Buenaventura

Buenaventura is the largest city on Colombia’s Pacific coast, and a noted center of the Afrocolombian community.  It is located on a bay about thirty kilometers from some of the nation’s best beaches.  It is accessible by bus, via a four hour ride from Cali, or by an airport that is located about half an hour outside of the city.  Security has improved greatly in recent years, and the downtown and Zona Rosa, located on the waterfront, are pleasing attractions for tourism.
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Activities:
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The Rampla, Buenaventura downtownThe crown jewel of downtown is the Rampla, a large boardwalk with several lengthy piers that jut out into the ocean.  During low tide it is easy and enjoyable to stroll on sand dunes in front of the Rampla.  There is also a picturesque lighthouse, a large number of bars and restaurants, and a wide variety of amusement rides.
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=> The vast majority of tourists will be heading to Buenaventura’s three main beaches, located about an hour northwest of the city: Juanchaco, Ladrilleros, and la Barra.  During whalewatching season, between June and October, tourism, especially of a foreign nature, picks up dramatically.  Buenaventura is one of the best places in the world for watching the elaborate dances of mating humpback whales.
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La barra Buenaventura, beautiful beachFrom the Muelle Turistico, on the northern edge of the Rampla in Buenaventura, boats leave every day at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm., and a roundtrip ticket costs about 50.000 COP. There are few cars in the beach region, and almost all transportation is done by motorcycle.  The boat will drop you off at the pier in Juanchaco.  From there it is a five minute motorcycle ride to Ladrilleros, that costs 2.000 COP.

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=> La Barra, probably one of the most beautiful beaches on earth, is located a couple of kilometers north of Ladrilleros.  It is only accessible on foot or by motorcycle, and it is about an hour walk from Ladrilleros.

Due to the nature of the tides, the beach route is only feasible from about 3 o’clock in the afternoon to 10 o’clock at night. The best plan is to walk to la Barra on the path to the north of Ladrilleros, and then return before sunset, on the beach. Those making the trek will find pristine, unspoiled beaches, coves, tropical rainforests, streams, and beautiful rock formations.
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Spider in the Jungle of BuenaventuraThere are a variety of ecological tours available, including whalewatching, fresh water springs, waterfalls, and observation of local wildlife. There are a couple of discotecs, but they mainly pick up during high season.  Nightlife is largely limited to spending time with the very friendly locals, in a couple of small tiendas that sell beer.

=> There is also a pool hall on the main drag of Ladrilleros.

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Where to Stay:
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Juanchaco features five hotels, while Ladrilleros has around fifteen. It is advisable to see what you are getting before booking something. While many tourism offices offer package deals at the Muelle Turistico, you are almost certainly better off going to Ladrilleros first and taking a look at your options. This also gives you the opportunity to negotiate a price, which is certainly an option in low season.

The most expensive hotels run about 100.000 COP a night for a room with cable and air conditioning. There are moderately priced hotels for 40.000 to 60.000, and ample amounts of rustic cabañas for 20.000. There are very few accommodations or restaurants in la Barra. Mostly they are small family operations. There are camping sites available for those who have tents and families also rent out cabañas.
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Where to eat:
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Unsurprisingly, the most popular dishes in Buenaventura revolve around seafood. There is excellent cazuela de mariscos or seafood soup, camarones al ajillo or garlic shrimp, and fried fish. However, seafood dishes are a little expensive. For a more economical option, try the delicious shrimp empanadas on Ladrilleros, which go for under a dollar. Ice cold beer is readily available around the beaches for between 2.000 and 3.000 COP, but it is probably a good idea to bring your own liquor, as everything shipped from the mainland is more expensive.

In addition to seafood, there are a variety of small restaurants that sell traditional Colombian fare of rice, potatoes, and salad, with a choice of chicken, beef, or fried fish.  For a delicious treat on la Barra ask one of the locals for a young coconut.  A local with a machete will pull down a green coconut, slice of the top, provide you with a straw, and for 2.000 COP you will have a surprising amount of fresh coconut juice.
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{AG}destinations/pacific-coast/buenaventura{/AG}.........................................................................................................................................

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