A Trip to Tolu


For my last weekend on my own, I wanted to explore the country around Cartagena. I looked in my Lonely Planet for ideas of a weekend getaway. Then I read it – 2 hours by bus to the south and a cute little beach town called Tolu! Sold! I took a trip to Tolu.

Planning for Tolu

I booked a hostel for Friday night in Tolu and packed my bag. Another independent adventure in Colombia! I couldn’t wait.  And when I learned the school was closing at 1pm on Friday, I was even more excited. I could catch an earlier bus and check out the seaside town before nightfall.  Fun!

Bus Ride to Tolu

The 2 hour bus ride turned out to be almost 4 (we left late and then got stuck behind something without moving for 40 minutes), so I missed the sunset. The bus leaves from the Terminal Transporte in Cartagena, supposedly every hour. I got to the terminal at 1:45P, was told the bus was at 2:30p and it left at 2:45p. The cost itself is very cheap, only 30,000 COP each way ($13.50 CAN, $10.50 US). The bus is air conditioned, has WIFI, reclining seats and shows movies. I am told this is standard for the distance bus services in Colombia. Not bad! I just wish it had been faster.

Arrival in Tolu

I did get an enjoyable bike taxi ride to my hostal and a nice night in a Colombian vacation town so the trip to Tolu is worth it despite the slow bus ride.

I walked around a bit, bought some water for my trip to the islands the next day, and looked for somewhere to have a small dinner.

Solo Travel Choices

I have found that being a lone woman traveller, I tend to gravitate towards different places than I would at home. The open air pool hall/bar looks very cool but since there isn’t one single woman in there, I won’t stop. There were many places in this pueblo filled with only men, and those were bad ideas for me.

Therefore, I ended up in a place I probably never would go to at home but I am glad I did- a very cute ice cream cafe. I chose it because the other tables were 3 older couples and a couple and their young child.  Wholesome places are right for me when I’m traveling solo! The open air pool hall can wait. The restaurant, called La Tienda, was cozy and the man behind the counter tried his English on me, told me he loved Canada and had worked with Canadians at his last job. If you ever go to Tolu, visit his place. I felt very welcome and the food was good too.

La Tienda ice cream shop in Tolu
La Tienda in Tolu

I had a hot dog (perro caliente) and a lemonade. They didn’t have salads.

The Only “Gringo” in Tolu

Tolu is a super cute town with a town square, a church, a couple of supermarkets and access to the beautiful Islas de San Bernardo, my destination for Saturday. The town and islands are popular with Colombians but I didn’t see any other “gringos” the whole weekend. I was the only foreigner on my bus and at my hostel. It was fine.

Hostal in Tolu

The hostal was cute and clean if a little old.  It was the first time in 3 weeks I had a bathroom to myself so that was a plus! It’s a little old but safe and has a very cute common area and outside cooking area and the manager was very helpful.

Villa Babilla Hostal Tolu
The hammocks in the common area at VillaBabilla Hostal

It was a good beginning to a great weekend.  Photos of Tolu were all taken during the day because I was warned not to flash my phone or camera at night.

Tolu shore
Tolu shore
Tolu Boats
Iglesia de Tolu
Iglesia (church) de Tolu
Tolu Centro
Tolu Centro

I am glad I had some time on the trip to Tolu to explore the town, but there really wasn’t much more for me to do as a solo traveler.

On Saturday I headed to Las Islas and you can read about it here.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

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