Originally, we didn’t plan to go to Colombia. I guess you all know the stereotypes you hear about this country, but during our stay on the ABC islands, we’ve met a lot of sailors heading to Colombia. We’ve stayed in touch with a few of them and all of them were quite impressed and liked Colombia a lot. Additionally, we’ve started to read a bit about the country and became more and more euphoric to get there too. Now, we are about one and a half month in Colombia and have to say that it is above expectations. Maybe we are easy to impress after we’ve spent several months on more or less dry and deserted Caribbean islands.
However, Colombia is also a bit bureaucratic, some marinas are expensive and you need to clear in and out whenever you leave from one marina (or anchorage place) to another. That’s why we’ve decided to have only one stop on the Colombian Caribbean side with our boat and to do some inland travels by bus or collective. We decided to go to Marina Puerto Velero (close to Barranquilla) and plan all our trips from there. Hostels and buses are rather cheap in Colombia. We also enjoyed getting really fresh fruits for good prices (which is sometimes difficult to get in the Caribbean, in particular on the ABC islands). Overall, we found Colombia surprisingly wonderful!
We opted for Marina Puerto Velero as the only stop in Colombia (Caribbean side, maybe we will stop also at the Pacific coast later on our trip) because it is rather central, a safe place and the costs for the berth are ok-ish. The marina also acts as an agent which makes the clearance process pretty easy, but it is necessary to go to Barranquilla for the migration (basically to get the stamp in the passport). The people from the marina are really friendly and helpful. It’s a good place where you can leave the boat for some time to do inland travels.
In Puerto Velero is also a small community of international sailors. We’ve met a few boats we’ve already seen along the way (in particular in Spanish Water on Curacao), but also some other blue water sailors. Just one small warning: During the rainy season, there are lots of mosquitoes.
The metropolis Barranquilla is only 20 minutes by bus (unfortunately there are not too often buses going there), and also Santa Marta and Cartagena are not too far away. The marina itself is nice and calm, but also a bit sleepy and there is not a lot infrastructure in the close neighbourhood. There are a few restaurants, but most of them close early and no supermarkets or alike. However, you will find almost everything in Barranquilla. It is the 4th biggest city and famous not only because it is the hometown of Shakira, but also because of the carnival – a joyous celebration of everything it means to be Colombian, with dancing, music and parades. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the carnival activities, but we could witness that there is always and everywhere music.
Marina Puerto Velero (http://www.marinapuertovelero.co/)
Colombian Oceanographic Institute (https://www.cioh.org.co/ – only spanish)