Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast

This is your complete guide to all beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast. If you are wondering which beach in Colombia to choose for your next adventure, look no further because I have you covered!

 

I have travelled along the Caribbean coast of Colombia for over two months. My main aim was to relax and discover Colombia but mostly to see what the Colombian Caribbean coast and its beaches have to offer. Now that I have seen and experience it, I aim to prove to the world that Colombia is a fantastic beach destination.

To truly get the feel of the Caribe Costa in Colombia, you should visit at least few of Colombia Caribbean beach towns. Every single beach in Colombia has a different feel and vibe to it. And I loved them all! So to help you choose, I created this complete guide to every single beach on the mainland Colombia Caribbean coast (and few island pearls as well).

Every beach I spent time in Colombia had its own story to tell.  And I listened.

Yes, there are picture-perfect beaches worldwide that Colombia would lose the competition with. Yet, something about the Caribbean coast of Colombia and its beaches makes you leave a part of your heart there. I left a piece of my heart on every single corner of Caribbean coast (maybe apart from Bocagradne in Cartagena lol).

So if you want to know which beach town to choose on your next trip to Colombia – let’s begin!

Beaches of Santa Marta

 

I will start this guide with Santa Marta as this was my first stop on my Colombia Caribbean journey. What Santa Marta is most famous for are the surrounding beaches of Tayrona Park (on this later on), and although many claim that Santa Marta itself doest have the best beaches, I really enjoyed my beach time there.

The immediate beach near the promenade in Santa Marta historical part isn’t the best. I admit. It’s pretty small, very often crowded, and it isn’t the cleanest either. But if you are only willing to go slightly out of the way, you will find charming beaches like Rodadero, Pozo Colorado and Playa Blanca. Playa Blanca can be accessed by boat from Rodadero Beach and I highly recommend making that trip.

Santa Marta is a great starting point for your Caribbean journey in Colombia, and if you decide to stay for a bit, you will enjoy its relaxed vibe. I really like Santa Marta and stayed there for a total of 3 weeks. And I’m a total beach bum. So this should tell you something.

 

SANTA MARTA – COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
Complete guide to all beaches of Colombia Caribbean coast

You can take numerous boat trips to the surrounding beaches of Santa Marta, but also many great beaches can be accessed by public transport. I definitely recommend taking a boat to Playa Blanca as well as Taganga – next point of this guide.

Taganga and Playa Grande

Taganga has one of the most popular beaches near Santa Marta – Playa Grande. It is a lovely beach set in a bay surrounded by the mountains, and it is very popular amongst both locals and tourists visiting Santa Marta.

Taganga itself is receiving mixed reviews these days. It used to be the best beach destination for hippie backpackers. Yet, it has also acquired a bad name for being dirty, run-down, unsafe, and pretty drug-infested. There have been some reports of thefts and mugging in the area. So be aware before you go.

It is, however, beautifully located, and Playa Grande is the closest beach to Santa Marta (only 20 minutes on a local bus or boat) that offers an excellent sea and sun experience as well as water sports and diving opportunities. Taganga is said to be one of the cheapest places you can get your PADI diving certificate.

I would personally not spend more than a day in Taganga. At most, I would stay one night. Yet it is a great place to go for a day. There are few really lovely hikes in the area, and Playa Grande is not the only beach worth spending time on. If you decide to take a walk to Playa Grande, you will be able to visit a couple of smaller beaches of Playa Escondida and Playa Genemaka. This could be a better choice if you are looking for a more peaceful beach experience.

I ventured to Taganga and Playa Grande for a day and had a really good time. The beach was pleasant, I had a good and reasonably priced lunch and really enjoyed my mini-hike and the views. I didn’t feel unsafe or bothered too much. Mind you, however, I went with a friend. I didn’t stay the night. Exploring Taganga and its beaches could make a lovely day out from Santa Marta.

COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST

Beaches of Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park unquestionably boasts some of the most incredible beaches in Colombia. After San Andres, Tayrona Park became a prime beach destination for those looking for a paradise-like beach experience in Colombia. There is so much more to Tayrona Park than just its beaches, and if you are interested, you can read about it in my article here.

The main reason Tayrona Park beaches are so popular is because they are not only stunning, but also you can actually swim in quite few of them. Many beaches along the Colombia Caribbean coast are unsuitable for swimmers due to dangerous currents and strong waves. There are few striking beaches in Tayrona that are perfectly swimmable and completely breathtaking. 

The Tayrona National Natural Park is also home to the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, for whom it is a sacred place. Please keep that in mind when visiting. 

