Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

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Having gathered all the information about Tayrona, we wanted to tell you in a more personal way about our experience in Tayrona Park.

Sam went to Tayrona twice. The first time, in the most classic and usual way, entering through the main El Zaino entrance and heading towards the famous Cabo San Juan beach, the one everyone wants to see once in their life.

The second time, to Playa Cristal, with snorkeling and a bit of sunbathing on the agenda. To these two experiences, we can add two diving trips in the waters of Tayrona Park.

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Discover Tayrona Park

Our experience in Tayrona Park

Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

I made two trips to Tayrona Park. The first time I discovered the park in the most classic and usual way, entering through the main El Zaino entrance with the famous Cabo San Juan beach in view, the one everyone wants to see once in their life.

Arriving late in the afternoon at the El Zaino entrance, we’re greeted by the military for a routine search. We take the shuttle bus and set off along the coastal path. It’s very hot, so we follow the arrows on the relatively easy path. Three quarters of the way along, night begins to fall and we haven’t yet reached our destination… we come across a porter who tells us that Cabo San Juan is full– no more accommodation available!

A little disappointed, but glad to have been warned in advance, we set off again by headlamp to try and find a place to sleep somewhere. We finally found a campsite in Arrecifes with hammocks and tents available for the night. Here’s something to bear in mind for your next trip to Tayrona Park: arrive early to hope for a spot, or book your accommodation before you leave.

A guide to Tayrona Park

If you would like to be accompanied by a guide to discover Tayrona Park and learn more about its unique ecosystem, flora and fauna, you can contact our local partner.

This is your chance to talk to a passionate local guide and not just walk through Tayrona Park without realizing its ecological, historical and cultural importance!

Contacts

Sierraventur (#34)

To directly contact Adrian, our local partner in Santa Marta, you can use the form below. You won’t pay more, but it will let him know you’re coming from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

Cabo San Juan beach

Our experience in Tayrona Park

Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

The next day, we set off again for Cabo San Juan. No doubt about it, this is the most popular beach in Tayrona Park. The path to get there, in the middle of the forest, didn’t prepare me for this. Mind you, this isn’t the Côte d’Azur! But I was expecting something even wilder… there’s a restaurant and a camping area with lots of tents and quite a few Americans, which adds a little to the disappointment..

But it has to be said, the beach is just splendid, so let’s not deny ourselves the pleasure!

After a good meal at the restaurant, where you have to buy a ticket in advance, we set down on the beach. The weather’s not great, but as always on the Caribbean coast it’s hot, so we’re off for a swim! As announced on various websites, the sea is relatively rough.

Like all tourists, we took the information about the dangers here in Tayrona Park. The currents on this part of the coast are extremely violent, and we recommend that you take particular care. Personally, being from Bordeaux, I’m used to big waves and currents, the dangers of the ocean, so when I’m warned of this kind of danger, I know it’s real and I pay attention.

Suddenly, you see a man running, you hear screams, there’s panic on the beach. We soon realize that something serious is going on: it seems that someone is in distress.

All the beaches in Tayrona Park

If you’d like to find out more about the beaches in Tayrona Park, learn about the differences between them, the distances between them and their specific characteristics, and see some photos, we suggest you read our dedicated post!

There areno lifeguards on the park’s beaches, no lifeguard platoons, nothing.

We see people trying to spot the person in peril who seems to be in the middle of the eddies and waves offshore. Nothing can be done, and it would be foolish to jump in without any equipment. Time goes by, time goes by and nothing happens. It’s a cold shower.

The next day, we read in the papers that someone had drowned on the beach of Cabo San Juan, having innocently tried to climb down onto the rocks at the foot of this superb overhang in the sea which divides the beach into two perfect little bays. A wave caught her and carried her out to sea in the eddies.

As for us, between arriving at night the day before, failing to find accommodation and drowning the next day, the mood was a little down… the clock was ticking and we were no longer in the mood for idleness. We decided to head for the exit, this time before dark if possible. On the way, a short swim at the piscina, the park’s safe beach, and we’re back at our starting point, heading for Taganga.

GENERAL INFORMATION FOR THE ZAINO SECTOR

Opening hours
Daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (entry only at midday)

Rates High season

  • Foreigners: $64.500 COP
  • Colombians or residents : $20.500 COP ( +25yo) / $29.000 COP (-25yo)

Low season rates

  • Foreigners : $54.500 COP
  • Colombians or residents : $24.500 COP ( +25yo) / $18.500 (-25yo)

Playa cristal: a snorkelling paradise

Our experience in Tayrona Park

During my second stay in Santa Marta, I decided to take my fellow travelers to discover Playa Cristal, one of the most beautiful beaches in Tayrona Park. Based at Casa de Felipe in Taganga as my HQ, I went to ask around the beach for information on Playa Cristal. I learn that lanchas leave every day, in the morning, and that these are all-day plans, as it’s not possible to sleep there.

We meet at 9am the next morning for the departure from the beach.

Right on time for the appointment, we climb aboard the lancha, accompanied by Colombians eager to burn off their pills on a heavenly beach. The trip takes just over an hour, and the wind, sea spray and jolts take me back to my memories of Capurgana and crossing the Uraba Gulf in a lancha! A little Proust’s madeleine that puts a smile on my face.

