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Spending the night in Tayrona National Park is the best way to enjoy this magical destination in Colombia. So in this blog, we’ll tell you why exactly that is, as well as reveal exactly where to stay in Tayrona (including hotels nearby too!)
Tayrona National Park (Parque Tayrona) is a place where pristine beaches meet palm trees in the stunning rainforest area of Northern Colombia.
It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t – this is the reason why any trip to Colombia couldn’t be complete without a day or two in Tayrona.
But the one question everyone has when it comes to Tayrona is “where to stay in Tayrona National Park?”
Well, we have the answer. There is, in fact, ONE place that is better than all of the others.
In this blog, I not only reveal WHERE TO STAY in Tayrona National Park (because it has the best beach) but I also reveal some other great money-saving tips, how to get there, and just some important general info you really should know before you go.
Here’s everything you need to know about spending the night in or near Tayrona National Park!
Please Note: You are not allowed to camp wherever you’d like in Tayrona National Park. You need to rent a campsite from one of the places I list below even if you have your own tent. Security guards patrol the park and will give you a fine if you break this rule.
- Understanding Where to Stay in Tayrona
- The BEST Place to Stay in Tayrona National Park – Cabo San Juan
- Other Places to Stay IN Tayrona National Park
- Accommodation NEAR Tayrona National Park
- How Long Should I Stay in Tayrona National Park?
- How to get to Tayrona National Park
- Other Important Info for Visiting Tayrona (you need to know!)
- Things to do in Tayrona National Park
- Our Best Tips for Visiting Tayrona
- Thanks for reading!
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
Understanding Where to Stay in Tayrona
You cannot just camp wherever you want in Tayrona National Park, you have to actually stay at one of the allocated campsites or accommodation options in the park.
The map above shows the different options you have for places to stay within Tayrona National Park. Below, I have more detailed information about all of the destinations outlined on this map so you can choose the best place to stay for you!
Related Read: Here are some of the other best places to visit in Colombia besides Tayrona National Park.
The BEST Place to Stay in Tayrona National Park – Cabo San Juan
Cabo San Juan is where I stayed, and in my opinion, the best all-around place to stay in Tayrona National Park.
Why? Well, let me tell you!
The water here was calm due to the rocks that protect the beach which made it the best beach in Tayrona National park for swimming.
Where you sleep at Cabo San Juan is only a minute’s walk from the gorgeous beaches. So you’re never far from the Caribbean – which is always a good thing!
It takes around 2 hours from the El Zaino entrance to walk to Cabo San Juan. But once there, you are very close to other beaches such as La Piscina (another beautiful beach) and the Nudist beach (if that’s what you’re into).
I’ll be honest though, Cabo San Juan is not a luxury option even with the most expensive accommodation. So, if you want a luxury Caribbean getaway then read below and I’ll tell you where you’ll get that – I’d hate to see someone on a honeymoon sleeping in a musky tent!
Please Note: You CANNOT book Cabo San Juan in advance online. If you want a guaranteed place to stay or are visiting in the peak season then you might want to stay somewhere else. No need to worry though, we’ve listed plenty of other great alternative options below! Otherwise, be sure to get to Tayrona early and book a tent or hammock at the booking desk at El Zaino entrance BEFORE you enter the national park.
Facilities at Cabo San Juan
There are lockers available that are great for security (especially if you plan on sleeping in a hammock.) Hot tip, if you bring your own lock it’ll save you from having to buy/rent one!
Electricity is available between 6 pm-10 pm but plugins are very limited. Be sure to bring your power bank!
Cold showers are available and shared between everyone at that camp. Even the cabins do not have their own bathrooms or showers. Showers are only available between 2 pm and 10 pm.
On-site there is also a restaurant (meals priced between 15,000 and 44,000 COP/$3 to $9 USD). For the best value meal get the rice with vegetables, it was good and it even comes with chips for 15,000 COP ($3)! Nothing is better than carb-loading after a day of hiking and swimming.
There are ice creams and snacks available to purchase on the beach as well as a small shop bar serving beers, water, and other drinks and snacks.
Cabo San Juan is the perfect setup of facilities, accommodations, and a beach all in one place!
Only cash is accepted at Cabo San Juan so be sure to bring some along with you.
Money-saving Tip: Bring as much water as you can carry with you! The water for sale at Cabo San Juan is overpriced and there is nowhere to fill up your bottle along the trail.
Accommodation at Cabo San Juan
Cabo San Juan is a two-hour walk from the main gate so I would recommend staying the night. You can still visit for the day, just be prepared for four hours of walking round trip.
At Cabo San Juan you can choose from a few different types of accommodation: a hammock, tent, or cabin.
