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Colombia: Isla Gorgona Marine National Park

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Diving in Colombia: Isla Gorgona Marine National Park

 

While on a wider trip to Colombia, I took the opportunity to spend five days on Isla Gorgona, which is a small island off the Pacific Ocean coast of Colombia. The island has a chequered history, being used as a notorious prison to house the worst of Colombia’s offenders between 1959 and 1984, when it was closed on humanitarian grounds. Covered in thick jungle, infested with snakes, surrounded by currents and sharks and 35 km off the mainland, the island was considered escape proof (although one documented escape did occur).


When the prison closed, the island was declared a national park including the surrounding waters, and while the prison has been retaken by the jungle, the warden’s quarters have been converted into visitor accommodation. Island stays and dives must be booked in advance at https://www.vivegorgona.com/

 

Location of Gorgona island off the Pacific coast of Colombia

 

 

The island is reached by speed boat, three times a week from from Gaupi on the mainland (one flight per day from Cali by Satena), and visitor numbers are limited. When I was there the majority of visitors were whale watching, with only a few divers. We saw many humpbacks on the surface and heard but did not see any underwater. It was possible to visit the remains of the prison and go on guided walks in the jungle. Food and accommodation was basic but ok. I spent five days, six nights on the island.


One spot in particular off the north of the island was good for schools of pelagic fish and sharks.

 

 

 

The dive boat

entrance to the old prision

Spotted puffer fish

painted sweetlips

schooling barracuda

schooling trevally

Pair of big eyetrevally

moray eel

White tip shark

shark close up

Bull shark overhead

humpback whale

 

 

In conclusion my time on and diving around Gorgona island was different and interesting both above and below the water. The cost was $AUD 1400 all inclusive from Gaupi.