Looking for a wild, off-the-beaten-track beach experience? Then look no further than Capurganá and Sapzurro. Located on the Colombia-Panama border in the stunning region of Chocó, these two tiny, jungle-backed villages offer some of the best stretches of white sand and crystal-clear waters in Colombia – and maybe even the world. Here are our picks of the best.
Known as Capurganá’s main beach, this stunning cove of white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water is an absolute beauty. Backed by dense, lush-green Darien jungle, swaying palm trees and just a couple of thatched-roofed cabanas selling fresh coconuts, this is everything you’d expect from a wild, off-the-beaten-track tropical beach. The protected, calm waters here are teeming with beautiful sea life darting in and out of colourful coral reefs, making it an ideal spot for snorkelling, particularly between the months of April and November when sea visibility is at its best.
A short boat trip from Playa Soledad (or a beautiful two-hour hike along the shoreline if you’re feeling active!), sits another lovely beach called El Aguacate (Avocado Beach). The beauty of this place, apart from its sugary white sand and gorgeous, clear sea, is that it has several natural pools created by offshore coral, making this the perfect spot for a gentle, shallow paddle – with a coconut in hand of course!
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Sapzurro, La Miel is famed for its long, horseshoe-shaped stretch of white sand and calm, crystal-clear waters backed by swaying palms and coconut trees. This beach is technically located in Panama, but you can walk here in just 20 minutes from Sapzurro! There’s a small checkpoint here, so be sure to bring your passport along. Are there any other places in the world where you can say you walked from one continent to another in your flip-flops? We think not.
If El Aguacate and Playa Soledad weren’t quite as isolated as you’d hoped, then head to Cabo Tiburón. Just a short jungle hike from Sapzurro but another world away, few make it to this beautiful stretch of sand; making it the ultimate Robinson Crusoe escape. The two beautifully wild (and most likely empty) beaches here also mark the border between Colombia and Panama, so take your passport just in case. Also note, there isn’t much here, so bring everything you’ll need for the day, including water and snacks.
If you happen to be around during the Easter period, don’t miss a trip to Acandí Beach. While this is a beautiful beach to lounge on during the day, the real reason to make the trip here is to watch leatherback turtles – the largest turtles on earth – lay their eggs on the beach. You’ll need to come at night with a guide, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see these beautiful creatures haul themselves out of the water and make the long journey up the sand to start digging their nest to lay over 100 eggs, before returning to the sea for another year.
Located in Panamanian waters but only a short boat ride from Capurganá, the stunning San Blas archipelago is a set of 365 pristine islands, of which only 49 are inhabited and governed by the indigenous Guna Yala people. The most popular route to see these islands used to be by yacht charter, from Panama’s mainland all the way to Cartagena (a 36-hour crossing). However, with an increase in demand in recent years, more tour operators are now running day trips and overnight stays from Capurganá to the islands, avoiding the choppy two-day, open-water crossing. You can either go for a round-trip ticket, or use it as a (very) cool way to get into Panama. It’s easy to book a tour once in town, but there are also several operators available to book online. San Blas Adventures come highly recommended.
If you’re travelling from Turbo or Puerto Obaldia (two of the most popular entry points into Capurganá and Sapzurro), Triganá – a laid-back, pretty bay just 30 minutes from Capurganá – makes for a great pitstop. Book a night or two in one of the ocean-front hostels, grab a Club Colombia and enjoy the beautiful, only-in-Chocó sunsets.