I chose a hammock.
Hammocks can be rented for COP 40,000 ($8.20 USD) on arrival at Cabo San Juan.
You can also reserve a hammock in advance at a booth near the park entrance. Due to the high demand for hammocks, I recommend reserving one at this booth so you don’t miss out.
You’ll find this booth is to the left of the entrance gate El Zaino and it says “Cabo San Juan” on it. You pay there and they’ll give you a booking confirmation which you present once you arrive at Cabo San Juan at check-in.
There are two different hammocks you can rent at Cabo San Juan. The “normal” hammocks are just on the mainland near the tents under a shelter, or the “hammocks with a view” which are located up in a hut on a peninsula overlooking the beaches.
While the scenic hammocks are in a gorgeous location, it gets very cold up there and people have told us it is impossible to sleep. These hammocks are also more expensive at 50,000 COP ($10.30 USD) per night.
I personally recommend just going for the normal hammocks – you’ll be warmer!
Tents are the next budget option and cost COP 80,000 ($15.50 USD) per tent (they sleep up to 2 adults.) However, reviews say they are in bad condition, moldy, and really dirty. These can also be booked at the park entrance however they book less quickly than the hammocks.
With that said, during the dry season, the tents aren’t the worst option because it does get very cold and windy at night. Also, since there is no rain, the tents aren’t wet or moldy like they are in the wet season.
Cabins are another option. They cost COP 200,000 ($41 USD) for two people and another COP 50,000 ($10.30 USD) for an extra person. We didn’t see the inside of the cabins, but from the outside, they were extremely small and looked like sheds that were completely falling apart. Definitely not worth the COP 200,000 at all if you ask me!
Related Read: Making a stop in Minca? Well, check out the top things to do in Minca, Colombia so you don’t miss out!
Other Places to Stay IN Tayrona National Park
If Cabo San Juan doesn’t sound like a good option, there are a few other choices for places to stay in Tayrona. Below are all of the different locations where you can stay the night within Tayrona as well as your options for sleeping (camping and accommodation.)
Castilletes is a campground and hotel located right at the end of the road within Tayrona (also the start of the official trail.)
This is a great option for anybody who does not want to have to walk to where they will spend the night as you can catch the shuttle from El Zaino to Castilletes for only 3,000 COP ($0.60 USD) per person. This way, you don’t need to walk with your luggage!
The downside to Castilletes is that it is not near a beach where you can swim. The best swimming beaches (La Piscina and Cabo San Juan) are a 1.5-2 hour walk away. However, you could always drop your luggage and then go explore the other beaches for the day and return in the evening.
At Casitlletes you can choose to either camp in a tent or book a room. They have an onsite restaurant and are one of the nicer options within the park
One of the great things about Camping Castilletes is that you can book it in advance! During the busy season, this is an excellent option to avoid disappointment. Click here to check prices, availability, and to book!
From where the shuttle drops you off within Tayrona National Park, Cañaveral is about a 30-minute walk through the jungle. It is located right on the coast and has stunning views but the beach is not swimmable. There is only a small little swimming area in which you can jump in for a dip.
You have two options for places to stay at Cañaveral, Camping Cañaveral or Ecohabs. Camping Canaveral is for anybody who wants to camp whereas Ecohabs offers really nice bungalows.
At Ecohabs you can book a bungalow that sleeps up to four people. They also have the best restaurant in the entire park as well as a day spa.
Ecohabs is definitely the most luxurious option for accommodation in the park and as such, it often books up well in advance. You can check availability and book online.
Note: You can eat at the Ecohabs restaurant even if you’re staying at Camping Cañaveral. It is only a short five-minute walk away as these two places to stay are right next to each other.
Arrecifes is a beach closer to the park entrance (El Zaino) than Cabo San Juan. The beach is only a one-hour walk from the entrance, however, you CANNOT swim at the beach here due to extremely strong currents.
The benefit of staying at Arrecifes is that there are fewer people and it is less of a walk from the entrance (carrying your bags) than Cabo San Juan. It is still walking distance to Cabo San Juan and other swimming beaches. This area provides a more relaxing atmosphere and would be nice for people staying more than one night or looking for a more relaxed stay.
At Arrecifes beach there are a few different campsites to choose from, however, the most popular one (Don Pedro) has recently closed (as of March 2020!) Now, your options are either Cabanas Arrecifes or EcoCamping Lui.
Cabanas Arrecifes offers 6 cabins that sleep up to 5 people. These cabins can be booked online in advance. They also offer camping options that are just booked on arrival.
