Your Ultimate Guide to Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Tayrona national park beach

Since the time I have been living in Medellin, the second biggest city in Colombia, I kept hearing how awesome the Tayrona National Park is and how it was the best experience of the country for my fellow travelers.

Naturally, I wanted to go see it with my own eyes! I included it into my Colombian bucket list and started to plan the trip.

If you were ever curious what is special about the park, or better – you are also planning your adventure to Tayrona, keep reading, there will be some useful info for you in the post!

Where Tayrona is exactly located?

Park Tayrona is located on the Caribbean coast, 1 hour bus drive from the city of Santa Marta.

Tayrona park on the map

Why is it so famous?

The natural park is a treasure for those interested in nature, it has fascinating wildlife.

Tayrona park view

Tayrona park wildlife Colombia

If you are not big fan of animals, you will still love the park! Tayrona is also a great gateway for those who simply want to relax on some of the loveliest South American coast lines, have digital detox and get closer to nature. And it is just a fun adventure by itself!

I read some articles before going, and, while I found them really useful, some of the info there is a bit outdated.

That is why I decided to wrap up my own experience and write a more up-to-date post.

Here are some practical things that you should know before visiting the Tayrona National Park:


Your ultimate guide to Tayrona National Park Misstourist.com

Entrance price to the park

The entrance fee is 39,500 COP (12 $) for foreigners. It quite pricy for Colombian standards that is why it makes sense to stay longer than 1-2 days.

PRO TIP: Do not forget to take your student card, if you are less than 25 years old! If you are a student, the entrance will be just 7 000 COP for you (a bit more then 2$). Good save, huh?

Don’t forget your passport!

I do not know what would happen if I would leave my passport in my hotel in Santa Marta (which is what I usually do if I go on a hike). Fortunately, I have read this notice before. The cashier requires it on the entrance when you buy your ticket. Do not forget it, please!

What about the food?

Food in Tayrona praqueRemember, when in the park, the civilization is quite remote and you have 3 options for food:

  • Bring it yourself for whatever amount of days you will be staying;
  • Eat from local cafes that are there in each camp;
  • Combine the above 2 options.

If you are traveling on budget, you can bring your own food in your backpack.

Remember, though, you will have to carry it!

You can also eat in one of those camp cafes. All other blogs I read said that it is very pricey to eat there.

However, either that was many years ago and the prices are outdated, either the guys were on a very low budget, but I found the price to be quite affordable.

I will let you decide if it is affordable or pricey by leaving here the prices that I found when I visited in January 2016:

  • 5 000 – 8 000 COP for breakfast (~2$),
  • 15 000 – 22 000 for dinner (5-7$),
  • 5 000 – 6 000 for beer.

Update 2018: 12,000 – 14,000 COP for breakfast (~4$)

PRO TIP: For those who are staying longer than a couple of days, there is no need to carry 5-10 liters of water/bread all the way from Santa Marta, you can buy canned food right at the entrance of the park (10% more expensive than in Santa Marta).

Oh, and do not take alcohol with you! You can drink it inside the park, but you can only buy it in one of the cafes inside. You will not be allowed to enter the park with your own beer. There is security staff who will be checking your bag at the entrance.

What to bring to Tayrona park:

Packing smart is very important!

You don’t want to be eaten by mosquitoes and get a sun burn, do you?

But you also don’t want to over pack and bring unnecessary things that will kill your back afterwards.

Tayrona national natural park streching

Here are the things that you should definitely pack in your backpack:

Also, good shoes (any snickers will do) and flip-flops for using communal showers.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, no, there is no Internet in Tayrona national park,simply relax! 🙂

“I surely can swim in Tayrona park, right?”

Tayrona national park no swimming

No, my friend, even if I told you to bring the swimming suit, you can’t really swim in the Tayrona Natural Park as the Carribean Sea is rough there!

I understand you, you went all the way and you really want to swim in that turquoise water, I hear you. But please keep in mind that there is a strong riptide, extremely dangerous under-currents and many people have died there.

There is one place in the park where you can swim, however, it is called La Piscina. But, please, keep in mind that it can get quite crowded during high season. The weather is always pretty good on the Caribbean coast, but it tends to be the busiest in January and February.

If you are looking for Colombia “beach and sea” destination, I recommend you flying over to San Andres, you will find your paradise there!

How to get to Tayrona National park from Santa Marta

Santa Marta to Tayrona National Parque

Santa Marta is the closest city to the National Park.

There is an airport in Santa Marta, or, you can also get there by bus. VivaColombia is really affordable, especially if you book it in advance, thus, I would suggest flying.

