Everything You Need to Know about Parque Tayrona

Parque Tayrona was the highlight of my Colombian vacation. I fell in love with the lush, green jungle and the crystal blue waters. This is the perfect place for a digital detox: we had no cell service or WIFI in the park. It was the perfect time to relax, read a book, and hang out with my friends.

How to get there:

Parque Tayrona is located 30 minutes from Santa Marta and 50 minutes from Minca on the Northeastern coast of Colombia. In Santa Marta, you can take at taxi or the public bus (7,000 COP) to the park entrance.

Once at the park entrance, you must buy at ticket for 39,500 COP. The hike to Cabo San Juan is approximately 2 hours. I would describe it as a moderately easy hike with a few hills. I recommend doing this hike early in the morning: the afternoons in Tayrona are HOT and HUMID.

You can also take a bus from Cabo San Juan to Taganga. The boat ride is about 45 minutes. We took the boat back to Taganga as we left the park and the sea was very rough; I would not recommend it if you are afraid of open water.

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When to go:

Peak Seasons are December-January, Easter, and June-July. If you are traveling to Tayrona during this time plan to arrive at the park early. The park will limit visitors during peak season so if you arrive late in the day you may be denied entry. Furthermore, the hammocks and tents are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and they do sell out.

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Staying in Parque Tayrona:

You can visit the whole park in one day but many visitors take advantage of the opportunity to stay within the park. If you choose to stay overnight in the park, you have three choices:

  1. Ecohabs: These are luxurious eco lodges within the park. There is a 3 night minimum stay and rates begin at $459/night during the high season. A high-end restaurant is located near the ecohabs and you have full access to the park’s beaches and hiking trails. These do sell out in advance so a reservation is required. Beware: there are lots of ecohabs listed online that are not in Parque Tayrona. If it is important for you to stay in the park, book through this link.
  2. Tents: you can bring your own tent or rent one from the park to camp at certain beaches including the most popular, Cabo San Juan. The park’s rental tent is 30,000 COP and sleeps 2 people. Hammocks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  3. Hammocks at Cabo San Juan: This is the most popular option and the one we chose; for 25,000 COP (about $8 USD) you can stay in a hammock either on the rock or in one of the larger huts just off the beach. Hammocks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Cabo San Juan also has a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner ($15 USD/meal), showers, and two bathrooms.

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Tips:

  • If you are sleeping in the hammocks, bring a blanket or warm clothing to sleep in. The damp breeze off the ocean gets chilly at night.
  • Don’t bring any valuables. There are supposedly lockers available however they were “closed” when we visited.
  • Don’t forget your passport! You are required to present it at the park entrance and you will be denied entry if you don’t have it.
  • Bring lots of cash: you cannot use your credit card inside the park.
  • If you are traveling with suitcases, leave your luggage at your accommodation in Santa Marta. There are no luggage storage facilities at the park entrance.
  • You can only swim at certain beaches (they are marked) because there is a risk of riptides and strong currents.

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