Santa Marta and Tayrona Park | Practical info and tips

Santa Marta and Tayrona Park | Practical info and tips


What to do in Santa Marta? Discover the beautiful Tayrona Park and all our tips for enjoying the place.


Much less colonial than Cartagena or colorful than Salento, Santa Marta is a stopover to discover the lost city, the “ciudad perdidad” or the Tayrona National Park features white sandy beaches, coral, mangroves, reptiles and numerous mammals.

I invite you to read all our other articles on Colombia to help you prepare for your trip:


Colombia is an ideal destination for ecotourism. Indeed, it boasts 26 national nature parks, offering travelers the chance to admire a wealth of flora and fauna, from rainforests and tropical rainforests to arid zones, immense deserted beaches and mangroves. Tayrona National Park is the country’s second most visited park, behind Rosario and San Bernardo National Coral Park. It’s become a must-see, so let’s explore it!

Welcome to Santa Marta, starting point for exploring the park and a charming little Colombian tourist town. Travelers can put down their suitcases for one or more nights, as the city abounds with nightclubs, bars and restaurants, in a salsa, rock and Latino atmosphere. We tested the bendito café a nice place for a snack. Not far from the square is the local night market for hearty, inexpensive dishes. For a tasty lunch, we fell for the Ouzo restaurant, offering accessible Mediterranean cuisine in front of a beautiful little square with the air of a European city. (CRA 3 NO 19-29)




  • The park is located about 35 km from Santa Marta. 1h on the road. Bus fares “colectivo7000 COP/p. The colectivo is located in the city center between avenue 11 and calle 11 (race 11 and 11th street)
  • Possibility of arrival at the Tayrona by boat from Taganga. The journey takes about 30 minutes for 10,000 COP/p


  • 4 years ago possible entries to enter Parc De Tayrona:

→ Input Neguanje: Playa Cinto is 20 minutes away and Wachaquita is 30 minutes.

→ Entrance to the park Zaino (main entrance) or Calabazo. If you’d like to sleep on the lovely Playa Brava beach, you enter via Calabazo (you can get in before 8am, as there’s no one at the entrance). The path to get there takes about 3h-3h30: you start out uphill and then the path is downhill and rather slippery! The next day, you can head to Cabo San Juan for a night’s sleep. Beware, the path is harder than the one to Calabazo, with very steep climbs at the start. It takes about 2h30-3h. You leave via Zaino on a quiet path, passing through the piscina and other beaches! Allow 2h-2h30 for the walk. You can also take a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the exit for 3,000 cop/pers.

→ Input Pueblito

→ Input Bahia Concha

  • Park entrance 44000/p to 448500/p (depending on low or high season)
  • There is a tour that combines car transfer + boat + park entrance + guide. Price 112000/p
  • The park is part of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, home to the Tayrona indigenous communities, recognizable by their long white linen tunics and pants, hats and brown/beige mochila bags slung over their shoulders.



Once you’ve paid your fee, you can either walk right up to the park entrance if you have time to spare, or take a short bus to avoid the 45-minute walk and start the hike a little further on. If you absolutely don’t want to walk in the park, you can rent a horse at the entrance.



The Tayrona is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, so don’t expect to be alone in the world! Some choose to go there for a day to picnic and swim, while others spend 2 or 3 days there. We stayed there for 2 days/1 night without booking accommodation and walked straight to Cabo San Juan from Guia to enjoy Cañaveral beach. If you plan to visit the park in one day, you’ll need to arrive very early in the morning to leave the park by 3:30 pm at the latest. Between transport, walking and swimming, it takes several hours to get the most out of it.



There are several stops along the way, including Arrecifes and Piscina. Please note theArrecifes is closed to swimming due to strong currents! It was under one of the footbridges that we spotted a rather large caiman!




When you arrive at the Park, at the entrance you must attend a compulsory briefing on the Tayrona National Park. The route will be presented with instructions to follow, and various points for stopping and sleeping. Please note that you cannot book accommodation on Cañaveral beach!

The beach of Cañaveral is located in Tayrona National Park. This is the Park’s most famous beach, because of its slightly more eccentric setting and perched hut, but it’s often the most popular with tourists! To get there, you have to cross lush vegetation and coconut palms. The route is marked out, easy and takes all in all 2 good hours by walking normally from the parking lot.

The tent site is quite large, so you can either rent tents or bring your own and pay the rental fee. For those who don’t have their own equipment, you can rent hammocks in a huge covered area (around 50). Please note that check-in only from 1.30pm-2pm and the queue is already long at 1pm because everyone wants to sleep there!

For those who wish to sleep in the hut, this is possible, as it’s no more expensive than a classic hammock. But there are 2 drawbacks: you have to arrive first to choose your hammock and the hut is open on both sides, so when the wind blows (and it often does), you can get very, very cold! Remember to take the sleeping bag,yes, yes, I’m not kidding!




You can swim at Bahia Concha, the most popular beach for bathers, but also Bahia Chengue, a tiny beach, Bahia Gayraca, for snorkeling and diving., Neguanje, the largest of all the beaches in Tayrona Park, Bahia Cinto, Guachakyta, one of the smallest beaches in Tayrona Park, Cape San Juan del Guia, the most famous beach in the whole Park with its little hut, the Piscina, Arenilla, the beach between Arrecife and La Piscina and finally Cañaveral.



3 types of accommodation are available

  • Ecohabs : also known as thes cabins and are considered more luxurious, with all the services that go with it. Cost per person 440,000 COP.


  • Hamacs : Cost per person 20,000 COP/p (remember to bring a silk sheet, sweater/sweater, trouser bottoms as the nights are cool and the mosquitoes are definitely there). Hammocks cost around 25,000 COP/p in Arrecife.


  • Tente : Cost per person 25,000 COP/p


  • The wild camping is strictly forbidden as animals are totally free in this park so it can be dangerous! (don’t forget we came across a large caiman in the park). You can camp in the above-mentioned areas: Cabo San Juan, Playa Brava, Arrecife, Canaveral, Castillete and Bahia Concha.


  • Camping Playa brava: 35,000 cop/p/hamac with shower + toilet + mosquito net + cover
    ⚠️ no lockers, but that shouldn’t be too bad / No plugs either
  • Camping Cabo San Juan: 50,000 cop/p/hamac for the hammocks overlooking the beach in the small hut with shower + toilet, no mosquito nets or blankets, small locker to put a small bag and sockets next to the restaurant.


  • You may want to bring some food with you, as the budget can quickly increase. On site, on Cañaveral beach, breakfast costs on average 12,000 COP/p, fresh fruit juice 5000 COP/P, water 3000 COP.


  • An ID card is required for the national park, but don’t forget it or you won’t be able to sleep there.!


  • Don’t take your big backpacks to the park, remember to take a small bag with the minimum as you’ll suffer if it’s hot and during the walk!




The Tayrona is a beautiful wild place, surrounded by mountains, countless wild beaches, in absolute calm but which for us was a little disappointing due to the heavy tourist presence in January 2015. The clientele was quite young, between 18 and 25, and came to party! the camping from Cañaveral was packed with people: in the restaurant or on the beach, it was hard to get a little corner to yourself! This is one of the effects of tourism: every year, the destination attracts new, curious visitors from the 4 corners of the world to discover this warm-hearted country, which is one of our favorites. And do you know Colombia? What are your impressions?

Before you leave, don’t forget to read all our other articles on Colombia to help you prepare for your trip:





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