Western Coast of Colombia: Our highlights and itinerary ideas
To keep it simple, we have decided to split the Caribbean coast into two parts. Don’t forget to check out the Eastern Coast to get the full picture. The Western part of the Caribbean Coast stretches from the Darien Gap to the peaceful beach town of Rincon del Mar. It includes four departments: Choco, Antioquia, Cordoba, and Sucre. This side of the coast is fewer visited, and it’s an excellent occasion for you to discover off the beaten path beach towns and hidden paradise islands. However, be aware that the road infrastructure isn’t neat, and it takes time to move from one place to another.
If you decide to head to the Darien Gap, you will arrive in Capurgana and Sapzurro. It’s a bit tricky to get there as there is no road. Travelers must take a boat from Necocli or Turbo and survive to a 2-h bumpee boat ride. Nevertheless, it’s 100% worth it because you will arrive in a place that cuts off from the stress of the world. There are various half-day trip activities you can do on your own in the morning then relax on beautiful beaches in the afternoon. There is a unique atmosphere in Capurgana and Sapzurro that you won’t find in any other place. Throw your flip-flop away and let yourself go with the flow.
To stick with the beach-chill vibe, you can also check out Isla Fuerte. This island was an old repair for drug traffickers and pirates. Nowadays, it’s safe. There is a couple of beautiful accommodations offering excellent facilities for laid back a few days. Grab a paddle or surfboard once you’re bored to drink cocktails with your toes buried in the sand. There are also good diving spots, but they are quite far. Isla Fuerte isn’t a small island, but many parts are privatized. Fortunately, there are a few paths to reach different secluded beaches.
If staying on an island isn’t your thing, then you can travel up north and get to the peaceful town of Rincon del Mar. The inhabitants are the friendliest people we’ve ever met on the Caribbean coast. The village is made up of a few colorful houses and trees scattered alongside the white-sand beach. Pick a cozy accommodation and your next favorite shady hammock, then relax. Most of the fishers use spire fishing methods and have an excellent apnea. Don’t hesitate to follow them on their adventure. Or book two fun dives at the dive center run by a cute Italian couple. On top of that, Rincon del Mar is the closest town to the San Bernardo Islands. You can decide to organize a day trip or stay there for a couple of nights.
The San Bernardo islands are an excellent alternative to the Rosario Islands. Firstly, there are different ways to travel there. You can take a boat ride from Cartagena -approx 2h- or from Rincon del Mar– approx 45 min. Secondly, there are fewer tourists. This archipelago is made up of 10 little paradise islands, but you can only sleep on three of them: Isla Mucura, Isla Tintipan, and Isla Palma. Because it’s a remote place, it’s not easy to build and maintain excellent accommodations. We recommend to not travel on a shoestring budget if you really want to appreciate this spot. The hotels have some reliable contacts with the locals living there and organize a few activities for their guests like snorkeling or observing the bioluminescent plankton.
Examples of activities in the Western Caribbean Region that you can add to your Colombia itinerary:
- Hiking in the Darien Gap: There are cool hikes around Capurgana and Sapzurro. Follow them to reach waterfalls, natural pools, and Panama!
- Snorkeling: Ask locals to show you the best colorful reef spots and swim with beautiful fishes
- Scuba diving: The visibility is excellent from May to November, and Colombia is one of the cheapest places in the world for diving. There are various qualified dive centers on the cost.
- Visit a Kuna Community: Kuna are indigenous who escaped the Spaniards and live nowadays on the San Blas Islands. There are also a few villages in the Darien Gap. Cross the border with a local guide for discovering a new culture! Besides, the islands are astonishing.
- Turtle watching around April: Humpacktle turtles come every year to lay their eggs. Take long night walks at night to observe them.
- Take pictures of weird trees: Isla Fuerte is known for the unusual trees that grow on the island. Follow the path to find them!
- Peaceful vibes: Beach towns and Caribbean islands are perfect for relaxing. Organize an activity in the morning and drink cocktails in the afternoon.
- Lay back on secluded beaches: It will probably be a recurring activity.
- Beautiful sunsets: Sunsets are another occasion to cheer with your friends. Enjoy.
- Paddle and Surf: Depending on your accommodation, you should be able to rent a paddle and explore the surroundings.
- Go fishing with locals: Follow them in their adventure early in the morning.
- Boat trip on the San Bernado islands: You don’t have to stay on the San Bernardo islands, especially if you don’t have the budget for it. Instead, remain in Rincon del mar and plan a day trip to visit them.
- Watch the bioluminescent plankton: It’s a fascinating phenomenon that appears in some lagoons of saltwater surrounded by mangroves. These microscopic plants shine when you do sharp movements in the water. You can only see it at night, especially when there is no moon. Bring your snorkel gears.
- Observe the wildlife: There is lush vegetation on the coast. Brings you binocular if you want to spot colorful birds and inconspicuous sloths.