A Guide to Whale Watching in Colombia

Head to Colombia's Pacific Coast to witness the immensity and majesty of the humpback whale
Head to Colombia's Pacific Coast to witness the immensity and majesty of the humpback whale | © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Humpback whale watching is one of Nature’s best and most rare spectacles and is one of Colombia’s main attractions every year. Head to its Pacific Coast to witness the immensity and majesty of these creatures.

When and where to watch whales

Every year, Colombia welcomes one of the most marvelous creatures in the world to its Pacific Coast. Humpback whales arrive in the country in early July, after swimming around 5,800 miles (8,500 kilometers) from Antarctica, and stay here until late November. They come looking for warmer waters to mate and give birth to their calves in, a scene that takes place in just a few privileged places in the world.

Humpback whales can be seen near Choco, Colombia | © Choups / Alamy Stock Photo

There are three main locations where the action takes place: Malaga Bay and Nuquí in the department of Chocó, and Gorgona in the department of Cauca. The latter is the only place where you can see the whales giving birth and watch calves swimming in the ocean for the first time. Visitors can observe the action either up close on a boat with a certified guide, or from afar with the help of binoculars from one of the nearby eco-hotels or the surrounding beaches.

How to get there

Getting there is not the easiest venture, as the three main locations are mostly located in natural reserves with little to no infrastructure. However, the recent influx of tourists visiting Colombia has paved the way for more organized tours and easier access to the towns near the ocean. The most common route is to head to the town of Buenaventura by plane from any of the country’s major cities (such as Bogotà or Medellín). From there, visitors can reach Malaga Bay, Nuquí or Gorgona by boat. Some of these boat trips take several hours, though the landscape and surrounding biodiversity more than make up for the time spent and provide an adventure in themselves.

Many parts of Colombia are still wild enough to foster varied animal habitats, and can be tricky to get to | © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Places to stay

Accommodation options are not as varied here as in the country’s other major hubs. This is the main reason that whale watching in Colombia requires planning months in advance. One of the preferred places to stay is Bahía Solano, where most options are eco-hotels offering direct views of the sea and whales from comfortable balconies.

Hundred of humpback whales visit the Colombian Pacific coast for mating season | © EFE News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

What to expect when whale watching

There are few things in the world that can beat the magnificence of nature, and few words that can describe the feeling of being so close to these amazing animals and so intensely connected to the world under the sea. Ecotourists will be astounded, and will also be able to enjoy other activities such as diving, birdwatching or swimming with dolphins and turtles in the open sea. Whale watching in Colombia is just another example of the richness and beauty of a country which is now, fortunately, being rediscovered by many.

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