Riohacha is the capital of the department of La Guajira. The city with 188,000 inhabitants (2018) is on the Caribbean coast and the land behind the town is rather desert-like.
1 Almirante Padilla Airport (3 km (1.9 mi) south-west of the centre of Riohacha). There are taxis going to the city.
You may also want to consider flying to the airport of Santa Marta. There can be big savings, especially on last-minute flights. From Santa Marta there are intercity buses to Riohacha.
The 2 Terminal de Transporte is 1 km south of the city centre at junction Caerera 11 and Avenida El Progreso. A taxi to the centre is COP$5,000 (Oct 2021). Buses of Expreso Brasilia/Unitransco go:
- from Santa Marta: 2½ hours (every half hour). Several intercity bus companies like Brasilia, Copetran, Unitransco and Exalpa. In Oct 2021 it was COP$30,000 with Copetran
- from Barranquilla: 5 hours (every half hour)
- from Cartagena: 7 hours (every hour)
- from Maicao: 1 hour
- from Bogota: 18 hours (once a day)
Buses with COPetram go:
- from Bucaramanga: 12 hours (8AM, 3:30PM)
- from Valledupar: 3½ hours (8:15AM, 3:30PM)
- from Uribia: 1 hour with a colectivo. In Uriba you can change buses from Cabo de la Vela.
Coming from a village between Santa Marta and Palomino: Only a few intercity bus companies allow you to join the ride. For example Brasilia and Copetrans don't. It could take some time until you can depart. To Palomino you can take the white bus. In Palomino are shared taxis to the Calle 15 (Highway 90) in Riohacha for COP$20,000 (Oct 2021) and to your accommodation in Riohacha for COP$25,000 (Oct 2021).
Downtown Riohacha is very walkable. There's nothing much to see outside of the ten or so square blocks around the ocean. If you need to take some wheels, it's easy to hail a cab.
Mototaxis cannot go to the old centre, only taxi cars.
- 1 Beach. Riohacha presents a much less touristy Colombian beach than what you will find in Barranquilla or Cartagena. The beach runs along the coast of the city and tends to be relatively crowded with locals and a smattering of Colombian tourists during the high season. You can also take a stroll out onto the pier where la virgen Mary awaits you at the end.
- 2 Colonial churches. There are a couple of colonial churches in the downtown area.
- Tourist dock: Located on the beaches of Riohacha, it offers a privileged location to observe the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, it has also become an extension of the boardwalk of 1ra or 14 de Mayo street. At the end of the dock there is an image of the Virgen del Rosario or Fátima, carved in wood, which is why this point has become a pilgrimage site for those who like religious tourism.
- Monument Identity: Tourist boulevard: Along Calle 1ra, facing the sea, this boulevard extends, which offers a special walk, where you can buy Wayuú handicrafts, directly from the hands of artisans, enjoy a delicious shrimp cocktail, see monuments that are on this boulevard, among them the 9-meter-high Identity monument, the sculpture of El Palabrero, the Obelisk with the castes of the Wayuu Ethnic Group, the 'I Love Riohacha' sign and others, which make it entertaining and the ride is happier.
- Wayuu handicrafts: Wayuu handicrafts on the boulevard Malecón de Riohacha in the 1th street.
- Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary In Camarones, a village 20 kilometers from Riohacha, is this sanctuary, a refuge for the beautiful Pink Flamingos, striking for their characteristic color and size. This place offers tours so that visitors can admire the landscapes and spot the flamingos.
- Rancherías Wayuu: If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of the indigenous Wayuu, you must visit a ranchería, towards the outskirts of Riohacha, several communities offer the experience of visiting real rancherías, where you can learn a little more about the customs, eat their dishes more traditional and even dance the dance of their ancestors. Contact a travel agency to do that.
- Valle de los Cangrejos: It is a swamp area, formed by the Ranchería River delta, where you can see different types of birds and mangroves, in addition to its characteristic crabs and crabs. It also has a wide beach with medium waves. It is not a very exploited destination, so not all tourism agencies include it in their plans, it will be necessary for those who want to visit it to inquire about the existing options.
- Laguna Salá: It is a wetland that was formed with the waters of the Ranchería River, since it was once linked to the river, it was the scene of the Battle of Laguna Salada, on May 25, 1820. It still offers a beautiful landscape, in which herons and gannets can be observed, although it has been reduced due to the urban growth of the city.
