The best beaches in Colombia

As a country bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Colombia is blessed with some of the most beautiful coastline in South America. While its center has a mountainous, volcanic landscape with the peaks of the Andes at its heart, the north and western coasts are lined with tremendous tropical beaches.

Here we will introduce you to some of the best Colombia beaches – you decide which you want to visit first!

Beaches on Colombia’s Pacific coast

Less-visited than its neighbouring Caribbean coast, Colombia’s Pacific beaches are more untouched, less developed and dripping in biodiverse beauty.

Go off the beaten track in El Valle

Just west of Medellin, El Valle is a small, isolated town offering quiet beaches backed by tropical jungle. The small fishing town is known for its marine life and biodiversity, and in particular is a great place to observe the sea turtles that nest there from September to December as they emerge from the ocean during the day, and lay eggs during the night.

June to October, and especially September, are also prime-time for whale-watching just off the coast of the beaches of El Valle.

For a bustling beach day, head to Playa Blanca, Isla Baru

Known as one of the best beaches in Cartagena, and certainly its most famous, Playa Blanca is famed for its turquoise, crystal-clear waters and golden sand; a picture-perfect beach if ever you have seen one. Here you can hire jet skis or partake in other water sports, and there are some great snorkeling spots just a few minutes boat ride away. Between July and October it’s possible to spot humpback whales!

Playa Blanca is not a relaxing, tranquil beach. It is a busier, more developed one, so come early to avoid the crowds who flock there during the busy season in December and January, and visit on weekdays if you can.

Have an adventure with watersports at Rodadero

Further south of Playa Blanca is Rodadero, a popular tourist beach spot on Colombia’s Pacific coast but more laid-back than Playa Blanca. Backed by a mountainous landscape there’s no doubt that Rodadero is a visual treat, not to mention the white sand and beautiful blue waters.

Vendors line the beach selling water activities such as sailing, diving, paddle boating and jet-skiing, so there’s plenty of adventure to be had at Rodadero. 

Indulge in isolation at Guachalito Beach

Nuquí, a small fishing village, is home to Playa Guachalito, an isolated, undisturbed beach that makes for a perfect escape into total relaxation. It is largely untouched and far less developed than other beaches along the coast, and rich in sea life making for a superb snorkeling session if you want to immerse into the clear waters.

The jungle begins to intrude on the beach in this untamed tropical paradise and the scenery is out of this world. From July to October hump-back whales visit the region to give birth so it’s a great time for whale watching. 

Tierra Bomba Island

Just off the coast of Cartagena is Isla Tierrabomba, which can be reached by boat from the mainland in just 15 minutes. A day trip to the island promises a tranquil escape from the city, complete with golden sands and bright blue ocean to bask in the Colombian sun. On the island there are a handful of hotels and day resorts ready to give you the ultimate beach experience.

The best beach club Cartagena is said to be Blue Apple, a Balearic inspired beach club, restaurant and boutique hotel. Offering water sports, fresh cuisine using local produce, relaxing music and delectable drinks and spa treatments to help you unwind, this is the ultimate way to while away the time on Tierra Bomba Island.

Tropical paradise on the Caribbean coast

Some of the best beaches in Colombia sit on the tropical Caribbean coast, and the best beach towns in Colombia are frequently said to be Santa Marta, Barranquilla and Punta Gallinas, each with their own unique offerings.

If you are visiting the Caribbean coast, check out the highlights below.

Chaos and the calm at Santa Marta Bay

Not strictly one of the best beaches in Colombia, but without doubt the most beautiful bay, Santa Marta bay is one of the main attractions in the coastal city. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, visit the marina or have a spot to eat in one of the nearby seafood restaurants to take a break from the chaos of the city.

Enjoy a slower pace of life at Playa Cristal

One of the best beaches in Santa Marta (well, just north of Santa Marta) is Playa Cristal in the magical Tayrona National Park. A quiet beach with calm, gentle waves is a favorite for those looking to relax and take in the tranquil surroundings that the local landscape has to offer. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia, and has made many top twenty lists for the most beautiful beach in the world.

This is thanks to its mountainous backdrop, coral filled waters and stunning marine life, that can be explored by swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters.

Pretty in paradise at Cabo San Juan Beach

Also located in Tayrona National Park is El Cabo San Juan beach. Equally untouched and undeveloped, it is an idyllic jungle beach just 30 minutes outside of Santa Marta, set right on the edge of the rainforest.

If you’re looking for a beach stay rather than a beach day, Colombia’s Caribbean coast is home to some of the best beach resorts in Colombia, offering everything from child-friendly hotels with a long list of amenities and impressive entertainment packages to luxury, tranquil retreats for the adult audience, complete with indulgent spas and world class fine-dining.

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