How To Visit Tayrona National Park: Avoid Tourists and Traps

Because there is almost 0 good information about Tayrona National Park, 70% of travelers make the same mistakes when visiting it.

Do you know which mistakes I’m talking about?

It’s ok if you don’t.

Thanks to this article, you’ll be able to :

  • Plan the perfect itinerary for exploring Tayrona National Park.
  • Avoid most tourists.

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Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Every year, I spend thousands of euros to find the best experiences and allow you to contact these agencies directly!

Visiting Tayrona National Park: Important

Where: Tayrona, located in the Sierra Nevada on the Caribbean Coast, is one of Colombia’s most visited National Park.

When: In 2023, the park will be closed from 01/02 to 15/02, 01/06 to 15/06, and 19/10 to 02/11.

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

Tayrona’s entrances: There are two entrances. El Zaino (7 am) is the main one, and Calabazo (7 am) is the small entrance – our favorite one.

Tayrona tickets: You can buy them at both entrances. Around 62 000 COP (including the insurance).

Tayrona beaches: There are various beautiful beaches in Tayrona National Park. Cabo San Juan is the most famous one. Playa Brava and La Piscina are also 2 excellent spots. You must always be careful because of the strong currents in the Caribbean sea.

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

Where to stay in Tayrona: There are various campings and hammocks area inside the park (Cabo San Juan, Arrecife, Playa Brava, Castilletes). You can’t book them on the internet, except for Playa Brava.

Where to stay around Tayrona: Stay near Tayrona the night before, so that you can start early!

If you wish to sleep by the water before and after Tayrona:

Restaurant and Water: You can order food and buy water bottles inside the park. You just have to carry a small day bag.

Tayrona safety: Depending on the beach, you’re not allowed to swim because of the currents. Watch over your belongings.

Duration: 1 to 3 days, depending on your plans to visit the park.

My favorite Tayrona’s tips:

  • Avoid going on the weekend and public holidays.
  • Bring some cash. You can’t pay by credit card.
  • Enter by Calabazo and stay 2 nights inside Tayrona National Park

Best tour in the Sierra Nevada: If you want a fantastic in-depth jungle experience, I recommend you do the 4-day trek to the Lost City.

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. 👇

Panoramic view cabo San Juan in Tayrona park, Colombia
Cabo San Juan

Parque nacional natural tayrona: a bit of history

Kogi Parc naturel Tayrona

Tairona is the name of the people living in Colombia hundreds of years before the colonization by the Spaniards. Some escaped the genocide by going deeper into the Sierra Nevada. Nowadays, the Kogi, Wiwa, Arthuacos, and Karkuamo people are their direct descendants.

The most important ruins you can visit is a city named Ciudad Perdida (A five-day trek in the Sierra Nevada).

They believe in Nature (the great mother, Pachamama). They consider the globalization of our world – and our way of living – is destroying the planet.

It’s thy the National park closes one month every year to let Tayrona live and breathe as before among its worshippers.

Bogota’s City Paper explains the gains from keeping the park closed for a month.

Where to stay before hiking in Tayrona

Cayena Beach
Cayena Beach

It’s not convenient to hike in the Tayrona National Park with your huge backpack. And it would be best if you didn’t load it on a poor horse, either. Assume your burden.

Don’t worry. If you don’t want to carry your backpack, there is an easy solution.

Let most of your stuff in your hotel and hike to Tayrona National Park with a day back.

We made a selection of the best hotels nearby the park.

