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I love living in Cali. It’s a fun city, but it’s known for it’s nightlife, not it’s wildlife, and it is missing one of my favorite things: the ocean. Which is why, of all the places close to Cali that I have visited, the Pacific Coast of Colombia is my favorite. The first time I went, I was completely taken in by how different the coast was from Cali: green, lush and completely undeveloped. Four months later I returned, but this time for whale watching season. Not only did I take a boat out to see some whales, but I was able to kayak right up to them as well! Last Spring, I went a third time, after convincing some visiting friends that it was a place they couldn’t miss while in Colombia.
While not far from Cali, there is only one, very windy, two-lane road to Buenaventura, making it at least a three hour ride. You can get to Buenaventura by a bus, taking one from the Cali Bus Terminal, and once in Buenaventura, you can take a boat to Juanchaco. The best beaches for swimming are a little farther up in Ladrilleros and La Barra, which you can get to by motorcycle taxi. While it’s easy enough to get to the coast on your own, every time I have gone, I have gone with Bicivan, a Colombian Ecotourism company, owned and operated by Julio Perez.
Once we make it to Juanchaco, I have spent my weekends kayaking; paddling out as soon as we arrive, stopping to each lunch on deserted islands, kayaking in and out of mangroves, under waterfalls and through caves. The views from the kayak are simply spectacular and worth the effort.
In addition to kayaking, I have hiked from Juanchaco to Ladrilleros along the cliffs overlooking the beaches; an easy, 45 minute walk full of spectacular views. If the tide is low, you can also walk back along the beach.
However you chose to visit the Pacific Coast, I guarantee that you will find it to be a uniquely beautiful place, and an experience I feel anyone visiting Cali shouldn’t miss.