I stayed for over one year in Capurgana and fell in love with that place. Find out my best tips and recommendations to discover this little beach town lost in the Darien Gap.
Capurganá: what you must know
Where: Capurgana is on the Western part of the Caribbean coast, in the jungle named the Darien Gap.
Safety: Although the Darien Gap has a bad reputation, it’s totally safe to travel to Capurgana. I stayed there for 1 year in total. There are paramilitaries in the jungle around, but you won’t notice them.
What to do: Life is quite chill in Capurgana. There are different hikes through the jungle to get to waterfalls, natural pools or to walk to Sapzurro and the beach in La Miel. The afternoons are ideal to lay back on the beach or in a comfy hammock.
Where to stay: There are numerous basic hotels, a couple of hostels and 2 lovely hotels surrounded by lush vegetation. My favorite places are:
Hostel: Hostal Capurgana | “Modern” hotel with aircon and internet. You can pay by credit card.
Hostel outside Capurgana: Kachikine | Located in El Aguacate, a beach at 1h30 walking distance from town
Upscale hotel: Finca El Regalo | Hidden gems at a 15-min walk from town. Welcome to paradise.
How long: It’s not straightforward to get there, so you should consider staying at least 4 days when doing your Colombia itinerary.
There is no ATM in Capurganá, Colombia.
The inhabitants of Medellin love to get there when it’s a 3-day weekend.
There is no road leading to Capurgana in Colombia. It means you will have to take a boat or a flight if you wish to find out about this remote town.
1. Travel to Capurgana from Medellin and Cartagena
The boat Necocli - Capurgana (+)
The easiest way to get to Capurgana is to take the boat from the city of Necocli.
Departure Boat Necocli – Capurgana: 8 am (7 am on Sunday) | every day | 1h30
Note: There is also a boat leaving from Turbo, another town a bit closer to Medellin. However, the city doesn’t have a good reputation and the boats going to Capurgana aren’t comfortable. Plus, the boat ride lasts 1 hour more.
Note 2: From November to April, the Caribbean Sea is rough. The boat ride will be scary for travelers who are not used to it. Waves will splash your face.
There is a direct bus from Medellin to Necocli.
I advise you to take an early night bus as you want to arrive before the departure of the boat to Capurgana! Usually, it takes 9 hours to reach the city. So try to leave around 8 pm (just in case.
You need to book a charter for yourself if you want a direct flight Capurgana – Medellin
Option 2: To land in Acandi then take a short boat ride
The Airline ADA ceased all activity since March 2019. But, San German Express is another company that took over, and its services are a lot better!
Flight schedules change all the time. Check them on San German
Once in Acandi, speed boats wait for the passengers and bring them to Capurgana in Colombia.
Boat Acandi to Capurgana: 1pm | 30 min | 20 000 COP
Boat Capurgana to Acandi: 7h30 | 30 min | 20 000 COP
2. Reaching Capurgana in Colombia from Panama
Arrive with San Blas Adventures (+)
If the San Blas Islands are on your bucket list, you should do it through San Blas Aventures. The idea of the company is to maximize your time on the islands. It’s a 4 Days – 3 Nights tour with 2-3 hours on a speedboat every day. The boat rides are bumpy during the windy season (November to April), but it’s 100% worth it.
And the tour ends in Capurgana in Colombia !!
Time: 4 days
Prices: low season : 425 $ / High season : 475 $
Arrive by boat from Carti (+)
It’s not the easiest or most comfortable option… Indeed, you will have to spend 6-7 hours on a speedboat from Carti to arrive in Puerto Obaldia (the Panama Border) then you need to find another boat to go to Capurgana. It can be harrowing.
Time:1 full day minimum (maybe 2). The speedboat Carti to Puerto Obaldia is complicated to organize. You will perhaps have to wait for a few days in Panama City. Ask the hostel Mamallena if you need further information.
20$ entrance of the kuna park
200-250$ for the speedboat Carti – Puerto Obaldia
20$ speedboat Puerto Obaldia to Capurgana
Arrive from Puerto Obaldia (+)
You can fly from the Airport Albrook Panama city to Puerto Obaldia then take a boat to Capurgana, Colombia. It’s a tiny plane, don’t be surprised.
Time:4-5 hours. The flight lasts 45 min, but then you need to cross the border.
1. What you should know before staying in Capurgana
You should avoid public holidays. It will be crowded. The boat could be overbooked. You can buy your boat ticket in advance at their office.
The boat ride from Nicocli is better and shorterthan from Turbo.
During the high season (Public holidays, holy week & between Christmas and New Year), you should book your flight in advance. Same for your accommodation or your San Blas Adventure trip.
Capurgana isa remote place. Power cuts are common and the wifi is weak or non-existent. Don’t hope to get a 5-star service, be indulgent and relax.
2. The Hostels in Capurgana
I love to sleep in hostels when I’m traveling. It’s affordable, fun and you meet many interesting people.
A. Hostel la Bohemia | Welcoming & Social
Hostel la Bohemia is one of my favorite hostels in Capurgana. It’s 5 min away from the city center, surrounded by lush vegetation. There is no wifi, so everyone is eating and sharing together. It’s the place to be to meet interesting travelers and enjoy a friendly atmosphere.
