Bahía Solano: Pick Your Paradise
This Bahía Solano guide is one of our 4-Part Pacific Paradise series that uncovers all our favorite finds in this undiscovered corner of Colombia.
Bahía Solano is an up-and-coming tourism town in the up-and-coming department of Chocó on the Pacific coast of up-and-coming Colombia.
Three “up-and-comings” means the place is pretty much deserted tourism-wise, especially outside of whale watching season (Jul-Oct).
The internet is also deserted when it comes to info on things to do in Bahía Solano and where to stay. That’s probably how you ended up here at our “up-an-coming” little site for answers.
Well, coming up right now is everything you need to know to pick your paradise and decide where to stay in the Bahía Solano area.
Bahía Solano Area Map
This map gives you an idea of where all of the potential places to stay in Bahía Solano are relative to one another.
Potential Paradises Around Bahia Solano
Getting around is time consuming, sweaty, and expensive, so your best bet is to stay at each location for a few days at a time instead of trying to hop around every day.
Here are your options, starting from the north and working your way on down south of the Bahía Solano area.
The only thing Playa Huina offers that no other potential place to stay in Bahía Solano does is calm water. So if you can’t swim well but really want to swim in the ocean, this is the choice for you.
Otherwise, we’re not clear what the draw is. Huina is a beach and party destination for Bahia Solano locals, so it’s not quieter. The beach faces northeast so it doesn’t have great sunsets. And it’s less conveniently located than many other locations.
Nevertheless, Huina offers local character, restaurants, and a nice beach. If you find a hotel there that looks appealing to you, you’re sure to have a great time.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: Either walk from town when the tide is out (about 2 hours) or take a short tuk-tuk ride to the pier (6,000 COP) then a 25 minute boat ride.
Playa Mecana is a remote 3-kilometer long beach northeast of Bahia Solano and opposite the bay from Playa Huina. There are only a handful of huts along the beach and one village a hundred meters inland along the Mecana river. It’s so small that when I asked the owners of Mecana Ecohotel how many people lived there, they listed each inhabitant by name.
Aside from being on a beach so remote you can skinny-dip in peace, the other draw of Playa Mecana is the Jardín Botanico del Pacífico. This 177 hectare (1.77 square km) private eco-reserve is constantly drawing biologists to study its flora and fauna. There are a few different, and affordable, guided hikes—from 2 to 8 hours—through the park that you can take. Boots are provided.
The Mecana Ecohotel is where to stay on Playa Mecana. It’s owned and managed by the same family that runs the Jardín Botanico. All proceeds from the hotel go towards keeping the park going. And to keep you going (and maybe never leaving), they serve truly fantastic food. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
We also recommend borrowing their kayak to explore the mangroves and river behind the beach.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: A short tuk-tuk ride to the pier (6,000 COP) followed by either a 1 to 1.5-hour walk from town at low tide or a 20-minute boat ride (60,000 COP split among the number of people taking it).
Bahía Solano Town
Bahía Solano reportedly has 9,500 residents, but it feels even smaller than that. It’s a bunch of dirt roads, wooden shacks, and no beaches. And one ATM that sometimes has cash in it.
We wracked our brains trying to think of reasons to stay in Bahia Solano. All we could come up with are: A) You’re visiting for business in town (maybe buying and selling coconuts and fish?) and B) The only thing you want to do in Bahía Solano is whale-watch and you want to avoid the time, expense, and hassle of going further from the airport.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: It’s about a 5,000 COP tuk-tuk (a.k.a. motor-mouse) ride and less than 10 minutes away.
Playa El Almejal
Playa El Almejal is a 1.5 km long beach that’s a 20-minute walk north of El Valle.
Strangely enough, it reminds us of another famous beach 6,500 km to the northwest: Tofino, Canada’s Long Beach. It’s wide and rugged with driftwood and big rock mounds along it and waves fit for surfing. El Almejal has no bears though. And it’s slightly warmer.
There is a range of accommodation options along Playa El Almejal. We recommend The Humpback Turtle Hostel for backpackers and El Morro for those with a more flexible budget. Check out our detailed guide of things to do in El Valle for complete info.
Getting there from Bahia Solano airport: A 50-minute tuk-tuk ride costing 45,000 COP total (15,000 per person if you can find two other to share it with).
The town of El Valle is just as underwhelming as Bahía Solano, but even smaller. What makes it a much more appealing place to stay is that it’s closer to most of the area’s top beaches and attractions.
From El Valle, it’s an easy 10-15 minute walk south to Playa Cuevita or north to Playa El Almejal. Tours such as those to El Tigre Waterfalls and Utría National Park all leave from town as well.
