Best Tayrona National Park Entrances [Travel Guide]

A travel guide to visit Tayrona National Park, find the best entrances, and plan the perfect itinerary.

🛑 Stop visiting Tayrona Park like a tourist. Start discovering my little secrets to make this adventure unforgettable.

There are many ways to visit Tayrona that will significantly change your overall experience in the national park—trust me, I did it 3 times!

However, I see 95% of travelers following in their footsteps, taking the same route.

Not very logical, is it?

With this guide, you can quickly decide which Tayrona entrance to take and which adventure to plan according to your desires and the time you have available.

Here’s what you’ll get if you read my guide c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y:

  • The difference between the Calabazo entrance and the Zaino entrance.
  • What time should you enter, and where should you stay the night before?
  • Where are the beaches where you can swim without risk?
  • How to avoid most of the tourists.
  • What should you do if you’ve 1, 2, or 3 days available?
  • And more!

Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Here, you will find everything you need to fall in love with this beautiful country easily.

Top Hotels Near Tayrona

To get off to a good start exploring Tayrona.

Comfy hostel
  • Where:
    15min walk from El Zaino
  • 4.5
  • From $64.00
  • Description:

    Lodge Cacao Tayrona offers an excellent harmony of comfort and nature. With its tastefully decorated rooms overlooking the jungle and its attentive staff, it's a lovely place to play Robinsons after visiting Tayrona National Park.

Calabazo Entrance
  • Where:
    8min walk from Calabazo
  • 4.5
  • From 95$
  • Description:

    Portales del Tayrona offers an exceptional stay, blending comfort, nature, and authentic culture seamlessly. Its prime location beside the park entrance, coupled with a welcoming atmosphere, spacious rooms, and stunning views, ensures a memorable experience. 

Fine cuisine
  • Where:
    5 min drive from El Zaino
  • 4.9
  • From 304$
  • Description:

    With style and refinement even in its cuisine and stunning views of the river and sea, Villa Playa Tayrona offers a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting. Professional staff and only a few rooms add a touch of intimacy.

  • Where:
    15 min walk from El Zaino
  • 4.8
  • From 107$
  • Description:

    Senda Koguiwa perfectly balances stylish design, comfort, and gorgeous surroundings. Bordering a river, it's a great option for a peaceful and cozy family break in the heart of nature.

Best deal
  • Where:
    25min walk from El Zaino
  • 4.8
  • From 67$
  • Description:

    Hotel Quetzal Dorado offers a stunning experience near Tayrona Park, boasting beautiful views and super friendly staff. The rooms are lovely, and the restaurant serves delicious options. Perfect for those seeking a peaceful and comfy nature retreat.

Comfy hostel
15min walk from El Zaino
From $64.00

Lodge Cacao Tayrona offers an excellent harmony of comfort and nature. With its tastefully decorated rooms overlooking the jungle and its attentive staff, it's a lovely place to play Robinsons after visiting Tayrona National Park.

Calabazo Entrance
8min walk from Calabazo
From 95$

Portales del Tayrona offers an exceptional stay, blending comfort, nature, and authentic culture seamlessly. Its prime location beside the park entrance, coupled with a welcoming atmosphere, spacious rooms, and stunning views, ensures a memorable experience. 

Fine cuisine
5 min drive from El Zaino
From 304$

With style and refinement even in its cuisine and stunning views of the river and sea, Villa Playa Tayrona offers a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting. Professional staff and only a few rooms add a touch of intimacy.

15 min walk from El Zaino
From 107$

Senda Koguiwa perfectly balances stylish design, comfort, and gorgeous surroundings. Bordering a river, it's a great option for a peaceful and cozy family break in the heart of nature.

Best deal
25min walk from El Zaino
From 67$

Hotel Quetzal Dorado offers a stunning experience near Tayrona Park, boasting beautiful views and super friendly staff. The rooms are lovely, and the restaurant serves delicious options. Perfect for those seeking a peaceful and comfy nature retreat.

Tayrona National Park: Key points

Tayrona Cabo San Juan beach

When: In 2024, the park will be closed from 01/02 to 15/02, 01/06 to 15/06, and 19/10 to 02/11. Avoid going on the weekends and public holidays.

Weather: It’s warm and humid. The rainiest months are May, September, October, and November.

Tayrona’s entrances: There are 4 entrances.

  • El Zaino is the main entrance (with all the tourists).
  • Calabazo is a secret entrance to reach Playa Brava (my favorite entrance).
  • Palangana entrance only serves to reach beautiful beaches by car (no hikes).
  • Bahia Concha is a cheaper entrance, close to Santa Marta, but you have access to 1 beach only.

Tayrona tickets: Buy them directly at the entrances. Between 73,500 and 87,000 COP for a foreigner + 6000 COP/DAY for the insurance. Tayrona is one of 23 natural national parks open to the public in Colombia.

Tayrona beaches: There are various beautiful beaches in Tayrona National Park. Cabo San Juan is the most famous one, too crowded for my taste. Playa Brava is the best beach to get to if you like hiking. Playa Cinto is the most beautiful beach and is perfect for snorkeling (only accessible by boat).

Tayrona hikes: You don’t need a guide. Follow the trails. Hiking shoes or sneakers are perfect.

Food and Water: You can order food and buy water bottles inside the park. A small day bag for your adventure is enough. Don’t forget to bring some cash.

Tayrona safety: Depending on the beach, you cannot swim because of the dangerous currents. In Cabo San Juan, watch over your belongings.

Duration: 1 to 3 days, depending on your plans to visit the park. My favorite? Enter by Calabazo and stay 1 night inside Tayrona National Park.

Depending on which Tayrona entrance you choose, your experience will be completely different.

1# Tayrona Entrance El Zaino

It’s the main Tayrona entrance.

