With a burgeoning tourism industry, there aren’t many undiscovered gems left on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. However, the little town of Rincón del Mar is just that. It boasts a gorgeous beach with hardly any crowds. It’s also a great jumping off point to visit the San Bernardo Islands. If you’re interested in seeing this relatively undiscovered gem for yourself, read on for a complete travel guide to Rincón del Mar, Colombia, including why you should visit, how to get to Rincón, what to do, where to stay, some practical tips, and a packing list for Rincón del Mar, Colombia.
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Why You Should Visit Rincón del Mar, Colombia
Mostly for the gorgeous and relatively lightly travelled beach! The water is pretty and nearly crystal clear. The town itself also has a laid back atmosphere, making it perfect to escape for a few days and relax by the beach!
Rincón del Mar aka just Rincón is a little town of a few thousand. We went for a couple nights in January 2020, and even in the high season, the beach was not crowded at all. I imagine most of the rest of the year there is hardly any one at all.
While a tad out of way and lesser known than many destinations along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, I would really encourage those that have the time to fit it in to stop over for a couple nights in Rincón.
Unlike those two destinations that are several hours north of Cartagena, Rincón also is located off the road between Cartagena and Medellín. That makes it a great stop for those trekking between Cartagena and Medellín.
Rincón also offers access to the gorgeous San Bernardo Islands, which have some of the prettiest beaches in Colombia. Whether you want to spend a couple nights in the islands or just go for a day trip, doing the islands via Rincón is, in my opinion, a better option than via the more well known jumping off point of Tolú. Rincón is a lot prettier than Tolú.
*If you are going to do the islands, be sure check out my guide to them.
Convinced to visit the hidden gem of Rincón, Colombia yourself?
Read on to learn everything you need to know, including how to get to Rincón, what to do, where to stay in Rincón, as well as some practical travel tips and suggestions for what to pack.
Practical Guide to Rincón del Mar, Colombia – Contents
- How to Get to Rincón del Mar, Colombia
- What to Do in Rincón
- Where to Stay in Rincón
- Practical Travel Tips
- Packing List for Rincón, Colombia
How to Get to Rincón del Mar, Colombia
You will have to arrive first to the town of San Onofre. From there you can take mototaxis to Rincón.
How to Get to Rincón from Cartagena
Take a bus from the terminal in Cartagena to San Onofre. The price should be approximately 25,000-30,000 pesos.
The bus should take between 2 and 3 hours depending on traffic. There are some options you can book online listed at redbus.co, although in my experience they only have a fraction of the actual number of buses listed there.
How to Get to Rincón from Medellín
Again, you’ll want to get a bus to San Onofre. The price should be approximately 105-130,000 pesos.
The bus should take around 12 hours. I can’t encourage those going between Medellín and Cartagena enough to consider a stop in Rincón on the way.
How to Get to Rincón from Elsewhere
If you can’t get a bus direct to San Onofre, then aim to get one to Sincelejo, where you can easily get another to San Onofre
Once in San Onofre, How to Get to Rincón del Mar
You can get mototaxis to Rincón from San Onofre for approximately 10,000 pesos. You should be able to find motos at the gas station where the bus drops you off.
You may also find some cars for hire there that should charge approximately 30,000 pesos.
The road is a tad bumpy, but you should be in Rincón in about half an hour. You should be able to easily set up a moto back to San Onofre when you leave Rincón.
It’s never a bad idea to ask the hostel or hotel where you plan to stay in Rincón as well to check the latest normal prices and if they have partners they work with.
What to Do in Rincón del Mar
Enjoy the Beach!
This really is the main attraction! I liked that the hostels and houses don’t come right up to the beach for the most part in Rincón. There’s a good bit of beach, and it is really pretty.
If you are willing to do a bit of exploring, walk along the beach on either end of town, and you will find the beaches mostly deserted. A few homes off the beach, but practically no one.
In fact, I went for a nice long walk one morning up the beach past the road that enters town. Once you go past a bit of shade tents, there is practically nothing.
