Water with a small boat moored and surrounding palm trees
Coast & seascapes,  Colombia,  Monday walks

Beach walks on the Caribbean coast of Colombia

Some people’s idea of holiday bliss is to stretch out on a lounger on a beach, soak up some rays or enjoy the shade of an umbrella while maybe reading and sipping a cold drink. That’s great, but it’s not for me. I can’t take hot sun and although I love a good read I prefer to spend my precious holiday time exploring new places and taking photos. I’d much prefer to absorb the local culture rather than the sun’s rays and I’ll take my cold drink in a café with a view please.

Nevertheless I love to see and walk by the ocean. And if that café is by a beach it can be the best of both worlds. So on our last full day in Colombia we decided to take a walk to Playa Mendihuaca and the mouth of the river of the same name.

I’m sharing this little walk for Jo’s Monday Walks.

We followed the rough track that links the stretch of hotels of which ours, Cayena Beach, was one. We passed the entrances to several simple hotels. They then petered out and the track was lined to our right by a grove of palm trees (and beyond that the sea) and to our left much denser forest.

We heard, and occasionally saw, lizards scampering in the dry leaves beside our path.

Brown lizard on dead leaves

At one point we passed the ruined concrete shell of a building that brought to mind Pablo Escobar’s much grander, but equally ruined, lakeside retreat.

Playa Mendihuaca

The track ended at a security gate. Beyond that we could walk through a car park down to the beach. This is lined with simple restaurants and hostels, plus a couple of surf shops. Although it was a Sunday and plenty of locals were here to enjoy their day off, it wasn’t crowded. There was just enough activity to make it interesting but not enough to detract from the attractiveness of the beach and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. Swimming here isn’t recommended, and indeed there were red flags to warn against it.

We strolled along the sand taking photos as we went. After a while we reached the river mouth. The Rio Mendihuaca spills into the sea across the sand, creating a large lagoon which, unlike the sea, is ideal for bathing. Several people were doing just that, relaxing in its calm shallow waters. Further away a couple of men were fishing.

Water with a small boat moored and surrounding palm trees
Girl paddling in a river with surrounding trees and mountains
Mouth of the Rio Mendihuaca

We retraced our steps a little and found a table at one of the cafés. It was shaded by some palms and right on the sands.

Man by a simple stall selling fruit
Café owner
Looking up at palm trees with a large bird in one
Under the palms

We sat for some time over cold drinks, watching all the activity on the beach and enjoying the sight and sound of the sea.

Man and woman on chairs by the sea, seen from behind
Locals enjoying the beach
Man with mauve dyed hair walking by the sea
Another local

We considered having lunch here, it was such a great spot. But there were no small items on the menu and with the usual three course dinner to be eaten later at Cayena Beach we didn’t want anything large. So we walked back to the hotel along the by-now rather hot track, stopping to photograph flowers and a butterfly on the way.

Spray of yellow flowers against a blue sky
Bougainvillea
Butterfly on yellow flowers
Butterfly on bougainvillea
Large red flower on a bush
Hibiscus

Playa Cayena

That was almost the last bit of exploring we did in Colombia, but not quite. On our final morning we found time for a shorter walk on the area of beach nearest to the hotel. Although there is a short string of small hotels along this stretch, no one seems to regard the beach areas as private so everyone is free to walk past all of them. The waves were pretty rough and with the scattering of driftwood made a good subject for some last-minute photos before leaving for the airport.

I visited Colombia in February 2023

50 Comments

  • bluebrightly

    I feel exactly the way you do about the sun and beach life; just look at how much you saw by walking instead of lounging! I love the stretch of beach you explored, the lagoon, the river mouth – and the cafe! That takes me back almost 50 years to trips to the Caribbean – always a refuge for New Yorkers in the winter. The whole atmosphere of this walk is reminiscent of those trips and I love that you ended with the driftwood. Thanks a million for this, I enjoyed it!
    It’s been so hard to find time lately to visit blogs, other than those I can digest quickly, like the single-photo posts of some photographers. I’d rather savor your posts, which means I only get here once in a while. My loss – you do such an excellent job!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment 😊 I know my posts can’t be digested quickly! Personally I prefer to visit fewer but more substantial posts rather than the single photo ones, although I do check out any I find especially appealing. I like to immerse myself in a place or places, as I can when you post.

      I’m glad I transported you back to the Caribbean. Although part of South America, this coastal stretch of Colombia has a lot in common with that region, not least the legacy of slavery which can be seen in the culture and in the diversity of the population.

