Tayrona National Park is a must-see if you’re visiting Colombia. It’s on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and has, by far, the best beaches that I’ve seen in the country. The park itself is covered with lush tropical vegetation and palm trees. It is also home to some of Colombia’s indigenous people and you may come across them during your visit.How to get there
You can take a bus from Santa Marta’s central market – this takes around an hour and stops right outside the park. Where to stay
This really depends on how long you want to spend at Tayrona. For me, a day is more than enough – you can arrive early and squeeze in a hike as well as leave enough time to relax on the beach before heading back. We met a number of people who were coming from Santa Marta just for the day.
The hike to the main beach (Cabo San Juan) is about 2 hours going and 2 hours coming back so if you don’t want to do the return journey on the same day, then of course staying overnight is an option.
Having done research around options for staying in the park, we decided to stick with a hotel nearby and just visit for the day. If you want to stay in the park itself, you have a few options, including renting a hammock or a tent – this may sound romantic but sharing with a number of other people and being exposed to all sorts of creepy crawlies was not an attractive prospect for me! There are some ‘luxury’ ecohabs but I believe these are quite pricey for what you get. In any case, you would need to hike to wherever you were staying (or take a horse) so I really recommend taking a backpack and not a suitcase as it would be impossible to get around!We stayed at Hotel Villa Maria Tayrona (a 10 minute drive away) which was a lovely hotel with a pool and access to the local beach (though the water was very choppy and not suitable for swimming). The hotel ‘rooms’ are huts with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. We had the garden view room which had stunning views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world’s highest coastal mountain range. The area around Tayrona is very rural so there aren’t many (if any) options for food. The hotel had it’s own restaurant which was convenient though can get a bit tedious if you’re staying for longer than 2 days!What to wear
Loose fitted clothes are best with long sleeves to protect you from the sun (and bugs). Do not wear flip flops or open toed sandals (believe me, I saw people who were wearing these)! Trainers or walking shoes are best. Make sure to wear a hat, bring your swimsuit and a beach towel.Remember to bring:
- Your passport or a photo of your passport on your phone (which is what we did). This is needed when buying your ticket which costs around 45,000 (£12.50).
- Take lots of water with you as you will need it and there are barely any stops on the way where you can buy some.
- Sunscreen and insect repellent are a must (and a backpack to carry everything so your hands are free)!
- Cash for food and water – there is a restaurant in Cabo San Juan which serves fresh fish and is not too bad price wise. You can obviously bring your own food but it’s very hot so don’t bring anything that will go off by the time you get to eat it!
Other than that, enjoy!