There isn’t a ton of beach since the palm trees come almost right up to the water, but if you find a bit of shade, you’re likely to be with your thoughts and not much else to enjoy the gorgeous Caribbean Sea in front of you!
Visit the Gorgeous San Bernardo Islands
I think Rincón is probaly the best jumping off point to visit the San Bernardo Islands, especially if you aren’t looking to go directly to or from Cartagena. By going through Rincón, you’ll likely save some pesos and get to see another great beach.
The islands are located approximately half an hour off the coast from Rincón. The gorgeous beaches of Tintipán and Mucura as well as the most densely populated island in the world Santa Cruz del Islote are the main attractions in the islands.
You should be able to easily arrange a day tour to the islands that stop at those three points with your hostel or hotel or along the beach where the boats are tied up by the road into town. The day tour should run you around 50-60,000 pesos, lunch not included.
If you want to stay in the islands themselves, you should be able to arrange that your boat driver drop you at the hostel or hotel you plan to stay in and come back to get you when you plan to leave (do expect to pay full price both ways as they are giving up the spot on the boat, but perhaps you could try to negotiate).
We went to the islands via Tolú back in July 2019, and if we were to ever go back we would definitely do so through Rincón. If you want to know more about the islands (especially if you plan to stay there for a couple nights), be sure to check out my full guide to the San Bernardo Islands.
See the Bioluminescent Plankton
We actually didn’t do this when we went to Rincón, but we did it out in the islands before. It is a really neat experience!
As you kick and splash in the water, you’ll see a glow around you as the tiny plankton react to the movement (trust me, the more you kick around, the more they will glow).
What did sound especially cool about doing this tour in Rincón is that it includes a stop just before sunset at Isla Pájaro, a nearby island where you can see lots of birds species. So it’s really a 2 for 1.
If you haven’t done a Bioluminescent Plankton tour elsewhere, you should definitely include it on your list of things to do in Rincón del Mar!
Go Horseback Riding on the Beach
At least where we stayed at Hostel Mamallena, they also offered horseback riding. We also didn’t do this, as Susana isn’t a fan after we did it once in the Valle de Cocora when we visited Salento.
You’ll ride out of town and see some of the surrounding countryside before riding back along the beach. This is the kind of dreamy, honeymoon horseback riding on a deserted beach like in the movies. For those without a horseback phobia like Susana, it definitely makes the list of what to do in Rincón del Mar, Colombia.
Watch the Gorgeous Sunset
I have to say that the sunset in Rincón was among the prettiest I’ve seen in Colombia!
The sun sets directly out to sea over the Caribbean. You’ll definitely want a front row seat along the beach to enjoy the sun going down in front of you and filling up the sky with pretty colors.
Have Drinks at Dos Aguas
If you head up towards the far side of town from the road in (you can go along the beach or in town), you’ll eventually come to a little foot bridge.
After passing that, you’ll come out to an even less crowded part of the beach. Along that stretch, you’ll find Dos Aguas Lodge. With a cool, sort of hippie, bohemian vibe, they have a nice little bar.
We stopped in and had a few drinks here one night. I had a couple ginger mules, similar to a moscow mule with fresh ginger and cucumber, and Susana had a maracuya margarita. It’s a cool vibe, reminiscent of Palomino, but again with smaller crowds.
They also had some good sounding tapas and vegetarian friendly fare on offer. Best of all, the prices were pretty decent at around 15-20,000 pesos a drink with a 2×1 happy hour deals.
There was also a recently opened little beach bar just by Hostel Mamallena, where we stayed. They had a good Cuba Libre and Piña Colada. It’s a great place for an afternoon or early evening drink on the beach!
Just Chill Out
This really is a big part of the reason to visit Rincón. I was able to do a fair amount of reading. I also took a nice nap in the hammocks at our hostel one day (I napped in a chair too, but the hammock was cooler).
