Why You Should Visit Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park in Colombia?

The answer is simple! If you like nature and also like to support community-based tourism activities, Uramba Bahía Málaga is a destination for you: It is a worldwide recognized biodiversity hotspot, you can see humpback whales there, and you will be helping an Afro-descendant community that bet on ecotourism as a new way for the development of its territory.

Uramba Bahía Málaga is the 56th National Natural Park declared in Colombia and is located in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet: the Biogeographic Choco, in the Pacific Region.

This wonderful and highly pristine place is considered a hot spot for nature conservation worldwide. The calm waters of Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park are the preferred place for the birth and breeding of humpback whales, making this place even more special.

You can’t miss the chance to visit Bahia Malaga in Colombia. This 100% marine area contributes to increasing the representativeness of marine ecosystems in the National System of Protected Areas – SINAP- and also strengthens the socio-cultural dynamics of the afro communities living in the area through community-based ecotourism.

Discovering Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

This protected area is located in the Pacific Coastal Region in the southwest of Colombia. The park has an extension of approximately 479.94 km² of the marine surface.

The marine waters near Bahia Malaga are considered the migratory route of humpback whales, or yubartas, (Megaptera novaeangliae). This place of calm and deep waters is annually visited by more than 500 yubarta whales from Antarctica, that come to mate and raise their calves between the months of July to October.

The Socio-Cultural Importance in the Uramba Bahía Málaga Territory

Uramba Bahia Malaga is a name of African origin, which means Minga, or group. This name arose due to the particular way in which this protected area was created.

This National Natural Park born as a joint effort between the local communities that live there and the government, the latter through the National Park System. Additionally, the park is under the surveillance of the Colombian Navy.

The afro-community councils present in Bahia Malaga are:

  • Juanchaco,
  • Ladrilleros,
  • La Barra,
  • La Plata – Bahía Málaga, and
  • Puerto España – Miramar.

This important conservation unit seeks to conserve the marine and coastal ecosystems of Bahia Malaga and to strengthen the cultural dynamics and social organization for the management of the territory based on the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of the black communities that live there.

La Barra Beach, Ladrilleros, Colombia

Commercial Port or Natural Park?

But, despite the enormous natural and cultural wealth of the region, there was also the intention to turn this bay into a huge multifunctional commercial port.

Fortunately, the local community was convinced to apply alternative economic development options such as nature and cultural tourism; as well as their own conscious and responsible relationship with the territory, as their cultural practices have contributed substantially to the conservation of the area.

Thus, this reserve is the first in Colombia where community-based tourism plays a central role, and it is administered by the Afro-descendant community councils that exist in the region and the national park system. It is the first joint administration proposal in Colombia.

Thus, after much debate and argumentation from both sides, in August 2010, this area was officially declared as protected.

According to WWF:

The communities settled in Bahía Málaga affirm that the area is not only important for its biodiversity but also for its cultural richness. Black communities and indigenous peoples present in the area have achieved an important degree of social organization in their ancestral relationship with the territory, and their cultural practices have contributed substantially to the conservation of their ecosystems. In this sense, declaring Malaga a protected area serves a dual environmental and sociocultural purpose.

Uramba Bahía Málaga Biodiversity

The Uramba Bahia Malaga Park is home to an immense diversity of continental and marine flora and fauna species and has been identified as one of the priority conservation sites in the Colombian Pacific.

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

The marine and coastal ecosystems of Bahía Málaga represent the Colombian Pacific and are a fundamental scenario for the reproduction and breeding of the Humpback Whale and the perpetuation of wild species of seabirds and shorebirds, sea turtles, estuarine and marine fish, and crustaceans.

The annual arrival of humpback whales is its main attraction. However, the beauty and diversity of the landscapes of Bahía Málaga and its area of influence are also ideal to enjoy nature.

The park has diverse ecosystems such as very humid tropical forests, beaches, cliffs, islands, estuaries, and bodies of water with soft and rocky seabeds.

How to get to Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park is in the middle portion of the Colombian Pacific coast, in the District of Buenaventura, in the department of Valle del Cauca. There are two options to access the Park from Bogota:

Bogota – Buenaventura

First you make a Bogota-Buenaventura trip by air, with 1h 15m duration. There are 2 flights per week with Satena airlines. Then you must make the transfer Buenaventura-Juanchaco by sea, which takes 1 hour and is done in a speedboat.

