This is where I fell in love with Tomate de arbol, a tangy almost kiwi tasting oval red fruit that was a delicious addition to a fresh maracuya juice, or even by itself. Juices were a necessity to keep me alive through the sweltering tropical heat, and I regretted staying far south of the city and would definitely choose Getsamani area next time for the ease of taking a siesta, as well as the lively salsa parties there at night.
In Cartagena, the most local experiences are at Trinidad square, with pushcarts selling asados and deserts lining the area that locals gather to do Zumba at. Where dinner tables are on the sidewalk and dogs come to sniff out leftovers.
Near Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is a marshy area full of birds that is easily missed if you are driving through. The Marina Santacruz is a nice getaway from the crowds, and has some really cool boats. We rented a bicycle to see the coast, but the lack of a continuous pavement with no bicycle path was quite challenging.
The city wall gorgeously embellishes the coast, and getting lost within them leads to exciting discoveries, however touristy they might be. Hip bars, ice cream every few blocks, sumptuous seafood restaurants and the occasional shopping opportunity. My favorite meal was Porton de San sebastian, which had amazing seafood cazuela. At night, salsa music blasts from the south entrance of the city walls, and if you dare to explore, navigate the alleys to find less tourist infested ones.