With so few crowds and a laid back vibe, Rincón really is perfect to spend a couple days by the beach just relaxing!
Where to Eat in Rincón
We ate dinner and lunch once each at La Negrita. A locally run establishment, it’s possibly the most famous restaurant in Rincón.
Between us all, we tried the camarones al ajillo (shrimp in a garlic, butter sauce), shrimp rice, and fried fish. It was all delicious, and all meals come with a serving of fish soup. The patacones were also very good.
They also do a good and big breakfast.
Next door to Hostel Mamallena, we also had pizza one night at Kapito Harri. It was pretty solid and they also have decent burgers on offer if you’re looking for something different than seafood (they do have seafood too). Also, they have craft beer Marantá from Montería on offer and tasty ice cream.
I also had breakfast the morning I went for a long walk up and down town at Casa Sattva. They looked they had a good dinner and drink menu as well.
Where to Stay in Rincón del Mar, Colombia
Where We Stayed – Hostel Mamallena – Can’t Beat Value
Honestly, for the price, you can’t beat Hostel Mamallena on the Beach as a great hostel in Rincón. As cheap, if not cheaper, as you’ll pay for a hostel or hotel in Cartagena, it’s right on the beach. It is also located centrally, just a couple blocks from the road entering Rincón.
It’s your basic hostel accommodations, bunkbeds with some group and private rooms and the choice of only fans or a/c. The rooms and bathrooms are all plenty clean (trust me I’ve seen unclean hostels, and this was among the cleanest). There is also a communal kitchen with your normal assortment of pots and pans to use.
There’s also a great view of that beautiful sunset. There are also hammocks and beach chairs, and all of the tours mentioned above can be arranged through the hostel. You can read my full review of the hostel here.
It was one of the first hostels in town, and while there are some newer, higher end options, the location and price can’t be beat and is perfect for budget travelers and backpackers!
Full Disclosure: We were given 2 nights free accommodation in exchange for sharing our experience. We were truly really pleased with Hostel Mamallena and would definitely recommend it.
Other Places to Stay in Rincón
Dos Aguas Lodge – Bohemian Luxury in Rincón
As noted above, we had drinks at Dos Aguas one night. Located at the end of town, it does have a fairly exclusive beach, and, of course, that cool bar. It is of course on the higher end. Still travelers looking for a more removed area and willing to pay a higher price or looking for a hostel vibe with more hotel like lodging might like it.
Casa Sattva – Boutique Style Hotel in Rincón
Located about a block past the footbridge near the end of town, Casa Sattva is also a fairly new property in Rincón. As I said above, I stopped in for breakfast here one day. The beach directly in front isn’t the best, but the hotel seemed very nice and modern. The food also wasn’t half bad and the location is nice on an almost little point with some pretty beach just past it.
Practical Travel Tips for Rincón, Colombia
- There is no ATM in Rincón, so make sure you have cash. You can find an ATM in San Onofre.
- Likewise there are no large supermarkets in Rincón. You can find basic goods at cheap prices like water, eggs, veggies, and snacks at little tiendas throughout town. There are also shops with things like sunscreen and bug spray. If you want something in particular, it is probably worth getting it at the Olimpica supermarket around the main plaza in San Onofre.
- The water is not drinkable. However, shops in town sell water pretty cheaply (we paid 2,000 pesos for a liter bottle).
- Rincón is fairly quiet. Don’t expect much of a nightlife. However no one should give you too hard of a time for drinking a bottle of rum with some music on the beach, just keep in mind most of the locals prefer it to not get too loud at night.
- You should definitely plan to arrange your transportation out of town before too late in the afternoon and certainly before nightfall to make sure you get a bus from San Onofre to wherever you’re heading after. I’d suggest checking about bus times on your way in so you know for sure when to head back inland.
- If you do head up the beach from either side of town (which you should), do keep off the private property inland (you’ll see barbed wire or fencing).
