ULTIMATE Guide to Costeño Beach, Colombia (and the BEST things to do!)
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This is a complete guide to Costeño Beach, Colombia including all the best things to do, where to stay, getting there and things to know before you go.
Costeño Beach is quickly becoming one of Colombia’s best beach destinations. This rather remote beach is home to only a few accommodation options, no shops, or even paved roads – but, that’s what gives Costeño Beach its charm.
You can lay on the beach without being hassled, disconnect from the busy streets of Colombia, and just enjoy a trip that feels more like an island getaway than a short visit from Santa Marta.
Despite this, Costeño Beach is still in a prime location to explore some of the best things to do in the area. At Costeño Beach you’re only a stone’s throw from Tayrona National Park, a short bus trip to Palomino, and if you decide to leave you can be back in Santa Marta city center within an hour.
So in this blog, I’ll show you all the best things to do in Costeño Beach, Colombia and tell you everything else you need to know before you visit (including some info about Costeño Beach Hostel and places to stay!)
Where is Costeño Beach, Colombia
Costeño Beach is located on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia around an hour’s bus ride east from Santa Marta. The beach is located down a dirt road and there is no town or shops at Costeño Beach, you’ll only find a few hostels and hotels.
Costeño Beach is one of the closest beaches to Tayrona National Park and an ideal place to stay before exploring the national park. The beaches here are very similar to Palomino, however, its location is closer to Tayrona which makes it very popular.
Related Read: Check out our guide to all of the best things to do in Santa Marta, Colombia!
10 BEST Things to do in Costeño Beach, Colombia
Other than laying on the beach, there’s actually quite a lot to do in Costeño Beach. Despite this, I still recommend spending some time lounging around without a care in the world. But since you’re probably going to do that anyway, let’s dive into the other things to do in Costeño Beach!
1. Visit Tayrona National Park
One of the most convenient ways to visit Tayrona National Park is from Costeño Beach. From the beach, you can get a motor-taxi to the front gate (El Zaino) in around 10 minutes. These taxis leave as early or late as you want to go and cost 10,000 COP (3 USD) each way.
In fact, with Tayrona getting very busy (I’ve been twice, in 2017 and 2020) you do need to get there early if you want to avoid the large lines at the entrance gate. This is super important if you’re on a day trip as you want as much time to spend in the park as possible.
With that said, I think that spending one night in Tayrona National Park is better than going on a day trip. This is what I did on both my visits and it’s a really great way to see the park without being rushed. If you’re not sure where to stay then check out my guide to where to stay in Tayrona National Park.
Spend a night or two at Costeño Beach before or after your trip to Tayrona for a few epic beach days in one of the most beautiful places in Colombia!
2. Go horseback riding
Costeño Beach is a wild place and horse riding is one of the best ways to explore. If you’re a horse lover or just want to give this activity a try, then be sure to check it out at Costeño Beach.
Now, many of the hostels/hotels offer tours but if you want to join a truly special company be sure to contact Horseshoe Tours Colombia.
They operate out of the small town of Buritaca just a short drive from Costeño Beach and they really look after their horses and treat them like family. They offer two different tours with one a 3-day adventure for the very keen rider and the other a trip to the beach to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Of course, you can also book a horse riding tour through your hotel but with any tour with animals, it’s important to use a reputable company. Also, this is not an endorsed recommendation at all!
3. Tubing on the El Buritica River
This next activity is a very famous one that you’ve probably already read about! The tubing down the El Buritica River was made famous by El Rio Hostel and has become one of the best things to do in the north of Colombia.
The tour from Costeño Beach involves a short drive and then hike to the river. Then, depending on the season (I visited during the dry season), you’ll float down the river for around 2 hours. In the rainy season it’s a lot faster, but in March when I visited it was a very slow float.
The whole experience is unique and with the right group or person, it’s a fun way to see lots of amazing scenery. Once you reach the beach your guide will take you back to your hostel.
