1. Incredible Beaches
Colombia hosts an incredible number of beautiful beaches, many of which are near-virgin and still very rustic. No matter whether you are looking to escape to a luxury tropical resort or looking for an undeveloped, virgin beach to explore on your own, Colombia is the place for you.
If you want a resort style escape, Cartagena is the destination for you. Cartagena is home to several 5 star resort-style hotels that offer private beach zones, multiple luxurious pools, kid zones (if you’re taking a family vacation), high quality restaurants, and more.
Also, for a small fee most resort style hotels have a connection with companies who do day tours of the Islas del Rosario (Rosary Islands) and Barú that lie about an hour outside of Cartagena. The beaches of the Rosary Islands and Barú are the stereotypical Caribbean beaches you see on postcards with crystalline turquoise waters, pearl white sand, and palm trees in the background. The Rosary Islands are also home to an incredible coral reef for those interested in snorkeling around.
If you are looking for the virgin beaches, then the department of La Guajira is the place for you. La Guajira is slowly becoming more of a tourist destination, but still has an unbelievable amount of virgin coastline to explore. Many characterize La Guajira as the Wild Wild West of Colombia, because for many years Colombians were afraid of this unexplored territory inhabited mostly by indigenous communities.
Even so, it you are looking for an adventure and want to go somewhere not overrun with tourists, La Guajira offers an amazing selection of beaches including: Palomino, Manaure, Mayapo, Camarones, Cabo de la Vela, and Poportín among others.
And, don’t forget Colombia has a Pacific Coast, too. Although the Pacific Coast is not as developed as the Caribbean, the whale watching you can do between September and November is amazing and the up and coming destination of Nuquí could be well worth a visit if you’re heading that way.
2. Climates & Landscapes
Not only does Colombia offer beaches, but it also offers mountains, deserts, rainforests, savannahs, and more. This means that no matter what climate you are looking for, you can find it in Colombia. And, the amazing part is you don’t have to wait 3 or 4 months for the weather to change; in Colombia, you can change climates in only a matter of hours, sometimes minutes.
To give you a few examples:
If you are looking for a cooler, mountainous escape, Bogotá is the place to go. Bogotá has a temperature that ranges from the low 50s to high 60s (Fahrenheit). Bogotá is often stereotyped as always being cloudy and rainy, but Bogotá can have some spectacular sunny days, too. The one thing you can’t escape in Bogotá is incredible view of the Andes Mountains that follows you wherever you go in the city.
8 hours from Bogotá is the city of Medellín. Medellín is characterized as the “city of eternal spring” thanks to its year round temperature range of low 60s to high 80s (Fahrenheit). Medellín is also known for being sunny and full of beautiful flowers. Like Bogotá, it is a mountainous city, but has an extremely different climate and landscape. Although the city is also surrounded by mountains, Medellín is more of a valley than Bogotá and the contrast of the mountains with the city is not as great.
Driving ~7 hours east of Medellín you will find the town of San Gil. San Gil is hotter than Medellín, with an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In San Gil, you’ll notice the dirt changes to red and the air will seem dryer. San Gil is known for its unique landscape and extreme sports offerings, such as white water rafting. In San Gil, you will start to see plants that are very different to those you would see in Bogotá or Medellín, like Spanish moss.
And, finally, ~10 hours north of Bucaramanga is the romantic Caribbean city of Cartagena. Cartagena has a daytime temperature in the high 80s to low 90s, and is one of the most tourist-visited cities in Colombia, both for its beautiful Caribbean beaches as well as for its incredible historic city center. In Cartagena, the landscape is extremely coastal—it’s hard to escape the palm trees, coastline, and beaches when you are in this city!
Thus, in a mere 25 hours, you can travel through four different climates (more if you make stops in between these major cities), experience a ~40 degree change in temperature, and observe the magnificent changes in landscape as you drive, or ride, through Colombia. Some of you may think this is not all that magnificent, but for me it’s like traversing not only landscapes, but “seasons.” Where else can you go from summer to winter in a matter of an hour and a half (via airplane)?
If you are looking for a country that will blow you away, Colombia is the place to be. If I haven’t convinced you with the beaches, climates, and landscapes, I am sure that once you’re here, the Colombian people will have you convinced this should be a number one travel destination in a matter of seconds.
What are you waiting for?
Paige M. Poole
About the author:
“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie. You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com
- Our Tours: Zipaquira: Salt Cathedral and Countryside trip. (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Our Tours: Coffee and Flowers in the ‘Garden City’. (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Our Tours: The Beating Heart of Bogotá. (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Scouting trip to The North (III) – Cartagena de Indias. (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Scouting trip to La Guajira. (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Colombia: a destination ready to be explored. (www.uncovercolombia.com)