Situated on Colombia’s caribbean coast, the Tayrona National park is a Colombian treasure. Located a short distance from Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park is one of the best things to do in Santa Marta. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta line up along the coast, which is lined with a few of the most beautiful and serene beaches in the country, coconut trees, and dense rainforest. This unexpected paradise boasts beautiful rainforests, beaches, mountains, flora, and fauna. The Tayrona National Park is a natural reservation, but has played a part in ecotourism, with archaeological findings and places to spot the native fauna, it is Colombia’s Coastal gem.
It is important to note that for centuries the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has been inhabited by indigenous tribes who still reside on parts of the Sierra to this day. While their reservations sit along the borders of Tayrona National Park, sacred ancestral lands overlap into it, including the mountainous regions as well as some lagoon and beach areas. The four indigenous tribes are Kankuamo, Kogui, Wiwa, and Arhuaco. You can learn about these different indigenous tribes while at Tayrona National Park, as it is recommended to be respectful of the sacred areas in and around the park.
Things to do in Tayrona National Park
You will truly be impressed by the amount of activities available in Tayrona, from hiking, to swimming, to historical sites, you may even need more than a day here, as it is one of the top things to do in Colombia.
Tayrona National Park has a selection of trails for both beginners and advanced hikers. Trails include hikes through the forest, hikes to the beaches, and hikes with historical significance. Whether you want to spend one hour, or up to four hours wandering the forests and the hills, you are sure to be impressed by the lush flora and active fauna all around you! If you choose to hike or take a tour of the park, it is recommended that a certified guide be hired, so they can show you all of the Park’s treasures.
Snorkeling and Diving
A unique activity facilitated at Tayrona National Park, is the opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive! In the Neguanje section of the park, Playa Cristal is a lovely beach where you will find expert guides with equipment rentals, ready to show you a beautiful underwater world. If you’re more of a diver, then head over to the Isla Aguja and Granate section of the park, where you can rent equipment and take lessons from the experts at the diving school of Taganga. Colorful fish and underwater creatures await your discovery at Tayrona National Park.
Cultural Heritage Observation
Two trails in the Tayrona National Park lead to the observation site of one of the archaeological findings discovered in the Tayrona National Park. The park used to be a territory of the Tayrona civilization many hundreds of years ago. This archaeological finding, called Pueblito, includes some of the remains from the Tayrona Civilization, how they have lasted for these hundreds of years is truly impressive and a must see while visiting Tayrona National Park.
Things to See in Tayrona National Park
Among mammals, reptiles, birds, and sea creatures, there is an abundance of wildlife in Tayrona National Park. While hiking through the forest with your guide, you should be able to spot sloths, armadillos, deer, various kinds of monkeys, and many more creatures. Make sure to keep an eye out for the elusive jaguar, spotting this big cat would be remarkable. Tayrona National Park is a great place for amateur and experienced bird watchers alike, with almost 400 hundred species of birds flying around, you’re sure to spot something you’ve never seen before. If you choose to head down to the beaches and snorkel, you’ll be able to see various coral reefs, mollusks, and different crustaceans. With this many species, there are so many things to see in Tayrona.
Many of the beaches in the Park, while beautiful, are not completely suitable for swimming. After a hike, there is nothing more satisfying than relaxing on a white sandy beach where you can rest and enjoy the sound of the waves. Some of our recommendations are as follows. Playa La Piscina is one of the few beaches you can swim in, as the waters are calm and clear blue, it will be the perfect to take a dip. Playa Cabo San Juan del Guia is the beach with iconic views, when people think of Tayrona National Park, they think of the picturesque view of the mountains behind Playa Cabo San Juan de Guia, complete with the little hut where people can actually stay the night! One of our favorites is Playa Cristal, because at this beach you can snorkel, swim and relax in this little crescent shaped piece of paradise. Whichever beach you decide to go to, it will be your little slice of heaven waiting just beyond the forest.
What to Bring to Tayrona National Park
The Park is so vast, you will definitely be spending at least a few hours there, below is a list of items that are recommended to bring/have with you for a day at there!
- Light clothing (cotton recommended), long sleeve and pants option for protection from the elements when hiking
- Adequate footwear suitable for hiking, and maybe a waterproof option when visiting the beaches
- Bathing suit and small towel
- Light rain jacket (when visiting during rainy season)
- Sunscreen and bug repellent
- Cash (use of cards is unlikely in shops)
Tayrona National Park Information
The opening hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. A limited number of tourists are able to enter the park at one time, you are able to organize the reservation through a certified guide, or by contacting the park directly. The entrance fee is 54,500 COP (about 12.25 EUR), children under the age 5-12 , as well as students receive a discount, if you are a student you must present a student ID and a valid ID confirming you are under 25. It is important to note that the sacred sights of the four indigenous tribes are not accessible and bathing in the sea is not permitted after 6:00 PM. All rules and regulations are in place for your safety and for the preservation of the park.
Cover photo source: https://vivid.travel/en-gb/south-central-america/colombia/tayrona