- "El Riito" ecocultural trail: It is a dock that starts from the bridge over the Riíto, bordering the Ranchería River, until reaching the town of Villa Fátima, with a route of approximately one and a half kilometers. Due to the fact that it is a mangrove area and because of its low maintenance, it is not very visited, but it offers beautiful landscapes of the Ranchería River.
- Kitesurfing and windsurfing: The practice of these two sports is very well received in the city, especially in the afternoons. Local sailors with their own equipment meet on the city's beaches known as Anasmai, where there are usually no bathers and they enjoy the wind and the sea. Anasmai is a wide and extensive beach passing the Ranchería River to the north of the city within the urban area. Although you can navigate the entire Riohacha coast, this beach is the one indicated by the Port Authority for practices. For tourists or visiting sailors without equipment or curious who want to learn, there are some schools in the city that provide services, give lessons and rent material.
- Gateway to the desert: Due to its location and because it is the only city in the department that has an airport, Riohacha becomes an obligatory stopover for those whose final destination is the Alta Guajira desert, where they find places such as Cabo de la Vela, which has a beautiful beach in the desert and Punta Gallinas, the northernmost place in Colombia and South America.
ATMs are available throughout the city. For example at the beach is a 1 BBVA Bank. It has 2 ATMs.
A very good place to buy Wayu artesan products, mochilas in particular.
At the Plaza José Prudencio Padilla is some 1 street food in the morning.
And at Carrera 7A/Calle 14 you can find 2 street food.
- The simple restaurant inside the Terminal de Transporte is good. They serve a main dish, a drink and a soup for COP$10,000 altogether (Oct 2021).
- 3 Restaurante Casa China. Tasty Chinese restaurant with big portions of a main dish from COP$17,000 (Oct 2021). They have a menu card. As of Oct 2021 it's only take away.
- 4 Restaurante BrasaMar. It has a view on the beach. Tasty Spaghetti Bolognese for COP$17,000, and Salchipapa for COP$10,000. They also serve breakfast until 10:30AM for COP$7,000-12,000.
- 5 NOA Restaurante. It's a delicious Colombian simple restaurant. They have a good variety of meat. A main dish plus soup and drink is from COP$8,000 . It's open from lunch time until 11:30PM. On Wednesdays it's closed.
- 6 Captain Marino. Here you get three pieces of empanadas filled with shrimps for COP$10,000
There are a string of bars and small clubs along the ocean which serve Aguila on tap and a few imports.
There is a surprisingly wide variety of accommodation in Riohacha. It's a hot city, you may want to have a room with air conditioning. The most expensive places tend to be located next to the beach, with a series of slightly dated mega-hotels. Expect discounts of up to 60% in the off season or for rooms that do not face the ocean.
Lower priced are small bunkhouses and guest hostels further away from the beach. Try just east of the bus station. As of July 2009, be warned that many of these places cater to internal refugees displaced from Colombia's long drug wars. You will probably be sharing with some (mostly friendly) long term guests.
- 1 Nueve Uno Hostel, Cra. 9 ### 1 - 32. With air conditioning and directly at the beach and the plaza. Dorm beds are for COP$30,000 and have a roller blind.
- 2 Bona Vida Hostel, Calle 3 #10-10, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. It is one block from the main plaza. Run by a great couple, they can tell you how to get to Cabo de la Vela and Punto Gallinas and can call one of the colectivos to pick you up from the door to take you to Uribia. Free breakfast and coffee, fast wifi, common room, lockers. The dorm is for COP$30,000 and without A/C.
- 3 El Castillo del Mar. Great German-owned hotel on the west side of the beach. At the hotel there is a branch of Kai Ecotravel, who was the first offering La Guajira tours for the big public.
- 4 Casa Patio Bonita. Opened in 2013 by a Canadian expat and his Colombian wife. The different rooms are around a nice courtyard, where the breakfast is being served. The owners help you with organizing tours to La Guajira.
- Hotel International. Wifi available in reception. Opposite the market, 3 blocks east of the bus terminal, take a left just after the park. The hotel is tucked between a few jewelry stores, it might be easier to find at night as the shops that flank the entrance are closed.
Hostels and private rooms are available ...:
in the south
- Valledupar – 190 km
in the west
- Camarones – 25 km
- Dibulla – 60 km
- Buritaca – 120 km
- Guachaca – 125 km
- Tayrona National Park – 135 km
- Santa Marta – 170 km
in the north-east
- Cabo de la Vela – 160 km. From there to Punta Gallinas – beautiful dunes, desert, exotic beaches and sacred indigenous culture