This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Tolú. To help you make friends with Tolú before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Tolu (also known as Santiago del Tolu) is a small Colombian town in the Sucre department on the Caribbean coast. It is in the centre of a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay on the Morrosquillo Gulf. Tolu is popular with Colombians who come for fishing, diving, and island treks; it is one of coastal Colombia’s busiest local destinations and you’re see very few foreign tourists.
The biggest reason to come to Tolu is to visit the Archipelago de San Bernardo. The islands are similar to the nearby Islas de Rosario, but with less tourists. The two island groups make up the Parque Nacional Natural Corales. If possible, stay on Isla Mucura for a night or two to really experience the national park. You can snorkel, fish, or scuba dive.
You can get to Tolu by bus from Cartagena; it takes about three hours. Once you’re in town, you will need to take a bicycle taxi (bicitaxi) to your hostel. Don’t worry if you think you have too much stuff - they are converted and can handle luggage and people; they’re also almost always kitted out with a stereo. Hostels in Tolu are basic but clean and staffed by friendly locals. Most hostels are in the main town and fairly accessible to the cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that populate Tolu’s city centre. You may find hostels listed under guesthouses, but budget accommodation in Tolu is easy to find.
If you’re staying in Tolu instead of camping out on Isla Mucura, you also need to get out of town to the natural attractions. One of the most popular attractions in Tolu, besides the islands, is El Volcan de Lodo. You have to take a bus out here, but its worth it. Locals say the mud has healing powers, or at least some youthful regeneration powers. Expect to get slathered in mud by an attendant and then sent to the river to clean off. There is an admission charge, and your hostel can arrange transportation for you.
Written by local enthusiast for Tolú hostelsJakob Lombardi