  • $
  • Pros:
    • Pool and river
    • Excellent value
    • Between the 2 Tayrona entrances
Best deal
  • $$
  • Pros:
    • Incredible views from the pool
    • Delicious food & great staff
    • 2km from Tayrona entrance
Good deal
  • $$
  • Pros:
    • Between a river and the sea
    • Cabañas with an insane view
    • 3.3 km from Tayrona
  • $$$
  • Pros:
    • Private beach & a pool
    • Amazing scenery
    • 3.3 km from Tayrona
Luxurious boutique hotel
  • $$$$
  • Pros:
    • Peaceful with a lovely beach
    • Great design and large pool
    • 10km from Tayrona
  • Pool and river
  • Excellent value
  • Between the 2 Tayrona entrances
Best deal
  • Incredible views from the pool
  • Delicious food & great staff
  • 2km from Tayrona entrance
Good deal
  • Between a river and the sea
  • Cabañas with an insane view
  • 3.3 km from Tayrona
  • Private beach & a pool
  • Amazing scenery
  • 3.3 km from Tayrona
Luxurious boutique hotel
  • Peaceful with a lovely beach
  • Great design and large pool
  • 10km from Tayrona

1# Where to stay in Santa Marta

Although I’m not fond of Santa Marta, you can decide to start your trip to Tayrona National park from there. It’s a 1h bus drive to reach the park entrance.

  • Dreamer hostel is an excellent place to meet other travelers and chill after and before your expedition
  • Masaya hostel is perfect if you prefer to stay near restaurants and bars
  • Casa Carolina is a lovely and affordable boutique hotel with a pool and a jacuzzi.
  • Don Pepe is the best boutique hotel with top-notch facilities. In the center.

2# Where to stay near the Tayrona’s entrances

It’s smart to book a place near the Parque Tayrona’s entrances. Thus, you will arrive early, avoid the other tourists and spend more time in the park.

  • Eco Hostal Yuluka is a lovely and affordable hostel with a pool and a restaurant.
  • Eco Hotel Chayrama is affordable with beautiful exteriors, a pool, and spacious rooms.
  • Quetzal Dorado offers an astounding view of the Sierra Nevada. Excellent value for money.
  • Villa playa Tayrona is a little paradise that you won’t be able to leave.
  • Casa Tayrona is a top-notch hotel with direct access to the beach and the river.

3# Sleeping by the beach

To fully enjoy Colombia’s Caribbean coast, you must learn to take your time.

For that, nothing better than reserving a nice place to stay by the water.

Best Time To Visit Tayrona National Park

Tomar el tiempo de viajar por Colombia

I guess you don’t like the rain.

So avoid visiting the park in May, September, October, and November. But, if you’re there during this period, no worries. You will still enjoy it – I did it in May, and we had loads of fun.

Also, I recommend you to AVOID the weekends, Easter holidays, Christmas holidays, and Public holidays – Except if your secret dream is to swim among hundreds of Colombians.

The opening hours for Tayrona National Park are slightly different depending on whether you choose Calabazo or El Zaino:

  • El Zaino: Entrance from 07:00 to 12:00 | Exits from 14:00 to 17:00
  • Calabazo: Entrance from 07:00 to 11:00 | Exit from 13:00 to 15:00

I don’t think the rangers will stop you from going out if you don’t arrive in the right time slot. But you never know!

In 2023, the new closing dates are: from 01 February to 15 February; from 01 June to 15 June; from 19 October to 02 November.

How to get to Tayrona National Park

Bus Chiva Colombia

It’s quite simple.

There is a long road that runs along the Tayrona National Park. Many buses go there and back.

The bus Palomino – Tayrona

It’s easy. Stop a bus on the main road, in the direction of Santa Marta.

Bus Palomino – Tayrona: 1 hour
Price: 7 000 COP

The bus Santa Marta – Tayrona

You must take the bus from Santa Marta’s city center, on Calle 11 with Carerra 11. If you are lost, ask a local for the direction of the Mercado Principal (Market).

It’s easy to walk there. Otherwise, take a cab for 5 – 7000 COP.

Bus Santa Marta – Tayrona: 1 hour
Price: 8000 COP

The boat Taganga – Tayrona

The boat leaves early from the beach and when they are full (No departure 9h30 am). Look for other backpackers. They drop you off directly at the most famous beach: Cabo San Juan. Boats return to Taganga at 4 pm.