Important: If you want a guide then book a tour with a guide otherwise just book the transport and tube hire if you’re happy to go on your own. I chose the tour through Costeño Beach Hostel and it was 60,000 COP ($17 USD) with transport and the tube hire.
4. Visit a waterfall
From Costeño Beach you can enjoy a lot of different waterfall tours. Some involve some hiking and others not so much. I personally didn’t visit any waterfalls in the area as I’d just come from Minca and explored lots there.
However, if getting out and exploring little known places is your thing then jump on a waterfall tour from your hotel or head to the Costeño Beach hostel to join theirs.
They offer a few different tours to different waterfalls and they range in price. Two of the most popular trips are to Cascada El Saltillo or Valencia Brooks Waterfall.
In no way are they waterfalls some of the best in the world but it could still be a unique experience away from the tourist trail.
5. Stay at the Costeño Beach Hostel
When a place I have stayed makes a big impression I always like to make a special mention in my things to do guides. The reason? Well, I really believe my love for Costeño Beach was in part because of this hostel.
The large pool was perfect for lounging around and the beach was ideal for getting some sun. They don’t offer a classic menu instead they have a set menu for every meal that is served between specific times. I liked this personally as it creates a social atmosphere during meals, plus, I really enjoyed the food.
Although it is technically called a “hostel” you’ll find people from all walks of life including local Colombians on holiday to international travelers, people of all ages (no kids allowed though), and groups to solo travelers. For that reason, I believe it’s a place most people will enjoy.
Of course, they do party and Friday nights can be quite loud. But aside from that, it’s a pretty chill place with great vibes, lots of games, reasonably priced drinks, and great staff.
One thing though: I will say that the café on-site is very bad and I would avoid it. Not only was the lady working there extremely rude but the drinks are not good and overpriced!
You can only book Costeno Beach Hostel here on Hostelworld as it isn’t available on other booking websites. It is often fully booked so it is very important that you book well in advance to avoid missing out!
6. Take a surf lesson
The coastline at Costeño Beach is rough. Waves crash on the shores almost all the time and although this isn’t ideal for swimming, it’s perfect for surfing. So, why not join a surf lesson while you’re here?!
Costeño Beach Hostel is the only place in the area with a surf school, however, you don’t have to stay at the hostel to join a group or private lesson.
Lessons start at 70,000 COP for a 2.5-hour group lesson and board rentals start at 15,000 COP for an hour up to 55,000 COP for a full day.
On the lessons, they can either take you out the front of the hostel or other beach breaks nearby that you can walk to. Although the surf here is not the best for beginners (as it’s a bit rough) you can learn some basic skills to take with you on your trip.
7. Enjoy a yoga class
One of the best activities to do at Costeño Beach is yoga. In most hotels and hostels on the beach you can enjoy yoga classes. Yoga classes at hostels generally cost around 25,000 COP and at Costeño Beach Hostel this was the case.
The yoga classes offered at Costeño Beach Hostel were very good and the instructor really knew her stuff. Classes in the morning began at 8 am during the coolest and least busy time of the day. It was a really great opportunity to just relax and start the morning feeling good.
Regardless of your experience, give yoga a try at Costeño Beach!
8. Party the night away
If you’ve come to Costeño Beach for a social atmosphere then you’re in the right place. On most nights there is a party going on at one of the hostels around and regardless of the one you’re staying at, you’re invited!
On nights when Costeño Beach Hostel was quiet Los Hermanos had a party going. Both had DJ’s come in and play. On Fridays, Costeño Beach Hostel has a really cool salsa party.
Also, when El Rio Hostel (another famous hostel nearby) is having one of their famous parties everyone jumps on moto-taxis to enjoy the craziness. El Rio’s parties are famous and they’re wild!
Regardless of where you’re staying, you’ll find a party on most nights at Costeño Beach!
9. Day trip to Palomino
Not everyone has the time to make it out to Palomino for a few nights. So, if that’s you then consider making a day trip there from Costeño Beach.