Bogota – Cali

Travel from Bogota to Cali by air or land. Once in Cali, you have to travel to Buenaventura by land. Finally, take the maritime route from Buenaventura to Juanchaco, which takes 1 hour and is done by speedboat.

What to do in Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

We recommend you plan your visit to stay for at least 3 days and 4 nights. Especially because of the long trip by road and then by boat. This is not a one-day stay destination.

Unfortunately, the visit to the Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park has been suspended due to the health emergency that the country is facing because of covid-19.

Hiking, Canoeing, and Kayaking

Enjoying the beautiful Pacific landscape by doing hiking is a great experience. In the park’s area of influence, there are hiking and canoeing activities through the mangroves.

Although there are no defined aquatic trails in the bay area, it is suggested to follow the internal circuits to visit the route of the piangua, ostional, the waterfall of La Sierpe and Tres Marías in the sector of La Plata, Playa Chucheros, Juán de Dios, the beaches of La Barra sector, Juanchaco and Ladrilleros cliffs and their natural pools.

Kayaking through mangroves is highly recommended, also canoeing to Isla Plata, which is not the most exciting but still worth the try.


Bird watching is a potential ecotourism activity in the park, but it is not well-developed. The park has a record of 107 species of birds, being an important point in the reproduction of marine birds.


Despite the huge marine and terrestrial diversity in the park, the main attraction is humpback whale watching. Thus, activities such as diving or snorkeling are not offered.

Humpback whale watching is an activity addressed by young natives from the local communities, who act as environmental interpreters.

During the whale season, the highest density of whales is between the months of September and October.

If you visit the Uramba Bahia Malaga park for a whale watching tour you should keep in mind that:

  • You will receive a 10-minute induction on the importance of the area and the significance of the role it plays in ecological processes such as reproduction, calving, breeding, nursing, socialization.
  • You must take a boat that carries a flag or a sighting authorization badge. The first trips leave at 8 am.
  • All boats must be accompanied by a community environmental interpreter.
  • The defined whale watching period is between July 15 and October 15.
  • Whale watching time for each group should be in the range of 15 to 30 minutes.
  • The approach to the whales should be slow, parallel, and always from behind.
  • The boat should maintain 200 meters from the individuals, so do not ask to get too close.
  • Avoid following the females with their calves.
  • You must be patient as only up to 5 small boats are allowed per group of whales. Also, you cannot be in a hurry, as the motors will always be neutral.

Where to stay in Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

The park does not offer accommodation, therefore our recommended options for you to stay are:

Lodging at La Barra Beach

Coco House Hotel; Casa Majagua and Vista al Mar Hotel.

Lodging at Ladrilleros Beach

Hotel Zully, Hotel Villa Cindy, and Hotel Reserva Agua Marina.

Best time to visit Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

The park can be visited all year round. The dry season starts at the beginning of June until late September and from the beginning of December until late February. In addition, whale season starts from July to October.

Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park Entrance fees

Currently, no fees apply.

What to consider before visiting Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park

  • To take any of the tours inside the park you must hire an authorized and certified guide.
  • Consider wearing personal protective items (sunscreen, sunglasses, towel, insect repellent, and hat).
  • We recommend the use of binoculars to admire animals’ behavior and beauty in their natural habitat.
  • Carry valid identity documents and health insurance.
  • Be vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus.
  • If you take specific medications, take them with you in a personal first aid kit.

Some prohibitions

Feeding, bothering, or hunting animals, alcoholic drinks and drugs, littering, burning garbage, felling, and capturing wildlife.

  • Colparques
  • National Parks Systems
  • bahiamalaga.org
About the authors

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Sara Colmenares

The current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism-environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services, and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Best Place for Diving in Colombia: Malpelo Island Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

On the Pacific Ocean, 507 km west of the port of Buenaventura, is the island of Malpelo. It is the only oceanic island of the Pacific Ocean and belongs to the marine corridor of the eastern Pacific Ocean with 11 emerged islets.

The charm of Malpelo lies beneath the surface of the sea. Thanks to its location and great variety of marine flora and fauna Malpelo is among the 5 most beautiful and exotic places in the world to practice scuba diving.

The characteristics of the marine environment are strongly influenced by the type of currents that run through this area of the Pacific. Malpelo is the point of confluence of different and important currents of the Pacific Ocean. 