Boat Taganga – Tayrona: Around 1h00
Price: Around 50 000 COP – one way
Tip: we recommend the agency Chez Boaz

From December to the end of March, the sea can be extremely rough, and it can be terrifying (and dangerous) to travel by boat to Tayrona. Check the waves before taking your decision.

Cartagena to Tayrona

There are 2 options to get to Tayrona from Cartagena.

1rst option: You can decide to stop in Santa Marta first (buses are more frequent):

  • Bus Cartagena – Santa Marta: 5-6 hours | 22 000 COP
  • Bus Santa Marta – Tayrona in the direction of Rioacha: 1 hour | Around 10 000 COP

Or you can grab a bus in the direction of Palomino and stop at the Zaino Entrance – Don’t forget to ask the driver first.

In this case, you should:

  • Leave early from Cartagena
  • Bus Cartagena – Tayrona: 6-7 hours | Around 30 000 COP

Use the 2nd option if you’re in a hurry:

Marsol is a private shuttle company. They will pick you up at your hostel in Cartagena to drop you at your accommodation near Tayrona. 

  • Private Shuttle Cartagena – Tayrona National Natural Park: 5 – 6 hours | Around 75 000 COP

What to Pack For Tayrona National Park

Packing your bag (1)

Tayrona National Park is easy to explore, and you won’t need many things in your day bag. You can let your ice pick and bow at home.

  • Your passport – You have to show it at the entrance. A photocopy is enough.
  • Yellow fever certificate vaccination – The vaccine is usually not mandatory. However, I recommend being vaccinated for Yellow Fever before going to Colombia.
  • 2 L of water – You gonna sweat a lot.
  • Some snacks.
  • Bathing suit and towel.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Hat.
  • Trainers – Don’t hike with Flip Flop!
  • Repellent – Against mosquitos and sand flies.
  • Avoid plastic bags
  • A trash bag to bring back your garbage.
  • A blanket – Nights can be coldish.
  • A Jumper and socks – To survive against the sandflies.
  • A torch.
  • Toilet paper.
  • A lock.
  • Enough Cash! – No ATM.
  • Snorkel gears.

Is Tayrona National Park Safe?

Dangerous sea Tayrona
There are beaches where it is forbidden to swim.

Firstly, nobody gonna tries to kill you. Jaguars and Puma are very rare, go out at night, and they don’t attack humans.

However, there are still some safety points you should be aware of:

  • You can’t swim everywhere. There are some signs where it’s forbidden because of strong currents. Be careful.
  • Drink water. The weather is humid, and you gonna sweat.
  • Cabo San Juan is the most famous beach. More people = More chance to have your stuff stolen. Don’t let your valuables unattended.
  • Bring a lock and use the lockers.
  • I don’t take Malaria pills. The risk is low in Colombia, and the secondary effects of the pills are annoying.
  • Do your Yellow Fever injection before coming to Colombia – Just in case

2 entrances for Tayrona National Park

hike Tayrona national park

Ok, if you have to read ONE thing, it’s this one:

There are TWO entrances to get inside Tayrona National Park.

1# How much does it cost to enter Tayrona Natural Park

Tayrona Park Entrance Fee: 62 000 COP (2023) – It’s increasing yearly. You can stay as long as you want.

During the high season (December to February) and the public holidays, the price increases to 73 500 COP.

You also have to pay insurance for 5000 COP.

Sometimes you can buy your Tayrona Park Ticket online. Often, there are technical problems on the website.

2# El Zaino is the main Tayrona park’s entrance

Why to enter by El Zaino:

  • You are in a rush, and despite all my recommendations, you want to do it in one day
  • You don’t like hiking too much, or you’re too old
  • You want to horse ride
  • You want to arrive first in Cabo San Juan to book the hammocks on the watchtower

If you do not belong to the groups above, you should opt for the 2nd entrance.

