September 27, 2021
Colombia’s Pacific Coast sits next to the Cordillera Occidental, on the west of the Andes. Here, the hustle and bustle of city live fades away giving way to the lush greenery of the rainforest combined with the turquoise water of the Pacific sea. Also known as El Choco, Colombia’s Pacific Coast is the least inhabited area of the country and is the perfect place to visit for those who enjoy slow travel. Home to one of the most diverse flora and fauna on the continent, a trip here will be sure to reconnect you with nature once more.
Up and Coming Bahia Solano
One of the largest towns in the region, Bahia Solano is famously known for being the best whale watching spot of the Pacific Coast. From July to October, the sea is teeming with these impressive mammals. Take a whale watching tours to get you up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. Less well known but also quite popular is the catch and release sport fishing season that happens here from May to September. The perfect occasion to try your hand at a new hobby or improve your skills at an already much-loved activity.
From Bahia Solano it is easy to access the many other beaches that surround the town as well as some fantastic landscapes that you will not want to miss. It is the perfect base-camp to start of your holiday in Colombia. Playa Mecana is one of these beaches that you do not want to miss out on. It is a picture postcard landscape that will be the envy of many. But most surprising of all, head on to the back of the beach and you’ll find yourself face to face with a lush mangrove that creeps into the river. Take a kayak out and explore the vegetation and local fauna.
The little fishing of La Barra on the outskirts of Bahia Solano is a unique place to visit thanks to the black sand that lines its shores. This unique phenomenon stretches out for kilometres and is a fun contrast to the otherwise snow-white beaches of the Pacific Coast. Don’t be afraid to dip into the warm water and enjoy the gentle rolling of the waves.
Witness the wonders of Utria
The Utria National Natural Park is a bit father off but is worth the day-trip if you want to want to admire the marine animals in a more relaxed environment. The park is known for being a great proponent in the protection of coastal marine environment and animals. It is one of the most famous things to do in Colombia’s Pacific Coast.
When it comes to the fauna, humpback whales actually give birth in the adjacent lagoon for which the park is named after between August to October before returning to the sea. If you want to see a calf up close this is your best bet. Sea turtles also use the beach lining the park to lay their eggs during the nesting season. It is a truly special place to visit.
In terms of flora, 7 of the 10 species of mangrove are found here and are an essential part of the ecosystem. The mangrove provides shelter for the many water mammals who hide within their roots to mate.
The park is vast but there are three hiking and trekking trails that allow to see it all at your own pace. Each of these trails are off low to moderate difficulty and can be done in an hour allowing for plenty of time to discover some of the other parts of the park. You can also take a water trip which is done by taking a canoe out to the river during high tide so that you can explore the mangroves and the aquatic life.
Wander through the rainforests of El Choco
Considered to be a biodiverse hotspot, the rainforests of El Choco are home to a large variety of different animals and plants. It is especially known for having around 1,875 different species of birds within the country’s boundaries.
One of the prime areas for bird-spotting is the Katios National Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans 72,000 hectares. It is thought that almost 30% of the bird population resides in the park. However, the park also houses a number of other endemic species many of whom are endangered due to poaching. Some of these animals include the spectacled bear, the great green macaw and the tapir. The park has been specifically designed to protect nature and therefore visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times during their time here.
Explore the deep blue sea
For diving aficionados the island of Malpelo is definitely a place you will want to head to. The island itself is barren but it is what hides under the water that is worth the visit. One of the most pristine waters, diving here is to discover a completely new underwater world. The sea is rife with a large variety of different aquatic mammals and fish that will no doubt leave you in awe of this underwater paradise. Filled with hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and barracudas are all found here amongst many other types of fish. A dive here promises to be action packed and adrenaline filled.
The area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006 and it is said that there are up to 17 marina mammals species, 394 fish species and 340 species of molluscs that live here. It was also awarded the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary which turned it onto a no-fishing zone to protect it from illegal fishing. Visitors are also very controlled and only 25 divers or guests are allowed by boat in its waters at a time. If you are planning a trip here, make sure you book it in advance to get a spot.
Meet with the local communities
The Afro-Caribbean culture is much for present on the Pacific coast than in other parts of Colombia. This is due to the fact that many slave runaways would come to this area that is difficult to access to escape from bounty hunters. The descendants of these survivors have made this region their home with their hearty food and accented patois.
The Emberá and Waunana people are the most predominant indigenous population that live here. They know the territory and river better than any of the other inhabitants as they consider those region their homeland. The Emberá people welcome visitors to their homes and are happy to share their culture with others. As they live close to the river, they consider boats and canoes to be important aspects in their lives. In the past, they even used to bury their dead in the canoes they used during their life.
Make sure to try some of the local food while here such as patacones which is fried green plantain or arepas. Some of the food you will see here has made its way from the main cities of Cartagena like salchipapas, a dish of French fries and sausages that is sold as street food in big cities.
Colombia’s Pacific Coast offers visitors the opportunity to truly discover a place that is off the beaten path and that has retained much of its authenticity. Due to the fact that it is difficult to access only few tourists make their way there every year. During your travels across the region you will often find yourself to be alone admiring some of the most magical and wondrous natural spectacles of the world. Walk along the pristine, unspoiled beaches and discover one of Colombia’s best kept secrets.
Be sure to get in touch with us to organise a trip to the Pacific Coast of Colombia. We create bespoke trips and itineraries that cater to your budget and will be sure to create lasting memories for all.