Just a few minutes from Arrecifes beach is EcoCamping Lui. This place offers more budget-friendly accommodation but is not on the beach. You can bring your own tent, rent one of theirs, stay in a hammock, or a very basic cabin. You can try to book by contacting them directly.
Playa Brava is a great place to stay if you want a quieter experience in Tayrona National Park or want to complete the entire loop (enter at Calabalzo and exit at El Zaino.)
The beach here is calm enough to swing and there is also some great snorkeling. Because of its remote location in relation to the other attractions in Tayrona, it is much quieter than the other places to stay.
The only downside to staying at Playa Brava is that it is quite a hike to get there. From Calabazo entrance, most people take around 3 hours, and from El Zaino expect to walk for about 5. If you want to walk the whole park you could enter at Calabazo, spend one night at Playa Brava, then one night at Cabo San Juan, and then finally leave from El Zaino. This would make for an ideal 3-day Tayrona hiking itinerary!
The only place to stay at Playa Brava is called Playa Brava Teyumakke. Here you can rent bungalows, hammocks, tents, or just campsites to set up your own. They also have a restaurant on-site and showers.
After Cabo San Juan, I think that Playa Brava is the next best place to stay in Tayrona National Park!
You can book Playa Brava Teyumakke in advance online – which is a great idea to secure your stay!
Tayrona Access Road
Between the El Zaino entrance gate and the beginning of the walking trail, there is a 7-kilometer (4.3 miles) stretch of road. This road is technically within the Tayrona nature reserve, but not close to any of the beaches.
Along this road, there are a couple of different hotels you can stay at. The benefit of staying here (as opposed to somewhere just outside of the entrance gate) is that you don’t need to wait in line early at the entrance gate to start exploring. You could wake up and either walk or catch the shuttle to the hiking trail without needing to wait in line to buy your ticket at all!
These hotels are also considerably cheaper than the cabins and bungalows offered at Cañaveral or Arrecifes.
Ecohotel Yachay Tayrona is one of the two hotels I would recommend located along this stretch of road in Tayrona. It’s a very beautiful property offering rooms and suites for reasonable prices.
The other good choice is a place called Hotel Jasayma Parque Tayrona and it is even cheaper! They have great reviews despite the facilities being somewhat basic. It is a quiet and smaller place to stay where you can get a good night’s rest before exploring!
Be sure to read our blog about what things to know before visiting Tayrona National Park for some extra tips to make your trip that much better!
Accommodation NEAR Tayrona National Park
If camping or sleeping in cabins IN Tayrona National Park sounds a little bit too much like “roughing it” for you, then consider staying in one of the hotels or hostels right next to the park!
Although you won’t wake up in Tayrona National Park, you will be a stone’s throw away from the park entrance allowing you to easily explore and get there before most of the people visiting on day trips from Santa Marta.
There is more hotel selection near the park than actually in it. These places are nicer, cheaper, and often also on the beach! So, you should really this as an excellent option!
Some great options for places to stay near Tayrona National Park are:
We have carefully hand-picked the BEST accommodation near Tayrona (none of the below options are sponsored ads and are our actual opinions!)
Eco Hostal Yuluka (low budget)
Eco Hostal Yuluka is located only a couple of minutes’ bus ride from Tayrona National Park entrance. They offer free WiFi, free breakfast, and have air-conditioned rooms. They also offer a free shuttle to the park entrance – what more could you ask for?!
This hostel offers dorm rooms but also has a selection of privates available. Their onsite bar and pool will make you forget you’re in a “budget” place completely! The staff is also incredibly friendly and helpful.
For those traveling on a budget, Eco Hostal Yuluka is a great option near Tayrona National Park!
Costeno Beach Hostel (low to medium budget)
Although not the closest hostel to Tayrona National Park, Costeno Beach is the best! It is a social, fun hostel right on the beach with a 5-star-looking pool.
Here, you can find budget dorms as well as luxurious private bungalows. There are tons of activities as well as a fully stocked bar and delicious restaurant.
From Costeno Beach Hostel, you can reach Tayrona National Park entrance on a moto-taxi in about 10 minutes.
We loved staying at Costeno Beach and actually wrote a blog all about it!
Costeno Beach Hostel is almost always fully booked! Be sure to book it in advance on Hostelworld!
Recuerdos del Tayrona (mid-range budget)
This place is the ideal place to stay near Tayrona National Park as it is affordable and in the perfect location. From Recuerdos del Tayrona the park entrance is only 200 m (650 ft) away making it the perfect base for exploring the park!
Rooms are more comfortable than accommodation offered directly in the park (larger rooms with televisions and private bathrooms!) WiFi is available and prices are very reasonable!