Entrance process for El Zaino:

  • You have to watch a 20 min video (in Spanish).
  • They will check your bag
  • Then you have to take another small bus (5000 COP) to go to the “real” entrance (Cañaveral). It’s 4km on a dirt road.
  • Walk a little more than 1h30 to arrive at the main beach (Cabo San Juan)

Most people enter El Zaino because they’re not aware of Calabazo.

El Zaino entrance opens at 7 am, and you can’t enter past 12 pm.

3# Calabazo is the secret Tayrona entrance

Pueblito is now closed to the public but you can still hike from Playa Brava to Cabo San Juan.

Why to enter by El Calabazo:

  • You don’t like tourists.
  • You want to increase your odds of observing animals.
  • You like hiking
  • You want to be alone on Playa Brava.
  • You want to hike for a few days inside the Tayrona Park

Entrance process for El Calabazo:

  • First, you need to tell the bus driver you want to stop at Calabazo | It’s 10 min before Zaino
  • Cross the road and follow the short muddy path.
  • You will see one guard on a small chair.
  • He will check your passport and maybe your bag.
  • No video and no waiting line, and probably no map. But I drew one for you 😉
  • It takes 3.5 hours to arrive at Cabo San Juan or Playa Brava

The first-hour hike is a bit steep but nothing that can’t be overcome. Most Colombians don’t like to walk. Use this advantage to be alone in Tayrona Park.

Calabazo opens at 7 am and closes at 11 am.

Distances Between Tayrona Park Highlights

trails along the beach Tayrona
  • Time from Zaino entrance to Cañaveral: 8 min with the shuttle
  • Time from Cañaveral to Arrecife: 50 min
  • Time from Arrecife to La Piscina: 20 min
  • Time from La Piscina to Cabo San Juan: 30 min
  • Time from Cabo San Juan to the nudist beach: 15 min
  • Time from Cabo San Juan to Pueblito: less than 2 h
  • Time from Pueblito to Playa Brava: Around 1h30
  • Time from Calabazo to Pueblito: Around 2 h
  • Time from Calabazo to Playa Brava: Around 3 h
  • Time from Playa Brava to Cabo San Juan: Around 2.5 – 3 h
  • Time from Zaino Entrance to Cabo San Juan: Around 1h30 (6.25 km)
  • Time from EcoHabs to Cañaveral: Around 15 min

Where Are The Beaches In Tayrona Natural Park

There are beautiful beaches in Tayrona to get your butt tanned.

  • Playa Brava: It’s a secluded beach where you can swim. But still, be careful in case of big waves
  • Nudist beach: Lovely beach with nobody around. It’s a good way to escape from the crowd in Cabo San Juan. And it’s maybe the occasion to swim naked!
  • Cabo San Juan: It’s beautiful. Big boulders surround 2 little bays. There is no current, and you can snorkel. However, it can be crowded on weekends and holidays. You should wake up early to enjoy it.
  • La piscina: Natural pool protected by many rocks. There are fewer people compared to Cabo San Juan, but there is no Campsite.
  • Arrecife: Beach where you can’t swim – It’s dangerous because of the currents and aggressive mermaids.

Where to stay in Tayrona National Park

Playa Brava

If you want to find a place to stay in Tayrona National Park, you must be ready to sleep in a hammock or a tent.

Indeed, there is no hostel inside Tayrona National Natural Park.

I’m sure you will love the experience. The only reason why you should take one of the few expensive bungalows at the park entrance is that you’re on your honeymoon.

1# Where to stay in Playa Brava

In Playa Brava, you can stay in Teyumakke.

The facilities are basic – don’t be surprised, you are in the middle of nowhere – but the food is good (and a bit expensive).

You can send them an email to book your hammock in advance: Email:

You can swim in Playa Brava. However, you should always be cautious – More than 200 people died in Tayrona.

