Tayrona Park is one of the most unique and beautiful places I have been to. It also has three things I love in one: hiking, mountains and beaches! If you haven’t heard of it, it is basically a huge national park with 20+ pristine beaches and awesome hiking trails that take you through mountains, and from beach to beach.
There is an entrance fee to get in (varies depending on your nationality, age, etc.) and in the high season it is best to book this in advance (tickets can be purchased online at http://www.parquetayrona.com.co/).
Tayrona Park is located on the northern coast of Colombia on the Caribbean ocean. The nearest big city is Santa Marta (also where the nearest airport is located), in the Magdalena region of Colombia. For Tayrona park you really need to spend at least a day, and if you are going for just a day, you better make it an early start! I took a taxi van from Santa Marta with a group of people which left at 5:30am, but there are also buses which leave early or boats from Santa Marta which will take you to some of the Tayrona beaches. If you want to walk a bit more, and also have a chance to see the ancient ruins of El Pueblito on your way to the beach, it is best to enter the park at the Calabazo entrance. Otherwise, the main entrance is at El Zaino, and you can pretty much walk straight to the beach. I entered in Calabazo and did an entire loop to come out at El Zaino. In my opinion this is the best way to see as much of the park as possible.
The busiest time to go is when all the Colombians are on holidays (so around December-January and Easter week). Tayrona park is gorgeous all year round, so if you can go at a time that would avoid the crowds, do that! It also makes things a lot cheaper.
What must we Do?
Beaches (all are beautiful, but stand-outs):
Please note: For most of the beaches in Tayrona, it is highly recommended not to swim as they are surf beaches with dangerous currents. On the main beaches, there are people to patrol so it is okay.
Cabo San Juan – the main beach of Tayrona where people normally swim. There is a restaurant, a lookout and a camping ground at this beach.
Playa Nudista – this is the nude beach of Tayrona. If you are into that, there is probably no better place for it than a beach as quiet and breathtaking as Playa Nudista.
Playa Brava – a beautiful, stunning, peaceful beach. Not many people get this far so it is a very secluded and tranquil beach.
Arrecifes – close to the main entrance El Zaino, this is another beautiful beach for camping, swimming and eating.
Whichever way you go, you will no doubt be treated to a walk through the stunning natural bush of northern Colombia. If you don´t like hiking, there is an option to do it on horseback.
El Pueblito is a small gathering of ancient ruins from the indigenous people in Colombia. A really fascinating and beautiful historical site for sure, and not hard to make sure it is on your way to or from the beach!
Where should we Eat?
There are not many options for this unfortunately. You can eat in one of the beach-side restaurants at Arrecifes or Cabo San Juan, but these are overpriced and overcrowded, poorly organised restaurants. I would recommend taking a picnic for a more enjoyable meal.
Where can we Drink?
There are some (but few) vendors along the way selling snacks, ice creams and drinks. Otherwise, your only option is the aforementioned restaurants. My recommendation is to pack a big bottle of water, because what better is there to drink?
Where could we Stay?
There are quite a few camping sites all around the park, which would be a great way to spend a night or two. If you are looking for more of a luxury experience, there are options to stay in cabins on the beach, such as Ecohab Santa Marta or Hotel Parque Tayrona.
You don’t have to stay inside the park, as there is always the option for a day trip and then go back to your accommodation in Santa Marta in the evening.
Anything to Avoid?
It should go without saying, but do not litter! And when the signs say no swimming, pay attention.
Why should we go?
If you want to experience the stunning natural ecosystem in Colombia, immerse yourself in nature, and spend your day seeing beach after beautiful beach and basking in the sun, this is the place to go. There is no comparison to this national park. Long story short, if you are going to Colombia this really needs to be on the bucket list.
Guest author: Suzie from the travelblog The Wandering Linguist:
“My name is Suzie and I am from New Zealand. I have been an avid traveller since I was 16 years old, when I did my first solo trip. I am passionate about learning languages and immersing myself in cultures everywhere I go. I write a blog about travelling with a focus on learning languages. All I want to do is run my own business, see the world, learn as many languages as I can and write!”