Most tourists in Buenaventura will contain themselves within a few-block area downtown surrounding the Bulevar, the city’s main plaza. There’s the Muelle Turistico, the rickety tourist pier (COP$4,500 admission) that makes for a pleasant walk. Artisan stalls hawking handicrafts made from coconuts, honey, and viche (the local aguardiente) line the route there.

A 25-minute boat ride away from Buenaventura, outside of the bay, are the towns of Juanchaco and Ladrilleros ★. Juanchaco, facing the bay, is less pleasant, while Ladrilleros is directly on the Pacific coast and has better beaches and good waves for surfers (Aug–Nov), attracting weekenders from Cali. Both are within easy reach of Parque Nacional Natural Uramba Bahía Málaga, a coastal reserve that was turned into a national park in 2010. Most come here between June and October, when the humpback whales come to breed just off shore. Whale-watching tours ★★ can be arranged at hotels in Ladrilleros, or from the agencies beside the Muelle Turistico in Buenaventura, for around COP$50,000 per person.

Many visitors to Buenaventura skip the city entirely and opt to stay on the beach in Ladrilleros at the family-friendly Reserva Aguamarina (; tel. 1/728-3213; doubles COP$110,000, including all meals), with basic but clean rooms with balconies, not to mention a restaurant, pool, and numerous tours options. There’s also Papagayos Beach Hotel (; tel. 2/551-8505; doubles from COP$114,000, including all meals), or Hotel Pacific Blue (; tel. 2/667-6521; doubles from COP$75,000, including all meals), both with simple rooms and cabins with air-conditioning and private bathrooms.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.