Nuqui and its surrounding tourist areas are very safe for tourism activities despite an outdated reputation for violence and paramilitary activity. There are however some basic precautions you should take when in Nuqui. Let’s look at some specific precautions for your trip.
Colombian Military presence:
Throughout the year (every few months) there is sometimes a small and temporary military base just west of Termales on the coast. The Colombian Army uses it for training and sometimes they will patrol on the beach near Termales or through the township so don’t be too alarmed if you see uniformed men with guns. It’s the official Colombian Army and they are no danger to you as a visitor to the area.
In decades gone by the paramilitary were active in the area around Nuqui but today their activity is not impactful to tourism and as such you are in no danger from them.
Getting to the Olaya Herrera Airport:
Assuming you are taking a flight to Nuqui (if you are taking the boat to or from Buenaventura then read this article on a breakdown of logistics, prices and what the trip is like) then you will need to get to the Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellin to take your flight. A taxi is a cheap and easy option.
The main point here is to be careful that you are getting a legitimate taxi with a meter. Taxis in Medellin are usually a light yellow color and should have a meter. If you are negotiating a price with the driver or there is no meter then you aren’t in a legitimate taxi so you might want to exit and grab another to be most safe. The meter will start with a few thousand COP on it and count up to your destination. Olaya Herrera Airport is no more than 10 minutes from Pablado (the main tourist area in Medellin) and probably won’t cost more than 10, 000 COP in a legit taxi (cost accurate as at January 2019 and outside of rush hours).
Waving down a taxi is fine but also you can ask your accommodation provider to book you a taxi or driver they trust if you’re in doubt. If you’re waiving one down try to do get one going in the general direction of your destination as sometimes it is difficult for them to turn around in certain streets in Medellin and you may end up taking a lot longer and costing more money.
The flight from Medellin to Nuqui:
We recommend flying with St German Airlines. The planes are professionally run and they provide more reliable services than other airlines, i.e. you’re more likely to have your flight leave on time etc.
Don’t have a flight yet? We can book flights for you once we have your full name, passport number, and date of Travel. You will pay no more than if you booked yourself through San German yourself. For every 12 flighs that we book through them we receive a free flight which helps us travel in between Nuqui and Medellin for supplies when we need them. Payment can be made by Colombian Bank deposit or cash on arrival.
Safety in Nuqui township:
Most tourists are not staying in Nuqui itself. It’s more of a transitory stop in between catching your flight and getting a boat to your hotel. If you are traveling in a group it is possible that your guide or hotel is picking you up and has transport arranged for you. In which case you won’t have much to worry about in terms of safety apart from putting on a life jacket in the boat and making sure electronics are in a waterproof bag.
If not and you are arranging your own transport then you will possibly have to kill 2-3 hours in Nuqui before catching your boat. Nuqui itself isn’t considered dangerous but the fact that you most likely have a lot of cash on you (because there are no cash machines or credit card facilities in Nuqui so you brought all the cash you need for your stay with you right?) means you should employ the normal precautions when in a new place and carrying a lot of cash. Split it up into 2-3 different safe places either on you or in your luggage and don’t go wandering off by yourself where you may be vulnerable. Stay near people, find a cafe and relax and wait for the boat. Las Flores is a good restaurant directly opposite the Nuqui Airport. The residents of Nuqui are actually very friendly and are happy to help or have a chat if you Spanish is up to it.
For a breakdown of the costs you might incur during your stay here see our article here. It includes examples of the costs of meals, boat rides, tourist taxes and activities.
The boat trip to your accommodation:
As we mentioned above the biggest danger is if there is no life jacket. Safety isn’t cool but it is wise so look for a life jacket when getting on the boat. If your boat doesn’t have one ask the driver for one and make sure you get it before leaving. You are going to be on a boat a few hundred meters offshore in the open ocean with waves and all so while the drivers are competent and experienced there is always a risk.
Other than that you will also most likely get wet so valuables like electronics should be in a waterproof bag.
Once at your hotel:
Again basic safety rules apply, lock your room. Even if you’re insured most policies won’t pay your claim if your room is unlocked and something is stolen. Keep reading for our suggestions on where to stay in the area.
Communities and areas around your hotel:
The hotels and townships are quite spread out here so you will likely be walking to get to various places. There isn’t much danger to speak of in doing so and people are often walking around after dark after visiting friends at another hotel for example but it’s best to bring a head torch or other light source to navigate your way around. There are no street lights here so it’s most likely pitch black at night and there is usually cloud cover so the moon is no help to you either!
As there are no roads here you will often be walking on the beach which means you should take note of high and low tide timings. If you are walking to a particular location make sure you can get there and back safely while taking account of the tides. Some locations will be partially cut off at high tide so potentially the way you came is under water on your return. You can check a tide chart for the area here which you can print off or download to your phone.
In summary, Nuqui isn’t any more dangerous than other places you’ve probably traveled to and some basic precautions will make sure you have a great time here. But what next? Read on for more information on where to stay and what to do here.
Where should you stay when you come to the Nuqui area?
We created a list of all the best places for all budgets (including contact details) here in this article. All of these hotels and small accommodations are friends of ours. We like to share the love around 🙂
What can you do when you come to the Nuqui area?
The Nuqui area is never lacking in activities no matter what time of year you are here. We wrote an article describing all of the options here including Wale Watching, Surfing, local cooking and much much more. It includes pricing and booking details.