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Explore the Beauty of Tayrona National Park - A Full Guide (2023)

When searching “Things to do in Colombia” I bet visiting Tayrona National Park is at the top of the list. And yes, it is an absolute must-do whenever in Colombia. For me walking around the lush jungle was a magnificent experience, and I enjoyed the trip to its fullest.


For those who didn't know; Tayrona is a protected natural area along the Caribbean Sea. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse ecosystems (with many animals!)

Planning a trip to Colombia and you don't want to miss a visit to the jungle? This blog post will cover you with almost everything you need to know before going to Tayrona National Park. A full guide to Tayrona National Park.

Tayrona National Park

Table of Contents:


How Much Does a Visit to Tayrona National Park Cost?

The ticket to the National Park depends on the season you visit. It’s divided by the high and the low season.


The high season is between June 15th to July 15th and December 15th to January 30th. It also includes the Holy Week and every weekend with a holiday bridge. The entry fee for a foreigner is 64,500 Colombian Pesos.


All dates that are not included in the high season are considered to be low season. The entry fee for a foreigner is 54,500 Colombian Pesos.


Check here to see the prices for locals, students, the elderly, etc.


Additionally, you must pay for mandatory medical insurance. It’s 5,000 Colombian Pesos per day.


❗️Don’t forget to bring a valid ID or passport. You may be asked to show it when entering the park.


What should I Pack for my Visit to Tayrona National Park?

If you’re planning a full day, a day pack stuffed with everything you need during your visit becomes quite handy. It’s necessary to know that while in the park, you are fully dependent on the restaurants, shops, and local sellers inside. For this reason, I’ve created a packing list for a full day in Tayrona:

  • Cash: Make sure to bring enough cash with you. It’s not possible to pay by card inside the park.

  • Identification: You may be asked to show it when entering the park.

  • Water: Bring at least 1.5 liters per person!

  • Sun Protection: While walking around the park, the sun can be intense. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat with you, to protect yourself from sunburn.

  • Insect Repellent: There are a lot of mosquitoes and other insects. Bring a repellent to avoid bites.

  • Trash Bag: There are barely any trash cans, don’t throw away your garbage in a national park, and bring your trash bag!

  • Lunch and Snacks*

  • Swimwear and Beach towel

*As I already mentioned above, once you’re in the park you’re fully dependent on the options from the restaurants, stores, and local sellers. They know that, and therefore, the prices are high for mediocre food. There are a few vegetarian options (french fries and a cheese sandwich). For this reason, I recommend bringing your lunch and some snacks with you.


How to Get to Tayrona National Park

The nearest airport to Tayrona is in Santa Marta, a city located in the north of Colombia. You can either stay in Santa Marta or choose a smaller and more charming town (Taganga for example). No matter where you stay, here are the transportation options.


From Santa Marta to Tayrona National Park by Bus

This is probably the cheapest and most sustainable option you can choose. Additionally, a good chance to travel like a local.


The bus runs daily every 30 minutes. The first bus departs at 6:00 a.m. and it approximately takes 45 minutes from Santa Marta to Tayrona National Park. Depending on where you stay you must either take a taxi to the bus station or you can walk to it.


Here’s the location of the bus station:


Once you’ve arrived, there’s probably a bus waiting, or wait until there’s a bus. The bus is labeled with Tayrona National Park. Hop on the bus and tell the ticket man that you are heading towards Tayrona. Once the bus has left town, he will collect the money for the transportation. A ticket costs 8,000 COP per person.


From Taganga to Tayrona National Park by Boat

The other option is to travel by boat. This travel style brings two big advantages: you don’t have to line up at the entrance (yes, that can happen) and you discover the national park on a different path than most of the others. More about that on Places to Visit in Tayrona National Park.


The prices differ, but it’s approximately around 150,000 Colombian Pesos for a round trip! That makes that type of transportation the most expensive.


The boats depart from Taganga and can be found easily. After you hop on the boat, and it’s full it takes around 15 - 20 minutes until you arrive at Playa del Crystal, the starting point of your Tayrona National Park exploration.


Travel to Tayrona National Park by Taxi

This way of travel makes sense if you’re a bigger group and would like to travel independently. The prices vary on your haggling skills but expect to pay at least 90,000 Colombian Pesos ($20).


Places to Visit in Tayrona National Park

Wandering around the rainforest is a unique experience, but besides that, Tayrona offers beautiful Caribbean beaches along the way. The full days includes exactly that, wandering around the jungle and stumbling across a beach. Here I’ve listed down some of the beaches you can come across that are worth a stop.


Cabo San Juan

This is probably the most famous and popular beach in Tayrona. Relax on a white beach accompanied by crystal-clear waters. In front of the beach, there are large rock formations, making the view picturesque!


For those, who are staying overnight, Cabo San Juan is the best place to stay overnight for everyone who wants to listen to the sound of the ocean. Why? A campsite is built on one of those rocks and offers this unique experience!


La Piscina

Translated to English “La Piscina” means “The Pool”. As the name suggests, it’s a great place for having a relaxed swim without thinking about strong waves.


As you follow the trail that leads to Cabo San Juan, this might be one of the first beaches you discover.


Arrecifes

Along the main road (more about this later) between the park's main entrance and Cabo San Juan you will stumble across Arrecifes. A long and expansive beach. Easily accessible by walking along the park's trail from the entrance. It's probably the first beach you'll run into on your way to Cabo San Juan.


Like many beaches in Tayrona, Arrecifes is a beach not suitable for a quick swim. The current is strong, the waves are big, and you would bring yourself in danger by swimming here.


Playa Cristal

As the name already reveals Playa Cristal is a beautiful beach known for its stunning crystal-clear blue water. It’s a great place for snorkeling and enjoying the marine life.


In comparison to the other beaches mentioned, the location of Playa Cristal is different. The beach is located in the western section of the park, and approximately a 45-minute walk away from the main entrance.


Playa Cristal is not only accessible on foot, you can also take a boat from a coastal town and ride directly to the beach.


Bahia Concha

Similar to Playa Cristal Bahia Concha is also located on the western side of Tayrona National Park. You also have the opportunity to either take a boat from a nearby coastal town or walk along the trail.


In comparison to the beaches that are located nearer the main entrance, Bahia Concha is less crowded. It's a great place to have a swim and to absorb the beauty of nature.


Playa Brava

Colombia is not really known for being the surfing spot in the world, and I was surprised when I heard, that Playa Brava offers strong and steady waves for surfers. For everyone who's looking for some waves to catch, Playa Brava might be your place.


☺️ By the way I've created a map with all the locations of the beaches here.

Spend One Day in Tayrona National Park

This might be an unpopular opinion of mine, but I would recommend spending only a full day in Tayrona National Park. Why? I've heard from different experiences that sleeping in the park has two main negative points:

  1. It's expensive. You pay a lot for basic accommodation.

  2. The facilities are gross. That's what I've heard.

Additionally, if you're willing to do so, you're able to do everything in one day. I took the advice seriously and only planned a full day in the national park. Honestly, the day was packed with many impressions, and I was very satisfied with my one-day experience and didn't have the need to spend more time here.


For those who'd like to follow the same route as I did, here's a little itinerary:

Tayrona National Park, One-Day Itinerary


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