Gorgona Island National Natural Park

The purity of nature and the mystery of history come together in a single place.

Many have heard of Colombia’s famous islands; vast territories bathed by the waters of the Pacific, covered with exquisite flora and the most beautiful and colourful Caribbean passages of the continent.

But there is one island in particular that not only attracts local and foreign visitors for its white sands and turquoise waters, but also for the dark and fascinating stories that, for decades, have been nestled among its leafy palm trees: Gorgona Island.

The Gorgona Island National Natural Park is the second and largest Colombian island in the Pacific Ocean. It is located 55 kilometres from the bay and can be accessed from the port of Guapi, in the department of Cauca.

Hundreds of endemic species share Gorgona Island. Source: Vive Gorgona
Hundreds of endemic species share Gorgona Island. Source: Vive Gorgona

With an extension of 1600 hectares and 90% of tropical forest, Isla Gorgona is the dream destination of many local and foreign biologists, due to the fact that it is a virgin forest and the behaviour of the flora and fauna is totally complete.

It is one of the richest nature reserves in terms of wildlife, harbouring hundreds of species, including some that have not been found outside the island, such as the blue-footed booby, the blue lizard and the bay sloth.

Pacific humpback whales: only for the lucky ones

Between the months of July and October, Colombian waters welcome dozens of humpback whales seeking the warmth they provide, offering us majestic spectacles.

Sighting of a vallenato playing near Gorgona Island
Sighting of a vallenato playing near Gorgona Island.

And as if that weren’t enough, these majestic mammals honor Gorgona Island with their births every year. So, not only can you see giant bodies, but also, small calves playing around their mothers.

One of the most curious facts about the island is that, from the air, you can see that its territory has a shape similar to these species, and at the foot of one of the ends, rests a small islet, resembling a calf.

The secrets of Gorgon Island and its touch of darkness

But it’s not just nature lovers who make the most of all that Gorgon Island has to offer. Fans of incredible stories and dark ruins also get their slice of the cake. In the 1960s, this territory was chosen by the government to build a maximum security prison.

This prison was active for 24 years until it was closed due to demonstrations by human rights and ecological defenders when, little by little, information began to leak out about the torture practices and crimes against humanity to which the inmates were subjected.

Entrance to the maximum security prison on Gorgona Island. Source: El Universo
Entrance to the maximum security prison on Gorgona Island. Source: Vive Gorgona

Gorgona Island still preserves the crumbling buildings where many atrocities were committed over the years and is the main destination that visitors access with the guidance of park officials.

If you want to know the history of this prison and also see a little more of the wonders of Gorgona Island, our friends from Caminantr3s elaborated 5 completely detailed and entertaining reports during their stay in this marvellous and mysterious place.

What to do on Gorgona Island?

Tourists who visit Gorgona Island usually set aside between 3 and 4 days just to enjoy the park, because it not only has multiple recreational activities, but also an infinite number of places to visit.

Activities and places on Gorgona Island

  • Diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Trekking
  • White Beach
  • Pizarro Beach
  • La Azufrada
  • Palmeras Beach
  • Yundigua Beach
  • The Old Pier
  • The prison facilities
  • The Payán House
  • The Eco-shop with books, souvenirs and handicrafts
  • Archaeology Hall
  • Hall of History of the prison
  • Environmental Interpretation Centre
  • Scientific Installation
  • Meteorological Station
  • Diving Station.
Diving on the reefs of Gorgona Island.
Diving on the reefs of Gorgona Island.

Visits and stay at Gorgona Island Park

The Park is directly regulated by Parques Nacionales de Colombia in alliance with the company Destino Pacifico, who are in charge of everything related to lodging, maintenance and food. On their website, you will be able to consult directly the rates of stay, entrance fees and detailed guides of the sponsored activities.

How to get there?

There are two ways to get to Gorgona Island. The first is from the municipality of Guapi, which can be reached by air from Cali or Popayán to the Juan Casiano Solís airport on the Satena airline.

Once in Guapi, you must locate the main port and the boats destined for this purpose. The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and is a journey downriver to the open sea.

The second way is from Buenaventura, by sea to the port of Guapi. It is not the preferred way, as the trip takes about 4 hours. But if you are a sailing lover, this is the way designed for you.

Sea view from the visitor accommodation on Gorgon Island.
Sea view from the visitor accommodation on Gorgon Island.

A holiday with a difference

Unlike many destinations, travelling to Gorgona Island is definitely something different to experience. There, travellers find themselves, not only because of the wildness of the ecosystem, but also because of the tranquillity and natural musicality that nature brings day and night.

Don’t wait too long to plan your next trip to this hidden paradise in the vast Pacific.

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