  • grandmisadventures

    Im with you, spending a day on the beach in the sun is not my thing. But it seems you found the best of both on your lovely walk on the beach affording some beautiful pictures 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      We did, it was a very pleasant morning 🙂 And we were back at the hotel pool by the time the day got really hot! Glad you enjoyed the photos 🙂

  • Suzanne

    Lazing away on a lounger is not my ideal holiday plan. I would rather be out exploring. Is the water safe to swim in? The place reminds of Northern Queensland, beautiful water and beaches though many too dangerous to swim in due to crocodiles.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I don’t think the water has any nasties living in it, but on this stretch of coastline the currents can be dangerous and the surf too strong for swimming. There are beaches in the national park were swimming is possible although even there the waves struck me as better for jumping and splashing rather than serious swimming. I stuck to our hotel pool which was a fabulous one for a relatively simple hotel 🙂

      • Suzanne

        Come to think of it, surfing is brilliant in that part of the world. My brother did quite a bit of surfing in Guatemala where an old friend of his has a fishing charter business.

  • Easymalc

    Your visit to Colombia has been quite an eye-opener Sarah. I may not have commented on them all, but I’ve certainly enjoyed reading them. This one is perfect for Jo’s Monday Walks – and your photos hardly need any words to go with them 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you so much Malcolm 😊 It’s always good to get your feedback and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of Colombia. No doubt it will continue to pop up from time to time in future posts!

  • Sue

    Totally agree with you Sarah ….”I prefer to spend my precious holiday time exploring new places and taking photos. I’d much prefer to absorb the local culture rather than the sun’s rays”. Great selection of images

  • wetanddustyroads

    Oh yes, I also like walking on a beach rather than lying on it 🙂. And you were lucky to have such lovely views on your way. Beautiful beach, locals and flowers … and I love your last three photos of the driftwood and rough sea.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      It wasn’t exactly empty, being lined with beach bars and small hostels, but relatively quiet given that and the fact it was a Sunday 🙂 And more a good break at the end of a busy holiday, rather than during. I do quite like a bit of relaxing time at the end of a trip, especially when we’re in a hot country and going back to still wintery England!

      • margaret21

        Good plan. I think neither of us relishes beach holidays, but sometimes, with all that traveling and new experiences, a spot of down-time somewhere relaxing is a great way to sign off.

  • photobyjohnbo

    We aren’t beach people here either. On our last Caribbean cruise, one stop was on a private island. Basically it was a beach with a zipline. We had lunch in a shady spot and went back to the ship. Boring. 😀

  • Anna

    Colombian beaches look so gorgeous! I love the mountains/hills in the background and all the colourful flowers. Love it!

      • Anna

        You know I never knew that? I’ve never stopped to think “where do the Andes start?”. Pretty amazing that it’s all the way not so far from the sea!

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Actually in Colombia they split into three ranges – western, central and eastern. It’s the western range that finishes around here, the central seems to straddle the border with Venezuela and the eastern finishes entirely in Venezuela.

  • restlessjo

    I love beach walks and driftwood and shells, Sarah, and the odd waving palm doesn’t hurt. That water looks pretty rough but you have the lovely contrast with the river mouth. I agree, it’s much too far to go to sit on a beach. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anne Sandler

    Thank you for taking us along with you Sarah. Your photos are so inclusive. My favorites are your last grouping. You can feel the force of the waves as they hit the shore.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Anne 😊 Yes, the waves were stronger that day – I’m not sure if it was due to different conditions or if that stretch of beach is more exposed.

  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    What a wonderful walk, Sarah. You and I vacation the same way. I want to see and do everything so it’s go, go, go because I’m probably never going back. I enjoyed the contrasts between Playa Mendihuaca, the mouth of the river, and Playa Cayena. Such different moods of the water. Beautiful photos, my friend.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Kellye 😊 Yes, we seem to be very much of the same mind. I see little point in spending a lot of money to fly halfway around the world and then sit and do very little when there’s so much to explore! So glad you liked the photos 😀

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Wow that’s a spectacular collection even by your very high standards, Sarah – beautiful. You will no doubt have realised that we pack our days too rather than choose to lie around doing not very much….but when we do these longer trips, just occasionally we do hit a bit of a wall and have to slow down for a day or two. It happened just now, in Kep…felt like I’d run into a brick wall and my legs refused to walk more than a couple of miles. Now THOSE are the days when a half day on a beach comes in handy. Otherwise, soaking in the culture and getting out there doing things is the way, just like you say.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Oh yes, I’m completely with you 🙂 And after our walk to Playa Mendihuaca, which was on our last full day in Colombia, we did just that albeit by the rather lovely hotel pool!

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