For everything you could possibly want to know about El Valle including where to stay, the best places to eat and drink, and all the best activities, check out our El Valle guide.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: A 40-minute tuk-tuk ride costing 30,000 COP (10,000 COP per person if you can find two others to split it with.)
A ten-minute walk south of El Valle, Playa Cuevita is the second longest (9 km) beach on Colombia’s Pacific Coast. The southern part of the beach is even more isolated than Playa Mecana. It’s just kilometer after kilometer of unconventionally beautiful beach, driftwood, and, sadly, quite a bit of plastic trash that the ocean spits out.
Also coming out of the Pacific Ocean onto Playa Cuevita are turtles. From June to December, five different species come onto the beach to lay eggs.
The turtles and their eggs are protected by Mama Orbe Family Eco-Farm. Halfway down Playa Cuevita from El Valle (i.e. 5 km), Mama Orbe is an inspiring sanctuary and hostel run by a local family. Come down for a day visit, or better yet stay for a night or two to support their cause and play turtle-helper for a while.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: Take a tuk-tuk to El Valle then either walk along the beach or inland jungle path, or coordinate a low-tide motorcycle ride with Dario.
Utría National Park
Utría National Park is mostly visited on day trips, but there is on-site accommodation.
Unfortunately, the accommodation is ridiculously expensive, costing over 500,000 COP per person per night. We didn’t see the cabins, but have a hard time imagining how that price could be justified even if the food, snorkels, and kayaks are included.
Getting there from Bahía Solano airport: Take a tuk-tuk to El Valle. From there you can hire a guide (60,000 COP per person) and walk the 9 km to the park entrance where you’ll still have to pay 80,000 COP each for a boat ride to the cabins plus the 46,500 COP per person park entry fee. Alternatively, you can hire a boat to take you the whole way. The Utría hotel manager quoted me 638,000 COP return for the two of us.
How to Choose Where to Stay
Are you a non-Spanish-speaking budget party traveler?
Go straight to Humpback Turtle Hostel at the northern end of Playa El Almejal and stay there your entire time.
Are you a foodie and/or non-budget non-Spanish-speaker?
If you have a budget of about $100 a day and want to ensure you eat more than the same fish, rice, and patacones every day, spend a night or two at Mecana Ecohotel on Playa Mecana, explore the Jardín Botanico. Then move south to stay at El Morro, which is on Playa El Almejal, but at the closest end to El Valle town (and the must-try Rosa del Mar Restaurant).
Both of these hotels have fluent-English speaking hosts.
Are you a low-key couple or group of friends?
Depending on your budget, pick between the Mecana Ecohotel on Playa Mecana (higher end) or Mama Orbe on Playa Cuevita (budget) for a couple of relaxing nights with a beach pretty much to yourself. Afterwards, spend a couple more nights in El Valle at the Posada Eco-Turística to get a taste of the local culture and explore the nearby attractions.
Are you an ultra adventurer?
None of the options listed above.
Bring a tent, befriend a native upon arrival, and hire them to take you into the woods for a multi-day, overnight camping trip where you’ll explore the less-touristed beaches, waterfalls, and hills of the area.
Are you an AC-loving, internet-addicted, supreme-comfort-seeking, five-star type?
Even the highest-end places in Bahía Solano don’t have AC, useful internet, fancy cocktails, and fluent English-speaking staff ready to wait on you hand and foot. Go to Cartagena or some Caribbean Island instead.
Are you a do-good, budget, eco-warrior (and we mean that fondly)?
Spend all your time at Mama Orbe Family Eco-Farm on Playa Cuevita.
Save some turtles, clean up the beach, and become a worshipper or worship-worthy Dario, Mama Orbe’s son who runs the place. You can also relax by exploring the jungle behind the beach, hiking to the waterfall at the south end of Playa Cuevita, or surfing or body-surfing on the beach.
Are you a Medellín-based professional in need of pure relaxation?
Stay at one of the two very-private cabañas at the Mecana Ecohotel on Playa Mecana and be bothered my nobody and nothing but the sound of crashing waves.
Are you a snowflakes who thinks you don’t fit into any of the above criteria?
Message us on Facebook and we’d be glad to help.
How to Get to and from Bahía Solano
Not possible (…unless you put the bus on a boat or airplane). There are no roads from inland to Bahía Solano.
Fly on either ADA, Satena, or San Germán. It’s super fast (40 minute flight) and convenient (5 minutes from El Poblado) from Medellín’s city-center Olaya Herrera Airport.
