We founded hard to find information about Tayrona and how to visit the parc, where to start, what to visit, where to stay… So here is what we did and tips for you traveller: How to go to Tayrona? What to bring and how much money do I need? Where to sleep? What itinerary to visit Tayrona main part? What we did.
Let me first tell you that this place is a real paradise and a must do if you go to Colombia! Blue transparent and warm water, huge jungle full of monkeys, white sand beaches and lot of postcard landscapes! I only share here our experience, we didn’t visit Palangana area (Cinto, Playa Cristal…).
How to go to Tayrona?
Option 1: By bus & minimum 2h walk
The cheapest way to go to Tayrona parc entrances is the bus: one of the various you have between Santa Marta and Buritaca, Palomino or Riohacha. You ask to the driver to leave you at Calabazo (30min from Santa Marta) or el Zaino, the easiest part for trekking (it’s the main one: 45min from Santa Marta).
In Santa Marta we took it at the bus terminal (15000cop each) but we heard they also leave in front of the market (heard 8000cop).
Option 2: By boat
Second option for those who don’t want to walk is to take a boat from Santa Marta or Taganga. It cost around 150000cop round trip and leaves you at Cabo San Juan.
Tips: Before arriving be sure to be at the gate in the morning (you can only enter until 11AM at Calabazo or 12PM at Zaino).
> Check the timetable on their official website
What to bring in Tayrona?
Think of the weight of your bad and bring the minimum.
- Water (in Cabo San Juan they refill your 1L bottle for 6000cop and sell a 600ml bottle 4000cop, on Playa Brava 1L cost 7000cop).
- Cash (see bellow).
- Suncream + anti Mosquito.
- Towel, soap and toilet paper.
- A pyjama for the night.
- A locker.
How much money do I need in Tayrona?
ONLY CASH / SOLO EFECTIVO: No bank there, neither card machine, so you need to calculate your budget, knowing that:
- Bus in the parc: 5000cop one way
- Entrance: 57500cop (low season) – only thing you can pay by card
- Insurance: 5000cop/day (this insurance is obligatory. You can buy it at the entrances and extend it in Cabo San Juan)
- Coffee: 2000cop, beer 6000cop, juice 8000cop
- Meal: 35000/40000cop
- Bakeries: 6000cop sweet one, 10000cop salty one (on Playa Piscina: cheap but really good)
Where to sleep in Tayrona parc?
You will have the choice between 3 areas and 3 kind of night: Hamak, tent or cabana. We testify only what camp we’ve seen (maybe we missed some of them).
Note: If you bring your own tent you “only” pay 30000cop.
– Several camps in the wood (Don Pedro, Bermudez / Jorge Andres): Hamak 30000cop, tent 80000cop
– Breakfast 10000cop
– Ecolui: 120000cop for a cabana
Good: you stay far from the croud and it’s cheaper
Bad: no shadow on this beach and you cannot swim here, the closest is Arenilla (20min from here) and you have no view on the sea
Cabo San Juan:
– Only one camp (40000cop hamak with locker, 120000 tent)
– Restaurant: 20000cop breakfast, 6000cop 2 coffees and a small oreo pack, 40000cop a meal, 85000cop a bottle of wine, 6000cop a beer, 8000cop a natural juice.
Good: Central area where you can swim, 20min from la Piscina, 10min from playa Nudista and 20min from Cabo del Saco
Bad: A lot of tourists
– Only one camp (40000cop hamak, 250000cop a lodge)
– Restaurant: 20000 breakfast, 35000cop a meal, 7000 1L of water.
Good: It was to me the most magical place of this parc (shadow, palm trees, grass…)
Bad: Big walk to go there, and lot of wind (choose the hamak on your left when you arrive)
What itinerary to visit Tayrona parc?
The lazy way: walk the minimum! (yellow line)
> Take the boat to San Cabo and walk to La Piscina, playa nudista, Boca del Saco (all easy between 10 and 20min flat walks).
> You can do it in a day or choose to take more time and sleep at Cabo San Juan.
The easy way: walk 2h on a flat way (orange line)
> From el Zaina take the mini bus (5000cop to save 5km).
> Then walk to Cabo San Juan passing playa Arenilla (2h15 walk), La Piscina (5min).
End to Cabo San Juan where you can sleep or enjoy and go back the same nice way.
The medium: climb 300m during 3km and go down (red line)
> Come to Cabo San Juan by boat
> Walk until Playa Brava (2h/2h30)
> You can have lunch there and go back passing by Boca del Cabo, Playa Nudista and Cabo San Juan.
You can go back the same day or choose to sleep on Playa Brava.
The hard one: cross the full parc (purple line)
> Start with the easy way
> Go to Playa Brava!
> It’s 3h from the Calabazo entrance.
> 2h30 from Cabo San Juan passing mountains in the humid jungle.
Where to swim in Tayrona Parc?
There are only few beaches where you can swim: la Piscinita (until 4pm), Arenilla, la Piscina and Cabo San Juan (until 5pm). Stay with water maximum on your knees on the others beaches!
What we did: the hard way!
Note: we haven’t seen la piscinita, I guess it was one of the beach closed.
- FIRST DAY: we arrived from Bucaramanga after a night in the bus… So we didn’t have a lot of force and left one of our backpack in the bus Terminal’s « Guarda equipaje » (luggage storage) and took a bus to Zaino entrance.
Here we paid the entrance and the insurance and took a mini bus to Castilletes area (parquadero).
From there we walked to Arenilla beach where we had lunch and kept going Cabo San Juan.
We went to playa nudista, had diner and slept in cabo San Juan.
- SECOND DAY: we went back to La Piscina early morning and left at 10am (check out time) to playa Brava.
The walk was hard but after 2h30 we arrived at the paradise: Teyumakke camp. Palm trees, green grass and the beautiful Playa Brava.
This area is private and for only the people who stay in the camp, but if you don’t want to sleep here you have a public beach nearby and an access to a waterfall (20min walk).
- THIRD DAY: we had the most difficult walk to go to Calabazo and exit the parc (see bellow).
Easy part: Walk between Cabo San Juan and La Piscina beach
Note: I didn’t register our walk between Parquadero and La Piscina: 4km, 2h30.
3 thoughts on “How to visit Tayrona”
Thank you for very detailed description and comments.
Could you advise if is possible to arrive / depart Playa Brava by boat , spend couple days and return to Santa Marta ?
My wife is not strong walker especially with luggage , hot ,humid air and rough terrain.
I don’t think there is any boat coming to Playa Brava (we passed the whole day there: nothing at all). This is why this beach is so charming: nobody there because of the hard walk 🙂
An easy one is to walk from San Juan to La Piscina, most early possible as it gets hot and full!
The only boats I saw were at Playa San Juan (I think you have departure from Santa Marta but maybe also Taganga – to confirm!)
Enjoy your trip guys!!!
Hello Jennifer ,
I was planning Tayrona beaches hopping private tour with overnight stay in 3 different locations.
Our back packers time is now a history but we do not give up our passion to continue travelling the world.
I am surprised that in Santa Marta there is no sea-taxi or boat for hire like we found in Philippines, Indonesia, Mauritius , etc..
All what I could find on line was too big ,for 20+ people cruises without shore transfers on request.
Thank you very much for your reply.