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What to Know About Tayrona National Park Colombia

Do not skip Tayrona National Park if you are backpacking Colombia or heading to the coast for a short holiday. I suggest spending three or four days relaxing in Parque Tayrona. If you have limited time, you can also head to Tayrona for a day trip. To help you make the most of your journey, here is my complete guide to visiting Tayrona National Park Colombia.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Tayrona National Park ToursClick here to check out the top Tayrona National Park tours
Best Tayrona National Park Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Tayrona National Park
Best Tayrona National Park Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Tayrona National Park

Why Visit Parque Tayrona

The question should be, why not? Unless you hate the jungle, hiking, beautiful beaches, rugged coastline, and camping. Then, you should probably skip Tayrona Park.

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

Tayrona National Park is the perfect place to spend a few days in nature camping, trekking through the jungle, or lounging on the beach. Getting a cell signal once in the park is difficult, so you must go offline to relax and enjoy the moment. While I did manage to upload a few images to my IG stories, I was glad to be offline for a few days.

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

The beaches in Parque Tayrona are some of the nicest in Colombia, but the water is too rough to swim in. It’s a great place to paddle and cool off from the sun, though!

What to Do in Tayrona National Park Colombia

You must hike quite a ways through the jungle to get to your campsite. Keep that in mind when you are packing! I only took what I needed—a tent and a sleeping bag. If you ask your previous hostel, they may store the rest of your belongings while you’re in the park.

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

When you arrive at the park, you must buy insurance for $6mil COP daily. This is compulsory—you’ll receive a blue wristband to show you have paid. Once you have bought your entrance tickets and insurance (and booked a hammock/tent for the night if you did not bring your own), you can enter the park and take the shuttle to the train. You can walk this, but I wouldn’t bother. It’s just a road with nothing to see and will take an hour. The bus is $5mil and saves you 55 minutes!

The trail into the park is straightforward to follow. The first campsite you come to is Arrecifes, which should take around an hour. If you want to continue to the other campsite, Cabo San Juan, it takes roughly another hour.

Parque Tayrona Beaches

All the good beaches you can swim in are between the two campsites, Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan. Cabo San Juan is on the beach, whereas Arrecifes is set back from a non-swimming beach. But it is just a 30-minute walk along the coast to La Picena and 40 minutes to Cabo Beach.

La Picena


Tayrona Park Trails

In addition to the trek in and out of Tayrona, there are several trails if you don’t want to chill on the beach all day.


The first one I would recommend is the hike to Palito. I LOVED this trek! If you have done the Lost City, you might not be so impressed with Pablito–but the actual trek is so exciting. I felt like Tarzan clambering over rocks, jumping off things, and just generally feeling like a child! Most of the trail is just trying to climb up giant boulders.

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona
The trail starts just to the right of Cabo San Juan campsite.

There is a sign to tell you to turn back if you like your shoes more than walking…accurate! Mine lasted halfway up and died, haha.

It is an hour and a half up, going steadily and taking a few rest stops. I didn’t find the hike too physically demanding fitness-wise. However, it is technically tricky due to the giant boulders you must scramble over. If you have a walking stick, take it!

The trail starts from the campsite at Cabo. Just ask someone in the right direction. Once you get on the trail, it is easy to find as it is signposted the entire way up.

9 Stones

I really liked this hike, and I did it with my full pack on before we left the park. I had no choice, as there was nowhere to store my bag! The walk is one hour in total if you take the longest route, although I felt it was quicker. It’s not a challenging walk, and the views are stunning.

Where to Stay in Tayrona National Park

Arrecifes Tayrona

I stayed at the Don Pedro campsite. There are two campsites at Arrecifes Tayrona: one that is more expensive with nice bathrooms and grass (Bukaru), and one further away through a field where you camp on the dirt and have basic facilities (Don Pedro).

It cost $12mil per night per person to pitch my tent. I actually liked this campsite, and as we were only there for two nights, it saved us a few hours of walking with our gear.

There are many camping options in Tayrona National Park. You can rent a tent or a hammock or pitch your own tent here. There is one indoor and one outdoor shower, and breakfast is available. If you want to eat in the evening, you must bring your own food.

Alternatively, you can walk to the “fancy” campsite for a meal. However, this will set you back a good chunk of cash with meals around $35mil. If this is too much, take a short walk along the beach to the next area, where a tasty restaurant allows you to eat for around $20mil.

Cabo San Juan Parque Tayrona

If you can keep going and plan camping for 3+ nights in Tayrona Park, it is worth continuing to the Cabo San Juan campsite. It is right on the beach and has more facilities.