Why Enter Tayrona via El Zaino

  • Shortest Route to Famous Beaches: Imagine hitting the most scenic spots like Cabo San Juan in just a day. If you’re all about efficiency, this is it.
  • Level Terrain: The path is rather flat and well-organized, making it perfect if you’re not up for a challenging hike.
  • Horseback Riding: Although I wouldn’t personally recommend it, horse riding is an option here for getting around.
  • Beat the Crowds to Cabo San Juan: Start early, walk fast, and you can get there in about 2 hours, allowing you to soak up the beauty before it gets too busy.

How to Get to El Zaino Entrance

Getting to the El Zaino entrance is pretty straightforward. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Arrive in Santa Marta: Your journey begins here. You can catch a bus from the main cities or fly in directly.
  2. Bus or Taxi: From Santa Marta, hop on a COTRAORIENTE bus at the public market (here) or catch a taxi straight to El Zaino. With buses departing every 15 minutes, you’ll be at the park entrance in about an hour and fifteen minutes. A taxi from Santa Marta airport will set you back around $180,000 COP.
  3. From Palomino or Riohacha: Buses from these locations are also an option, with travel times of 1 hour from Palomino and 2 hours from Riohacha.

How to Enter Tayrona via el Zaino & Prices

Entering Tayrona involves a few steps:

  • Prepare to show a photocopy of your passport.
  • Watch an introduction video.
  • Display your bag contents (no alcohol, etc.)
  • Pay the entry fee (Cash or credit card)

The price entrance is quite expensive nowadays. It’s best to spend at least one night in the park since the price remains the same (except for daily insurance), regardless of the number of nights.

  • Colombian tourists: 33,000 COP (low season) and 39,000 COP (high season)
  • Foreigner tourists: 73,500 COP (low season) and 87,000 COP (high season)
  • Daily insurance: 6,000 COP/day/pers

Once you pass the entrance, you still have to walk 5km to reach the trail (it starts right after the parking in Cañavera) or take a shuttle (for less than 10,000 COP). I recommend the latter to save time.

Opening hours to enter: From 7:00 am to 12:00 pm—although they often open at 8am.

They are also supposed to accept only 3650 people a day. I don’t know if this is respected.

Tomplanmytrip note: I still recommend you arrive at 7 am. If it’s not open, have breakfast and be ready to queue ASAP.

Best Hotels Near El Zaino

I always recommend that travelers stay close to Tayrona Park. It’s a much nicer area than Santa Marta; there are very good hotels, and you can start your trek earlier in Tayrona.

Here are the hotels I like:

  • Lodge Cacao Tayrona: 15-min walk from the entrance. This hostel offers an excellent harmony of comfort and nature.
  • Hotel Quetzal Dorado: 25-min walk from the entrance. The best price for value in the area.
  • Senda Koguiwa: 15-min walk from the entrance. A beautiful, family-friendly hotel near a river.
  • Villa Playa Tayrona: 5-min drive from the entrance. It offers a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting.

Trails From El Zaino

This is a well-maintained trail used by many tourists. From the El Zaino entrance, you can reach Arrecife (1h), La Piscina (1h30), and Cabo San Juan (2h).

Some parts can be muddy from horse traffic.

More than 10,000 travelers have already used our Colombia travel guide

I’ve been exploring Colombia since 2015 and put all my knowledge into one E-book. It’s free and accessible now. 👇

2# Tayrona Entrance Calabazo

If you’re keen to dodge the crowds and immerse yourself in nature, the Calabazo entrance might just be your golden ticket.

Why Enter Tayrona via Calabazo

  • You detest crowds. Unlike the bustling El Zaino, Calabazo offers a tranquil path less traveled.
  • Wildlife spotting is on your bucket list. The quieter trails improve your chances of encountering Tayrona’s diverse animal life.
  • Hiking is your jam. Calabazo’s paths demand a bit more from your legs—a challenge welcomed by trail enthusiasts.
  • Playa Brava beckons the solitary soul. If seclusion is what you seek, Calabazo is your gateway to this less-frequented beach.
  • Multi-day hikes are your idea of fun. For those wanting to explore Tayrona’s depths over a few days, starting here is ideal.
  • Quick entry, no fuss. With fewer visitors and no introductory video requirement, you’re on your way in no time.

How to Get to Calabazo Entrance

Same as for El Zaino. Calabazo is located 10 km before the entrance to El Zaino (coming from Santa Marta). You’ll have to tell the bus driver you want to stop at Calabazo (and remind him when you’re near).

How to Enter Tayrona via Calabazo & Prices

The procedure is simple and relaxed. You’re welcomed under a palm roof with a simple plastic table, without the usual formalities for entering the park at El Zaino.

Prices are the same as at El Zaino, but bring cash to avoid any hiccups.

Entry timings: From 7:00 am to 11:00 am—although they often open at 8am.

Best Hotels Near Calabazo Entrance

  • Portal del Tayrona: Just an 8-minute walk from Calabazo, it’s an oasis of comfort with breathtaking views.
  • La Casablanca Tayrona House: A surprise hit for many, including me, with its dual swimming pools, comfy rooms, and top-notch service. Plus, it’s only a 10-minute stroll away.

Trails from Calabazo

For those who live by their hiking boots:

  • Head to Playa Brava on a rewarding 3.5-hour trek that’ll test your stamina but offer incredible views.
  • Or aim for Playa Nudista via El Pueblito, a solid 4-hour hike for those looking to stretch their legs even further.

Oh, and if you’re pressed for time or just not up for the entire hike, there’s a moto service costing 25k that drops you a bit further into the park. Handy, right?

3# Tayrona entrance Palangana

Playa Cristal Santa Marta

You can’t hike in Tayrona Park via Palangana.

Why Enter Tayrona via Palangana

So, why pick this entrance then?

  • Lay down at the beach and chill out: We’re talking Gairaca, Playa de Amor, 7 Olas, Neguanje, and yes, Playa Cristal.