We actually stayed here recently and really liked it. The pool also comes in handy for cooling off and relaxing.
Check Recuerdos del Tayrona’s prices and availability on Booking.com!
Villa Playa Los Naranjos (high budget)
If you want luxury then this place is for you! It is technically located outside of Tayrona National Park but sits right on its border. It is also a beachfront hotel! Rooms have ocean views, access to a beautiful sandy beach, and a huge pool onsite!
For relaxing, enjoying the views, and exploring Tayrona Villa Playa Los Naranjos is perfect. Expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars a night for a room, but also expect to be impressed!
Check out prices and availability for Villa Playa Los Naranjos!
How Long Should I Stay in Tayrona National Park?
Spending more than one day at Tayrona National Park is ideal, so 1 or 2 nights would be enough. Any less and your trip would be rushed in my opinion!
Our 2 days at Tayrona National Park were perfect!
If you really like to hike and have enough time, you could spend 3 days and 2 nights. In this case, I would recommend entering at the Calabalzo entrance and then hiking to Playa Brava to spend the night at Playa Brava Teyumakke. The next day you could hike to Cabo San Juan and spend the night there before hiking out to the El Zaino entrance gate on your final day.
If you really are pressed for time, a day trip from Cartagena is possible, but it’s a very long day!
Related Read: Las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia is on of the most beautiful churches in the world!
How to get to Tayrona National Park
By local bus – (cheapest option)
I chose Santa Marta as my base for exploring Tayrona National Park because it’s located only located 1 hour from Parque Tayrona. Another cool place to stay is Taganga which is only another 10 minutes from Santa Marta.
In Santa Marta, the bus to Tayrona leaves from the corner of Calle 11 and Carrera 9 (see map below for location) which is in Santa Marta city center.
Getting to the bus departure point was easy via a short taxi ride. From Taganga it will cost COP 10,000 ($2 USD) and within Santa Marta about 5,000 to 12,000 COP ($1 to $2.50 USD).
Bus times are about every half an hour starting at 6 am. When we arrived it was easy to find the bus as there was a guy screaming “PARQUE TAYRONA” at the top of his lungs. Local taxi drivers know the spot too and can point out where to go.
The bus journey was 1 hour long to the front gate.
I caught the 6:30 am bus and it was a good time as the park entrance gates open at 8 am and you want as much time as possible on the beach. Don’t go much later as a massive line-up develops at the entrance booth around 10 am!
On my way back I took the same bus, and like before, there will be people calling out Santa Marta at the park entrance. The last bus leaves at 6 pm so if you’re not staying overnight be sure to leave enough time to catch the last bus.
If you are staying anywhere between Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona you can catch the same bus along the main road, Calle 30, by just standing on the side of the road and flagging down any bus with a sign “Tayrona” in the front window.
In my opinion, a taxi to the park is really expensive as it will cost between COP 80,000 and COP 100,000 ($16.50 to $21 USD) depending on your negotiation skills.
Go on a tour
If you are very limited on time and can only spend a day, then taking a tour to Tayrona National Park is what I recommend. There are some good ones like booking this organized day tour that departs from Santa Marta. This way, you waste less time on public transport, standing in line buying tickets, and reading a map to navigate around the tour.
Check out this particular tour that leaves from Santa Marta. It is one of the most highly-rated full-day tour options with a guide for $166 USD!
You will start off with a jungle hike until you reach Arrecifes Beach – it’s large and beautiful but the currents are too dangerous to swim here but you can enjoy the scenery and take a rest for a little bit.
Then, you’ll spend the remainder of the day at San Juan Beach where you’ll eat a traditional Caribbean lunch and choose whether to relax, swim, or walk on the beach.
You can book this Tayrona Park Day Tour here.
Other Important Info for Visiting Tayrona (you need to know!)
Only about 45 minutes by bus from Santa Marta city center, Tayrona National Park is Colombia’s Caribbean paradise.
Visitors come to check out the jungle and hang out at the beautiful beaches.
There is accommodation in Tayrona National Park so many people stay overnight to have a chance to really take in its beauty.
The hike and beaches
The overall experience is essentially a gorgeous hike to some really beautiful beaches. You cannot just drive to the beaches as there are no roads. Instead, a couple of hours of walking is needed (or horseback riding) in order to reach the most beautiful beaches.
The hike itself is also the special part though, so take it all in!
Tayrona National Park Entrance Fee
It costs foreigners 57,500 COP ($12 USD) to enter Parque Tayrona. There is a price increase to 68,000 ($14 USD) during high season (December to February) and during holidays. This is a one-time entrance fee but will cover you for any length of stay in the park.
