Cabo De la Vela – or ‘Cape of Sails’ - is a small desert village in the northern Guajira Peninsula of Colombia. Although an “off the beaten path” destination, over the past few years this Peninsula and fishing village has become more popular with tourism, with more accommodation options and restaurants available than before. Don’t expect luxury – come here to experience the simple life. It may be difficult to find internet or phone lines in this remote area, which runs its electricity off generators. Visit this secluded desert paradise, and sleep out under the stars.
Because of its remoteness and the complicated journey, getting to Cabo is an adventure in itself. For those determined travelers who make it, they’ll discover an untouched, special part of Colombia. There are lots of amazing things to see and do, such as visiting the Punta Gallinas and the Pilon de Azucar. See the unique landscape of ocean and desert, meet the Wayuu people and learn about their culture, and simply be at one with nature. Below is our Cabo De la Vela travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
KITESURFING – This village is one of the best locations to do some kitesurfing. There are lessons offered along the beach for those who are looking to learn. Paddle boarding and windsurfing are also popular activities.
EXCURSIONS – This village also offers trips to sightseeing places in the area. One option is to pay a moto taxi driver to take you around for the day, stopping at each one. Some of the places include:
- Pilon de Azucar: A 40-minute walk from the town of Cabo, this is the most beautiful beach in Cabo, with sand dunes, calm waves, and warm water. You can get a panoramic view of the surrounding desert, beaches, and Caribbean Sea if you climb the hill, which only takes 15 minutes. If you don’t fancy walking from the town, take a moto taxi.
- El Faro: Used by boats to navigate, this is the local lighthouse in the area. From here you can watch the spectacular sunset.
- Ojo de Agua: A beach that is named after a small freshwater pool located here.
- Punta Gallinas: Here you can see the desert, and where the sand dunes come and meet the sea. This is the most northern point in South America.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
There are many excursions and adventures that take you to the surrounding areas and to beautiful sights. It is one of the highlights of the trip here.
You can find lots of great places to eat at no matter which hostel you stay in, with many located along by the beach. A typical breakfast here is egg with bread. For lunch and dinner, the most common dish is seafood with rice. The fishermen are usually selling their fish when they arrive with the fresh catch of the day. Other options include goat, beef, or chicken. There are less vegetarian options available in Cabo, being a place still relatively untouristic.
There are not a whole lot of bars or pubs to be found here. Beer can be purchased in the small shops dotted around the town – most of it Venezuelan, imported at the nearby border. Remember to be respectful of the local community with your drinking behaviour and noise levels.
The average climate is about 28 degrees Celsius, and there is very little rainfall over the course of the year. The least amount of rainfall occurs in March and the most rainfall occurs in October.
Semana Santa, December, and January are the busiest times here, when Colombians visit and spoil the peacefulness you’d normally experience in Cabo.
You can get here on an organized tour from Santa Marta or Riohacha. However, if you’d like to visit Cabo independently, this is also possible.
From Santa Marta (in the Magdalena department), take a bus which is going to Maicao. Get off at Cuatro Vias – make sure you ask the driver to indicate when it’s your stop. It will take about 4 hours. From Cuatro Vias, catch a four-wheel drive to Uribia, which is a 30-minute journey. In Uribia, you’ll get a different 4X4 to Cabo de la Vela; roughly a 2 to 3-hour trip.
From Riohacha you can get a collective (mini-van) or shared taxi to Uribia, then do the same journey to reach Cabo de la Vela.
The main airport serving the Guijara department is the Almirante Padilla Airport, located south-west of Riohacha. Avianca operates here. From Bogota, it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flights from Medellin (4 hours) and Cartagena (4.5 hours) go via Bogota.
A bus from Bogota takes around 19 hours to Riohacha.
There are a number of beach-hut hostels, and simple guest houses. Don’t expect luxury – this is basic accommodation. The power is often cut off at night-time, so you may have to shower with a bucket of water.
A more dreamy option is spending the night out on the beach: simply use your sleeping bag, or rent a hammock or tent from a nearby hostel.
This region of Colombia has been said to be dangerous due to the guerrilla group’s activity in the area. Always make sure that the excursions you choose are safe and well known.
If you visit in the summer, bring insect repellent.