How to Get to Palangana Entrance

  1. Alternatively, catch a bus from the city market. This bus heads to Tayrona’s main entrance, but you’ll need to tell the driver you’re stopping at Palangana. Or you can take a cab.
  2. A better alternative is to get to these beaches by boat from Santa Marta or Taganga.

How to Enter Tayrona via Palangana & Prices

Let’s talk logistics and dinero:

  • Entry fees are consistent with the El Zaino and Calabazo entrances.
  • Post-arrival at Palangana, head to Neguanje. 45 min on a dirt road. Yep, you’ll need another means of transportation.
  • Palangana gates are open for entry between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., with exits marked from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Tomplanmytrip note: accessing Palangana restricts you from exploring other parts of Tayrona, and overnight stays are off the table. Given these limitations, I find the price too steep.

4# Tayrona entrance Bahia Concha

Bahia Concha Santa Marta

The closest entrance from Santa Marta.

Why Enter via Bahia Concha

It’s a bit of a mixed bag. On its good days, the beach is quite nice. But, I’ve gotta be honest – after heavy rains, a nearby river can wash a fair bit of trash onto its shores.

Therefore, I won’t recommend visiting it (except if you plan to stay for a long time in Santa Marta).

How to Get to Bahia Concha Entrance

Getting to Bahia Concha is a bit of an adventure itself. You have a few options:

  • Public Transport: Not the most straightforward as buses are few and far between. But if you’re up for it, catch one for less than 1 USD.
  • Taxi: The simplest route from Santa Marta. Count about 45 min to get there.

Given its proximity to the city, if you’re coming from elsewhere, loop into Santa Marta first and go from there.

How to Enter Tayrona via Bahia Concha

  • Entry fees? For foreigners, it’s $30,000 COP and for Colombians, about $8,000 COP. A tad steep for what you get.
  • Once you’ve sorted the entry fee, get ready for a 20-minute walk to the beach.
  • My pro tip: veer right upon arrival. It’s less crowded, and you’ll dodge the street sellers. Find yourself a nice spot under a tree and just chill.

Remember, Bahia Concha has specific timings: entry between 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Map Tayrona Colombia Park

EDIT: Pueblito is closed to the public, but you can pass nearby to get to Playa Nudista

Here’s a streamlined guide grouping beaches by their nearest entrances and detailing accessibility, overnight stay options, and swimming advisability.

Tomplanmytrip note: Tayrona comprises 34 beaches, six of which are authorized for swimming: Neguanje, Gayraca, Cristal, Bahía Concha, La Piscina, and Cabo San Juan.

From El Zaino Entrance

  • Playa Castillete: A serene, less crowded beach accessible with a short walk from El Zaino parking area. Overnight stays are possible in tents, hammocks, or cabins. Swimming is forbidden.
  • Playa Canaveral: Offers tranquility and panoramic views, accessible by road from El Zaino. Swimming is generally unsafe except in La Piscinita. Luxury accommodations are available for overnight stays.
  • Playa Arrecife: Known for its stunning scenery, but dangerous currents prevent swimming. A 50-minute hike from Cañaveral. Nearby eco-friendly camping options are available for those wishing to stay overnight.
  • Playa Arenilla: Located between Arrecifes and La Piscina, it requires caution for swimming. A 15-min hike from Arrecife.
  • La Piscina: Ideal for a serene swim, situated between Cabo San Juan and Arrecifes. No overnight facilities are available directly at La Piscina. A 15-minute hike from Arenilla.
  • Cabo San Juan: A popular destination for its beauty, accessible via a 30-minute hike from La Piscina. Offers hammock and camping options for overnight stays. Features two beaches, one suitable for swimming. Very crowded.
  • Playa Nudista: Offers a tranquil, nudist-friendly environment just a 20-minute walk from Cabo San Juan. Swimming is not recommended, and there are no facilities for overnight stays.

From Calabazo Entrance

  • Playa Brava: Secluded and serene, requiring a 3 to 5-hour hike from El Calabazo. Offers lodging and basic amenities for overnight stays. Its remote location offers a peaceful escape.

From Palangana or by boat from Santa Marta

  • Playa Cristal: Limits visitors to preserve it, accessible by boat from Neguanje, Taganga, or Santa Marta. Nearby restaurants are available, but overnight stays are not permitted. Too crowded for my taste.
  • Playa Neguanje: A gateway for diving and snorkeling, best reached by boat from Santa Marta. No overnight stays.
  • Playa Gairaca: Offers tranquil beauty and is safer for swimming, accessible by boat or land. Like Neguanje, overnight stays are not allowed. Nice snorkeling.

From Bahia Concha

  • Bahia Concha: The most accessible beach from Santa Marta, either by car or boat. Offers basic amenities and activities, with no overnight stays. Suitable for swimming, though it’s busy on weekends.

From Santa Marta or Taganga by boat

  • Playa Cinto: Noted for its seclusion and snorkeling, reachable by a one-hour boat ride from Taganga or Santa Marta. No facilities mean you should bring your water and food. It’s my favorite beach.

Here are my favorite tips to enjoy Tayrona.

1# How to reach Tayrona entrances

Bus between Palomino and Santa Marta

Reaching Tayrona National Park and its stunning beaches is quite straightforward, offering multiple transportation options.

Bus Routes to start hiking in Tayrona

From Palomino to Tayrona main entrances: A convenient option for those coming from the northeast. Simply hail a bus heading towards Santa Marta and ask to stop at Tayrona. The journey takes about an hour and costs approximately 10,000 COP.

From Santa Marta to Tayrona main entrances: Depart from the city center at Calle 11 with Carrera 9, near the Mercado Principal. If unsure, locals are generally helpful with directions. The trip also lasts about an hour and costs around 10,000 COP.

