Tayrona National Natural Park

We wrote about many paradises in Colombia already. You have probably been looking at tickets to Colombia by now, but here is one more paradise on the Caribbean coast you can add to  your to do list.

Tayrona Park is the ‘white sand, blue water, empty beaches and palm tree’ kind of paradise. And don’t forget it is surround by a jungle, in case you get tired of laying on the beach. Tayrona park is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places we have been to. We planned it at the end of our journey through Colombia to get some beach days and extra sun before heading back home. We stayed at Cabo San Juan, which is a two hour hike through the jungle and beach from the parking area in the park. During the day we spent time at the beach and in the evening we ate and played card games with other backpackers. The place doesn’t offer much more than a beautiful view, white sand beaches, and a blue sea but that’s all you will need.

TO SLEEP
Cabo San Juan offers hammocks, tents, and a camping area. It took us between 1.5 to 2 hours to get there. There are other places you can stay that are more closeby. Cabo San Juan has a restaurant area where you can get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and fresh smoothies and there is a small counter where you can buy water and snacks. Just bring enough cash because there is no ATM in the area and like many of the other paradises the prices are above average.

One of the best tips: GO EARLY! The check in starts at 2pm but we arrived at 10am and we had to wait in line already. They have a first come first serve policy and it sometimes happens that everything is occupied and that people can’t stay the night. Especially the hammocks are gone quickly, and eventhough they have tents in which you can stay, the hammocks seem to be more comfortable. As we were mostly busy with waiting and checking in on the first day, we decided to stay two nights.

There are about 50 hammocks next to the beach and another 10 to 15 directly on the beach. These have a beautiful view, though you do have to pay more for these hammocks. We heard from people staying at those hammocks that it was really cold due to the wind, so if you are planning on staying there, bring warm clothes! Cabo San Juan offers lockers as well, but you need to bring your own lock.

During the evening the only place that has light is the restaurant area and it gets dark around six. So therefore most people went to bed around 10pm but we woke up at between 5 and 6am because of the sunlight. We even laid at the beach around 6.30 am before breakfast.

EAT
There is only one restaurant at Cabo San Juan and it serves breakfast (10.000 COP), lunch and dinner (15.000-30.000 COP) during specific times. During these times there is a smoothy bar as well that serves fresh and delicious smoothies! They have the same menu for lunch and dinner consisting of pastas, chicken, meat and fish. The breakfast is a typical Colombian breakfast. We brought enough snacks for lunch and bought some extra snacks at the small shop (which is basically just a counter) so we only bought two meals a day. On the beach there is a guy who sells really good sandwiches (sweet and savoury) throughout the day (5.000 COP). A beer will cost you 4.000 COP.

Make sure to bring enough water with you! You can bring a big 5L bottle, however keep in mind that you have to carry it during the hike. We took multiple smaller ones with us, however we ran out of water after the first day and water is quite expensive at Cabo San Juan (3.000 COP for 0.5L bottle).

TRANSPORT
Bus
First we took a bus from Santa Marta to Tyrona park (8.000 COP). When you have paid, you can either walk for 45 minutes to the start of the hike, or you can get a minivan arranged by the park (3.000 COP). Take the minivan because it saves you time and energy, and there is nothing to see along the way. On our way back we took a taxi bus to Santa Marta (15.000 COP) which is a little more expensive than a public bus. The last minivan from the end of the trail to the entrance of the port leaves at 5pm.
Foot
There are two options to get at Cabo San Juan, or actually three. There are two hikes, one at the beach, the other through the jungle. We did the beach hike on our way up to the hostel and the jungle hike on the way back. The beach hike is beautiful and has a wooden staircase for a large part of the hike, which makes is a lot easier. The jungle hike, however, is at a horse trail, including horse poop. We were the very lucky ones to get stuck on the horse trail in a tropical rain shower. Well you can image the fun we had.The third option is to take the horse trail but on the back of a horse, which makes the most sense when walking that track.

TIPS
– Bring enough cash and water!
– You are not allowed to bring plastic bags into the park so keep this in mind when packing your stuff.
– The hike is Nike proof, though they can get a little dirty if you catch a rain shower.
– Go early so you can get a hammock (and spend more time at the beach)!
– Like many of the other remote places, there are very few power outlets and there is no wifi. Enjoy it!

What do you think of Park Tayrona? Not convinced that this is a must visit on your Colombia trip? Take a look at the photos below! We are very curious to your thoughts on this place, leave them behind in the comment section below!

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