Tayrona National Park has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the most beautiful beaches in Colombia. Any vacation to Colombia should include a few nights relaxing in Tayrona Park for all visitors, especially if you're a fan of beaches. These Park Tayrona photos half do the place justice - the place is as if someone has designed an idyllic beach getaway. Travel to here and experience a real paradise.
Park Tayrona Hotels & Campsites
Tayrona Park has just one genuine hotel, called Eco-habs, which is managed by Aviatur (a Colombian tour operator). It is rather expensive (in a relative sense), but by far the best place to stay. Rooms vary in category and price, and Eco-Habs also offers hammcoks for rent. Eco-Habs, in the Canaveral area, is easily accessible from the road leading into the Park.
Most visitors to Park Tayrona are those backpacking in Colombia. The common thing to do is to sleep in a hammock on the beach, and there are numerous places to choose from. Many of the campsites also have basic cabanas in which to stay, and all have basic restaurants. One of our Colombia travel tips would be to stay at one of the campsites at Arrecifes, which is a 45 minute walk west from the drop-off point (donkeys can help with luggage). Arrecifes is centrally located to explore many of Park Tayrona's beaches. Travel a further 45 minutes west is another campsite at Cabo San Juan. The extra effort to hike all this way with ones bags isn't really worth the effort. The campsite staff were unhelpful and the food of dubious hygiene standards when we stayed in 2007.
Park Tayrona's Beaches
The Caribbean sea here is rough, and many tourists die every year by not heeding local warnings about where to swim. The only really safe place to swim in the park, or go snorkelling, is at
"La Piscina", located between Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan. There are numerous other beaches at Tayrona but it's safest not to go much deeper than knee height. You'll find many splendid beaches as you walk west along the main path between Canaveral (Park Tayrona's entrance point) and Cabo San Juan. However, trips here are about exploring: Google Maps has very detailed satellite images of the Park that can be used to discover many empty idllyic beaches that are unlikely to have anyone on them. From Cabo San Juan keep walking westwards for almost an hour to find a further 3 idllyic, empty beaches. East of Cabo San Juan are two other empty beaches (one tiny, one large) before one arrives at "La Piscina" - to get to these beaches take a left immediately after exiting the campsite at Cabo San Juan, and follow the path to the first, and subsequently second beach.
Travel Tips & When to Visit?
Tip one is to go exploring the beaches armed with Google maps print-outs. Tip two is to stay either at the luxurious Eco-Habs, or go camping at Arrecifes. Tip three is not to visit Tayrona Park during the peak tourist season of July to August or January, as the campsites are overcrowded, and your Colombia vacation in paradise might be spoiled by having to share it with rather noisy Colombian tourists. And our fourth travel tip is to take a yellow fever vaccination certificate, which you're technically meant to present upon entrance to the park, but in reality is rarely requested.
Getting to Park Tayrona
Park Tayrona is about 45 minutes East of Santa Marta. Our travel tip would be to stay the night in either Santa Marta or nearby at the more laid back Taganga, stock up on luxury camping equipment, and head to the Park the following morning. Santa Marta is well served by flights from Bogota and Medellin, or it takes 4 hours overland from Cartagena, another highlight of Colombia.