From Cartagena to Tayrona main entrances: The fastest way is to take private transportation (about 5h30) or take a shuttle from Cartagena to Santa Marta (about 5h) and then a bus to Tayrona (about 1h)

Boat Option for sunbathing on the beach

From Taganga to Cabo San Juan: This route offers a direct approach to Cabo San Juan, Tayrona’s most famous beach. Boats leave early from Taganga Beach and operate on a full-capacity basis, with no departures after 9:30 am. The return journey from Tayrona is at 4 pm. This option takes around 1h30. However, it’s important to note that from December to March, sea conditions can be rough, making the boat ride potentially terrifying and hazardous. Always check sea conditions beforehand.

From Santa Marta or Taganga to Playa Cinto, Playa Cristal, and so on: All the beaches between Playa Cinto and Bahia Concha can be reached by boat. Group tours leave for Playa Cinto, Playa Cristal, and Bahia Concha.

2# Where to stay in Tayrona

Choosing where to stay in Tayrona National Park involves understanding your preferences, whether it’s being close to the beach, seeking luxurious accommodations, or finding budget-friendly options in tents or hammocks.

Staying Inside Tayrona Park

Ecolodge Playa Brava Teyumakke
Credit: Playa Brava

If staying inside the park, be ready for basic accommodations and limited amenities–except for a few exceptions.

  • Cabo San Juan: It’s the most famous area, but I don’t like it anymore (too many people and expensive prices). Tents or hammock.
  • Playa Brava: It’s my favorite area because it’s well-organized, and you’ve got the beach almost for yourself. Tents, hammocks, and a few cabins—you can book online here.
  • Playa Arrecife: A cheaper, better alternative to Cabo San Juan. Tents or hammock.
  • Playa Canaveral: The only beach with a luxury hotel, Ecohabs Tequendama Parque Tayrona—although the value price isn’t great.
  • On the path between the El Zaino entrance and Cañaveral: there are several accommodation options to wake up inside the park and start hiking early—like Ecohabs Bamboo Tayrona.

Staying outside Tayrona (near the entrances)

Villa Playa Tayrona
Villa Playa Tayrona

Perfect to use as a base to visit Tayrona and other places like Palomino and Taironaka. You’ll find plenty of options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury accommodations.

  • If you really want to start early, pick a hotel near Calabazo or El Zaino (depending on where you want to start). Be aware that roadside hotels are a little noisy due to traffic.
  • If you want a beachfront hotel, check out the Playa Naranjos area. You’ll be only a few minutes away from El Zaino by car.

3# When to Visit Tayrona

Trail nature Tayrona

To maximize your experience in Tayrona National Park, timing is everything.

I’ve found the best times to visit are outside of peak seasons and public holidays to avoid the crowds. Specifically, avoid weekends, Easter, Christmas, and any Colombian public holidays if you’d prefer a quieter experience.

Additionally, remember that the rainiest months along the Caribbean coast are typically from April to May and September to November.

If you plan a trip in 2024, note that the park will be temporarily closed from 01/02 to 15/02, 01/06 to 15/06, and 19/10 to 02/11 due to local traditions and environmental conservation efforts.

4# What to Pack for Tayrona

Access to the beach Tayrona

Packing smart for Tayrona National Park is essential, as the heat and humidity require some preparation. Definitely bring your passport or a photocopy for the entrance, and though not mandatory, I recommend a Yellow Fever vaccine.

Always carry at least 2L of water, some snacks, a bathing suit and towel, sunscreen, a hat, and trainers instead of flip-flops to navigate the trails comfortably.

Don’t forget a repellent for mosquitos and sandflies, a trash bag for your litter, a blanket for chillier nights, a jumper and socks to ward off sandflies, a torch, toilet paper, a lock for your belongings, and enough cash—there are no ATMs nearby.

And if you’re into snorkeling, bring your gear. Remember, leave the big bag at your hotel or use the lockers provided at the entrance (El Zaino) for a worry-free exploration.

5# Is Tayrona Safe?

Dangerous sea Tayrona

Yes, Tayrona is generally safe for visitors. Hiking without a guide is common, and there’s no real danger from wildlife like jaguars.

However, swimming should only be done in authorized areas to avoid strong currents that have been dangerous for swimmers in the past.

In tourist-heavy areas like Cabo San Juan, always keep an eye on your belongings or use the lockers provided. I learned the hard way when my hiking shoes got stolen.

How many days in Tayrona: My itineraries

Beaches Tayrona Park

How many days to spend in Tayrona National Park isn’t just a question of time; it’s about what kind of experience you seek. Let me break it down for you:

1-Day Trip in Tayrona

For those short on time, a 1-day trip can still offer a glimpse of Tayrona’s beauty. If you’re coming by boat to Cabo San Juan, prepare for a seaworthy adventure, as the waters can be rough.

Alternatively, entering via Palangana allows for a quick dive into the park’s beautiful beaches.

If you’re entering via El Zaino and want to make the round trip to Cabo San Juan, be prepared for a crowd. You’ll be walking for about 5 hours in total. You’ll miss the early morning serenity, which I’ve found is the best time to cherish the park’s tranquility.

2-Day Stay in Tayrona

With an extra day, the experience deepens.

Entering via Calabazo, I opted to stay overnight in Playa Brava. The sheer calm of waking up to the sound of waves, with no crowd in sight, is fantastic.

Setting off early to Cabo San Juan, followed by a relaxing swim at La Piscina before exiting via El Zaino, makes for a balanced exploration of both the wild and the serene parts of Tayrona.

It’s an itinerary I recommend for those looking to escape the main tourist trails and who like to hike instead of sunbathing hours on the beach.

3-Day stay in Tayrona

For the ultimate Tayrona experience, a 3-day plan allows for a comprehensive exploration.

Starting again from Calabazo and staying the first night in Playa Brava sets a tranquil pace.

