The little seafront town of Capurganá on the Caribbean side of the Colombian region of Choco is increasingly popular with travellers looking for an off-the-beaten-track beach experience. Surrounded by lush Darien jungle on one side and stunning blue waters and coral reefs on the other, Capurganá is truly a dream destination. Here are the top 10 things to see and do there.
Hike to Sapzurro
The pretty little village of Sapzurro is just around the bay from Capurganá and the last settlement in Colombia before Panama. It can be reached by boat easily enough from Capurganá, but the best way to visit is to hike through the jungle to get there. The hike takes around two hours and takes you through beautiful rainforest scenery and up a hill offering stunning views of both towns and the azure Caribbean waters below.
Visit El Cielo waterfall
Another simple hike through the jungle – or you can take a horse if you fancy a change – from Capurganá takes you to the lovely nature reserve of El Cielo, which is particularly notable for a lovely little jungle waterfall along a crystal clear river. Along the trail keep an eye out for wild monkeys and toucans in the forest.
Walk into Panama
For a truly unique day-trip from Capurganá, consider hiking to Sapzurro, and then continuing over the next hill into Panama. There’s a simple border checkpoint – you will need your passport, but won’t get a stamp – before you descend back down to a small Panamanian town and a lovely beach called La Miel. It’s not very often that you can walk from one continent to another, but you can here!
Go scuba diving
Capurganá and Sapzurro are surrounded by one of the most well-preserved reefs in Colombia’s Caribbean region, and the scuba diving on offer is some of the best in the country. With sharks, turtles, and a variety of brightly-coloured tropical fish, if you’re a diver in Colombia then Capurganá should be high on your travel list.
Luckily, if you’re not a qualified diver you can always go snorkelling instead. There are nice little reefs just a short swim from the shore around La Miel, Capurganá, and Sapzurro, and you can easily get hold of a snorkelling mask in the town. Keep an eye out for Moray Eels and Sea Turtles.
Watch leatherback turtles laying their eggs
If you visit the region during the Easter period you can visit the nearby town of Acandi to watch Leatherback Turtles – the largest sea turtles on earth – come to the beach to lay their eggs. You’ll need to be there after nightfall (there are hotels in the town if you want to stay), but the sight of these giant sea creatures heaving themselves out onto the beach is a truly magical one.
Visit the San Blas Islands
The stunning San Blas Islands are located in Panamanian waters between Capurganá and Panama – they are home to the Indigenous Guna Yala people, and are said to be some of the most beautiful Caribbean islands you’ll ever see. The demand to visit means that tour operators in Capurganá are now offering day-trips out to the islands, so you can easily make San Blas a part of your Capurganá trip.
Hike to El Aguacate
There’s a lot of hiking to be done in Capurganá, but the rewards make up for the effort! Another great day-hike you can do is to the neighbouring beach village of El Aguacate. The hike takes a few hours along the coast, but the lovely Aguacate beach is a great way to end it. You can catch a boat back if you can’t face the return hike.
La Piscina de Los Dioses
The ‘Pool of the Gods’ is a lovely natural seawater pool located on the coast, a short hike from Capurganá. Like a giant rockpool, which fills up with seawater depending on the tides, La Piscina is the perfect combination of the sea and a swimming pool and makes a lovely place to relax with a cold beer and soak up some rays.
A delightful little hidden beach around the coast from Sapzurro, Cabo Tiburon marks the border between Colombia and Panama. It’s a short hike from Sapzurro, and well-worth a visit if you like a good beach, a sense of isolation, and some of the best swimming and snorkelling you’re likely to find in Colombia.