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Things to Do in Bahía Solano, and Where to Stay

Wherever you stay, enjoying a cold beverage tops the list of things to do in Bahia Solano

Bahía Solano: Pick Your Paradise

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:

blue skies playa larga el valle bahia solano
Hitting the beach is the thing to do in Bahía Solano, but which beach is best for you?

Outline

Bahía Solano Area Map

Overview of Bahia Solano Places to Stay

Playa Huina

Playa Mecana

Bahía Solano Town

Playa El Almejal

Playa Cuevita

Utría National Park

Recommendations

How to Get to and from Bahia Solano

More Info


Bahía Solano Area Map

Here’s a handy map of where all of the potential places to stay in Bahía Solano are relative to one-another.

We also created a detailed map of El Valle. It has all the things to do, restaurants, and places to stay in the area. Click here to see it and read our El Valle guide.


Where to Stay in Bahía 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.

Playa Huina

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.

Sun setting viewed from Playa Mecana
The point across the water is Playa Huina, which misses out on sunsets like this from Playa Mecana

Playa Mecana

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.

via GIPHY

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).

Kim at the front of the kayak paddling through mangroves, one of our favorite things to do in Bahia Solano
Behind Playa Mecana you can paddle the mangroves of the Jardin Botanico.

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.

Chris drinking moonshine on Bahia Solano street
“Downtown” Bahia Solano. Our tuk-tuk driver took us to his grandma’s place to get some moonshine, then we got out.

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 Humpack 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).

Kim in tuk-tuk on El Valle's Playa el Almejal

El Valle

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 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.)

Seaside houses and shacks in El Valle
Attention real estate investors: There’s affordable waterfront property in El Valle
Sign saying "Welcome to El Valle" in Spanish
Welcome to El Valle, Chocó, Colombia!

Playa Cuevita

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.

Kim looking down Playa Cuevita on Colombia's Pacific Coast
Kim making sure there really is nobody on the entire 9 km of Playa Cuevita

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.

Kim walking on bridge over river
The bridge to El Valle town from Parque Utría.

Recommendations

For the 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.

Surf boards for rent at Humpback Turtle Hostel on Playa El Almejal
Humpback Turtle hostel is one of the few places you’ll see fellow tourists in El Valle and where you can rent surf boards.

For foodies and/or non-budget non-Spanish-speakers

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.

Close up of a dinner from Mecana Ecolodge
The food at Mecana Ecolodge is just as much a highlight as the rest.
el morro hotel viewpoint playa almejal el valle bahia solano
One of our “cloudy” days. This view is from El Morro on the edge of Playa Almejal

For low-key couples or 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.

Beach hut and Pacific shore by Bahia Solano
Enjoy a beach hut all to yourselves at Playa Mecana Ecolodge

For the 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.

For the AC-loving, internet-addicted, supreme-comfort-seeking, five-star crowd

Don’t come.

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.

For the 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.

Dario at Mama Orbe's holding baby turtles in bucket
Come to Mama Orbe’s on Playa Cuevita to meet and save some baby turtles.

For the 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.

Chris embracing the solitude of Playa Mecana on Colombia's Pacific Coast
No computers, no traffic, nobody, no worries on Playa Mecana.

For snowflakes who think they don’t fit into any of the above criteria

Message us on Facebook and we’d be glad to help.

Do you want to escape the ordinary?

Follow @theunconventionalroute on Instagram for inspiration.


How to Get to and from Bahía Solano

By Bus

Not possible (…unless you put the bus on a boat or airplane). There are no roads from inland to Bahía Solano.

broken down chiva in El Valle
Even when this chiva gets fixed, there is no bus connecting El Valle to the rest of Colombia

By Plane

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).

taking plane to bahia solano colombia
40 minutes later and you will be in Medellin, so crazy!

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.

By Boat

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.


More Info on Things to Do in Bahía Solano and Elsewhere

Wherever you end up deciding to stay, there are likely some highlights in the El Valle area that you won’t want to miss. Check out our extensive El Valle guide to make sure. And before you visit, read our 15 tips for travelers to Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

If you’re heading to Medellín afterwards and looking for things to do, where to eat, and places to stay, don’t miss our mega-compilation of recommendations from over 50 blog posts from around the web. We also have an exper-expanding list of hikes to do in the Medellín area and guides to the nearby pueblos of Jardín, Jericó, and Venecia.

We keep pumping out more and more tips and guides. Fill out the form below to keep up to date:


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.

Chris
Chris doesn’t want you to follow his advice. You should see the cool stuff he writes about as a challenge instead. Do even cooler stuff than him. Fight FOMO and your evolutionarily-embedded urge to follow the herd. Think and act independently. Make your own path. Chris is the co-CEO, co-CFO, co-CMO, co-CTO, and Co-Editor in Chief at The Unconventional Route.

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