The next day, head to Cabo San Juan and spend the night at a campsite in Arrecife, with fewer crowds.

An early morning return on the 3rd day to Cabo San Juan ensures you catch the beach at its most peaceful. After lunch, exit via El Zaino.

From mysterious jaguars to old civilizations.

Ecosystems in Tayrona

Mangroves Tayrona

Tayrona National Park is a marvel of biodiversity, housing a vast array of ecosystems within its 12,692.2 hectares.

The park’s geographical diversity allows for rapid changes in vegetation, transitioning from thorny scrub and dry forest to humid and cloud forests in higher altitudes. Along the coast, you can find beach ecosystems, lagoons, mangrove stands, and rocky shores.

The marine area of the park is just as diverse, with coral formations, sedimentary grounds, seagrass meadows, and algae congregations.

Remarkably, Tayrona also protects the country’s best-preserved tropical dry forest relic, making it a critical area for conservation.

Fauna in Tayrona

Monkeys Fighint Maikuchiga Mocagua Amazon

The park is home to the cottontop tamarin, an endemic Colombian monkey symbolizing conservation efforts.

Then there’s the basilisk, or the “Jesus Christ Lizard,” known for its ability to run on water, a sight that never ceases to astonish me.

Jaguars, though elusive, mark their presence with paw prints in the mud.

Giant iguanas and caimans add to the park’s prehistoric ambiance, while poison-dart frogs and the endangered blue-knobbed curassow highlight the park’s rich biodiversity.

Tomplanmytrip note: Early morning hikes or dusk walks are highly recommended.

Flora in Tayrona

trails along the beach Tayrona

Exploring the flora of Tayrona is like entering another world.

The park is divided into several biomes, each with its unique vegetation.

  • The tropical dry scrub hosts 1,381 species across 189 plant families, including the prominent Euphorbiaceae and Rubiaceae.
  • The tropical dry forest features trees like Guarumo and Aguacate, highlighting the park’s varied plant life.
  • The mangrove ecosystems, vital for biodiversity conservation, cover 20.2 hectares.
  • The rainforest brims with epiphytes and essential species such as Palma de vino and Higuerón.
  • Lastly, the Subandean Humid Forest, though smaller, showcases misty landscapes emblematic of the tropics.

Communities and Archaeological Sites

Ciudad-Perdida-Indigenous-1 (1)
Ciudad Perdida

The history of human settlement in the Tayrona region is fascinating.

The Tairona culture, prominent from at least the 1st century AD, showcases a society advanced in agriculture, architecture, and trade. Despite confrontations with Spanish colonizers in the 1600s, the Tairona’s descendants, including the Kogi, Wiwa, Arhuacos, and Kankuamo people, preserve their heritage.

The “Lost City” (Ciudad Perdida), discovered in 1975, is a testament to their sophisticated civilization, displaying terraced stone architecture indicative of a complex society. Other sites like Pueblito (closed to the public) and Chengue offer a glimpse into the ancient Tairona’s daily life, connected by stone-paved paths and rich in cultural history.

Book with locals
The Best Agency To Hike To The Lost City

Over 80 of our readers book their trek to the Ciudad Perdida with Fanny monthly. Enjoy a well-organized 4-day jungle adventure, with bilingual local guides, to discover an ancient civilization.

  • One of the 5 official agencies for this trek.
  • Pay local prices at no extra cost.
See her profle Our Review
Easy, quick and risk-free (Talk first. Book later)

Q&A Tayrona National Park

Here are the questions readers ask us most often 🙂

  1. Should I book a Tayrona Park tour?

    There is no interest in booking a Tayrona Park tour. The hikes are easy, and the trails are well-indicated. 
    If you want to make it easier, you can book a boat from Taganga or ride a horse from the Zaino Entrance. 

  2. Any idea of how safe/secure the hammock option is?

    There are few lockers in Cabo San Juan. Otherwise, it would be best always to keep your valuables in a small bag or give them to someone.

  3. Were there cooking facilities at Cabo San Juan?

    No. There are some in Arrecife (bonfire).

  4. If we have a rental car, can we drive into the park to the campsite?

    No. You will have to stop at Cañaveral.

  5. Can we reserve/book in advance?

    Yes, there is a counter at the Zaino entrance to book your hammock in Cabo San Juan before entering Tayrona Park.

  6. Do hammocks in the Cabo San Juan campsite have mosquito nets?

    Yes. But, take some repellent and wear long sleeves at night.

  7. Do I need mosquito repellent?


  8. Do I have to take Malaria pills?

    In my opinion, no. But I recommend being vaccinated against Yellow Fever.

  9. Is it possible to visit Tayrona Park in one day only?

    Yes, if you start very early. But it will be a long day, and you will not appreciate the park.

  10. Is it difficult to hike in Tayrona Park?

    Not really. The climate can make it exhausting because it’s hot and humid. You should take your runners and some water. You will cool down in the ocean!

  11. How to avoid tourists?

    Take the Calabazo entrance and don’t go to Tayrona National Park during the weekend, public holidays, and Colombian holidays.

  12. Do I need my yellow fever proof?

    It can be asked at the entrance

  13. Can I bring alcohol?

    No, they will check your bag at the entrance

  14. Can I let my big backpack at the entrance?

    Yes, at the Zaino entrance.

  15. Buying Entry Tickets to Tayrona

    You must buy your tickets directly at the park’s entrance, as online booking is still unavailable. Remember, Tayrona limits the number of visitors daily, so arriving early is key to ensure you get in.

  16. Is Tayrona Open All-Year-Round?

    An important note to remember is that Tayrona National Park closes annually in 3 times a year.

Bottom Line: Tayrona National Natural Park

Tayrona National Natural Park is still a great destination if you explore it well. There is interesting wildlife, beautiful Nature and gorgeous beaches.

