Tayrona National Park offers the most unique places to stay in Colombia. You can visit this popular jungle destination in the north of the country for a day taking beautiful walks through the jungle and along the Caribbean beach. We then recommend you arrive in the park as early as possible and find a hotel or hostel near the park entrance to do so. But you can also spend the night in Tayrona, which is definitely recommended to optimally experience the park. In this blog we help you to make a choice between the places to stay in and near Tayrona. Where can you stay in Tayrona National Park? And where to look for a hostel or hotel near the park?Booking.com
Where is Tayrona National Park in Colombia?
Tayrona is a national park in northern Colombia on the Caribbean coast.
There are two entrances, Calabazo and the main entrance El Zaino, both of which are on the main highway from Santa Marta to the east. El Zaino is the most used national park entrance and we also recommend that you start there if you want to spend the night in the park. At El Zaino, you can book a place to stay in advance. From the main entrance El Zaino you can take a shuttle bus to the start of the hiking trails. We recommend doing this, as it saves you a boring one-hour walk.
The park is near many others tourist destinations in Colombia. The popular beach destination Palomino and the jungle of the famous Lost City Trek are both around the corner. Also jungle destination Minca, Santa Marta with its airport and the colorful Cartagena are located in this part of Colombia. Palomino is therefore almost always easy to fit into your Colombia travel itinerary.
Of all the tourist destinations in the north, Santa Marta is the most central city. From Santa Marta, a bus service goes east past Tayrona National Park to Palomino. The bus passes both the Calabazo and El Zaino entrances. If you are traveling to Palomino from, say, Cartagena or Minca, you will have to switch buses in Santa Marta. Due to the popularity of Tayrona, there is also the option of traveling directly to the park entrance from many tourist spots in the area by minivan, but of course at a higher price than the normal buses.
Why Tayrona is worth a visit
Tayrona National Natural Park – or Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona in Spanish – is one of the most beautiful sights of Colombia. For nature lovers, hikers and adventurous travelers, a visit to Tayrona will be one of the highlights of their Colombia trip. The combination of the lush jungle and Caribbean coast make it a unique place to visit.
The park is huge and covers about 150 km². Visitors explore the park on foot, and hiking in the park is the best way to enjoy Tayrona in addition to swimming and relaxing on the beach. Take a good look around during your hikes, because there is a very good chance that you will spot wild animals. There are many hiking trails through the jungle and along the coast, easily entertaining you for several days.
Almost all visitors walk the same route: the trail from the main entrance El Zaino to the Cabo San Juan viewpoint on the beach. This trail takes about 2 hours (from the shuttle drop-off point, not from El Zaino) and combines lush jungle and beautiful sandy beaches. It is a fairly easy hike, after which you can relax on what is often called the most beautiful beach in Tayrona. The trail can get very busy.
We therefore advise you to hike further into the national park. If you continue hiking after visiting Cabo San Juan, you’ll notice much fewer other visitors. The hiking trails are a bit more challenging, but you will be rewarded with beautiful places that you almost have to yourself. A beautiful multi-day route would be to take the shuttle from El Zaino and hike via Cabo San Juan to the Playa Brava and then the second entrance Calabazo. You can do this in two days, although three days with two overnight stays in the park would be even better.
Where to stay: in or near Tayrona?
You can spend the night in Tayrona’s park as well as in the jungle area outside. We recommend that you do both. In our opinion, staying in Tayrona is an essential part of a visit to the park. If you spend two or more days in the beautiful park, you can see much more of it than just the popular stretch between El Zaino and Cabo San Juan. Moreover, you also experience the park at the end and at the beginning of the day, when there are fewer visitors and the light is the most beautiful.
Practical: your entrance ticket to Tayrona is valid indefinitely, so you can stay in the park as long as you want. You pay separately for the sleeping places. Bring enough cash for this, because there is no ATM in the park or in the area. Nowadays you can pay for your ticket by card (although you’ll often read outdated information saying this isn’t possible). You can reserve a place to sleep at the start of your visit at the El Zaino entrance.
We also recommend you find a place to stay near Tayrona for the night before and after your visit. That way you can start your visit to Tayrona National Park as early as possible and after the hiking days and back-to-basic sleeping places in the park you can relax in a lovely place to sleep. There are many beautiful hotels and hostels in the jungle near Tayrona.
Where to stay in Tayrona National Park
The park has several options to stay. Do not expect comfort and luxury, because most places to stay only offer hammocks on the beach or basic tents and sanitary facilities in toilet blocks. While most travelers opt for this adventurous camping experience, there are now a few places to book jungle or beach cabins, such as the beautiful cabins at Playa Brava and the two Ecohabs.