According to the owner of Mecana Eco-Hotel (which you can read about in our Bahía Solano guide), San Germán is the most reliable but also most expensive and Satena is the least reliable.
From Bahía Solano’s airport, take a motor-mouse (a.k.a. tuk-tuk) to El Valle. It takes about 40 minutes and costs 30,000 COP (so 10,000 each if you can fill it with three people).
To get back to the airport either ask your hotel or go to El Valle’s main square. Wait there with the rest of the locals for the next tuk-tuk, car, or truck to come by.
Boats leave from Nuquí to El Valle every Monday and Friday at 6 a.m. and return at around 11 a.m. They cost 70,000 COP.
Colombia’s Pacific Coast
Complete our 4-Part Colombia Pacific Paradise Series with:
The Rest of Colombia
For all the ingredients you need to put together a magnificent Medellin trip—where to stay, what to do, what to eat, where else to visit in Colombia—see our Medellin Travel Manual.
And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions to share with other readers, please share them in the comments!
Please note: The hotel links in the post are affiliate links that don’t cost you anything but may earn us commission. Click here for more info.
20 thoughts on “How to Pick Your Paradise in Bahía Solano, Colombia (with Map)”
Hey guys! Congrats for this website, I really like it!
I´ve got a question for you 🙂
I bought a plane ticket to Bahia Solano from Medellin and I would like to return by boat and bus. I was thinking to take a boat from Bahia Solano to Buenaventura and then bus to Cali and Medellin. You don´t mention this route, Is it not available?
Hi Lehel, thanks for your comments!
We didn’t really look into taking the boat because we were flying both directions from Medellin. But, according to travel blog Mum We Are Fine, they say that is is possible:
“Take a cargo boat from the southern port town – Buenaventura. This leaves every Tuesday from Buenaventura to Bahía Solano and returns every Saturday from Buenaventura to Bahía Solano. It takes approximately 24 hours, costs 150,000CLP and includes three meals and a bunk bed. For more information you can talk with the Captain Oscar at +57 314 617 8859.”
This was posted back in 2016 so I’m not sure how up to date it is. Maybe try giving Oscar a call if you’re in Colombia? Let us know what you find out so we can share the info with others.
Saludos and thanks for reading! Have a fantastic trip.
Hi Kim and Chris: Hope you are doing well. I very appreciate your website and info regarding Colombia, particularly about Choco, Bahia Solano and El Valle. Although born in Colombia I actually live in Switzerland since many years. I’m a literary writer, more under http://www.mariosalazar.ch. A recurrent theme in my writing relates to the Pacific coast and to El Valle. That’s the reason I always get back there. There is another one: a physical disability. Once a year I must take out a leg prosthesis and do a kind of therapy. Both activities require some friendly and open minded place to stay. Since many years I stay at the “Posada Don Ai” in the Playa El Almejal. I missed this place in your range of acommodation options there. Last time I was there we visited together your website and they were kind of sad their place was not mentioned. I promised them to contact you and kindly request you if their place could also appear in your website. I took some pictures, also from the surroundings, which could help. I’d very appreciate. For more about I would be pleased. Best regards. Mario Salazar Montero
Grüezi Mario! Thanks for sharing your recommendation for Posada Don Ai. We did mention it briefly as a place to get a beer on the beach in El Valle, but you’re right we didn’t list it in our recommended places to stay. I suppose though, that it could be an alternative for people who want to stay on El Almejal but can’t afford El Morro and don’t want to stay at the Humpback Turtle hostel. I’ll update the El Valle guide with what you wrote.
Grüezi Chris!, nice to know you are able to deal with the swiss dialect,.. sorry, swiss-german!
I’m glad and thank you for your reply. You are right about “Posada Don Ai” as a good alternative between El Almejal y El Morro for a stay at the beach in El Valle. They will be quite happy if their place get mentioned. Should you require some pictures, I got some ones. Wish you all the best with your endeavour and hope Colombia remains in your radar. Alles Gute und viel Glück.
I love your articles and guides, they’re great and really helpful. Im travelling to Colombia with my boyfriend in July and we definiteley want to go to bahia solano for 1 week, early August. My question: do we need to book flights and accommodation beforehand, or can we decide and book when we arrive in Medellin? We prefer the last option.. 🙂 thanks!! Jenny
Hey Jenny! Definitely book the flights beforehand. And, if you’re flexible, play around with the dates and times because they vary considerably. I remember ours were super cheap, but the days before and after—and even different times of the same day—were twice or even three times as expensive.
