A warm and wild connection
Santa Marta has become a popular tourist center due not to the city itself but to its surroundings, especially Tayrona Park. The beaches are what you would expect of a tropical paradise; thick jungle teeming with wildlife spills over onto golden sand beaches with pounding surf and there are small, secluded bays, excellent for swimming and sun bathing.
Dreamer Hostel is the closest hostel in Santa Marta to the park and offers a shuttle service three times a day to Tayrona Park, with continuation to Palomino.
Visiting Tayrona Park is one of the most memorable things you can do in Colombia. The national natural park sits along the Caribbean Sea, giving visitors a chance to revel in the combination of tropical beach and exotic jungle. The park is one of Colombia’s main tourist attractions, but many travelers find it difficult to prepare for a day trip to Tayrona Park in Colombia. Read the following tips before trekking into the jungle and diving into the picturesque blue waters.
How to Get There
Keep in mind Parque Tayrona has several entrances, but Santa Marta is the main city closest to the park. Many people sleep in a hostel in Santa Marta, like The Dreamer, spend a day in Parque Tayrona, then head back to Santa Marta in the evening. It takes about 45 minutes by car or bus to get to Tayrona from Santa Marta. The main entrance, where most people buy their tickets, is still about a 30-minute walk from where the trails begin, so if you are getting dropped off, it’s best to get dropped off in the second parking lot closer to the trails. You can arrange transport through many of the hotels and hostels in Santa Marta, including The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta and Palomino.
To return back to Santa Marta, visitors may decide if they want to follow the same trail back out (maybe this time on a horse) or alternatively there are options to leave the main beach, Cabo San Juan, by boat and return to Taganga. From here, an easy taxi back to your hostel will do the trick. The boats leave at 4pm, giving you a chance to enjoy sunset by the water and see the park from a new perspective. This ride can be a bit bumpy, so pack your sea legs!
Packing for Tayrona Park
We recommend bringing the following items:
Passport – You need to show identification to enter the park.
Bug Spray – The walk through nature trails to get to the beaches means you’ll probably come in contact with a few mosquitos.
Sunscreen, bathing suits, towel – It is the beach, after all.
Water –Remember, it’s extremely hot!
Change of clothes – For the people who don’t like to walk around in a wet swimsuit, bring an extra change of clothes to make the trek from the beach back to the entrance at the end of the day more comfortable.
Money – You’ll need money for the entrance, food and drinks.
More about Tayrona Park
Don’t Go in February
Tayrona is sacred to the indigenous groups native to this area of Colombia. A handful of these indigenous people still live in the park and take special care of the land. Part of that process involves closing Tayrona normally starting January 28 and reopening on March 1. That means you shouldn’t plan on visiting Parque Tayrona for the whole month of February. If February is the only time you can visit Colombia, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the area such as tubing in Palomino or relaxing on the beaches of Santa Marta.
What to Do in Tayrona Park
Hiking, camping, eating and of course relaxing by the beach are the main things to do in Tayrona Park. There are several beaches inside the park including a nude beach. Most people head to Cabo San Juan del Guia. This is the most iconic spot, with a breathtaking view of the turquoise water, rocks and a tower that sits above the water. Swimming isn’t permitted along all of the shore, but it is at Cabo San Juan. This is also where you will find camping, places to eat and horses ready to take visitors back to the entrance for a fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I sleep in Tayrona Park?
The National Park is s a beautiful place to visit whether you can spend one night or just go for the day. Depending on your timing, schedule, and interest there are several options to hike in the morning, and hike out in the evening. Alternatively, you can also take a boat from the main beach, Cabo San Juan, to Taganga, which departs at 4:00 pm. The camping spots are first come first serve!
Which entrance is best?
According to your interests, you can enter the park from the main entrance, “El Zaino” where you’ll pay the entrance fee, get your passport scanned and hop on another bus to take you to the beginning of the walk. From here you will walk around two hours to get to Cabo San Juan, the most popular beach in the park. Along the way you get to see four other beaches of the park; Cañaveral, Arrecifes, Arenillas and La Piscina.
The second option, which is ideal for the more experienced hiking and trekking lovers is to enter from “Calabazo.” This entrance is before “El Zaino” if you’re headed from Santa Marat. When you arrive, you’ll have to hike for about 3 hours to get to Pueblito one of the oldest trading points where the indigenous used to exchange goods. Then you will walk about 2 - 3 hours to get to Cabo San Juan, the most popular and main beach in Tayrona Park.
The third option, “Neguanje” is the entrance that will take you to to Playa Cristal, one of the most beautiful beaches in the National Park. We recommend going with a guide on this trip because you’ll have to change types of transportation, including bus, car and boat. Please not this entrance does not take you to the main beach, Cabo San Juan.
What type of food can I eat there?
In Tayrona Park you will find a few restaurants restaurants on the main beaches of Cabo San Juan, Arrecifes and Cañaveral. Each of them have lunch and dinner options ranging from selections of rice, chicken, meat, and fish. You will also find informal seafood stations that serve ceviche, fruits and other delicacies. We recommend bringing enough cash to satisfy your hunger!
Are there any ATMS?
In the National Park, you won’t find any ATMs because the area it’s out of range for the different banks to provide the service. We recommend taking cash in Santa Marta or Palomino before departing.
Do I need to know Spanish?
It’s always best to know a couple of Spanish words while visiting Colombia, but you do not need to know Spanish to enjoy the National Park Tayrona, because in the park you will find signals indicating which direction you should go-to move in the Park.
Where can I store my bags before visiting Tayrona?
Dreamer offers a complimentary bag storage service for guests, and for non-guests, it cost 10,000cop per bag for a week. At the main entrance of Tayrona Park you can find an office to store, this is rather informal and they will charge 10.000 cop for the day.
What’s the earliest and the latest that I can go or leave the park?
Tayrona Park open at 8:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm. It’s only possible to enter the park at this time, and those staying do not have the curfew! The closing time ensures the safety of visitors and also gives the wildlife an opportunity to move around freely. The last public buses leave at 6:00 pm, so don’t miss it! During the high seasons (peak Winter and Peak Summer months), the main entrance may get busy and they will open earlier at 7:00 am.
Where can I take the transportation to the Park?
You can find different types of transportation including: (1) The public bus, which departs every day from the main road that 3 blocks away from Dreamer Santa Marta, 6:00 am until 6:00 pm, (2) We have a shuttle departing from the Dreamer Santa Marta each day to the Park at 7:30am, 9:30am, and 11:30am. This costs 15,000cop and (3) You may take a private taxi that costs 90,000cop and can take up to 4 people.
Book With Us
You can book a 4 or 5-day Lost City trek through The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta or The Dreamer Hostel in Palomino. We are happy to arrange your tour and have you stay at one of our wonderful hostels featuring a pool, a restaurant, a bar and comfortable rooms. We also offer complimentary bag storage