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Tayrona National Park is one of the most beautiful and idyllic areas of Colombia, where Caribbean beaches, tropical rain forest and enormous rounded boulders blend together to form a lush tropical paradise. Since Tayrona has only recently emerged a tourist destination, the beaches are usually gloriously quiet.
Tayrona National Park Location
Tayrona National Park runs along the Caribbean coast from the Bahia de Taganga near the city of Santa Marta to the mouth of the Rio Piedras, into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the highest coastal mountain in the world. The park covers 12,000 hectares of land and 3,000 hectares of sea and is open daily to visitors.
Best known for its fabulous collection of beaches, and high temperatures of over 36°C, Tayrona has beaches to suit every activity and purpose. Each of Tayrona’s pretty beaches has its own character, although all have stretches of fine sand and clear blue water. Most of the beaches in the national park are accessed by a walking trail which begins in the parking area a short bus ride from the entrance. The trail is not difficult, but is partly on uneven ground and involves some inclines and descents, which can be tiring due to the hot climate.
Following the well-marked trail through the jungle for about an hour from where the bus drops you off, Arrecifes is the first beach you get to. Arrecifes is a long stretch of white sand and affords little shade. Swimming is not possible here, so it is best to stock up on water and snacks here, before walking along Arrecifes to the next bay and the beach of Arenillas.
Walking 30 minutes from Arrecifes, you will reach Arenillas. This has shade offered by palm trees and clear blue waters which are suitable for swimming. There is a restaurant and food stalls here.
La Piscina Beach
10 minutes further along than Arenillas, La Piscina beach is a bay where the sea is almost completely closed, so it is an ideal place to snorkel, swim and bathe in the clear calm water. There is a restaurant where you can have lunch, as well as snorkelling equipment to hire and guided snorkelling tours available.
Cabo San Juan Beach
Cabo San Juan is the most popular and classic beach in Tayrona, with shaded palm trees and crystal clear turquoise waters, as well as a deck chair area and a beachside restaurant, making it a great beach for relaxation and sunbathing. Cabo San Juan is a further 40-minute walk from La Piscina, so many people choose to have a more relaxing day at La Piscina, with less walking involved.
Tayrona Flora & Fauna
Aside from the beaches, Tayrona National Park is also a great place for wildlife, with dusky titi monkeys, red woodpeckers, iguanas, a variety of lizards, tropical marine life, and more than 400 species of birds.
There are various walks and hiking opportunities in the park, and waterfalls and hidden beauty spots can be found amongst the vegetation. Aside from relaxing on one of the pretty beaches, other possible activities in Tayrona include swimming, snorkelling and birdwatching. You can also take day excursions to visit El Pueblito archaeological site and tubing in the nearby Don Diego River.
The history of Tayrona National Park is fascinating, the region was once the territory of the Tayrona Indians, and archaeological remains have been found in the park. You can take a daytrip to El Pueblito archaeological site, an indigenous village which features stepped terraces, round stone constructions and internal paved roads.
Santa Marta is the nearest city in the area, located 34km from the entrance to Tayrona National Park. The first Spanish settlement in Colombia was established in Santa Marta, and it is the oldest surviving city in the country.
If you would like to visit Tayrona and other parts of Colombia, visit our website to see our Colombia holidays.
- Altitude: Sea level
- Climate: Sunny, hot and humid from Dec – Mar. Mostly overcast from May to Oct. Temperatures 20 – 30oC in the summer (Dec – Mar). 15 – 20oC in the winter.