The park opens at 7 am and no one is allowed to enter after 12 pm, however, it still remains open to let day visitors out of the park between 3 to 5 pm!
Note: Times and prices have been updated as of December 2022
You also need your passport at the entrance you be sure to bring it with you!
Related Read: Where is San Andres Island, Colombia? Find out here!
Entrances to the Park
There are two entrances (El Zaino at one end, and Calabazo at the other) into Tayrona National Park. Each one is at either side of the park.
The main entrance is called El Zaino (to the east). This entrance gate is between Santa Marta and Palomino (further from Santa Marta than the other entrance). This is where you’ll want to enter from if you want to see most of Tayrona National Park.
The other entrance is called Calabazo (to the west). This entrance is used to access Playa Brava. This entrance is closer to Santa Marta but from Cabo San Juan it is 4 to 5 hours of walking (as opposed to two hours from El Zaino.)
Unless you are going to Playa Bravo (a lone beach in the west) you will want to access Tayrona from El Zaino.
Swimming in Tayrona
Many of the beaches in Tayrona National Park are unsafe to swim at because of the strong currents. I didn’t know this before coming to the park so I was glad I didn’t pick a place to stay where you couldn’t swim!
If swimming is important to you, just be sure to stay at a place with a swimming-friendly beach (like Cabo San Juan!)
Bookings in Tayrona
This is easily the most annoying part about Tayrona National Park – you can’t book 50% of the accommodation inside the park online or in advance.
I know what you’re thinking… how am I supposed to book a holiday without a booking?
Well, the only way to secure yourself one of the cheaper options in the park and a great beach to spend the night is to arrive early and book at the entrance gate! This is what you have to do for a tent or hammock at Cabo San Juan.
I know this sounds horrible, and to be honest I was not a fan! But unless you plan on staying in cabins or bungalows, then this is the only option.
Freedom Camping in Tayrona
You are not allowed to bring your own camping gear and camp wherever you please within the National Park, you must stay at one of the places we mentioned above.
That being said, while we were there we saw a few people freedom camping, and while this is cheaper, it could get you into serious trouble if you got caught.
We have written a whole blog of tips for visiting Tayrona National Park! This blog should help you plan your trip and clarify any questions you might have about visiting the park!
Things to do in Tayrona National Park
Parque Tayrona is for those wanting to relax! The hiking in the park is easy and the beaches are beautiful, so for me, it was just about chilling out by the water.
If you’re feeling up to it then check out the nudist beach or snorkel in the amazing bays – otherwise, just sit back and enjoy nature’s beauty!
If you want to explore beaches, consider checking out the ones listed below:
This little beach is located between Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan. Here, there is no accommodation but for anyone planning a day trip, this beach is a nice place for a swim.
They say this beach gets busy, but I went in the morning and I just about had it to myself. The water is really calm here because rocks create a calm bay perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The wildlife in the bay also makes snorkeling in the area very interesting, sand sharks, blowfish, and even turtles are just some of the animals that visit this area.
This beach is unknown to most tourists as you have to walk four hours to get there. But, if you are wanting to escape all of the tourists then this beach would be perfect!
Playa Brava could be a good option for a day trip from Cabo San Juan, or a place to spend a night or two. Playa Brava has a restaurant, toilets, and also cabins. Swimming is allowed here although the waves are still a little rough.
The Nudist Beach
Yep, you read that correctly! Tayrona has its own nudist beach for anyone who’s had enough of their bathing suit or just didn’t bring one.
This beach is located only 10 minutes from Cabo San Juan by simply following the little sand path at the end of the beach. It is a pretty beach but you are not allowed to swim here.
Our Best Tips for Visiting Tayrona
- If you are wanting to sleep in a hammock and not a tent (the condition of the tents were bad) it can be wise to book it at the entrance as they can sell out. This can be done before you buy your entrance ticket at a little white tent near the road.
- Take snacks! A small bread roll is COP 6,000 ($1.25 USD) in the park, so if you eat a lot this adds up quickly.
- Bring plenty of water, it may be tough carrying it out there and if you don’t a half-liter bottle is 3,000 COP ($0.60 USD) at Cabo San Juan!
- Bring lunch for the first day, especially if you go to Cabo San Juan. The reason for this (other than cost) is that the restaurant is extremely busy for lunch and you can wait for hours to eat.
- If it has rained the night before or in the morning be aware that it gets extremely muddy! Don’t wear your best shoes! And, bring rainproof gear in preparation for a storm during the rainy season.
- Bring your passport or a copy of it, this is needed to enter the park!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments please leave them below! If you want all of our best tips for traveling to Colombia, check out our complete Colombia travel guide!
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