Between its charismatic cities, idyllic beaches and unforgettable national parks, Colombia’s Caribbean Coast is a dream come true for solo travelers. Spreading from the Panama border to the desert of La Guajira, near Venezuela, the region is a surefire winner for thrill-seekers, beachgoers and food lovers, here to sample some of the country’s best cuisine.
What’s the vibe?
Bathed in sun and rich in culture, Colombia’s dramatic Caribbean coastline is a solo traveler’s paradise, whether you’re a veteran globetrotter or a newbie. Between its dense, untouched jungles, barren deserts and historic cities, it is one of the most colorful regions of Colombia. You’ll have ample opportunities to meet up with like-minded people – it’s got a buzzing hostel scene and a whole host of outdoor activities.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Colombia’s Caribbean Coast: a trip overview for solo travelers
Make your first stop Cartagena, a sophisticated walled colonial city where time stands still. Next, head off to the Rosario Islands, where you’ll fill your days swimming, fishing and snorkeling. Moving east brings you to Santa Marta, to hike Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, a protected area blessed with tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Rest up in the small town of Palomino and take a surf session or two, before exploring the unfrequented and underrated La Guajira department. From Riohacha, take a 4×4 to a desert oasis, and practise sandboarding or kitesurfing on remote sand dunes.
Where to stay on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast as a solo traveler
There’s a range of accommodation. For privacy, opt for a private room in a mid-range guesthouse or upgrade to a luxurious eco-resort. If you want to meet other travelers, use hostels. The coast has a thriving and social hostel scene, offering amenities such as co-working spaces, wellness classes and nightly events to help you mingle with other guests. For a truly unique stay, book a bed at the Casa en el Agua. Only accessible by boat, this floating hostel is surrounded by dazzling Caribbean waters.
What to do on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast
There’s far more to do than you could cram into a single trip, so you’ll definitely want to visit again or prolong your stay. However long, or brief, your trip, we’ve picked our three top must-trys.
Discover the colonial architecture and cobbled alleyways of Cartagena
Steeped in history, the walled city of Cartagena is just one of the highlights to explore along the coast. Spend the day discovering ancient forts and castles, then ducking into restaurants and museums to escape the heat. It’s easy to spend a few days in this vibrant, colorful city: take a boat to the nearby beaches, discover emerging hip neighborhoods, including Getsemaní, or tour the traditional fishing village of La Boquilla. At night, the city comes alive – the perfect time to discover some of Colombia’s best dining and its electric nightlife, which will keep you up until sunrise.
Island hop around the white-sand beaches of the Rosario Islands
Comprising 20 or so small coral outcrops, the pristine Rosario Islands are all yours – just a boat hop from Cartagena, which is about 100km (62mi) to the northeast. Consider taking a tour to really get a feel for the islands – most day trips include a stop at Playa Blanca, a clamored-for beach with glaringly white sand. Book with a tour agency or see it independently with a ticket from the offices at the Muelle de la Bodeguita port in Cartagena.
Hike through the jungle-clad Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is where the tropical rainforest and mountains meet the Caribbean Sea. Backed by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this 12,140ha (30,000 acre) park is home to ruins, mangroves, reefs and palm-trimmed beaches, each with their own personality. Some are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, such as Arenillas and La Piscina beaches. There are several hiking routes in the park, with waterfalls and diverse wildlife – bring binoculars.
A guided hike is part of Culture Trip’s specially curated 8-day Colombian Caribbean trip. Led by a Local Insider, it includes a trek through the jungles of the park, with a stop at Cabo San Juan beach for lunch and a swim.
Getting around Colombia’s Caribbean Coast as a solo traveler
The most comfortable option for solo traveler’s is a private driver, but don’t rule out tourist shuttles. That said, they take the same amount of time as local buses – the most affordable option, these are just as reliable but can get overcrowded.
Stay safe, stay happy
Vendors on the beaches can sometimes be pretty relentless. It’s best to be firm but polite – always ask the price of something upfront, and always decline free food or a free massage to avoid getting tricked into a purchase. Because of the strong currents and riptides, only swim in areas that are designated as safe.
Haggling is common, but offer a fair price and don’t overdo it. Around Cartagena, be prepared to give some cash during photo ops – a photo with a Palenquera isn’t free and a small tip is expected. Costeños are friendly, so saying “hello” before jumping right into business goes a long way.
Prefer to explore Colombia’s Caribbean Coast with like-minded travellers? Join our eight-day adventure Paradise Found: a Taste of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, led by a Local Insider, which includes canoeing through mangrove forests, discovering the street food of Cartagena and visiting San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African town in the Americas.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.