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Duration: at least one week
Budget: $ 45 per day
Stay: Acuali Ecohostal
Capurgana turned out to be much bigger and livelier than I had anticipated. Stretched along the sea, Capugrana leads the way back to the entrance of the Darien Jungle. The waterfront is the restaurant and nightlife center, while the soccer field in front of the supermarket forms the real center of town. You won’t find the typical tour guides around, yet there are many things to do in Capurgana.
Capurgana uniquely blends natural scenery, exotic wildlife, and cultural influences from Colombia and Panama. When you look closer, you’ll see that you’ll find influences from all over the world, as Capurgana is a significant stop for many migrating people who are heading further North.
This being said both Capurgana and Sapzurro are both between the turquoise sea and lush green hills. They are two charming, sleepy, and yet lively villages that are beautiful and moving places to visit; if you are somewhat like me and want to get away from the crowds to explore somewhere different, head to Capurgana and Sapzurro, even though the trip to the relatively remote locations might take some effort.
- Beaches 90% 90%
- Daytrips 90% 90%
- Culture 95% 95%
- Authentic travel experience 100% 100%
I have visited Colombia multiple times; it is one of my favorite countries to travel to. As tourism has picked up rapidly over the last couple of years, I felt like venturing off a bit. I first ended up in Necocli before taking a boat and exploring Colombia’s last corners before the Darien Gap leads to Panama.
Enjoy the beaches in Capurgana
Capurgana has two beaches, the main one and a smaller bay, where you can sometimes find a little bonfire and a bar. The bigger beach has restaurants, bars, and seating areas right by the water. The two beaches are separated by a 3-5 minute walk along the coast. The walk is super beautiful as the path leads along the rocky coast and is covered by grass and palm trees.
Hike to the El Cielo
El Cielo, translated into “Heaven,” is about an hour’s walk from town. The waterfall is one of Capurgana’s most popular destinations; you can swim in the natural pool while listening to the soothing sound of cascading water. I found the nature and the view to be absolutely beautiful, yet the way to El Cielo is also the starting point for many seeking to cross the Darien Gap. Seeing the traces of people seeking a better life and taking the chance to the extremely challenging Darien Gap made me think.
Visit Casa del Plastico
Hector, the owner of Casa del Plastico built everything from plastic trash which he has collected over the years. He is a lovely, unique, and passionate character who came up with many funny, creative, and useful ideas to give used plastic a new meaning. To find him, simply ask in town for Casa del Plastico. Everyone can lead you the way. If he is home, he will be excited to show you around!
Hike from Capurgana to Sapzurro
One of the most popular activities in Capurgana is the jungle hike that leads all the way to Sapzurro. As hiking is not necessarily my favorite activity, I passed on this one. My newfound Colombian friends made the hike while got ahead at took a scenic 20-minute boat ride to Sapzurro. They really enjoyed the trail through lush green forests, past waterfalls and streams, and over small bridges. There are some stunning viewpoints where you can take a break and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Take a trip to Panama
As Capurgana is so close to Panama, you can also cross the border to Panama and enjoy some beautiful beaches.
La Miel is the first town over the border, and it’s a great spot to spend a day. The beach is awe-inspiring, with crystal clear water and plenty of space to relax and enjoy the views. It’s also a popular spot for snorkeling as there are many colorful fish to see in the water. You’ll also find some beach restaurants nearby. The town itself is absolutely charming, too and worth a stroll. You can either reach from Capurgana by boat or walk 40 minutes from Sapzurro. Just be aware if you plan on heading further into Panama, you will need your passport and likely a valid visa. But for a quick day trip, La Miel is the perfect getaway and you do not need a passport.
Take a trip to San Blas
Alternatively, you can go on a multi-day tour to visit the San Blas Islands. These stunning islands are known for their crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and rich culture, as they are inhabited by the indigenous Guna people. The tours usually include meals and accommodations, making exploring the San Blas Islands hassle-free. If you are planning to continue the trip to Panama, this is definitely the most picturesque way to go.
Day trip nearby beaches
Bahía el Aguacate
For a more relaxed activity, head to Bahía el Aguacate. This tranquil bay is perfect for swimming and snorkeling with its calm waters and diverse marine life. It’s also a great spot for birdwatching, as many species can be spotted in the area. You can reach Bahía el Aguacate by boat from either Capurgana or Sapzurro.
Playa Soledad is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a quiet beach to unwind and soak up the sun. You can reach secluded Palaya Soledad either by boat or a hike which only adds to its charm. You can also rent kayaks and explore the nearby mangrove forests. And for those seeking a bit more adventure, there are also opportunities for scuba diving and deep-sea fishing in the area.
Go horseback riding
I love horseback riding, so I was super pleased to be able to explore Capurgana a bit more by horse. Don’t expect a full-blown guided tour; it’s more like taking a ride out with your neighbor. Going around with horses is still a natural mode of transport, so it was easy to move around town before setting off to explore the green surroundings of Capurgana.
Get ready to travel Jamaica
Public Transport in Kingston
Route Taxis are the way to move around Jamaica. Official route taxis have a red license plate. In MoBay, you’ll see the route they are catering to written on the doors. Route taxis are the cheapest and most flexible way to move around. Just be careful to enter/exit on the route. Otherwise, you’ll be charged as a charter taxi. In Kingston, the Route Taxis are not as obvious, but they drive the most prominent streets and honk to let you know they are available.
Public Bus: The stop for buses to leave from downtown. I couldn’t find a schedule. They seem to go more frequently than the Knutsford.
Knutsford: Leaving from from the downtown station, Jamaica’s luxury bus connects more significant destinations. Be aware that the time stated refers to calculated driving time and not the actual time to reach a destination. Adding to the driving time are stops and bus switches which are not apparent when buying the ticket. Due to Covid, there are fewer buses than usual, so buying the ticket online is better.
Is Kingston, Jamaica safe for travelers?
Downtown Kingston is not the place to just stroll around without knowing anybody. Uptown Kingston is much safer and easier to move around. Generally speaking, Kingston is not the place for walking anywhere after dark, and its best to move around with a driver you know.
Best Time to Travel
The climate stays pleasant all year round. It might rain a bit more during hurricane season from June to September, but you still won’t get bored on rainy days!
Even though Jamaica is considered a third-world country, it provides the best water quality in the region. You are, therefore, safe to drink tap water. This is especially true in the cities. However, if it makes you feel uneasy, bring your Lifestraw pro. It will keep your drinks cold for 24 hrs, too!
Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler
Make sure to bring a foldable food container and cutlery with you! The amount of waste caused by food sold on the street is incredible.
Make sure to protect Jamaica’s marine life and bring reef-friendly sunscreen!
Packing List Jamaica
As you see, there are plenty of things to experience in Jamaica. To come fully prepared, check out my packing list for Jamaica, which includes everything from eco-friendly toiletries to sustainable fashion and even the coolest travel gadgets!
Travel tips from a pro
When it comes to traveling, I’ve become a pro at packing just a carry-on, even for those long trips. After my bag got lost during a two-month adventure in Trinidad and Tobago, I decided to ditch the hassle of checked luggage whenever possible.
I am excited to share some of the best mini-flat irons for travelers.
These compact hair straighteners are perfect for packing your carry-on luggage or even your purse.