You should avoid weekends and Public holidays. The crowded part will always be Cabo San Juan, but you just have to walk 15 min more to find a quiet spot.

The entrance fee is expensive – compared to other prices in Colombia – but you can stay as long as you want. This is why I recommend you stay for more than 1 day. It’s a perfect place to hike for 2 or 3 days. It’s an easy trail, you can buy food and water, and there are many accommodations. Be ready to sleep in a hammock.

Also, your experience will improve if you start hiking from the Calabazo entrance. Yes, it’s steeper and longer, but there is a high chance that you will be alone on the trail. I think it’s a no-brainer decision. 

What to do after Tayrona

Here are some cool destinations on the Caribbean Coast:


I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.


  1. Jim & Steph says:

    Tom the amount of work and time that went into this is absolutely incredible! We were in Tayrona National Park almost 2 years ago and find all of your information to be 100% spot on. The one thing that stands out in our minds about the experience was the fact that we stayed in a tree house suite just outside the park. Were some of the best mornings we’ve ever had waking up to a perfect temperature and breeze up in the trees!

    • says:

      Thanks, Jim and Steph! I agree it’s a lovely place 🙂 – Your tree house suite seems a peaceful place! Do you remember the name?

  2. Jeremy says:

    Hola, thanks heaps for the info, it really made our trip easy to navigate our way round. We stayed at Yuluka Hostel the night before – what a place!
    I just wanted to update some information as we followed your plan and got to Cabo around 11 for them to say all the VIP hammocks were sold out at 9am! Bugger. There was a booth at the entrance which allows you to reserve your spot before walking in so in hindsight we should have done that. We managed to get a normal hammock which was still cool though! Also the prices have changed. 40000COP for normal, 50000COP for VIP.

  3. says:

    Hey Jeremy!

    I’m glad to hear it and thanks a lot for sharing the new info about Tayrona. I will update my article. The prices increased a LOT since last year. It’s crazy. 40 000 COP for a simple hammock in Cabo? And it’s not even the tourist season.


  4. Erika says:

    Although you have advised not to I am very limited in time and may have to do Tayrona in only a day – I would like to take the Calabazo entrance however and then leave via El Zaino – do you think this will be possible? I will be staying near the park so easier to have an early start in the morning – by my calculations its a lot of hiking but I could still fit in 3 hours at Cabo San Juan?

    • says:

      Hi Erika!

      It will be a long hike, but yes it’s doable ;). Try to start early – Around 7 am – and don’t go to Playa Brava. It should be Calabazo – El Pueblo – Cabo San Juan – El Zaino.

      And yes, you should be able to stay 2-3 hours in Cabo San Juan.

      Enjoy the National park!

  5. natasha says:

    wow you seem to have covered a lot of info in your blog of this park. What i also liked was that you mentioned the public holidays so that people can plan their trip there accordingly. Very informative blog

  6. Silvina says:

    Hey Tom! Greetings from Argentina!! I was looking for some info about Tayrona when y found your blog. I really want to ask you about the backpack situation. I have plans to stay in Tayrona for 3 days, and im kind of worry where should I leave my backpack, do you know any hostel that can keep my thinks in Santa Marta? And what is the cost?

    Thank you so much for all this information that Yo already post 🙂

    • Tom says:

      Hi Silvina.

      Sorry to answer you so late!!!

      You can let your big bag in your hostel or the reception at the Zaino Entrance (Main Entrance). I don’t know the cost though. Maybe it’s free 🙂

  7. Aline says:

    Wow, one of the best articles I’ve read in my research for our Colombia trip – thank you, this is super useful! Quick (maybe random?) question – would you recommend rabies shots for the hikes? We’ve done Sri Lanka without them but seems like in Tayrona the wild life is a bit closer to the trails?

  8. Alessandra Maria says:

    Hey! I am going to Tayrona via Santa Marta Jan 21 – 27. I was hoping to do Costeno Beach Camp, then Minca and maybe one more place? Do you have a suggested way to connect these places? Are there busses that connect all these places? Thanks if you can help!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Alessandra!

      Yes, it’s super easy. All these places are connected by the same road.

      From Santa Marta, Go to Minca.

      When you go down from Minca, tell it to the driver. He will drop you at la Bomba – It’s a Gaz station. Then wave at the bus going to Tayrona, it will stop to pick you up.

      Costeno beach is located after Tayrona. Once again, wait on the side of the road and stop the next bus!

      Then, you can go to Palomino – a bit further on the road – if you still have a few days left 😉

  9. Liam says:

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the guide, we used it a couple of days ago to do Tayrona. Everything was spot on except the prices have increased dramatically in a small amount of time which sucked, but oh well.

    We caught the boat from Taganga and I was hoping you could add a warning in your post for the next person who thinks of doing this. Depending on the time of year, the ride will be smooth or choppy. We went obviously late January, and it was incredibly dangerous. We were expecting it to be rough, but not expecting to almost capsize, twice, with 30 people on board. Almost all of us came out with bruises, one girl’s shins got cut, and the boat almost crushed a guy when he fell (because of the waves) trying to get off the boat. Those who had booked and paid for return trips, forfeited the ticket cost and caught the bus back.

    I’m not certain of when this weather starts, so I can’t give a clear time frame, but it is not safe in choppy weather and I am surprised someone hasn’t died yet.

    We read only your blog as it was so comprehensive, but after googling other people’s experiences of the boat ride upon our return, many others had a similar experience and also thought it could have ended in a death.

    Could you please put a warning in that section of your blog. Also the price of the boat is now 50,000 per way.


    • Tom says:

      Hey Liam,

      Thanks for the inputs.

      The sea can be extremely rough from the end of November to end of March, more or less. I agree it’s dangerous if they start driving fast with too many people on their boat.

      I gonna add your recommendation in my article asap.

      I hope you still had a great time. Also, could you tell me which other prices have changed?

