Guide to Visiting Tayrona National Park


Colombia is a country full of treasures for tourists to enjoy, one of those treasures is most certainly the idyllic Tayrona National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona or Parque Tayrona). Lying along Colombia's northern Caribbean coast, this beautiful national park is home to beach after stunning beach, concealed by jungle forest and dramatic hills. Tayrona National Park offers a great change of pace from exploring Colombia's lively, bustling cities, not to mention it has picture-perfect scenery.
Tayrona National Natural Park, as it is formally known, is one of Colombia's most popular national parks thanks to its spectacular scenery and incredible biodiversity. Found on the eastern end of Colombia's Caribbean coast, the park has the impressive mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park as its backdrop. Established in 1964 as a nature park, the park includes 150 square kilometers of land and another 30 square kilometers of marine reserve. Besides its natural bounty, the park and neighboring mountains are home to various indigenous communities and several ruins of past settlements.
Most of the things to do in Tayrona National Park are beaches to visit and trails through the jungle to hike along. Whether you see all of these sights in a single day or spread them out across your visit is up to you.
Canaveral and the Jungle Walk. However you choose to get there, Canaveral is where the coastal trail of Parque Tayrona starts. As you go, the path will vary between gentle dirt trails surrounded by vibrant green jungle and staircases built into the hillside covered in boulders. Once you reach the higher points of the trail, you'll be treated to some superb views of the coast, including over to Punta Castillete. Later parts of the path will take you into unusual beachside thickets and well-worn dusty tracks, all of which keeps the walk interesting.
Playa Arrecifes. The first beach you'll arrive at on the trail is Playa Arrecifes. A long stretch of flat beachfront, Arrecifes beach occasionally has piles of boulders which divide it. You probably won't see many people at this beach as you're not allowed to swim here and it's one of the more exposed beaches since it's not in a cove. Still, it's a nice place to walk along, especially with the small lagoon on one side.
La Piscina. For those who can’t wait any longer for a swim, La Piscina is where you finally get to splash around. With a name that literally translates as “the pool”, the warm Caribbean waters of La Piscina are ideal for swimmers of all capabilities. Sheltered by rocks further out, the water here is calm and reasonably shallow, in other words perfectly kid-friendly. More so than other beaches, this beach seems to be the go to for locals visiting Parque Tayrona.
Tayrona is a large national park and there are many more beaches off to the west which are really only reachable by boat. But the reward for getting out to these remote beaches is that their isolation also makes them some of the park’s most beautiful beaches. Bahía Chengue, Playa Gairaca, and Playa Cristal fall into this category, with Playa Cristal a nice place to go for a snorkel.