A comprehensive characterization of the wave conditions in the Colombian Pacific based on wave spectra is presented. The spectral approach offers a detailed description of the different wave regimes, their associated meteorological conditions and their variation in time and geographical space. To this end, two complementary data sources are used, the first is representative for the near-shore zone and comes from observations of the local monitoring network. The second comes from numerical wave model results that cover the open ocean. The measured data used are the first systematically collected spectral wave data in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. Modelled spectra correspond to the ERA-Interim database of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts that spans 35 years. An indicator for statistical analysis of the wave spectra has been introduced which basically consists of the occurrence probability of spectral partitions. This indicator has proved to be skilful for the task of defining spectral wave systems of both model and, the more challenging, measured spectra. Following the spectral approach and using this new indicator, six main wave regimes are found in the study area. Two of these systems have well defined swell characteristics that are originated outside the study area in the northern and southern hemispheres. Other three wave systems are to a certain extent associated to the local winds, and in general may be classified as old wind-seas. These are found to flow northeastwards, westwards, and southwards. The sixth system is composed of locally generated wind waves of relatively low magnitude that propagate in several directions. The time variability of these wave systems is highly dependent on the boreal and austral winter storms and on the tropical conditions, in such a way that the wave energy propagation to the region is rather constant along the year, but their origin and characteristics vary significantly.