  10. Lucía says:

    Hi Tom,
    I think im going to take the Calabazo entrance and hike to Playa Brava. Stay one night there, and then visit Playa Cristal.
    I wanna know if there is a way to go there from Playa Brava. I’ve heard that there are boats from Neguanje but dont know how to get there anyway.

    Hope you can help me! Thanks!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Lucia! Sorry for the late answer, we were in the Amazonas.

      I don’t think there is a boat from Playa Brava to Playa Cristal. But you can still send an email to the hostel in Playa Brava. I’m sure they will know!

  11. Serena says:


    There is some unclear information on the internet, but the loop is still possible and the Calabazo entrance is open! We hiked from Calabazo to Zaino two days ago. Pueblito is indeed closed to the public, but you can still pass. There is also a new (shorter) route from Playa Brava to Cabo San Juan which takes 2,5 hours. This route is stunning – just like the other one – and also quite steep. There are some signs along the way and it’s visible on, so you won’t get lost. The beginning takes you through a dry riverbed, so I can imagine it can get wet during rainy season.

    Other up-to-date info:
    – The entrance fee is now $53.500 ($63.500 during high season including ‘puentes’) plus an obligate insurance costing you $2.500 per day.
    – Hammocks in Playa Brava cost $30.000 and include a mosquito net and blanket. You can have lunch or dinner here for $30.000 (including a juice). Breakfast is $20.000. Big plus: people were very friendly, showers were clean, and they let us refill our water bottles with filtered water for free.
    – Food options from Cabo San Juan and further on are in the range of $15.000 to $40.000, and there is bread (‘pan relleno’), lots of bread. Water is $5.000 a liter, a beer around $5.000 as well.

    We really loved the hike from Calabazo and Playa Brava, all alone surrounded by nature before plunging into the craziness and beauty of Cabo San Juan. Hágalo!

  12. Chris says:

    Hi Tom,

    I recently found your blog on my searches of Tayrona, thank you for the great information it is very appreciated. I know you said you went in May in one of your trips to Tayrona. Would you recommend it? What can I expect weather wise, tourist wise, etc.? I was planning to go at the end of May and just wanted to plan my trip accordingly. Do you think I should save it for July? Thanks for any info. you can provide me with.

  13. MICHAL says:

    Hi All,

    I have 2 questions regarding 1 day trip to Tayrona Park:
    – is it possible to Start in Calabazo early morning at 7am, pass through Pueblito to Cabo San Juan and finish at 5pm in Zaino, so 10h stay in the park (including some bath)?
    – is yellow fever vaccine really needed and checked at the entrance? Thank you.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Michal,

      First thing first, you should check which days Tayrona park is opened. It changes frequently because of COVID19.

      1) Pueblito is close to the public, but (from what I know) you can still pass on the side. Double-check at the Calabazo entrance. Calabazo – Cabo San Juan – Zaino is a 6-7h hike so yes it’s doable.
      2) I’ve heard it’s needed but, in my case, they’ve never checked at the entrances (I went 3 times).

  14. Shy says:

    Hello! Thank you for the wonderful tips! How do you know that the park is closed June 1-15, 2021? Those are the dates we were booked to go!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Shy! This was decreed by the government and the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada. It’s true that things keep changing because of Covid. These are the official closing dates of the Tayrona park.

  15. Scott says:

    Can you give us a current update on the Calabazo to Cabo San Juan hike. It’s unclear if that is allowed or if passing through Pueblito is off limits? I’m hearing mixed responses.
    Thank you

    • Tom says:

      Hello Scott, the last time we did it (in 2019), you could hike from Playa Brava to Cabo San Juan (you’ll arrive in Playa Nudista first). At one point, you’ll see an intersection where you can go to Pueblieto (but it’s closed) or head to Cabo San Juan. It’s not very well indicated but I don’t think you can be lost. Use You’ll find the trails I’m speaking about.

  16. Thomas says:

    Hi Tom, your blog is simply amazing!! We loved it & used it a lot so far (and are still using it for the rest of our journey; Minca is nexr). A 1000 thanks!
    We went today to Tayrona for the day. Quick updates: Price was 57,500 COP + 5000 COP mandatory insurance (1 day). The bus after the Zaino entrance was 5000 COP to get to the start of the (nature) path (it leaves when it’s full). On my Garmin watch, it was 6.25 KM to get to Cabo.
    Regarding Covid: Visitors must now (only) wear a mask + disinfection of hands. 2M distance is indicated (but not respected). No check on yellow fever vaccin on my end.
    Regarding drinks/food on the way to Cabo: we saw at least 4 stops where u can buy drinks (including beers)/ice creams/juice. Thanks again for your amazing job!

  17. Manuel says:

    Hi Tom
    I have a question in regards to tickets into Tayrona. I will be going in June and I hear rumors you need to reserve and buy tickets online. However, I do see any sites on where to make reservations. Please advise?
    Thanks in advance love your site.

    • Tom says:

      Hola Manuel!

      The park tried a few years ago to sell the ticket online but it didn’t work and the site isn’t online anymore. June is low season so you shouldn’t have any issues entering. Just show up at one of the two park entrances. You can double-check this information with Playa Brava Teyumakke (it’s a hotel inside the park). Here is the WhatsApp number: +57 315 2300818.

      Enjoy Colombia!

  18. David Johnston says:

    Hi Tom
    I’m travelling solo in Colombia. I just wanted to check that it is relatively safe once I’m inside the park.

    From reading your description and the comments, I believe that the places for hammocks are the green triangle on your map and that you can buy food there also. When I arrive at Playa Brave do I need to reserve a hammock immediately or do I just chill on the beach and roll up later.

    Thanks Tom

    • Tom says:

      Hola David,

      Yes, Tayrona is a safe place to visit. Just be careful in the sea and look at the signs. You’ll find various places with hammocks, and there are restaurants too.