The bus to/from Santa Marta is 7,000 COP (2.27$) and it will only take on hour to arrive. On returning to Santa Marta, if you get off at the Mercado you can get another bus to Taganga for $1,600 (o.5$)

Once inside the park, there is an optional shuttle bus for 3000 COP (1$) that will take you to the starting point of the hike.

You do not have to take the bus, you can walk yourself to the starting point, but I recommend taking it. It is nothing spectacular on the road and you will save about an hour of your time!

Now, the map is not exactly accurate, but I could not find anything in the internet, so I made one myself (you are welcome!)!

It aims to give a general understanding where things are geographically located and how long it will take from one place to another.

Tayrona National park map

I have also heard that there are boats that can take you to the park (to El Cabo San Juan entrance) from Tarranga (located 20 minutes from Santa Marta by bus).

Note: If you are going from Cartagena to Tayrona (like me), you can either take a flight (recommended) or go by bus (approximately 5-6 hours).

Where to stay in Tayrona park – a hummock, a tent or a hotel room?

And now, the big question is – where do you stay there?

The park is too big and pretty hard to reach, so it does not make sense to see for only a day. I stayed for 2 days, but I could easily stay longer.

Your sleeping options are a hammock in the common room, a tent – rented or your own, or a hotel.

Let’s talk about each one in a little more details.

1) A Hummock

Camping tayrona park hummocks

Hummocks, such a romantic way to stay in the park – lazy sipping your beer in a hummock under a palm tree, waking up with the noise of waves…

If this is how you imagine it, let me change your mind a bit.

Let’s start from the fact that all the hummocks are located in one big communal room (NOT in front of the sea) separated from the outside by a mosquito net. Some of them were not washed for a long time (if ever).

Even if I really wanted to try out the hummock option, I reconsidered when I saw how the hummock looked.

So, I decided to change my mind for the tent.

PRICE: 10 000 – 13 000 COP (3,5 – 4,5 $)

Update 2018: Hammocks in San Juan now cost 40,000 COP (around 13$) for one night.

2) A Tent

Cabo verde Tayrona park camping

I decided to go for a rented tent (bring yours if you have one) and had no regrets!

Hummocks and tents are located in the campsite and have toilets and showers. Facilities are basic, but enough.

Note that the shower is open only during specific hours and I think it only had cold water, brr!

Answering your question, there are no hostels (for now) in Tayrona park.

Note: If you want to stay in the camp, I strongly advice you arrive as early as possible. First of all, because the sun is strong and it will be unbearably hot, and secondly, chances are, by 3 pm, there will be no free spots available for you.

Where to stay: Camping sites where you can stay: Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan (take a look at the map above). I stayed in Arrecifes and I quite liked it, but I have heard that San Juan is nice too, just that a bit more crowded.

PRICE: 25 000 – 30 000 COP (9 -10$) for 2 people

 3) A Hotel

Tayrona tented lodge bungalow

If you are not feeling like a great adventure with tents etc., no worries, I totally understand you!

Here are Tayrona park hotel options:

There are a couple of VERY expensive Tayrona National Park Eco hubs inside the park, but to be honest I find them a bit overpriced for what they are. (from 150 usd a day)

If you are searching for an affordable great hotel right on the beach that you have just for yourself, I know a great solution for you!

Sometimes we just need to relax and enjoy, and that is what you want, I have a perfect place in mind for you!

Tayrona Tented Lodge is a small hotel consisting of 6-7 bungalows. I had to book it in advance and only could get it for 1 night (I’d gladly stay way longer).

This place was my personal paradise!

Tayrona Tented Lodge National park

Colombian bucket list Tayrona park

Technically, it is not in the park (only the eco hubs are inside, but they are located right at the entrance in any way)

Tayrona Tented lodge is a fantastic place to be, just relax, read your book on that hummock (yes, near the beach!) and simply enjoy the moment, you will always have a chance to come back to the “real” busy life!

It is perfect for both romantic getaways (even honeymoon!) and family vacation. When I was there, I met guys from UK who wanted to come back with all their close friends one day and rent all the 7 bungalows.

The places has some of the best beaches in Colombia!

Hummocks Tayrona tented Lodge

Tayrona accomodation

Beware of falling coconuts – the only thing you will have to worry in Tayrona Tented Lodge

I think that is a great idea as the location is so perfect, you have all the beach for yourself. You just forget about all the world’s problem and immense with the nature.

And oh yes, unlike Tayrona Park, you can swim in the Carribean Sea!

How to get: It is just 20 minutes ride from the main entrance to Tayrona National Park. All the information can be found on their official website.