The coastal scenery, with its mountains of greenery literally falling into the sea, is breathtaking. Nature has endowed this region with a staggering ecosystem, tumbling down the slopes of the Sierra Nevada at over 5.000 m altitude (the highest coastal massif in the world) to collapse in lust into the Caribbean Sea.

We arrive safe and sound (sun cream or hat recommended) at Playa Cristal, which immediately announces its mix of predominantly green and blue colors , carved out by a strip of immaculate sand.

Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

The day will be spent simply wandering back and forth between the shade of a tree andexploring the coral and multicolored fish, hundreds of them, quivering beneath our feet in water of such clarity that we absolutely dare not question the name given to this magical place.

As I’ve already said, I could spend days looking at the fish underwater, and Playa Cristal offers this spectacle to anyone who enters the water. So I was ecstatic, wearing my mask and snorkel, and on the verge of hyperventilating.

How to get to Playa Cristal

To get to Playa Cristal, there’s a maximum quota of visitors allowed per day, and it’s impossible to stay overnight. There are several options, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

From Taganga
By lancha from Taganga beach (avoid in months of heavy swell)

  • Price: snorkel and mask trip: approx. $70.000 COP per person.
  • Duration: approx. 1 hour
  • Schedule: to be confirmed on site

From Cabo San Juan
Lancha trip from Cabo San Juan beach

  • Price: varies according to the season and the customer’s head
  • Duration: approx. 30 min
  • Times: to be confirmed on site.

From Neguanje
Lancha ride from Neguanje beach.

  • Price: varies according to the season and the customer’s preference
  • Duration: approx. 10 min
  • Times: to be confirmed on site.

Scuba diving in the waters of Tayrona Park

Our experience in Tayrona Park

Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

You may not know it, but all scuba dives from Santa Marta or Taganga take place in the waters off the coast of Tayrona Park. Various small islands and rocks, combined with the currents from the Guajira and the laden waters of the rivers flowing down from the Sierra Nevada, allow a wealth of marine flora and fauna to thrive locally.

Let’s be quite clear: you won’t be able to scuba dive from inside Tayrona Park – you’ll have to go out from Santa Marta or Taganga. But we’d advise you to give it some serious thought. Having tried it twice, it’s a great experience, even if the best spotsin Colombia are surely on the Pacific Coast!

The advantage of diving in Santa Marta in the waters of Tayrona Park is that the rates here are the cheapest in Colombia. But beware! Many centers don’t guarantee the necessary safety.

We’ll say it again, but it’s better to pay a little more for the best service than to save 10 euros and find yourself in borderline security conditions.

Where to stay in Parque Tayrona

There are several options for staying in or near the entrances to Parque Tayrona, ranging from camping to ecolodges.

Campsite

Castillete campsite
Located on the beach at Cañaveral

Camping Don Pedro
Located in the forest near Arrecifes

EcoCamping LUI
Located near the beach in Arrecifes

Camping Bermudez
Located near the beach in Arrecifes

Camping cabo San Juan
Located on the beach of Cabo San Juan

Other accommodations inside Tayrona Park

Check the location, some are situated between the Zaino entrance and Cañaveral, another is in Playa Brava, another is totally isolated between Playa Brava and Playa Cristal.

Inside, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Posada Yachay Tayrona

Eco Lodge

Posada Yachay Tayrona

Double room : $200.000 to $250.000 COP

Luxury accommodation in the heart of Tayrona Park. Situated 1km from the El Zaino entrance but on a hill, it offers a sublime view of the surrounding mountains.

Inside, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Hostal Wachakyta

Hostal

Hostal Wachakyta

Dormitory : $50.000 to $100.000/Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP

Please note that the hostel is only accessible by boat. Camping and dormitory-style services at rather high prices, due to the idyllic and isolated setting. You can eat on site, of course.

Inside, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Hostal Teyumakke

Eco Lodge

Hostal Teyumakke

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

Hostal Teyumakke is located inside the park, entering from Calabazo, after a fairly demanding 8km hike (it’s also possible to get there on horseback). Rudimentary wooden huts with palm-fringed roofs, right on the beach, but perfect for disconnecting from the world! (No wifi)

Inside, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Posada Jasayma

Eco Lodge

Posada Jasayma

Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

One of the few “hard” accommodation options inside Tayrona Park, a 15-minute walk from the El Zaino entrance. The attentive staff provide a haven of peace in the middle of the jungle, including meals with veggie options.

Other accommodation outside Tayrona Park

It is also possible to sleep outside the park, close to the entrances, if you only wish to spend a day inside (please note closing times – 5pm)

Close to entrance, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Yuluka Hostel

Hostal

Yuluka Hostel

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

Located around 5 minutes by bus from the main “El Zaino” entrance to Tayrona Park (bus every 15 minutes), Eco hostal Yukula is a green setting with swimming pool, hammocks, dormitories or rooms in lodge-style cabins.

Close to entrance, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Hostal Manigua

Hostal

Hostal Manigua

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

At the Calabazo entrance, a superb hostal, a little more expensive than the campsite but still relatively accessible. Accommodation ranges from dormitories to lovely double rooms, with a jungle atmosphere and swimming pool.

Close to entrance, Tayrona Park, the best hotels

Playa Los Angeles

Camping, Eco Lodge

Playa Los Angeles

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A semi-private beach 5 minutes from the entrance to Tayrona Park, offering ecolodges and glamping tents on the beach… Recommended.

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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