Packing List for Rincón del Mar, Colombia
Useful Travel Gear
- If you’re looking for a good travel bag, I love my Osprey Porter 46L Pack. It’s a good size, and you can use as a backpack, perfect for riding on a mototaxi into Rincón. You can also carry it as a duffel (shoulder-strap is not included; I have this generic one). It holds more than I expected, especially if you use a set of packing cubes. It also has straps for condensing it when it’s not full. You could also check out the Farpoint 40L that is a tad smaller but has thicker and more comfortable backpack straps.
- I also love my Roam Packable Backpack. It folds up into the front pouch. That makes it perfect for stuffing into a larger pack and carrying as a day pack to visit the beach. It works perfect to hold a towel, water, sunscreen, and book when heading to the beach. You can see my full review of the bag here.
- The ladies in particular will also like this cute drawstring bag with Caribbean style.
- If you are going to go to the islands (which you really should!), this 3 pack of waterproof bag, shoulder bag, and phone pouch would also be handy to protect your camera or anything else you’d prefer not to get wet on the boat ride.
- This palm sized first aid kit may also come in handy if you should need it in a fairly isolated town like Rincón.
- Keep in in mind Rincón is fairly isolated, so some Pepto Bismol can come in handy if traveler’s stomach strikes while you’re there.
- Finally, considering there’s no ATM and you’ll have to carry cash into Rincón, a Pacsafe can come in handy. I’d rather trust people, but I’d also rather be safe than sorry. You can get a larger, theft proof safe bag. Or for more discrete options, consider a bra pouch, a sling bag, or a necklace pouch to help keep that cash money safe.
Accessories to Pack
- The pretty water at the beaches of Rincón aren’t half bad for snorkeling, and you’ll save some rental pesos by packing your own snorkeling gear. You will also definitely want them for the islands.
- You’ll also want a good travel towel if you stay in a hostel. The Rainleaf Microfiber is one of the best travel towels around.
- I love my RawWood Bamboo sunglasses. The green lenses are perfect for the laid back Caribbean vibes of Rincón. You can see my review of them here.
- You also don’t want to forget your sunscreen. I like Coppertone Sport as it seems to hold up to both the sea and sweat.
- You will also want bug spray. We actually didn’t get bit too bad, but one night a few mosquitos did come out and my experience on beaches like Rincón is if there isn’t a nice breeze they come out in force. My favorite repellant is OFF! Deep Woods, which you can get in spray or towelette form.
- I also love my Takeya water bottle. It keeps things cold all day, perfect for carrying to the beach. You’ll also save a few pesos and be more environmentally friendly than buying plastic water bottles. If you want something easier to pack, check out this roll up bottle.
- Rincón does suffer occasional power outages. If you use your phone for pictures or will need a charge for something else, a backup battery might be handy to have.
Don’t Forget Your Beach Gear
- For the girls, this sporty leaf print bikini would be perfect for the Caribbean sea of Rincón.
- My wife has a this cute minidress beach coverup and likes it a lot. You could opt for a sultrier look with this skirt sarong.
- For the guys, check out thesepalm tree print board shorts.
- A beach towel is also a necessity , and these cool retro designed microfibers from Dock and Bay are perfect. You could also check out the neat designs from Elite Trend.
- Finally, this packable Panama hat is great for the beach. The ladies should also consider this floppy sun hat, also packable by rolling it up.
There you have it, a complete travel guide to Rincón del Mar, Colombia. If you decide to visit this hidden gem beach town, I hope if helped you plan your visit, but more importantly, I hope you have a great time!
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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You may also be interested in the following posts:
Hostel Mamallena on the Beach Review
Practical Travel Guide to Colombia’s San Bernardo Islands
Ultimate Guide to Palomino, Colombia’s Hippest Beach Town
Complete Guide to Visiting the Rosario Islands from Cartagena
Playa Blanca, Barú – Complete Guide from Cartagena
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Insider’s Guide to the Best Areas to Stay in Cartagena
Complete Packing List for Cartagena
Top Things to Do in Cartagena