PRICE: Ecohubs are starting from 200$, Tayrona Tented Lodge  from 60$ for 2 people 

Check the rates for Tayrona Tented Lodge here!

Watch the video below. Even if it is in Spanish, it will give you a great understanding about the place:

Summary:

Tayrona National Park is a great place to visit if you are a nature lover. It is with no doubt one of the best national parks in Colombia.

In this post I gave you recommendations of how to get there, what you should definitely take with you and what is better to leave home.

We talked about the prices and considered different accommodation options.

Tayrona Natural park best beach

I hope it was helpful. Let me know you have any more questions, I will gladly answer!

By | 2018-10-09T21:11:22+00:00 May 23rd, 2016|Colombia, South America, Tayrona|33 Comments

About the Author:

Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog MissTourist.com is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice of how to travel "smart".

33 Comments

  1. Jeff 10.01.2017 at 04:58 - Reply

    How much money in total did this trip cost you?

    • Yulia 11.01.2017 at 10:29 - Reply

      Hi Jeff,
      All the costs of the local expenses I made are set in the post! Think which activities you want to do and do the math for your trip.

    • Anna Portela 30.11.2017 at 22:56 - Reply

      Hi there! Your post is wonderful! I am looking for a little advice. We have booked a hostel in Santa Marta for 3 days. The hostel is super nice and we love it. For this reason, my boyfriend wants to return to the hostel in Santa Marta each night. Do you think this is doable or should I try to convince him to stay in the vicinity of the park? We plan on returning to the park each day and we don’t mind the hour bus ride or hike.

      • Yulia 02.12.2017 at 16:25 - Reply

        Hey Anna!
        I would definitely stay somewhere around or in the park, I see no reason spending time on transportation each day, but it is up to you of course.

  2. Stan 03.03.2017 at 12:15 - Reply

    The place is not only beautiful but seems to be quite affordable.What about insects, snakes and others from Animal Kingdom trying to get into your tent? Are there any?

    • Yulia 03.03.2017 at 12:56 - Reply

      As you are in the middle of mother nature, there are insects of course. but the problem was easily solved by zipping the tent when leaving.
      I dont know anything about snakes. i doubt that they would come to a populated by humans camp.
      It was all good, enjoy your trip! 🙂

  3. Suria 05.03.2017 at 12:10 - Reply

    We are traveling from California. I have been researching online and the tours are like 150.00 per person USD. You are saying that we can just follow your instructions without a tour, correct?

    • Yulia 09.03.2017 at 06:07 - Reply

      Yes, that is basically what this post is all about, you can totally do it by yourself! 😉

  4. Emily 06.04.2017 at 20:50 - Reply

    hi! love your site 🙂 do you have any input on getting from Cartagena to Tayrona Tented Lodge? We’re trying to decide between bus/rental car or taxi as we want to make the most of our time and not take forever to get there.

    • Yulia 08.04.2017 at 10:47 - Reply

      Hey Emily, thanks!:)
      We got to the Tented Lodge after visiting the National Park, i think we took that same bus that was going from Cartagena to the park and further. It was a 5-10 minutes drive to the place where the bus dropped us off, but I remember we had to walk quite a lot along the beach afterwords (like 15-20 mins?).
      You can take a taxi, or if you want to safe some money, you could also take a bus to the park and then take a taxi to the hotel. Or ask the hotel to pick you up from the park?
      I am sure they can arrange that!

  5. Joanna Silenzi 20.04.2017 at 11:01 - Reply

    Is Tyrona N.P. really infested by mosquitos and when is the worst mosquito infestation season ?
    I am the person that mosquitos love very much and even in my home town of the Italian Adriatic Riviera I am always badly bitten by mosquitos in August. Please let me know.

  6. Kelsie 06.06.2017 at 23:44 - Reply

    This is a great post! I have also noticed that many of the thing I’ve read are very out of date. There have been a few posts that mentioned needing a yellow fever vaccine to enter the park. Were you required to show proof of vaccination upon entrance to the park?

    • Yulia 18.06.2017 at 13:01 - Reply

      While it might be required on the entrance and I generally do recommend doing the yellow fever vaccination, we were not asked to show the proof of it. But dont forget your passport! 🙂

  7. Jamie Butler 09.10.2017 at 06:46 - Reply

    Hi!
    Do the rented tents come with sleeping bags included or is there an additional cost to rent these also?
    Cheers
    Jamie

    • Yulia 11.10.2017 at 00:42 - Reply

      it is an additional cost to rent a sleeping bag

  8. Maely 26.11.2017 at 06:35 - Reply

    Hi! do you know if we need to make reservations in advance?

