Tayrona National Park: First Timer’s Guide

Tayrona National Park I Colombia

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You arrived in Bogota and thought, where are the beaches and waters of the Caribbean that everyone bangs on about Colombia? It’s in the north! Head to Santa Marta then take a bus to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona / Tayrona National Park and you’ll find nice hikes, cheeky monkeys, and lapping waves.

How to get to Tayrona National Park

Take the bus for 6 COP / £1.55 from Santa Marta, you can catch this from Calle 11 Car 11 and they run every twenty minutes. The journey takes about one hour and the stop is obvious. The bus takes you to the park entrance of Tayrona.

A boat runs from Taganga each morning between 9.30 and 10.30 each morning according to Trip Advisor. According to the site it costs between 35,000 and 45,000 COP (£9.04 – £11.63) however the price of the park is incorrect so this information maybe outdated. Let me know if you have new prices.

How Much is Tayrona National Park?

At the time of writing the entrance fee was 39 COP / £10.08 per person. This gets you entry to Tayrona National Park. Take your passport! We watched a very annoyed man be turned away. You are expected to watch a short video and listen to a talk on the park before paying. There are some restaurants dotted about the place but it is advised that you bring you own food (as much as possible) if you are staying for a few days / are on a budget. The same goes for water.

We only stayed one night and spent 40 COP / £10.34 on lunch (two sandwiches); 37 COP / £9.56 on dinner (chicken and rice / spaghetti bolognese). We also bought a cake and sweets for 5 COP / £1.29. The cake was a strange sugary coconut cross between a tablet and flapjack. Weirdly nice. You can’t take alcohol in with you (although our bags were not checked like other bloggers have experienced) but you can buy beers at the ‘shop’ in El Cabo San Juan Beach (and others I am sure). We saw tourists use credit card at the makeshift shop, which goes against previous advice.

Tayrona National Park Map I Colombia

Tayrona National Park Map

Where to go at Tayrona National Park

Don’t do what we stupidly did and bypasses the shuttle to the second entrance! Do what we did on the way back and pay for the bus. We forgot her advice and this took nearly one hour to walk in the clammy heat, a little tender from our last night at Costeño Beach.

We walked for about an hour before we reached first signs of civilisation where we dined (much needed stodge). There is a campsite at this point for those looking to go no further. I wouldn´t recommend eating here, it was expensive and nothing special. Clean toilets though!

We trekked for a further hour or so inland (not along the coast) to El Cabo San Juan Beach. We saw lots of ants and birds on the way and the best part – monkeys! There are quite a few annoying mosquitoes too so make sure you whack on that repellent. This means that there is a Tayrona National Park malaria risk, you should take malaria tablets. I take a horrendous reaction to mosquito bites, I look like Quasimodo often, it’s really sexy.
Monkeys I Tayrona National Park I Colombia

You can hire horses if you fancy.

Horses I Tayrona National Park I Colombia El Cabo San Juan Beach

El Cabo San Juan Beach is an amazing site. Young boys played football in front of the tents whilst travellers and Colombians sun bathed on the beach. The playa is surrounded by rocks and is just gorgeous.

El Cabo San Juan I Tayrona National Park I Colombia
On our way back (the next day), we walked the coast which meant we spotted boats at the more secluded La Piscina and a heron style bird.

 La Piscina I Tayrona National Park I Colombia
But most importantly I got my Panadería breakfast.

I read about this culinary delight in the Lonely Planet and had to test it. Warm bread with melted chocolate! Craig opted for a the cheese and ham then caved and bought a ‘caramel’ pan which turned out to dulce de leche (like Nutella but caramel). The walk back with breakfast stop took three hours.

Tayrona National Park Accommodation

Most people purchase a hammock 25 COP / £6.46. There are two locations at Cabo, one next the tents; toilets / showers (mixed gender!) and restaurant and the second is up on the rocks by the sea. It looks very romantic.

Hammocks at El Cabo San Juan I Tayrona National Park I Colombia

Tayrona National Park Hammocks

Tayrona National Park I Colombia I El Cabo San Juan

We’ve heard pros and cons for both from other travellers. The ground level hammock area can get wet when it rains so your stuff may get damp if left on the ground. The hammocks on the rock get quite airy and a bit cold. You are also further from the loo. We were too late for hammocks but managed to get a tent (50 COP / £12.92) which was probably a better option for my mozzie problem. The hammocks did not have nets like at Costeño Beach. My only complaint is that the mattress in the tent looked like it came from a crack den. Take a throw.

Things to do at Tayrona National Park

Relax! Play cards, sunbathe, read your book. Take a swim then chat with new friends over dinner. Lie in your hammock / tent and listen to the waves lap, this is my new favourite jam. Wake up with the sunrise and take a further hike. There is a viewpoint close by which takes 1.5 hours to complete and there are plenty of more stops in Tayrona National Park which are less touristy.

Tayrona National Park Packing Guide

A small bag (leave your rucksack with your hostel in Santa Marta / Taganga)

  • Food
  • Water
  • Money
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Bug repellent
  • Soap / shampoo
  • Baby wipes
  • Throw (to cover manky beds / use as cover on hammock)
  • Swim wear
  • Sun glasses / hat
  • Sensible shoes to hike in
  • Flip flops
  • Camera (charged)
  • Underwear
  • Tops
  • Bottoms
  • Plastic bag (a bin / useful for wet clothes)

Definitely make Costeño Beach Surf Camp Ecolodge your next stop after Tayrona (Palomino would make logical sense too but you may need to head back to base in Santa Marta for more money, no ATMs in Tayrona, and more clothes!)

Tayrona National Park Weather

The weather at Taryona will impact on your experience, I can’t imagine camping in the rain is much fun. The temperature stays high (around 28 – 32 degrees all year) but April to November will see rainfall.

Tayrona National Park I Colombia I Two Scots Abroad

The hike through Tayrona National Park was a much needed form of exercise after two nights partying on Costeño Beach. I loved being so close to the water and unzipping the tent to the beach! Regardless of this national park being one of the most popular tourist attractions for both natives and visitors, it still comes highly recommended stop on your Colombian itinerary by myself (Gemma) and Craig.

Did you find this useful?
Why not pin to your Colombia Pinterest board?Tayrona National Park I Colombia
Is a hammock for a bed your thing?
Tell me in the comments below

* We have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in the post, just some help tips for your trip to Tayrona!

4 thoughts on “Tayrona National Park: First Timer’s Guide

  1. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi Gemma,

    Warm bread melted chocolate? I am in! Brilliant snack and a fun trip too. I reckon the passport thing messes up many folks. So key to dig deep into research before doing a day trip anywhere on the road as rules vary from land to land, and from town to town in some spots.

    Fun share!


    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      I know, you often can’t be footloose and fancy free whilst travelling. Especially with tourist visas etc! We’ve just discovered we have to go to the embassy in Bogota to get our Cuban visas as we don’t have an address!

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