6.2226° N, 77.4012° W
THIS TRAVEL ITINERARY LAYS OUT EXACTLY HOW TO SPEND 6 AMAZING DAYS IN THE TOWN OF EL VALLE ON THE STUNNING PACIFIC COAST OF COLOMBIA. KEEP READING TO LEARN ABOUT THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND ALL OF THE CAN'T-MISS SPOTS.
Hidden away on the far western side of Colombia is one of the least visited regions of the country: the magical Pacific Coast, also known as Pacifico. This stunning region is home to tropical palm tree-lined beaches, biologically diverse national parks, dense jungle, colorful towns and some of the rainiest places in the world. As well as a whole lot of adventure of course.
Now, traveling to Colombia's Pacific Coast takes a bit of patience - and a fair bit of planning. For starters, there are very few roads within the Choco department (the northern half of the Pacific Coast region). Besides being able to take a bus to the capital city of Quibdo, your only transportation options are planes and boats (the latter of which can of course be a bit unreliable and a fair bit slower).
While getting to the Pacific Coast takes a bit of time, it is 100% worth the effort. Once you arrive, you will be welcomed with incredible natural scenery, a plethora of adventures and some very friendly locals. So, if you are looking to have an amazing off the beaten path adventure in one of the least visited areas of Colombia, then definitely start planning your trip to the Pacific Coast of Colombia.
Below you will find our in-depth 6 day travel itinerary for the exciting coastal town of El Valle (located just south of the large town of Bahia Solano). El Valle is, in our opinion, one of the best towns to base yourself in the Choco department for it has a ton of options in regards to things to do, while also being laid back enough to allow you to totally disconnect and just relax.
So with that, happy reading, happy planning, and of course, happy adventuring!
➳ This in-depth 6 day itinerary is a great place to start your trip planning for a Pacific Coast adventure for it gives you a good idea of what to expect in this part of the country as well as an idea of the top things to see and do. With that being said, if you find yourself needing a bit more insight, then definitely feel free to reach out to us here.
\\ Why Should You Visit El Valle, Colombia?
Simply put, to just get away from the hustle and bustle of the world and reconnect with nature.
El Valle, and the greater Choco area, is one of those magical places that pulls you in, takes you for a ride and then leaves you feeling like you have only scratched the surface. The culture, the landscapes, the weather - all are complex and sometimes hard to understand.
You should visit El Valle to just get an idea of a different way of life. A type of life that relies heavily on Mother Nature and less on modern amenities. You should visit El Valle to get lost a bit in that nature.
While the natural beauty of El Valle and the Pacific Coast as a whole should be reason enough to visit, for many people the real draw comes in the form of the seasonal migration of humpback whales.
Between the months of July and November, it is quite easy to view the large whales (ballenas) and their young right out in the ocean off of the coast of El Valle and Bahia Solano. Similarly, while the whales are cool enough, this time of year (July to November) is also an optimal time to view nesting sea turtles along the beaches near El Valle.
\\ How Many Days Do You Need in El Valle, Colombia?
In our opinion, one of the best ways to plan a trip to Choco and El Valle and Bahia Solano, in particular, is to mix an equal amount of relaxation with adventure. A great way to do that is to alternate between having full adventure days with more chill days.
Because many of the adventures in El Valle can be rather tough, including hiking for hours in the jungle - sometimes in the sun, oftentimes in the downpouring rain - or along sandy beaches (which is somehow just as taxing), you will be grateful for the slower days spent lazing around on the beach or on the balconies of your hostel.
We are very much the type of travelers that are go-go-go (it is honestly quite tough for us to slow down), but surprisingly we really found ourselves enjoying the simple moments of just relaxing in a hammock reading a book listening to the sound of the ocean while visiting El Valle. Plus, after a couple of hours of chilling, we were more than ready to get back out and explore some more of the incredible landscapes.
If you can, we recommend trying to spend 6 days in this part of Choco (El Valle and Bahia Solano). That time frame means you will have at least 3 full days of adventure opportunities as well as 3 days of relaxation (with a few small adventures thrown in if you want).
THE PERFECT 6 DAY ITINERARY FOR EXPLORING COLOMBIA'S PACIFIC COAST
🐋 WHALE SEASON: the best times to see the migrating whales (and their offspring) is between July and October. One of the best spots for whale-spotting is down in Utria National Park in the Utria Lagoon, though you have a high chance of viewing them even off of Playa Almejal in town.
🐢 TURTLE SEASON: we heard from locals in El Valle that you can see turtles along the beaches pretty much year-round, but your best chance is from September to December (this is when they start nesting and when their young are born).
A QUICK BREAKDOWN OF THIS 6 DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1 | CHILL ON THE BEACH, EXPLORE THE TOWN OF EL VALLE
DAY 4 | VISIT BAHIA SOLANO OR GO WHALE WATCHING
DAY 2 | HIKE TO EL TIGRE WATERFALL
DAY 5 | EXPLORE UTRIA NATIONAL PARK
DAY 3 | EASY MORNING, NIGHT HIKE IN THE JUNGLE
DAY 6 | SLOW MORNING AND FLIGHT HOME
We feel like it is always a good idea to spend the first day exploring a new place easing into it a little bit, getting the lay of the land per se.
So on Day 1 we recommend spending the morning simply meandering around the area. Some great places to head to are Playa Cueva (a popular spot to see sea turtles), the downtown area of El Valle itself, and Playa Almejal. Luckily, everything is very close so it shouldn’t take you too long to make the full loop around town. In town you can find many small shops and a few restaurants. We recommend stopping by the small coconut stand next to Playa Almejal either on your way to town or on your way back to the hostel area. You can get a delicious fresh coconut for 3000 COP (less than $1 USD) as well as some tasty local treats.
💬 INSIDER TIP: you can find all of the places we mention in our interactive map below.
End your first day in El Valle by heading to Rosa del Mar for a delicious traditional coastal dinner of fried fish (or chicken), coconut rice, patacones and salad. Then make your way back to your hostel in time to catch the sunset along Playa Almejal (the best colors pop up around 6:30 PM).
BEACHES ON COLOMBIA’S PACIFIC COAST | WHAT TO EXPECT IN EL VALLE
We were pleasantly surprised to find the beaches in El Valle to be mostly empty - of people and things (most notably trash). This emptiness became even more apparent during low tide when the beaches would swell to about 40 meters wide.
In El Valle in particular, there are two main beaches: Playa Almejal and Playa Cuevita (which is also known as 9 Kilometer Beach). Playa Almejal is the northern beach in town. It runs the whole length of the road in front of the hostels. You can find a sand volleyball court and some good surfing towards the northern end.
Playa Cuevita is located on the southern side of town. You need to first cross a metal suspension bridge and then turn right to reach the beach (see the map below for directions). This beach is kind of a trip for it runs (with no breaks) for nine full kilometers down the length of the coast. And the landscape - cream-colored sand lined with vibrant green palm trees - doesn’t change for the full nine kilometers. If you are planning to walk the whole distance be prepared to feel like you aren’t making any progress.