      If you head to Playa Brava, confirm with the hotel that you wanna sleep in a hammock and then enjoy the beach.

      Have fun in Tayrona!

  19. Paul says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you very much for sharing all this useful information in a very organized way.

    However, I am confused by the meaning of “Horario de Salida”, as it is called on the Tayrona National Park website. For example, is it not possible to leave the park from El Zaino before 14:00? Because of any of the following reasons: the gate is closed, or there is no shuttle from Cañaveral to El Zaino or buses to Santa Marta before 14:00? I would like to leave from El Zaino around 12:00 or even a bit earlier, after spending two nights in the park. I understand a strict time window for the entrance, but one should be free to leave earlier in the day. If the gate is closed or not staffed between 12:00 and 14:00, maybe I could be there before 12?

    I will stay in Arrecife, so I suppose I could instead hike five hours to El Calabazo, where the exit opens at 13:00 and catch the bus to Santa Marta from there. Does the bus always stop there?

    Thanks again,


    • Tom says:

      Hi Paul,

      I don’t understand the time of exit either. There’s no gate and I’ve already been out around 3-4pm. It is just better to avoid walking when it is dark.

  20. Samara says:


    Are you aware if there are any sailing trips that depart from Los Naranjos or Palomino area that visit the park? I saw ones that depart from Taganga but we are staying near the park entrance for a few days then Minca for a few days and don’t want to go back to Santa Marta for a boat tour. Also, if we hike in, can we catch a horse ride back? We are just planning a one-day excursion as we are with 2 16-year olds who will not want to camp on the beach.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Samara,

      From what I know, boats only leave from Taganga or Santa Marta to get to Cabo San Juan Beach (Tayrona). Also, I recently read that horse rides were now prohibited in Tayrona. Still, I’m not sure 100% if it’s true.

  21. melissa mejia says:

    Hi Tom. We went to Santa Marta last year mid January and the park was closed for the month for restoration. Do you know of a place we can get updated information on the park closures, their website is not updated. I will be in the area mid-February this year. Your website is very information. Thank you

    • Hola Melissa,
      The closing days of Tayrona Park are always decided at the last moment around January-February ( welcome to Colombia ^^). But in general, these are the dates we post in the article. You can search in Spanish on Google “cierre Tayrona 2023” to try to get an “official” answer

  22. jeff cote says:

    ayrona park and stayed in a hotel in the mountains. Staying away from the crowds as we went during the weekday. We hiked through calabazo and of course everyone wants their cut of the pie so it cost 5000 for entrance to use the road then 85000 for the park fee (around 25 bucks cdn). The trail went on and on till we got to a lookout where we bought some great starfruit drinks (some place have some great fresh fruit drinks, but the food isn’t as good as mexico… mexican food is superb! so too are the beaches in mexico). We then went down and down. And, reached the beach, but its impossible to swim on most as the current is much too strong. Then we finally gave in and got a horse which was fantastic. Then we caught the bus back. A good 10 hours in the park for they day. The next day off to a chocolate “farm” in the mountains. We climbed and climbed and climbed at the top (around 4000ft) a spectacular view of pico colon as the cloud cleared a bit. Amazing! a view of it all! We may do minca next, but I heard the bugs were bad. We went to palamino and went to camarones to see the flamingos…lots to see and do here if you stay away from the crowds (weekends). The traffic is horrible in spots, use the bus system its fantastic! and cheap!

  23. Laura says:

    Hi Tom
    Just about to go but only have a day and it’s a Sunday!
    This info is so useful thank you for all the work to share it!
    Good to get to the gates at 7am then?
    What do you recommend food wise when there?
    And might have missed it but is the bus from the main entrance to the real entrance included automatically?
    Thank you
    Laura from the UK

    • Hi Laura, Thanks!

      Always double-check the opening hours as they might change suddenly. It will be a lot easier to buy food inside the park. And nope, you’ll have to pay a few extra cops to get to the “real” entrance.

  24. Arno says:

    Hey Tom,

    Great website! I’m planning on going to Tayrona in the middle of March and was wondering if the following trip is doable:
    – day 1: travel from Santa Marta to Yuluka Eco lodge and spend the night there.
    – day 2: next day enter through Calabazo and hike to Playa Brava Teyumakke and spend the night ther
    – day 3: hike from Playa Brava to the El Zaino exit and catch a bus back to Santa Marta.

    Is day 3 possible? Or is it not doable to reach El Zaino form Playa Brava in time for a bus back? Thanks for helping out!

  25. Tim Schmitz says:

    Hi Tom,

    thank you very much for all the tips in this blog entry.

    We went today from Santa Marta for a daytrip. A quick update on the facts:
    – The insurance is now 6.000 COP; entry was still 62k
    – With a collectivo we only paid 8.000 COP, going from Santa Marta Mercado to El Zaino entrance
    – We arrived at 7:40 am – but the gates were closed. They opened at 8 am.

    Best regards


  26. Bjørnar says:

    Hi Tom.
    Excellent blog 😀

    We are planning a trip to Tayrona sat dec 19 or sun dec 20. Does it matter whick
    H day we chiose or will it be crowded both days?


  27. Shai Annamraju says:

    Hey Tom Thought your post was brilliant and informative. Def will follow. We are heading there in August. We have maybe 4 days in total – Can I check that it is best to keep going to a different place every day – hence get the park ticket early? Is there anything to see near the Calabazo entrance itself without 3-4 hours hiking to Playa Brava. Can you travel from the etnrances straight to Palomina?

  28. Oiver says:

    Hi, Oli here
    You might happen to help me with my question.
    Am I allowed to enter the park on day 1 go back to the hostel for a good night sleep and enter the park again the next day only paying the insurance and not a full entrance again?

    I’m not gonna stay in the Park as its either to pricey or no hammocks available on booking as far as I can tell.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.