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

Cabo has two beaches, a reasonably priced restaurant, a small tienda, and decent bathrooms. It also has tents and hammocks for rent, or you can pitch your own. Thanks to its location and facilities, Cabo is the better of the three campsites. If you are spending a few days in Taryona National Park, I suggest Cabo.

Cañaveral & Castilletes

Colombia Guides | Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

Set in the eastern park area, these sites don’t get as many visitors as the others. They are much closer to the entrance (ideal if you won’t want to walk too far) but have no swimming beaches. If you stay in one of the (very expensive) eco huts, you will find them here.


If you aren’t up for the hike, you can take a mule or give them your bag to carry it for you. There are places along the route where they wait for people who can’t walk any further. I’m unsure of the cost, as I didn’t use this service.

Tayrona National Park Colombia Packing Tips

  • Passport: You will need this to enter the park
  • Enough clothes for each day and something comfortable to wear in the evenings and to sleep in
  • Swimwear
  • Flip flops
  • Hiking sandals/boots or sneakers with traction (that you don’t mind getting muddy!)
  • Bug spray
  • Wash kit
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Sarong (to lay on the beach)
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • Battery pack
  • Camera
  • Plenty of water: You can buy it in the park, but it is expensive, and I only found people selling small bottles
  • Food if you want to cook: Recommended if you are on a budget—our campsite had a kitchen we could use
  • Lots of snacks!

Quick Tip: View my full Colombia packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Colombia Essentials shopping list here.

How to Get to Parque Tayrona

Santa Marta to Tayrona

Head to the market and ask for the bus to Tayrona. It’s easy to find—the bus is white and green. The bus stop is around the corner, and there is almost always a bus with a queue of people.

If you are in a hostel further out, you can ask where to get the bus from, and they will likely tell you somewhere to wait near your hostel. The bus is $5, and you can ask them to stop at the El Zaino Entrance.

Palomino to Tayrona

Take the bus from the main road to Santa Marta and ask to get off at Tayrona.

Taganga to Tayrona (via Boat)

The boat was $50mil, so this was over our budget. However, I have heard excellent things about the boat ride. If you can afford to, go for it! You can get a boat in the morning from Taganga.

You can also leave the park via boat to head to Taganga. You should find people selling boat tickets in Cabo San Juan. They typically go at 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Day Trip to Tayrona National Park Colombia

If you have a limited schedule, visiting the park for one day from one of the surrounding areas is possible. Those staying in Santa Marta can take the bus to the park. I recommend getting the first bus around 7:00 a.m. to maximize your time.

Once you reach the main entrance, you must buy insurance ($6mil) and an entrance ticket ($87mil). Then, take the minibus to the start of the hiking trails ($5mil). The park opens at 8:00 a.m., and there will probably be a queue once you arrive.

Begin hiking through the park towards Cabo San Juan. The route is relatively simple and will lead you straight to Cabo in about 2-2.5 hours. There are several beaches along the way, so you can stop and relax or head straight to Cabo and spend the whole day chilling there.

There are places to buy snacks, lunch, and drinks. However, it is cheaper to bring your own. The park closes at 5:00 p.m. for day visitors. Remember this: you must allow time to hike back to the entrance.

Alternatively, you can take the boat to Taganga and a bus back to Santa Marta (or wherever you are staying). This means you can stay at the beach longer, as the last one leaves at 4:00 p.m. Be aware that this is quite a bumpy journey—you’ll see beautiful scenery along the way, though.

While this is quite an expensive option ($80mil), it’s ideal for those who want to spend more time on the beach.

Need Transportation in Colombia?

I highly recommend booking Colombia transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and flights on their website—I love their customer service. I know them personally from my time living in Guatemala, and they genuinely care for their customers. If a delay occurs and you miss your bus, call them for help.

If you book through GottoGo, you will pay more than at the bus station, but it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.

Tayrona National Park Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Tayrona National Park?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Colombia which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Colombia on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Tayrona National Park?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Tayrona National Park?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Tayrona National Park Colombia: Final Thoughts

Before you visit Parque Tayrona, check the website. Tayrona closes for a month at the end of January/February. December and January are the busiest months, and I know people who couldn’t get in because all the passes were sold out! If you are traveling during these peak times, booking your pass online is the best way to avoid disappointment.

I hope this is helpful if you are backpacking in Colombia. Be sure to check out my other guides! You can also follow my one-week, two-week, and three-week Itineraries for the Caribbean Coast.

P.S. After visiting Tayrona, I highly recommend spending a few nights in Minca before going to Palomino.

Top Tips for visiting Parque Tayrona

This post was proofread by Grammarly.


Wednesday 2nd of February 2022

That's a rumor between travelers that you need to have the yellow fever vaccine before entering the park. Can you share your experience? Cos what I found it said "it is suggested". Thx.