  9. Hansel 25.02.2018 at 12:09 - Reply

    You did a knock out job here, BRAVO! Thorough, concise, informative, entertaining, and just GOOD!!

  10. vince 16.05.2018 at 11:14 - Reply

    Hello, thanks for the article! How do you get from the Tayrona Tented Lodge to the park and vice versa?

    • Yulia 16.05.2018 at 11:29 - Reply

      Here is the info from the post above:
      How to get: It is just 20 minutes ride from the main entrance to Tayrona National Park. All the information can be found on their official website.
      we have taken a bus and then walked, but the walk was quite long so i do not recommend it, better take a taxi

  11. megan 18.05.2018 at 01:58 - Reply

    Hi! great blog! We will be flying to santa marta is there a bus from the airport straight to the park if not where is the pick up point for the public bus? Also we will be backpacking… I presume its not ideal to bring your big bag pack with you do you have any recommendations where to leave our larger backpack whilst we stay at the park?

    • Yulia 18.05.2018 at 17:28 - Reply

      Hello, Megan!
      Yes, it’s not ideal to have a big backpack with you so I recommend you leave it at your Santa Marta hotel or hostel. They’re used to this so they will take care of it.
      Unfortunately, there aren’t any direct buses that go from the airport to the park, but you can take a bus from the airport to the city center and then a small bus to the park.
      Hope this helps!
      Have fun!

  12. Vanni 22.06.2018 at 02:59 - Reply

    Hi Yiulia, many thanks for all the info, very useful and inspiring!
    I’m planning to stay one day and one night in the park. Then on the following morning I’ll have to catch a flight from Santa Marta at 12.35.
    If I sleep in Cabo San Juan, will I make it to the airport, let’s say, by 11AM? Can I get out of the park early in the morning, by boat or bus?

    • Yulia 22.06.2018 at 19:52 - Reply

      I have no idea, sorry. I would not risk it though

  13. Jennifer 11.07.2018 at 06:51 - Reply

    We have 10 days in Colombia. Wish it could be longer but it’s all we have! Trying to balance seeing different areas with constantly being on the move! Is Tayrona worth it if we can only stay the day? We would be coming from Cartagena. I guess we would stay in Santa Marta and get an early start in the morning, and return to Santa Marta that night. Other option is to stay longer in Cartagena and do an island day. How bad are the insects/ Mosquitos in Tayrona? My son seems to be a magnet! Thank you for this info!!
    Jennifer

    • Yulia 12.07.2018 at 00:58 - Reply

      Not sure if it is wort it to go all the way from Cartagena to spend just one day in the park, it is a very tiring trip. I would suggest to stay overnight in the park.
      Yes, i remember there were mosquitoes there – there are some great sun creams+ anti mosquito cream (2 in 1) nowadays, so I would recommend buying them before!

  14. Jesse 04.09.2018 at 06:38 - Reply

    Hammocks in San Juan now cost $40,000 for one night! Yikes! Breakfast is $12-14,000 and was not impressive. Vegetarian rice for dinner was $15,000 and was ok, slice of banana cake for $3,000 Didn’t get bitten by mosquitos at all, I wore cheap repellent I bought in Santa Marta. I slept in the hammock in shorts and t-shirt, I was a little chilly. Beautiful park though, definitely go! Bus to/from Santa Marta is $7,000. On returning to Santa Marta, if you get off at the Mercado you can get another bus to Taganga for $1,600.

    • Yulia 05.09.2018 at 17:39 - Reply

      Thank you for the precious information, Jesse! I updated the article 🙂

  15. Lauren Andraski 06.11.2018 at 17:29 - Reply

    Hey! Thanks for the great information.

    If you stay in the tented lodge, do you still see all the wildlife at night and the sunrise over the beach?

    Also, if we are doing a 2 night stay, would it make sense to stay in the tented lodge, or will we spend a lot of time backtracking to the lodge each night?

    Thank you!

    • Yulia 09.11.2018 at 01:29 - Reply

      Hello Lauren,
      the Tented lodge is right on the beach, it is not in the jungle so I do not remember a lot of wild life.
      Unless you’d hire a special transportation, it would take you too long to get there every night in my opinion.

  16. Angela Reeves 16.11.2018 at 00:55 - Reply

    What time of year did you take a flight? It doesn’t seem that Viva offers direct flights to Santa Marta in December/Jan.

    • Yulia 19.11.2018 at 17:51 - Reply

      I did not take a flight, I went by bus

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