Tayrona National Park

The popular Tayrona Park lies at the Caribbean coast near Santa Marta in Colombia. It has some of South America's loveliest coastline. This little, delightful spot is located about 30 minutes from the city of Rodadero, with beautiful beaches, hammocks to rent for the night, food, water and surf (be careful, though; there is a strong riptide - experienced surfers only!). Additionally, you can get a guide to take you to a native village in the nearby mountains.


Tayrona Coastline


The concession of the Tayrona National Park was created in 1864 and it is located on the Caribbean Coast in the north of Colombia, only 34 km from the city of Santa Marta. it has not only an immense natural importance in this region, but it is also a cultural treasure. A long time ago, small groups of hunters and gatherers inhabited the park, and towards the VI and the VII century, both the coast and the mountain of the park were habited by the famous Tayrona tribe. You can admire their culture nowadays, because the Koguis, their direct descendants, as well as three other indigenous groups, still live in these areas and they maintain many of their traditions.

Flora and fauna

Rainbow Ameiva

The park offers a big variety of Flora and Fauna because it includes two ecosystems between the mountain and the sea. It boasts fascinating wildlife including black howler and titi monkeys, red woodpeckers, iguanas, jaguars (which are rarely seen as they hunt at night), a variety of lizards, tropical marine life, and more than 400 species of birds, such as eagles, condors and the odd pet parrots kept at the restaurant at Arrecifes.

The vegetation is characterized by the ecological influence and the rain depending on the sector, from tropical dry forest to coral reefs.


The temperature varies between 25°C and 30°C, depending on the location and elevation. There are two rainy seasons from May to June and from September to November. The climate is temperate and hot.

Get in

El Cabo at Tayrona National Park
Beach in El Cabo

By bus

From Santa Marta take the bus from the corner of Calle 11 with Carrera 11. It leaves about every half hour and costs C$5,000. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the park entrance, it is about one hour and can't be missed. From the park entrance it is another 4 kilometres to Cañaveral. You can either walk, take a van for C$2,000 or try to hitch a ride. From the entrance to Arecifes is all in all a walk of about 1.5 hours, but you can see monkeys and other wildlife along the way if you walk.

By car

By boat


The entrance fee is 37,500 COP for foreigners, 35,000 COP for Colombian citizens and 7,000 COP for students (you must bring student ID AND copy of passport to prove you are 25 or under) and children from the age of 5 to 12. Bags and personal belongings are checked for drugs and glass bottles at the park entrances.

The prices for food and water are very high inside the park compared to Colombian standards. For example a can of coke costs 3,000 COP, a beer 3,000 COP and a 5 liter bottle is 7,000 COP, although prices do vary from site to site (Cabo is a bit cheaper, Arecifes a bit more expensive since many more people stay there).

Get around

A jeep / vehicle can be caught from El Zaino entrance which will take you to the start of the walk / hiking trail. Mules / Donkeys can be hired to transport you and your lugagge to Arrecifes, but are mostly used for transporting groceries (fruit, food, drink and water) to the local restaurants in the park. The walk / hike to Arrecifes is about 45mins - 1 hour, depending on how much you stop to observe the local fauna and flora. It is recommended that hiking boots / trainers are worn for the duration of this walk, as it can get really muddy and slippery during the rainy season.

The walk / hike from Arrecifes to La Piscina is about 15 - 20 mins, the majority of the walk is along the beach and sea edge with some palm forested areas. The walk / hike from La Piscina to El Cabo is another 30 - 40mins, but well worth it once you arrive.




Food in Tayrona is much more expensive than other places in Colombia. An average meal in the park can run between $10-25. A seafood centric menu, the costs of transporting ingredients to the park and marking up for tourists means eating on the beach ain't cheap.

Travelers can get food from the different native or local restaurants present in Arrecife, El Cabo and La Piscina. There is a variety of sea food, such as the tropical fish plate with rice and salad. Seafood dishes are also usually served with pataconés (fried plantain). Similar to bananas, plantains are usually firmer and not as sweet, with a neutral flavour like a potato. They are usually cut, fried and smashed into small pancake shapes, when they are fried again and served with food or as a snack on their own.

The local restaurants have a varied menu which includes breakfasts (with scrambled egg as the basis) seafood, meat (particularly steak and chicken), chips (papas fritas) and pastas. It is advisable to get in early, to avoid the disappoinment of being told the restaurant is out of the meal you requested. Meals are ordered and paid for before receipt.



Hammock Hut at El Cabo
A Sunset at El Cabo



La Piscina

El Cabo

Other destinations

Stay safe

It is prohibited to swim in the sea near Arrecifes due to the danger of strong riptides.

It has been known for local thieves to listen to see if people are asleep in their tent and then open the tent and steal what they can find. Make sure to either use the lockers, keep valuables close to your person or do not bring them at all.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.