We arrived in Turbo with a boat from San Pacho at 7:00am. The bus for Medelín was supposed to leave at around 10:00am so we thought we had enough time to take a breakfast and then stroll around the town for a while. Luckily, we only had little luggage so it was easy to move around the streets that were bustling with life.
Leaving the dock we crossed the bridge and came to the main plaza. There were a few bars/restaurants and we chose one that looked quite nice and had a spacious outdoor seating. Another advantage was a big and clean bathroom where we could change from shorts and flip-flops to bus clothes (remember, in Colombian buses it's always freezing). It's only for the guests and you get the key at the bar.
Favorite Dish: To my disappointment, at the time of my visit of Triganá and San Pacho there weren't a lot of fruit available. This was something that I really missed. So it was quite obvious that the first thing I wanted to have after arriving in Turbo was the fruit. The place we went was recommended by local people and we were not disappointed. The fruit salads we got were huge and very delicious. But that was not all. They played La Gota Fria, my favourite Carlos Vives song :) And not to mention that I was in the company of somebody who looked quite alike, haha.
There is no overland route to Triganá, the boat from Turbo is the only way to get there. Turbo has a daily speed boat connection to Triganá which leaves in the early morning (around 8:30am) when the sea is calmer. You need to buy the boat ticket at the dock office of Cootransflumar. It was 35.000 COP one way (December 2009). Hopefully you are travelling light because they try to charge you a lot of money for excess baggage.
The boat ride takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and can be rather rough, depending how the sea is. The boat goes fast and bump on the water violently. The sea (and the ride) is often much smoother from August to November. The best seats in the boat are the ones in the back though you will most likely get wet. If you sit in the front, you'll be dry and can get a better view, but it is very bumpy and your back won't like it. For your own safety, hold on firmly.
Be sure to cover your belongings. They sell plastic bags to put around your luggage (2.000 COP each). You'll be given life jacket. Wear sunscreen and a hat. I recommend you to wear shorts and flip-flops. You will be able to change from your bus clothes at the dock (El Waffe).
The return ride was about 30 minutes faster and (thankfully!) smoother because the boat was going with the current. The boat coming from Triganá left San Pacho at 6:00am.
Turbo is on the Pan-American highway and there are regular buses here from Medellín. They leave from Terminal de Norte. Two bus companies travel to Turbo on alternating days, Sotraurabá and Gómez Hernández. It is recommended to travel at night and thus arrive in Turbo early in the morning, a few hours before catching the boat to Capurganá or Triganá (they only have morning departures). In the past, the area was not recommended to travel at night due to guerrilla activities but nowadays it is safe.
I travelled with Gómez Hernández and took a 9:00pm bus which was 56.000 COP (December 2009). The bus was quite comfortable, with a toilet and TV. But as usually, the air-conditioning made it really cold so I was glad I wore warm clothes and had a little blanket with me. In the morning you can see many banana plantations - Urabá is Colombia's banana growing region.
We arrived in Turbo at 5:00am. There is no real bus station (only a very small basic terminal) but most of the companies are located on Calle 10. El Waffe, the dock area, is just around the corner.
After returning from San Pacho I took a 10:30am bus back to Medellín. I knew that 56.000 COP for such journey was beyond any reasonable limits. When I asked for the better price there was no problem to get it for 50.000 COP. The road is one of the worst main highways in Colombia. On the way we made a stop for lunch and then arrived to Terminal de Norte in Medellín at 18:30pm. Then I took a metro to El Poblado.
In case you need to take those motor-boats to Acandí, Triganá, Capurganá and so on (if you're heading north to Panama) ... this is the company handling all the services.
Terminal de Transporte Fluvial
Tel.: 827 87 90
Turbo - Antioquia
Be aware that they started weighting the luggage. There's a maximum of 12 Kg per person (which is nothing!) ... so at the moment they start calling people, try to hide your hand baggage. They may go crazy about charging you for every little thing you carry!
The price for extra kilo is around $500 to $800 ... I'm not sure.
And in case you're heading to Capurganá, the ticket costs $44.000.