As for accommodation, that’s less certain. El Moro only has three rooms, so you’re best off booking it in advance if you’re set on staying there. Otherwise, there are probably enough different choices to “risk it” and not book too far in advance. You’ll probably want to book your first night at least in any case, though, just so you have a place to take your “motor-mouse” to when you arrive and then get your bearings and further plan your stay.
Thanks for reading and have a great trip!
My nephew and I are flying to Bahia Solano Friday from Medellin.
We are staying at the Hotel Balboa. We arrive midday. We are looking for something cool to do the balance of Friday. Jungle falls? Dugout canoe ride? Bird watching? Quick fishing trip…I have my own tackle.
On Saturday we are fishing with Vicente Gonzalez. All day.
Any other suggestions for food, beers and fun.
We have to leave Sunday.
Thank you much!
Hey Chris, Since you’ll be out on a boat the next day I’d suggest heading to some jungle waterfalls. The ones by the airport (which is close to town and your hotel) are actually really nice and easy to get to. Our El Valle post has info on them. If you get the chance, please update us how your trip goes. Buen viaje!
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately our flight to Medellin got delayed and we missed our chance to bet to Bahia Solano.
Because our window was so short we had to come up with a destination on the fly and went to Taganga near Santa Marta.
We had fun with some primitive fishing and some birds watching. Carnivale was raging. Very colorful!
Anyway, next year it’s Choco or bust!
Love the site and your info on Bahia Solano! Great help! We are planning to go to Bahia Solano juli/august this year with our 2 girls 13 and 15 years. But are also considering Nuqui. What do you think is best? Our main goal is to see the whales, and maybe do some scuba diving and a jungle trek. so what can you recommend? Also accommodation wise. My husband speaks fluent Spanish so that is no show stopper 😉 Regards Sandra
Hi Sandra. Thanks for commenting and saying such nice things about our site! We’ve yet to visit Nuqui, so I can’t honestly answer your question. All I can say is El Valle was fantastic for meeting Dario and the turtles, the Cascada el Tigre boat ride / hike, the beach, the food (Rosa del Mar especially). If you haven’t already, read our El Valle guide. Our friends who’ve been to Nuqui have great things to say about it too, though, so you can’t go wrong. If you get the chance, please let us know where you end up going and how it goes!
I really enjoyed reading your blog about these remote places!
Can you recommend an airline for the flights to the Pacific Coast?
We are planning to fly in to Bahia Solano and let our trip end in Nuqui (go there by boat) and then fly back inland from there.
And also we’re not sure wether to fly from Medellin or Bogota, since we are still flexible with our schedule.
Thank you for any recommendation you might have!
Viele Grüße aus Deutschland,
Hi Luisa – We listed the three airlines we know of that fly to the Pacific Coast above in the “How to get to and from Bahia Solano” section.
If you have to choose between Medellin or Bogota, I’d recommend Medellin if only because the weather’s so much nicer there. Check out the rest of our blog for all of our favorites from the 6 months we lived there.
And if you take the boat from Bahia Solano to Nuqui, please get back in touch with us to tell us how it went. We didn’t have the chance and are curious to know how it is—as are many other readers I’m sure.
how much money to bring for 3 days ?
Hey Saraf. We spent less than 40k/meal for dinner, >30k for lunch, 2.5k per beer… add that to whatever you plan for hotels and tours and taxis (prices in post above), plus some emergency cash.
Your blog has really help us to have an idea what to do in our trip to Colombia. We have traveling 4 adults and 4 children.. but not that easy to plan a trip. My question to you, it is better to book our trip to Pacific cost by ourselves of do the booking via an agency. We want to see the whales in Nuqui.
Maybe you can help us a bit to make our plan clear 🙂
Thanks a lot
If you’re a reasonably experienced traveler, are comfortable with booking flights and hotels on your own, you should fine booking on your own and saving the additional cost of an agency. Based on your name, you might speak some Spanish, which will make things even easier for you. But if you know of a great package or agency, don’t have time to plan yourself, or are inexperienced traveling to lesser-travelled regions like the Colombian Pacific Coast, an agent could be a good investment. I hope that helps you. Let me know how your trip goes. Buen viaje!
HI Chris, nice blog you have. What I can’t find is wether there is an airport in Nuqui still, can you or other travelers tell me?
Hi Janny. You’re right… it looks like Satena no longer flies there and ADA is out of business. I couldn’t find any way to fly to Nuqui anymore. Yikes. Maybe email a hotel / lodge there? Please let us know if you find flights (same goes for anyone reading this).