Apr 29

Travel Tips: Finding your way around Tayrona National Park.

Parque Tayrona

As most anyone will tell you, Tayrona is blessed with some of the most beautiful, jungle-fringed beaches around. This fact alone means that not visiting this extraordinary park means you’re really missing out. So, it’s settled that you’re going, right? Well, as you’ve been so obliging as to agree with me, I think it’s only fair that I help you out in return, by giving you a quick lay of the land, to minimise the possibility of getting lost on one of the tracks.

This is necessary, because getting a little lost is a distinct possibility. The poorly signposted tracks can be a bit baffling at first, and I don’t want you walking around in circles when there’s the very pressing business of dozing on a beach to get done. Perhaps the best advice I can give, then, is to ask the locals. If you see a friendly-looking American backpacker (hey, it does happen!) that seems to know where they’re going, check with them that you do, as well. Even better, if you see a gum-booted, moustachioed donkey leader, give them your best “donde esta…”. Just like Alanis Morisette’s nasty ex, they ought to know.

One of the beautiful beaches of Tayrona
You should be here.


There are some other important tidbits to divulge, too. Once you’ve made it to the main entrance, wait for the cheap shuttle to take you to Canaveral, where the plush Ecohabs and horse stables are situated. That is, unless you want to leg it all the way there on tarmac and risk taking the wrong path – if you want to do that, by all means, go ahead – you might just see a monkey or two! Either way, from Canaveral, there is a main path that takes 45 minutes to Arrecifes with its various accommodation options – or quicker and easier if you opt to hire a horse. From Arrecifes, another main path winds its way around the coast to the backpacker haven, El Cabo (just listen for the typical backpacker call: “Have you done the Lost City? How long are you in Colombia for?”). From El Cabo’s beach, two directions lead to two very different attractions. You can either head further up a path through the trees and rocks for a bit more than an hour, and experience for yourself the ancient village of El Pueblito. From there, another path through the village will get you to the secluded beach of Playa Brava. Or, whilst facing the beach, you can head back the Arrecifes way, but take the path immediately to your left, and find yourself at La Piscinita, with its lovely, safe little beach, food stalls, and a lady selling drinks. If you’ve done that, you’ve headed east. If you head from El Cabo west along the coast instead, three more beaches are hidden away, including one sporadically frequented by nudists.

Tayrona National Park, Colombia
El Cabo, in all its glory.


So, there you have it: beaches, lost villages, donkeys – even people in the nuddy. Tayrona offers it all. Take your time to take it all in.


15 thoughts on “Travel Tips: Finding your way around Tayrona National Park.

  1. Tyler Thompkins on

    Hey there Paul. I must admit I’m one of those old farts who always had a negative view on Colombia thanks to the whole narcos and terrorists and street insecurity thing. After having met some wonderful people from Santa Marta, my preconceptions obviously changed, to the point where I made the decision to head down there for my next vacations. I’m now at the point where I’m looking for nice little hotels inside the city itself to stay at. I’ve looked online and I found Hotel Casa Carolina . Has anybody here stayed there? If so, recommendations? Should I be looking for something more on the outskirts of the city? I’m a total rookie when it comes to these things, so I apologize if my questions are a little stupid.


      Chris on

      Hi there Tyler (this is Chris by the way),

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really happy to see that you’re heading to Colombia and that your preconceptions have changed – they’re defintely going to be blown away when you make it over here!

      I haven’t stayed at the hotel you mentioned, but from looking at Tripadvisor, it seems like a lovely option. I have stayed at a nice hotel in the old town near the seafront called La Casa del Farol: it has a lovely little roof terrace with views of the cathedral and a nice pool. Worth checking out maybe.

      If you’re staying in Santa Marta itself I would definitely stay in the Old Town, it’s by far the nicest part, and has a lovely evening atmosphere with outdoor seating and music in the streets. But I would also definitely make the effort to explore the surroundings – seeing as this comment is on a Tayrona post I guess you’re considering it, but I’d go to Minca in the Sierra Nevada mountains too, just for a little change of scene.

      Don’t even think about asking ‘stupid’ questions, there’s no such thing 🙂 If you have any others please get in touch: cbell@seecolombia.travel. I’d be happy to help


  2. diana on

    hahaha!! thank you guys!! I will do it!! and costlier its a word!!

  3. Diana on

    Do you recommend traveling along? I want to go so bad and my budget limited,if is safe i will stay in a hammock.


      Paul Fowler on

      Absolutely. You can easily make friends there and it’d be a shame to miss out just because you’re alone!


        Paul Giles on

        I agree with Fowlo. I went on my own, as I don’t have many friends (lonely sad face), and really dug it. Remember to take a blanket, as there can be a bit of a chill at night, and, if your budget’s limited, take some food supplies from Santa Marta along with you to help ease the pain, as the food can be slightly costlier there. Now, I’m going to check Dictionary.com to see if “costlier”‘s a word. Enjoy!

  4. Paul Giles on

    Tina: yes, it’s one of the world’s special places, isn’t it? Not much better in life than swinging in a hammock in the jungle right next to the Caribbean ocean.

  5. Tina on

    very beautiful landscape. sleep at san juan in the hammocks above the sea. go to publito, its worth a hike.

  6. Tourist Destination in the Philippines on

    I’m compiling a list of tourist destination that i haven’t explore yet, as i was doing my research i stumbleupon this blog post. I will add up tayrona to my list.



      Paul Fowler on

      A great choice, Chris, you’ll love it.


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