The encounter between the cold currents of the southern hemisphere and the warm equatorial currents makes its waters very rich in nutrients. Because of this, Malpelo is home to an incredible amount of fauna: hundreds of Green Moray Eels that swim in open waters, schools of barracudas, turtles, dolphins, manta rays in solitary and in groups, rays, longfins, and huge schools of mackerels.

Malpelo is also the sharks paradise, and this is the main reason that makes Malpelo a unique place in the world, with large concentrations of Silky Sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) and Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna lewini), among others.

Discovering Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

The Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary is located on the unique submarine volcanic mountain range, Dorsal de Malpelo. The highest point is Cerro la Mona 300 meters above sea level, this marine mountain range has a length of 150 miles and 50 miles wide.

Voluminous eruptions of basaltic lava gave birth to this island. The islets that surround the island seem to be the result of erosion processes caused by the waves, causing them to be lifted by tectonic effects. This process forms terraces known as “Strath Terraces”.

Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary was declared a protected area in 1995 and has had 3 expansions in the years 1996, 2006 and 2017 with a total of 1.7 million miles.

In 2005 it was named an Important Bird Conservation Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Institute. In 2006, UNESCO declared the sanctuary a Natural World Heritage Site, and today it is a Mission Blue hotspot. 

Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary has one of the most important coral formations of the Colombian Pacific; the marine fauna is very varied on the island, and in this sanctuary you can find 2 species of starfish endemic to the country. In addition to this, one of the most important hammerhead shark breeding areas in the world is located in Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, the sanctuary is constantly harassed by illegal fishermen, which mainly affects hammerhead sharks and hawksbill turtles. In addition, overfishing in zones of influence within the protected area’s limits, such as for tuna, can reach alarming numbers, endangering the decline of the tuna communities.

The Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos Foundation, is in charge of promoting the protection and care of marine areas, especially sharks, so that they have a safe habitat for their reproduction. They work together with the national parks system and the national navy.

How to get to Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary


The only way to access the sanctuary is by sea, after a 36-hours open sea journey from the city of Buenaventura. Take a 145- minutes flight from Bogotá to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO) at Palmira city. Once at the airport, take an approximately 3- hours ride to Buenaventura.

What to do in Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Diving and snorkeling

The sanctuary has the following areas for these activities: La gringa, Escuba, Los Reyes, Los gemelos, Sahara, Vagamares, El arrecife, La nevera, Monster face, El mirador, El Freezer, Aquarium, Naufragio wall, Bajo del ancla and Bajo del Monstruo.

These areas have the optimal conditions for a unique experience. You must keep in mind that if you want to do these activities you must have previous knowledge.


The biological component in the terrestrial environment of Malpelo Island is represented by algae, lichens, mosses, some grasses, shrubby legumes and ferns. Seabirds provide guano that acts as fertilizer along with the rain to generate a food source for the invertebrates that inhabit the island.

Ants such as the trap jaw ants (Odontomachus baur), which is considered to have been introduced to the island by man, can be found throughout the sanctuary. It is also possible to find a new species of beetle from the Platynus genus, which is unusual and can be found in Colombia and Ecuador.

Johngarthia malpilensis – Ph. by Daniel Vásquez-Restrepo CC

On the island, it is also possible to observe the terrestrial crab Johngarthia malpilensis, which is also endemic to the island. Besides this, several other species of crabs also live on the hard substrates, and there are around 270 species of gastropods, 60 of bivalves, 3 of cephalopods, 2 of Scaphopods, and 6 of Polyplacophorans.

Four species of reptiles inhabit the sanctuary:

  • Anolis agassizi, from the equator, feeds on the remains and food waste of seabirds.
  • Dactyloa agassizi is one of the island’s endemic lizards, greenish in color. It feeds on insects and crabs.
  • Diploglossus millepunctatus is also an endemic lizard of the island. Its diet is based on the remains of seabirds and in case of food shortages they can break their eggs and consume them together with the dead hatchlings.
  • Phyllodactus traversalis, known as the geko lizard, joins the sanctuary’s endemic species. It has nocturnal feeding habits based on insects, but during the day it takes refuge in rock crevices.

Malpelo has a wide variety of marine birds, making it an excellent place for bird watching. The bird with the largest representation is the Nazca booby (Sula granti). A third to a quarter of the total breeding population of this species worldwide nests in the Island of Malpelo.

