were two spas I went to, and this one was absolutely breathtaking. They offer really great scrubs and massages.”
Calle de la Universidad No. 36-44, Cartagena; +57 5 681 0000
“I stumbled across this place and I have to say it was amazing. Imagine a Colombian Chipotle, except with ceviche that’s insanely fresh and actually good for you. You can create your own—and even do a base of either carrot, beet, or zucchini noodles, so I was basically in heaven.”
Calle Segunda de Badillo No. 36-19, Cartagena; +57 302 383 8376
Swim: Rosario Island
“I’d 100% recommend going to Rosario Island, which is maybe 40 minutes away by boat. It’s the most magical place—truly breathtaking, with Bahamian water. There are a lot of water sports you can do out there, “
“This place is great in a group or solo—just ask to sit in the courtyard. I was surprised at how many good, healthy options there were!”
Plaza de la Trinidad No. 10-19, Cartagena; +57 566 04226
“This is the perfect spot after a day of exploring the city. I loved that all of their cocktail ingredients were fresh and not all syrup-based. They were also really happy to modify things—yes, I’m one of those people and have to remove sugar. My two go-to drinks were a Mezcal Margarita (no sweetener), and a Mojito with fresh passion fruit (no sweetener either).”
Calle del Colegio No. 34-24, Cartagena; +57 318 845 0433