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Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Tayrona Cabo San Juan Colombia

Tayrona Cabo San Juan Colombia, by David Shankbone via Wikimedia.

Take a tour of Tayrona National Park, Colombia’s best beach – where mountains & jungle greet the Caribbean

After visiting every country in the continent, I’ve found that there’s one beach that sticks out. Set along a coastline once frequented by pirates, Tayrona National Park on the Colombian Caribbean sea offers a beach you won’t find in Brazil or anywhere else in South America. Read also: Discovering Beautiful Colombia Beaches

Where is it?

In Colombia, the cities of Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena are popular and well known, but few are familiar with what lies to the east. Take a scenic two-hour drive along the coast from Cartagena, and you’ll find yourself in the jungle. Stepping along a sun-dappled jungle trail to your beach bungalow, you are helped along with your luggage by staff. Congratulations: you’ve just reached Tayrona National Park, an unmistakable treasure.

Why so special?

Tayrona rewards travelers with a variety of beaches, pockmarked with elephantine boulders, and a general feeling that dinosaurs still roam just beyond that far stand of trees. Indeed, what makes Tayrona unique is a combination of coastal mountains, cloud forest, and crystal clear Caribbean. In fact, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains are the world’s highest coastal mountain range. The proximity of the mountains gives the beaches an intimate feel, and all those coconut palms provide plenty of shade.

Tayrona Beach

Tayrona National Park by Roubicek via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

What to see & do?

After taking a dip and sunbathing, you can go horseback riding or stroll along miles of trails linking various beaches and lagoons, both nude and clothed. Cabo San Juan del Guia, la Piscina and Playa Nudista are a few favorites. For meals, tiny bars and restaurants pepper the forest, serving ceviche, panna cotta of coconut and much more. There are many surprises. Round the bend to find a small bar serving fruit and cocktails or hike a few hours uphill to the ruins of El Pueblito. The ruins were built by the Tairona people who occupied the region for centuries. Their ornate goldwork employed the lost-wax casting technique, which you can learn about in Bogota’s world famous Gold Museum. The flora and fauna of the park are remarkable! In addition to all manner of marine life, you could see iguanas, titi monkeys, black howlers, tropical land crabs, parrots, jaguars and over 400 species of birds. Tayrona is easily combined with a visit to beautiful Cartagena, nearby Santa Marta, and Bogota and Medellin are just an hour’s flight away.


You’ll find the best accommodation at Ecohabs Tayrona, located on Cañaveral beach. The bungalows are constructed from native wood and palm leaves, mimicking the dwellings of the Tairona tribes. The larger eco habs can accommodate up to 4 people, while the smaller eco-habs are located closer to the beach. Spa treatment is on offer.

Getting to Tayrona:

Take a scenic drive two hours east of Cartagena, along with the coast. You will be met at the park entrance by the staff of Ecohabs, offering luggage assistance. It is also possible to fly to Santa Marta from Bogota or Medellin. Santa Marta is less than an hour from Tayrona, and a cheap city bus regularly connects the two.

Sleeping Horse in Tayrona Cabo, by David Shankbone via WikimediaSleeping Horse in Tayrona Cabo, by David Shankbone via Wikimedia.

When to Visit:

The high season is Dec.-Feb., so you may want to avoid higher prices and visit anytime between Feb. and Dec. It’s near the equator and on the Caribbean, so the weather is usually wonderful.

Book Your Trip Today:

Are you interested in booking a tour of Tayrona National Park, including beachfront bungalows and guided tours? Contact us by phone or by filling out our contact form today. Our team of travel experts will create a personalized custom-made itinerary for you that includes Tayrona National Park and any other destinations in Colombia that you’d like to see.