Average Prices for Playa Brava:

  • Hammock: Around 30 000 COP. They give you a mosquito net and a blanket.
  • Private cabin: Around 180 000 COP/pers for 2 people | Bad Bed mattress
  • Lunch or Dinner 30 000 COP with a juice
  • Breakfast: 20 000 COP

2# Where to stay in Cabo San Juan, Tayrona

You can book in advance your hammock for Cabo San Juan at the Zaino Entrance. It’s not the case at the Calabazo Entrance.

There is a large camping area in Cabo San Juan with different types of emplacements. Price 2020 :

  • Tent 1 pers: 40 000 COP
  • Tent 2 pers: 80 000 COP
  • If you bring your own tent: 20 000 COP / Pers
  • Private cabin: 200 000 COP / 2 pers | Only 2 cabins
  • Hammock near the camping zone: 40 000 COP
  • Hammock on the watchtower: 50 000 COP

The facilities are basic, and there is a good restaurant – From 15 to 40 000 COP (Around 20 000 COP for Pasta). The sunset and sunrise are sensational.

3# Where to stay in Arrecife

There are two campsites in Arrecife: Camping Don Pedro and Yuluka.

There, you can choose between hammocks or tents.

The installations are very basic, and the hammocks are extremely close to each other. But, it’s a lot cheaper and less crowded than in Cabo San Juan. There is also a shop where you can buy food and beverages.

Prices accommodations in Arrecife:

  • Hammock: 15 – 20 000 COP

4# Where to stay in Cañaveral

There is one reason why you would like to sleep near the Zaino entrance.

You wanna sleep in the Tayrona Ecohabs.

This luxury hotel offers private cabins with a great view of the ocean. During your stay, you can decide to pay for private tours or explore the park independently.

There are all the facilities you need: a Gourmet restaurant, spa, showers, etc.

Price: Ecohab Tayrona: Around 1 200 000 COP – up to 4 people

More things To Do In Tayrona Park

Beach Tayrona

There are not only beaches in Tayrona Park: 

  • Horse riding to go to the different beaches between Carñaveral and Cabo San Juan (40 000 COP)
  • Snorkeling at La Piscina and Cabo San Juan
  • Do the 9 Piedras trail (Big rocks with a hole in the middle) near Cañaveral.

My Tayrona National Park Map

Map Tayrona Colombia Park

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

How to plan your trip inside Tayrona National Park

Beaches Tayrona Park

Excited to go to Tayrona National Park in Colombia?


Now, it’s time to decide how long you would like to stay.

1 day to visit Tayrona National Park

  • Sleep in a hotel in Santa Marta the night before
  • Leave around 6h30 – 7h00 am to catch a bus on the road.
  • Stop at the Zaino entrance
  • Hike to Cabo San Juan
  • Have lunch in Cabo under palm trees and enjoy the surrounding (La piscina, the beaches).
  • Take the boat to Cabo direction Taganga around 4 pm.
  • Then, take a cab to your hotel in Santa Marta – Around 20 min.

2 days to visit Tayrona National Park

  • Day 1: Start your hike early from the Calabazo entrance
  • Hike to Playa Brava and chill
  • Day 2: Wake up early and hike to Cabo San Juan. Have lunch there and leave in the direction of the Zaino around 3 pm – Thus, you will arrive before the nightfall
  • The 2nd is a long day hike.

3 days to visit Tayrona National Park

  • Day 1: Start early from the Calabazo entrance
  • Hike to Playa Brava and stay overnight.
  • Day 2: Wake up early and hike Playa Brava to Cabo San Juan. Book your hammock.
  • Day 3: Hang out inside the park. If you’re not too tired, you can hike the 9 Piedras trail (Around 1 hour)
  • Leave in the direction of El Zaino

Frequent Questions About Tayrona National Park

Questions (1)
  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.

Bottom Line: Tayrona National Natural Park

Tayrona National Natural Park will be a great destination if you’re doing it well. There are 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. 

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Tomplanmytrip’s sections


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!

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