In addition, there are accommodations near the El Zaino entrance along the road where the shuttle can lead you directly to the start of the hiking trails. Technically this is in Tayrona National Park, but you won’t be sleeping near the beaches. Only the Ecohabs and the Ecohotel Yachay Tayrona offer lovely places to stay at that location, but apart from those two accommodations you can actually just as well sleep just outside the park for a smaller price.
#1 Cabo San Juan for the most popular place to sleep on what has been called the most beautiful beach in Tayrona. There are both hammocks and tents. The hammocks on the viewpoint itself are especially popular, but expect it to be quite windy here.
#2 Playa Brava for the only campsite where you also have beautiful beach huts in addition to hammocks. The lovely huts are part of the Ecolodge Playa Brava Teyumakke and you can book online in advance. As these are the only cabins in the park, booking well in advance is recommended. Playa Brava is a bit more remote than the other campsites in a part of the park where fewer visitors come. The campsite is closest to the second entrance, Calabazo.
#3 Camping Don Pedro for a campsite with both hammocks and tents. This campsite is the closest to the El Zaino entrance and is therefore quite popular. Unfortunately, the location is less idyllic, because you sleep in the jungle and not on the beach. The beach is about a 10-minute walk, but you can’t swim here due to the strong current.
#4 Castilletes for a beach campsite closest to the El Zaino entrance. Unfortunately, you cannot swim here because of the heavy waves. The campsite is not very busy and popular, as the location is very close to the entrance, even before the place where the shuttle drops you off. Yet this is a beautiful paradise, precisely because of that tranquility in combination with the beautiful beach location.
#5 Ecohabs Tequendama Tayrona for a more luxurious place to stay just steps from Canaveral Beach. The Ecohabs offers wooden huts with straw roofs, built against a green hill. There is a restaurant and free wifi, and the cabins have their own bathroom.
#6 Ecohabs Bamboo Tayrona for a more luxurious place to stay in the jungle not far from the El Zaino entrance. Guests stay in special A-shaped huts, made of natural materials, scattered throughout the jungle garden. Ecohabs Bamboo has the luxury of wifi, a restaurant and private bathrooms.
#7 Ecohotel Yachay Tayrona for a beautiful hotel with attractive huts in the jungle. The location is near the El Zaino entrance but in the national park. There is a restaurant, free wifi and breakfast.
Where to stay near Tayrona
We recommend booking a hostel or hotel near the entrance of Tayrona. Although it is possible to get to the park entrance from nearby destinations such as Santa Marta, Minca or Palomino by public transport, we can’t recommend this. Rather choose one of the beautiful beach hotels or jungle hostels in the area, so that you can be sure at the parking entrance at opening time (7 a.m. in high season and 8 a.m. in low season). Aside from that practical consideration, you will find truly wonderful places to stay near Tayrona.
#1 Eco Hostal Yuluka for a budget-friendly place to stay in a prime location 5 minutes from El Zaino, the main entrance to Tayrona. The hostel also offers a free shuttle to the entrance. Guests stay in a dormitory or in a private cabin. The lovely hostel is located in a tropical jungle area and has an outdoor pool with a slide.
#3 Senda Koguiwa for beautiful bungalows in the jungle 5 minutes from the main entrance El Zaino. The outdoor pool, exotic bungalows, jungle location and beautiful riverside setting make a stay at Senda Koguiwa an unforgettable experience. This is also reflected in the exceptionally high review ratings from hotel guests. Each room has air conditioning and a private bathroom, both of which are welcome luxuries before or after camping in Tayrona.
#3 Quetzal Dorado Eco Lodge for one of the most beautiful and best-reviewed places to stay near Tayrona. The rustic rooms and charming cabins blend perfectly with the exotic surroundings. Quetzal Dorado Eco Lodge offers phenomenal views of the national park mountains and has a year-round outdoor pool.
#4 The Journey Hostel for a budget-friendly hostel a fifteen-minute walk from El Zaino. The hostel has a beautiful jungle location, a swimming pool with a beautiful view and a restaurant with a bar. The rooms have a balcony and some have a sea view. There are both dormitories and private rooms.
#5 Serrano Glamping for a unique glamping experience near the entrance of Tayrona. The charming glamping tents are in the middle of the jungle in a remote location, where you can relax. Each tent has the luxury of a private bathroom with hot showers. A unique experience on your Colombia trip!
#6 Senda Maloka Barlovento for a beautiful beachfront lodge about 3 kilometers from El Zaino. It has a wellness, restaurant and bar. The property also has a private beach and is located on a river surrounded by wildlife and beautiful nature.