Malpelo Island in Cauca Department – Colombia

Malpelo Island is one of Colombia’s premiere tourist destinations. It is famous for its beautiful waters and the many activities that you can do there. Its Spanish name is Isla de Malpelo.

Location and How to Get to This Specific Site

The island is situated 378 km (235 miles) from the Pacific coast of Colombia. It is approximately 362 km (225 miles) off the Panamanian coast. The island can be reached by boat.

What to See There

The island’s main feature are three tall peaks. The tallest is Cerro de la Mona which reaches up to 300 meters (980 ft). There are several offshore rocks around it. To the southwest are Escuba, La Gringa and Saul. The Malpelo Nature Reserve is a wildlife and plant sanctuary. It is also in the southwest sector of the island.


The island is uninhabited save for a Colombian military post. This post was set up way back in 1986. The total land measures 0.35 square kilometers (86 acres). The Malpelo Island is now the property of the Cauca Department.

Various theories have emerged to explain the island’s origin. Many scientists believe that it is a part of the oceanic crust. It all likelihood it is a hotspot manifestation.

It is composed primarily of Tertiary basaltic dikes, volcanic breccias and pillow lavas. Close inspection of the island will show traces of shrubs, mosses, lichen and algae.

In 2006, the island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are now efforts to preserve the site. This is necessary to conserve the site’s biodiversity.


Cost of diving courses vary, but for beginners it is around $250. This is a thorough five day course. If you want to go diving in a boat, the expenses will be higher. An eight-day cruise will cost at least 3,000 USD per person. The cost will go up if you choose a high end cruise ship.

Other Info

The island is also known for its sharks. It isn’t uncommon to see hundreds of hammerhead sharks around its waters. Swarms of silky sharks can also be seen under the island’s waters. It is also one of the few places where the Smalltooth sand tiger can be seen. The creature can be spotted at the “El bajo del Monstruo” dive site.

If you are going on a trip to Malpelo Island, you will need to get permission from the Colombian Ministry of Ecology. The permission must be in written form.