Tayrona National Park, or Parque Nacional Tayrona in Spanish, is a little slice of paradise and an absolute must do on your Colombian itinerary. This incredibly beautiful national park is located right on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. With its white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and dense tropical jungle, it is a biodiverse hub of wildlife and nature. Easily accessible from nearby Santa Marta, but bear in mind that Tayrona National Park usually closes it doors between 31st January and the end of February, in order to protect the precious ecosystems.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Take your passport with you as you will need to present it at the entrance gate. You will also need to show evidence that you have had your yellow fever vaccination so bring your certification with you.
Tayrona National park is easily accessible from Santa Marta by either bus or private transfer. The bus from Santa Marta takes 1 hour and costs COL$8,000 (€2 / $3). Head to Santa Marta bus terminal or go to the central market where buses frequently leave from, you cannot miss them with all the touts shouting for business (read our guide on Santa Marta). If you are coming from Palomino or Riohacha, just hop on a bus heading towards Santa Marta and get out at the Tayrona National Park entrance.
Taxi | Private Transfer:
A taxi will set you back COL$60,000 (€17 / $20) and a private transfer arranged through your accommodation will be around COL$50,000 (€14 / $16), but you could split this between yourself and your friends.
It is possible to catch a boat from Taganga which is only a short drive from Santa Marta to get to Tayrona National Natural park and works out a little quicker, but the boat costs COL$65,000 (€19 / $20) return. The boat will drop you off close to Cabo San Juan (see accommodation section below) where you can buy your entrance ticket (prices below). Boats leave the port in Taganga at 9am and return from Cabo San Juan around 4/5pm. So, you could easily do it as a day trip, but we strongly suggest staying overnight. Word of warning, the boat is an incredibly bouncy ride but if you are tight on time and happy to pay, it is a good choice.
If you are coming from Santa Marta, the bus will drop you off at the Canaveral entrance of Tayrona National park and then it is either a walk, a horse ride or a drive into the park. You can catch a lift for COL$2,000 (€0.70 / $1) with jeeps parked at the entrance, after you buy your ticket. You can buy food and drink at the entrance here - stock up as it gets expensive inside the park.
Entrance fees for the Tayrona National Park vary depending on your age and whether you are a national or a tourist. The prices also increase in peak season. As of September 2018 the fees are as follows:
|Off Peak Seasons||Peak Seasons|
|Tourists (from outside of South America).||
€15 / $17
€18 / $20
|Colombians and those from other South American countries, between the ages of 26-64.||
€7 / $8
€8 / $9
|Colombians under the age of 5 and over the age of 65 years.||FREE||FREE|
|Colombians between 5 and 25 years old (students).||
€2.80 / $3
€3 / $4
*Peak seasons: June, July, December and January (unless closed). During Semana Santa (Easter weekend) and for the 10 days following, weekends throughout the year.
Parque Tayrona is HUGE and there is so much to see. There are plenty of established hikes, either to hidden communities or gorgeous waterfalls.
Hike from Cabo San Juan to the remains of a former Tairona Settlement. This trek takes around 2 hours and it really gives you an great insight into the indigenous communities, but the trek there can be tough as most of it is uphill. Take lots of water with you, the heat can be very oppressive especially as it is very humid.
Nine Stone hike (Nueve Piedras):
This is a hike around Tayrona National park following egg like structures/stones. Super beautiful and really gives you an insight into the delights of the park and the many different species of animals and birds. Look out for the monkeys!
Tayrona National Natural Park has plenty of beaches to be explored and enjoyed. If you head to Cabo San Juan, you are in for a real treat. The beach is split into 2 halves by a little inland stream. I would suggest heading to the beach furthest away from Cabo San Juan's campsite, as it is much more peaceful and you can really enjoy the breathtaking landscape and crystal clear waters.
The picture shows the beautiful beach of Cabo San Juan, but also the Mirador which you can sleep in. See the accommodation section below.
Parque Tayrona has a series of beautiful beaches along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is up to you which one you would like to visit or stay at (I strongly suggest spending at least one night here), all offer something different. TOP TIP: It is hot inside the park and humid, so I would advise against sleeping in a tent. Go for the fresh air of sleeping in a hammock, and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle and beneath the stars - what better way is there?
Arrecifes Beach: When you enter the park, the first beach you will encounter is Arrecifes. Whilst it is stunning, it does not offer a safe place to swim, so most continue further on into the park. If you do choose to stay, there are a number of campsites offering tent pitching or hammocks for the night. I strongly suggest Don Pedro. It is super close to the beach (15 minute walk), has an on site restaurant and costs COL$25,000 (€7 / $8) per person to rent either a tent or a hammock.
Cabo San Juan: 20 minutes from Arrecifes Beach is La Piscina beach, but you cannot stay here so walk for another 20 minutes, and you will reach the beach of Cabo San Juan. This is incredibly popular with backpackers so if you are planning to stay here, I would advise getting there VERY early. There are actually 2 beaches here, divided by a little slice of land. Head to the second beach for a quieter and more secluded vibe. Accommodation choices include camping or hammock. Again, I advise hammocks and if you can, get one in the Mirador (although more expensive). A circular round hut upon a little hill offering insane views over the ocean. Prices range from COL$25,000 (€7 /$8) upwards depending on if you secure a spot in the Mirador (around COL$50,000 / €14 / $16) and at what time of year you visit.
Canaveral Beach: Located to the east of the park and close to the entrance, this campsite/beach is much quieter. Accommodation options again, hammocks or tents. Cost COL$15,000 (€4 /$5) to COL$25,000 (€7 / $8) per night.
Whilst you can eat inside of the park, it can be expensive. My advice is to bring food with you. There is a fairly cheap restaurant in Cabo San Juan where you can get decent meals for around COL$20,000 (€6 / $7) ~ typically consist of fish, patacones and salad.
- BUG SPRAY – There are lots of mosquitos and bugs in the park. Whilst, on the whole, we were fine, we went hard with the deet spray! Buy as close to 100% deet as you can.
- Light clothing but long sleeves for the evenings as it cools down significantly.
- Toiletries / toilet paper / baby wipes / sleeping mask / ear plugs / padlocks for the lockers.
- Battery pack.
- Flip flops and good hiking shoes
- Swimwear and quick dry towel.
- Music / book / headphones.
- Cash and ID ~ no cards are accepted in the park.
- Food and water no alcohol is allowed inside the park although they didn’t check our bags…
Parque Tayrona was a real highlight for me. It is absolutely stunning, offers insane hiking with magical views. It is a bustling hub of wildlife, but it also offers a little slice of paradise to rest and recoup. It has something for everyone.