From Costeño Beach you can get to Palomino in under an hour by catching any bus on the highway. Although a short visit, you can still come and wander the shaggy streets, hang with the friendly street dogs, and visit some very cool cafes and restaurants.
Like Costeño Beach the waves here are also pretty big and currents make it dangerous to swim, but you can still surf. In fact, I’d say the surf is better in Palomino than Costeño Beach so a lesson there could be a great idea.
There isn’t anything too crazy to do in Palomino but if you love small beach towns and are craving some choice for food and drinks Palomino makes for a fun day trip.
10. Get a massage
A visit to Costeño Beach will involve a lot of relaxation so why not enjoy a massage while you’re there! What surprised me the most was how cheap they are. In fact, you could get a 1-hour full body massage for $50,000 COP (around $15 USD.)
Most hotels will offer some sort of massage service but it pays to check before you book your stay if it’s deal-breaker for you. Alternatively, head over to the Costeño Beach Hostel and get an awesome message from their masseuse. They offer the one hour massage above but also do 30 minutes for 30,000 COP.
Where to Stay at Costeño Beach
Costeño Beach Hostel – This is where I stayed and in my opinion, a great option for anyone who likes a social place to stay. The pool is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the rooms are basic but clean. Everyone I’ve met loved this hostel and they offer everything from budget dorms to private cabins with gorgeous open-air outdoor showers!
Los Hermanos Beach Hostal – The second most famous hostel in Costeño Beach is Los Hermanos. It’s only a 5-minute walk from Costeño Beach Hostel and has a very similar setup. Often, people stay here when Costeño Beach Hostel is full.
Blue Mango Beach Hotel – If you’re looking for a quiet hotel then Blue Mango is a great choice. This hotel has a beautiful pool and rooms at very affordable prices. This place has everything you need to relax and breakfast is included in the room rate.
Tayrona Tented Lodge – This hotel (pictured above) is one of the most luxurious options on the beach. Rooms are still pretty simple but the grounds here are amazing! One thing I don’t like though is that they have no pool!
Getting to Costeño Beach
From Santa Marta
From Santa Marta, you can easily get the bus to Costeño Beach from the central market. The bus is the same as the bus that goes to Tayrona National Park but you’ll need to stay on it for another 10 minutes. You can catch this bus on the corner of Calle 11 and Carrera 9. This bus costs 8,000 COP and the bus driver knows where to stop.
From where the bus stops you can either take a moto-taxi to your hotel for 3,000 COP (less than 1 USD) or walk. Personally I’d take the moto-taxi as some of the hotels are a good 20-minute walk away.
From Palomino take any bus heading down the main highway heading back towards Santa Marta. This journey doesn’t have a set price but you should expect to pay between 6,000 COP and 8,000 COP. Some of the larger busses may try to charge closer to 10,000 COP. Of course, just tell the driver where you need to go.
Like described above, you can either take a moto-taxi to your hotel at Costeno Beach from the highway or walk for about 20 minutes.
Important Info Before You Go
Food is limited
Food options are very limited at Costeño Beach. In fact, I only ever saw one seller on the beach with churros. Other than that you must buy food from the hostels/hotels. Most of the hostels/hotels also don’t allow outside food or drinks.
There are no ATMs in Costeño Beach or Palomino for that matter. Although most places accept card they do charge between 3.5 and 5% to use them. So, be sure to get enough cash out before arriving. If you get stuck, there is an atm in a town called Mingueo just past Palomino. This is over an hour away though so it isn’t ideal.
Swimming at the beach
As I mentioned before, the waves and currents are strong and swimming in the ocean should only be done by a confident swimmer. In general, I would say to stick with the pool for swimming!
Before you go…
Thanks so much for checking out our guide to Costeño Beach. We hope you enjoyed the article and have all the information you need for your visit.
If you have any questions please leave them below in the comments and we will get back to you. Also, if you liked this blog then be sure to check out all our Colombia blogs here or these related articles below.
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May 14, 2020