A Guide to Taganga & Tayrona National Park!

Whenever we spoke to friends about our trip to Colombia everyone said that we had to visit Tayrona National Park, in the North Coast of Colombia’s Caribbean. A destination for camping, hiking and beach-bumming it’s a favourite on the gringo trail.






Santa Marta is often used as the central hub to get to many places on the north coast of Colombia, including Tayrona National Park. The cheapest way to get to the park is by hiking and busing it. First, you will need to make your way to the Mercado in Santa Marta to catch a collective bus (which departs when full). This will cost you around 7,000 pesos (roughly $2-3). You will get dropped off at the entrance of the park where you will need to buy your parks pass. The pass will cost 40,000 pesos (roughly $20- which is ridiculously high). From there I recommend catching another bus (the walk will take you an hour).

If you plan on camping at Cabo San Juan, which is the most popular choice, you will then need to either hike roughly two hours or hire a horse for around 30,000 pesos ($10-$15).


Everything You Need To Know About Tagana And Tayrona National Park, Colombia!





We chose to go to Tayrona from Taganga instead. Two years ago Taganga was a beautiful and quiet fishermens village where backpackers loved to escape. Now it’s a bit of a sad, overdeveloped place (Lonely Planet describes it perfectly here). Despite it’s drab appearance their is some great benefits of visiting Taganga, like the cheapest place to get your PADI in all of South & Central America and Babaganoush Restaurant, one of the most delicious meals we have ever had- a three course meal overlooking the best views of Taganga at sunset for 30,000 pesos ($10-$15).
Taganga is also where you will need to go if you want to take the quick and hassle-free boat ride to Tayrona. Departing at roughly 10am (more like 11am/Colombian time) the boat ride will take you directly to Cabo San Juan in less than an hour. The seas can be a bit rough and you and your belongings will likely get wet so be sure to wrap your things/bag in a plastic bag to try and protect them. The boat costs 89,000 return ($40), you will then also have to pay the mandatory national park fee of 40,000 pesos upon entry.


Everything You Need To Know About Tagana And Tayrona National Park, Colombia!





Cabo San Juan is the most popular beach of choice for two reasons- the campgrounds and the two calm, swimmable beaches (many beaches in Tayrona have very strong currents and the beaches are strictly closed for swimmers). If you are planning on spending a night or two in Tayrona (which I recommend doing), you will want to make sure you are at Cabo San Juan no later than 1pm to secure your hammock/tent for the night as it gets very busy. A hammock will cost you roughly 20,000 pesos per night. Their is a restaurant on site and a bowl of pasta for dinner will cost you 10-15,000 pesos which I thought was quite reasonable considering their are no other options. I would recommend taking at least three litres of water with you as water will cost you more once inside the park. Their is cold water showers (which run at night) and toilets on the site (don’t forget to take toilet paper).


Everything You Need To Know About Tagana And Tayrona National Park, Colombia!





  • Swimmers (of course!)
  • A towel
  • A sarrong (to lie on on the beach, and for a light sheet to sleep with)
  • Sunscream (we sat in the shade for an entire day and still got SO sunburnt)
  • Insect Repellant
  • A light jumper for the night
  • At least three litres of water
  • Snacks
  • Snorkels (you can buy these pretty cheap at Taganga. If you have a clear day at Cabo San Juan you’ll be glad you have these)
  • A torch
  • Toilet Paper
  • Enough cash for how many days you intend on staying
  • A book, you’ll have a lot of downtime
  • Flip Flops and Joggers, if you plan on hiking
  • A small backpack… leave your big pack in Santa Marta or  Taganga

Note: You will need to take your passport with you. I have also heard of people needing to show their yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry.


Everything You Need To Know About Tagana And Tayrona National Park, Colombia!



Their you have it. I hope you found this article useful in planning your trip to Tayrona National Park and that you have better weather than my two days of grey skies.


Does Tayrona National Park sound like somewhere you’d like to visit?
Or do you have suggestions and advice to share?
Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Reply Jonathan M 28/11/2018 at 7:55 am

    Hiya, Sasha. I’m Jon. Do you recall if one can boat in and then hike out? Alternatively, just boat in, hike around, chill on the beach for a bit, and take the boat back out in the same day? And what’s this about Yellow Fever certificates?
    – Jon

  • Reply KGOK 04/09/2018 at 6:53 pm

    Hi, returning from a recent trip to Tayrona. We hiked in and took the boat to Taganga on the way out. Please please get off the boat if they overload it. We had life vests but the ride was horrendous (several comments if we were even to survive). We were expecting a choppy ride but they overloaded the boat with double the amount of people there should have been and as a result there were several occasions the boat was likely to tip. On top of that the motor stopped running and we were stuck for a while whilst they changed it over. I’m sure sometimes its fine but if you’re on the last boat and they keep piling people on please get off and just sleep on the beach for a night!

  • Reply Tamar 22/07/2017 at 5:17 pm

    Hi! We are visiting cartagena, then from there planning to go to tayrona and minca. We are trying to decide about going to Santa Marta for time before Tayrona but I am also trying to get information about Taganga as an alternative– I don’t fully understand the difference and distance between Taganga and Tayrona. Can we only take a boat from Taganga to Tayrona?

  • Reply M 08/06/2017 at 6:54 pm

    Hi! Were lifevests provided on the boat from Taganga to Tayrona? We’re considering it but have heard the seas can be quite rough.

  • Reply John Watson 07/03/2017 at 8:44 pm

    Every time you use the word ‘there’, you have used ‘their’. Back to school I think…

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 13/03/2017 at 3:58 pm

      Hahaha, well thanks for your positive comment, you are the loveliest.Not blogging about grammar, just travel!

  • Reply markdeafmcguire 03/07/2016 at 11:30 pm


    That’s a great way to play on words. Thanks for the info. I haven’t heard of this place in my research on Colombia. I’m curious about whether there are lockers to secure my backpack (for example with a laptop inside it). I couldn’t quite tell by looking at the picture of the hammock how to tackle this issue.

    Also the “shopping” list of things to bring into the park is awesome. Is there an on-site store in case someone forgot toilet paper?

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 26/07/2016 at 9:29 pm

      Hey Mark,
      Thanks for reading. No, unfortunately there were no lockers so I wouldn’t advise bringing anything too valuable that you don’t have to take with you, I would suggest leaving them behind in a hotel in Taganga. There is a shop there for a fw basics but it is quite expensive 🙂

  • Reply Kobe 01/05/2016 at 11:20 pm

    If you take a boat from Taganga, you still have to pay the entrance fee? I’m reading everywhere else that you don’t have to pay the entrance fee if you take the boat? Just curious as to what the answer is so that my family can decide whether to take the boat or just go through the entrance. Thank you!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 03/05/2016 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Kobe,
      Yeah you have to pay the entrance fee to the national park no matter which way you enter, unfortunately. The boat just saves you a lot more time! 🙂

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