Located in the city center, hostel capurgana serves a good breakfast every morning in its patio. There is no kitchen. It’s a perfect stop after a San Blas trip as you will probably look for comfort and wifi. Besides, they accept the payment by credit card – It’s not common in Capurgana
Kachikine means “In the hammock” in Kuna. The French owners (Quentin and Morgane) have opened this hostel 2 years ago. 2 floors, a small dorm for five people, cute private rooms, a spot to set your hammock, natural toilet, drinkable water. You can use their kitchen. The breakfast is included and is different every morning.
Finca El Regalo is located 15 min away from Capurgana. It would seem to be inconvenient, but it’s not. Thanks to that, this hotel benefits from a peaceful environment and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. Besides that, the staff is friendly and welcoming.
Los Robles is a secret paradise for couples wishing to enjoy a peaceful stay. The vast and flourish propriety is located in front of the Caribbean sea, 10 min away from Capurgana. Bedrooms are big and well decorated. Moreover, the staff knows how to make you feel at home.
Breakfast is delicious and included. And there is a vegetarian option!
The path that leads to El Cielo pass through lush vegetation and gives you the opportunity to observe the wildlife. It’s an easy trail that you can with flip-flops or runners. There are small rivers to cross.
The waterfall isn’t impressive but it’s still a nice reward after the 1h30 walk #Ilovewaterfall. You will have to pass an airfield first, then follow the sign. If you have a shadow of a doubt, ask your way!
Discupa, A donde esta el camino para ir a el Cielo ?
Time: 1h30 walk – One way
Price: 4 000 COP
3. Finca El Trebol, a peaceful stop near Capurgana
On your way to the waterfall El Cielo, you can decide to stop at El Trebol. The owner built everything by himself and put a dam to have a kind of natural swimming pool. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy, with a cold beer and patacones while swinging in a hammock
Time: 25 min walk- One way
Price: 2000 COP
4. La Coquerita, Capurgana’s natural pools
La Coquerita is a cool spot with 2 natural pools, just in front of the ocean. Visitors can opt for the seawater one (small fishes come to eat your dead skin!) and the freshwater one (really cold!!) before relaxing in a hammock. They also serve delicious lemonade and patacones.
Time: 30 min walk – One way
Price: 2 000 COP
E. The Beach El Aguacate
Aguacate is THE perfect place if you’re looking for a quiet place. There is no shop to buy food and only one restaurant where you have to order in advance. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel. There is an excellent diving spot on the right side.
Take the road leading to the hostel La Bohemia then follow the coastline. Or take the boat at the dock
Time: 1h15 min (one way) or 10 min by speedboat. If you have some spare time, you should definitively spend one-night there.
Where to eat in Capurgana
There are many basic restaurants in Capurgana. They serve a menu of the day with rice, beans, plantains, and chicken for 10 000 COP.
However, we discovered other tasty options!
For less than 15 000 pesos (+)
It´s a burger place where you can also find Veggie burgers !!! Located on the corner of the football field, just in front of the bakery
It’s not easy to find this restaurant if you are not local. Most of the travelers pass without notice it. It’s my favorite restaurant in Capurgana for breakfast. You can eat delicious arepas filled veggies, eggs, and cheese for 7000 COP. And if you’re a meat-eater, they serve a chicken option for 10 000 COP.
The restaurant is on another corner of the football field. For lunch, the arepas are bigger and cost a bit more
For 20 000 pesos and more (+)
My favorite seafood restaurant in Capurgana. For 18 000 COP, they give you a bowl of soup, coconut rice, plantains with a well-cooked fish. Besides, you can ask them to grill it instead of fry it. It’s also an excellent place to eat their rice with shrimps
Hernand patacones is located after the immigration office.
The Dock is only open when a San Blas tour arrives. However, it’s one of the best places to have an omelet for breakfast or a panini!!! It’s around 10 – 12 000 COP. It’s just in front of the Capurgana’s dock.
La Posada El Gecko
Good restaurant with a flourish patio to enjoy a real Italian pizza (around 30 000 COP) or pasta (about 18 000 COP).
Located on the beach, Josephine is known as the best seafood restaurant in town – I prefer Hernand Patacones. Their menu is more expensive than other restaurants in Capurgana and you should book your dinner in advance because they can be very slow to prepare your meals. All kinds of seafood like Lobster, shrimp, mussels, fishes... Enjoy!
Where to go out in Capurgana
You won’t get a wild nightlife in Capurgana. However, there are still some fun events on weekends and when a San Blas Group arrives.
A nightclub above the water (+)
Located directly on the beach,La Brujita is THE nightclub in Capurgana. It opens on weekends only. And even though, it can still be empty. It’s a hit or miss. Free cover and a bottle of rum cost 50 000 COP.
How to cross the Colombia – Panama Border
If you are planning an itinerary in Colombia in which you are leaving or entering via Panama, this section is for you.
When leaving Capurgana (+)
Don’t worry; it’s quite simple. There is only one thing to do…
You need to stamp out before you leave! There is no Colombian border. No one will check your bag on the Colombian side.
So before taking your boat in the direction of Puerto Obaldia (Panama border), go to the Colombian immigration to get your passport stamped. Then, you have a 24h maximum to reach Panama. Before that, you are in no man’s land. It also means that you can stamp out the day before if your boat is early.