The Biological Component in the Marine Environment

You will see different specie in the rocky walls of Malpelo depending on the depth. From 3 to 6 meters the walls are covered by sponges and some corals, such as the Tubastrea aurea. After 27 meters it is possible to see filamentous algae and violet hydro corals.

In the depths of the sanctuary there are submarine terraces divided into 4 sectors; the slopes of these sectors are the areas where the coral communities are most present. The four sectors are located as follows:

  • “El Arrecife”, it is the most extensive and is located to the northeast of the island.
  • “Pared del Náufrago” (Castaway’s Wall), located to the northwest.
  • “La Bahía de la Nevera” to the west, and “El Bajo de la Nevera” to the southwest.
  • “El Bajo de Junior” to the southwest.
Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) CC Ph. By Sandra Bessudo, Malpelo Foundation

The sanctuary has identified 390 reef fish species and 5 of these species are endemic: Halichoeres malpelo, Axoclinus rubinoffi, Lepidonectes bimaculta, Chriolepis lepidotus, and Acanthemblemaria stephensi.

Pelagic fish, mammals, and sea turtles aggregate in the sanctuary, and it is considered a passageway for migratory species such as tuna, which feed in the sanctuary’s environment during their migration.

There are two species of sharks that can be seen during the visit: hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) and Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis). The cleaning zones in Malpelo are inhabited by the barberfish (Jhonrandallia nigrirostris), the king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) and juveniles of mexican hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia).

Due to the large number of larvae present in the sanctuary, it is possible to see whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and manta rays (Manta birostris), which can be frequently sighted along with communities of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

Where to stay in Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary does not have lodging available, you will stay on boat.

Best time to visit Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Malpelo Island can be visited all year round, it has humidity in the air and remains covered by a dense mist. The months with the lowest humidity are between December and March.

Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary Entrance fees

The entrance fee varies depending on the nationality and age of the visitors. These are the entrance fees for 2021:

  • Colombians, foreigners holding a valid residence permit, and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru (over 25 years old): COP 116.000 (Diver/day); COP 79.000 (Instructors for accompanying groups/day): COP 35.500 (Boats/day)
  • Non-resident foreigners (over 25 years old): COP 216.000 (Diver/day); COP 116.000 (Instructors for accompanying groups/day): COP 65.000 (Boats/day)

What to consider before visiting Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

  • To dive in Malpelo there must be one certified guide with experience in the area for every six divers.
  • Tourists must be certified as advanced divers or two-star divers, and have a minimum of 35 dives in their logbook, information that will be corroborated by the National Parks official in the protected area.
  • The maximum diving depth allowed is up to 140 feet.
  • Each diver must have the minimum equipment for underwater activities and safety equipment.
  • Minors must have written permission from their parents, even if they are accompanying them.
  • It is important to ensure buoyancy control as a measure to avoid damage to ecosystems, and to refrain from feeding, chasing or touching marine fauna. Therefore, a buoyancy check dive is done to verify the diver’s ability.
  • Avoid carrying harmful elements that threaten the health of ecosystems such as CFC aerosols, and non-biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Diving activities are programmed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all within a previously defined schedule and depending on weather and oceanographic conditions.
  • Recommended the use of binoculars to admire animals’ behavior and beauty in their natural habitat.
  • Carry valid identity documents and health insurance. It is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus.
  • If you take specific medications, take them with you.

Some prohibitions

Feeding, bothering or hunting animals, alcoholic drinks and drugs, throwing cigarette butts, burning garbage, felling, and capturing wildlife.

If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!

About the authors

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Sara Colmenares

The current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism–environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services, and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

When and Where to Go to See Humpback Whales in Colombia 

The second half of the year is the best time to see whales in Colombia. Here you can witness an astonishing show sponsored by nature: the migration of humpback whales from cold Antarctica to the waters of its Pacific coast. 

Whale watching in Colombia is one of the greatest experiences nature travelers can live. Plus, the kind people, the tasty food and the breathtaking landscapes of this biodiverse country make your trip to Colombia an unparalleled adventure.

In this post, we will tell you where to see whales in Colombia, how you get to those destinations and what you can do there, the best season for whale watching and some recommendations for your whale watching trip. 

Whale Watching Season in Colombia 

During the second half of the year, large groups of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate from Antarctica and Southern Chile during the winter to the warm waters of the northern Pacific Ocean to mate, give birth and raise its calves.

The route is about 8,000 km.  Although the whale migration to Colombian waters occurs from late June to November, it is more likely to see the whales from July and October.  

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Bahía Solano, Chocó

Humpback whales have robust bodies, large flippers, and many irregular fleshy knobs. They are almost entirely black, with some white spots.

You can distinguish its spout because it is an expanding column, somewhat balloon-shaped, which can reach up to 6 meters (20 feet) high! These marine mammals range from 13 to 16 meters (43 to 52 ft) and weigh around 30 metric tons.

One interesting trait about humpback whales is the songs produced by males, which last 10 to 20 minutes and are thought to be the longest continuous vocalizations of any mammal. 

During the migration season of whales in Colombia, you can be part of the lucky travelers that see them playing around and listen to their songs! 

Where to See Whales in Colombia 

Chocó, Cauca and Valle del Cauca are the best places to see whales in Colombia. These three departments cover most of the country’s Pacific coast and stand out for its warm climate and people. The food, in general, is also great.

But the most amazing thing about these regions is the biodiversity they host since they belong to the Biogeographic Chocó with 2,750 of endemic plant species, moist, dry and montane forests, and a variety of wildlife. Bahía Solano, Nuquí, Gorgona island and Málaga Bay are favorite spots to watch whales in Colombia 

Bahía Solano 

Bahía Solano is one of the coastal municipalities of Choco, the one with most inhabitants (9,400). It is located in the northwest of Colombia, in the Serranía del Baudó. It acts as an economic and tourist center of the region.

The solaneños live from fishing and tourism, which has grown over the years with the increasing interest in nature and ecotourism. The megadiverse rainforest and sea are deeply cherished in the region. 

Our whale watching tour in Bahía Solano is an ecotourism experience, where you not only have fun seeing the whales’ acrobatics but you learn from a scientific perspective about these large mammals and the environment around you.

The tour also includes a stop to practice snorkeling and listen to the whales song underwater, and sail to the Mecana beach, where you can enjoy a natural pool of the river and wildlife observation. It is also possible to tour the mangrove in Mecana. 

How to get there 

  • By plane: There are daily flights from the cities of Medellín, Quibdó, Pereira, and Bogotá to José Celestino Mutis Airport in Bahía Solano. Flights take up to 2.5 hours. 
  • By boat: Some ships travel from the port of Buenaventura to the seaport in Bahía two times a week in a 6-hour ride. 


There are a few hotels in Bahía Solano with medium to good quality. We can recommend these: 

  • Hotel Costa Chocó is in the town center and offers big rooms with air conditioning, balconies, pool, restaurant and a rooftop with view.  
  • Playa de Oro Lodge is a two-floor hotel in front of a golden beach in Punta Huina, which you can get to after a 20-minute boat ride from the Bahía Solano port. Although the rooms have no view, from the restaurant you can see the ocean. 
  • El Almejal Ecolodge is 40 minutes south of Bahía by road and is privileged to have a private nature reserve and the Utría NNP just 30 minutes away. The accommodation is in separate cabins. 

Other Attractions 

In Bahia Solano you can visit several waterfalls —such as Cascada del Amor and Nabugá—, beaches —Punta Huina, Playa de Los Deseos, Cuevitas, Mecana—, crystalline rivers and the Utría NNP.

At this rich park with mangroves, coral reefs, rocky littorals, and tropical rainforest, you can practice diving, snorkeling, hiking, bird, dolphin and turtle watching. 


 Nuquí is a municipality south of Bahía Solano, also on the Pacific coast, with nearly 9,000 inhabitants. Most of them are Afro-Colombians, while others belong to indigenous communities.

Nuquí is another great destination for ecotourism and community-based tourism in Colombia, as it shares the Utría National Natural Park with Bahía Solano. 

Nuquí, Chocó

How to get there 

  • By air: You can fly from Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira and Quibdó to the Reyes Murillo Airport in Nuquí. Check Aexpa and Satena airlines, or Aeronuqui and Grupo San German travel agencies for charter flights. 
  • By boat: You can access Nuquí from Buenaventura or El Valle district in Bahía Solano. 


These are some hotels where you can stay in Nuquí: 

  • Acuali is in front of the airport, with good,  airconditioned rooms. There are a restaurant and a cafe. They also include flights directly from Bogotá. 
  • La Joviseña is an ecolodge in Playa Guachalito, 45 minutes by boat from Nuquí. There is no electricity during the day, but the wooden cabins are well-equipped. They have a private boat. 
  • El Cantil is about 35 minutes by boat south from Nuquí, in front of the ocean with the jungle around. This eco-lodge offers 7 cabins, a hammock zone, a restaurant, and 2 terraces. 
  • EcoHotel Vientos de Yubarta is located on the beach of Nuquí and offers private transportation to the hotel as well as different nature tourism activities. 

Other Attractions 

There are scuba diving spots such as Piedra de Fidel, Parguera, Piedra Bonita and El Chuzudo. Surfers can visit beaches such as Playa Terquito, Pico de Loro, Pela Pela, El Chorro, Playa Brava, among others. Hot springs are also worth visiting, as the Joví and Coquí rivers. 

Gorgona Island 

Gorgona is a mysterious island on the Pacific ocean, within the department of Cauca, with dense tropical rainforest and rich coral reefs. Actually, it has been a national natural park since 1984 that includes the neighbor small island of Gorgonilla. 

It is a top nature tourism destination in Colombia because of its biological richness, to the point that it has gained the name of “Science Island” for all the information it has given researchers to understand the ecosystems and effectively manage the protected area.

This is a great spot for whale watching in ColombiaNot only you can see whales, but Gorgona also has 381 fish species, 11 whale and dolphin species, and 4 sea lion species. 

How to get there 

  • By plane: 4-hour connection flight from Bogota to Guapi. TAC and SATENA operators offer a daily round trip from Cali and Tumaco respectively. 
  • By boat: You can book a boat service from Guapi that will take you to the island in an hour and a half up to 2 hours. Otherwise, from the Buenaventura port, there are speedboat services that offer round trips for groups of over 10 people. 


The licensed operator in the park offers accommodation for 2 to 7 people in cabins and an oceanfront house for groups up to 4 members. 

Other Attractions 

Explore the island through its 4 hiking trails that allow you to see the ruins of a maximum-security prison built in the 1960s, the ocean, and the species that inhabit the rainforest. During birdwatching tours, you can see frigate birds, pelicans and booby birds (Sula). There are several sites to practice snorkeling and scuba diving to see whale sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and coral reefs.  

Uramba Bahía Malaga 

 Uramba Bahía Málaga is a National Natural Park of 47,000 hectares located in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca. This park belongs to a regional conservation corridor,  along with the Farallones de Cali NNP and Munchique NNP.

Because of its biodiversity, it is considered a world conservation hotspot. Rocky coasts, gray-ish beaches, blue sky, lush, pristine jungles surrounding emerald waters, mangroves and islets make up the landscape of the bay. 

This is another paradise for humpback whales in Colombia to breed their calves. Local tours for whale watching are offered here, guided by young locals. 

How to get there 

You can fly from Bogota to Buenaventura, or get to Cali –whether by plane or by road, and then drive about 2.5 hours to Buenaventura. There you have to take a boat for 1.5 hours to the Juanchaco pier,  where the tour boats await tourists. 


You can look for hostels along the coast in nearby villages. 

Other Attractions 

Jump off the Sierpe waterfall and take a dip in the natural pools of Las Tres Marías, which flow into the sea. You can practice adventure sports such as kayaking, and more relaxed activities including hiking and birdwatching. 

Recommendations for Whale Watching in Colombia 

  1. Whales prefer to go out when the sea is calm and the sun, less intense, so it is more likely to spot whales during the first hours of the day or in the late evening. 
  2. These whale-watching destinations have warm, humid weather, with high level of rain. Dress accordingly for your tour: wear light clothes — preferably long sleeves, good shoes, and cap. Also, use coral-friendly sunscreen and insect repellent.
  3. Take binoculars with you, apart from a charged camera or cellphone to record the experience. 
  4. Beware that the boat you ride does not come too close to the whales since this can scare them or even set apart mothers from their calves. The minimum average distance is 200 meters. 
  5. Consider booking your tours with agencies working directly with local communities and respecting the environment.

We at Sula promote sustainable tourism, so we seek to contribute to the local economy and to raise awareness about caring for the megadiverse country that is Colombia. 

 Find more wildlife tours in the Colombia wildlife tours blog 

About the author

Ana María Parra

Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.