I recommend taking a two day trip to Tayrona National Park and exploring as many beaches as possible. It is in fact the most popular way of visiting.

Another way to see the beaches of Tayrona is to take a boat day trip from Santa Marta. 

Thus whether you decide to go for a day or take a two-day trip, here is the list of all the beaches of Tayrona National Park and how to get there:

Please note that whichever beach in Tayrona National Park you will choose to visit, prices of food and drinks will be inflated. You will also need to pay the park entrance fee, and there will be no ATMs. Take as much cash as you might need, and feel free to pack some lunch or drinks to save money. Be aware that plastic bags are not allowed in the park’s area, but you can bring refillable plastic bottles.

  • Bahia Concha – This is one of the Tayrona Park beaches that can be visited for a day from Santa Marta, and it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Numerous companies in Santa Marta will offer this tour, so make sure you shop around. The good thing about taking a day tour is that the entrance to the park and a meal will be included.

    You can also enter Bahia Concha independently but taking a taxi, renting a car or going by public transport. As far as I know, you would need to take a bus going in the direction of Bastidas and get off at the last stop at Barrio Chimila. From there you will have to take where carros (shared cars/colectivos) or a moto-taxi to Bahia Concha. I am not familiar with this way, so if you are reading this post and planning to do that – please update me on your return 🙂

    The entrance to Bahia Concha costs 5 000 COP.

  • Playa Cristal is another popular day trip from Santa Marta. The only way to get there is by boat, and you can either choose an all-inclusive tour or just a boat shuttle. All can be arranged from Santa Marta, Taganga and Neguanje.

    Playa Cristal is stunning but also pretty small and extremely popular. In fact, only 300 visitors a day are allowed. Be prepared for a pretty crowded experience, but nevertheless, it’s a fantastic paradise-like beach and worth visiting.

    You also need to be aware that the actual boat ride is described as ‘ride from hell’ by some. It is basically a very bumpy ride in a speedboat. You will get very much shaken, tumbled and possibly end up pretty wet too. But if you are an adventurous soul, you will be fine 🙂

The below Tayrona Park beaches need to be entered via its two most popular entrances of either Zaino or Calabazo and require a hike to get to the final destination. They all offer camping and accommodation; hence most visitors stay overnight:

  • If you access Tayrona Park via the Calabazo entrance, you will be able to stay at Playa Brava. It is an adventurous hike (some describe it as hard), and Playa Brava is not suitable for swimming due to strong waves and currents. It is one of the park’s under-visited beaches; hence it is very quiet and is perfect for relaxing or walking and spending a night in a bungalow or a tent. You could continue to walk from there to the remaining beaches, yet it is a very long and strenuous walk and those who decide to do it spread the hike over two days. 

 

  • From the Zaino entrance (the most popular), you can access the most popular beaches in Tayrona Park, and this is where I recommend staying the night to truly enjoy both the hike and the beaches. You will hike through the tropical forest and appreciate the incredible wild fauna and flora of the park. Most likely, your final destination will be Cabo San Juan, where most visitors stay for the night. It is beautiful, but also the most touristy beach in Tayrona Park as many visitors also choose to visit for a day from Santa Marta or Taganga. Throughout your hike, you will also discover La Piscina beach, which is perfect for swimming. It was surprisingly peaceful as well when I visited. Other beaches worth making a stop at are Cañaveral and Arrecifes beaches, where you will also be able to camp for the night. Those beaches are not suitable for swimming, and Arrecife is said to be the most dangerous beach in Tayrona Park. Pass the Cabo San Juan you will also be able to access Tayrona Parks nudist beach – Boca del Saco. 
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
LA PISCINA - COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
CABO SAN JUAN - COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST

The gates to Tayrona National Park open at 8 am and close at 5 pm.

Try to arrive at Tayrona park as early as you can. The queues, especially on the weekends can get massive and you really don’t want to waste 3 hours of your day standing in line. 

Don’t be surprised if your bag will be checked at the entrance. This is a normal procedure as some objects like plastic bags are not allowed in the park. 

Please check my guide to Tayrona National Park for up to date prices and accommodation costs. 

Los Naranjos

My strongest recommendation is to travel along the Caribbean coast of Colombia and discover some of the off the beaten path gems of beaches that can be found between Santa Marta and Palomino. Los Naranjos is the first of them. Not many people know about this hidden piece of paradise, and when I booked my accommodation in the area, I did not know about its existence.

It is very hard to find any guides on the internet talking about Los Naranjos beach. Yet, If you are looking for the best place to locate yourself for the Tayrona Park visit – Los Naranjos might be your perfect spot.

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast
Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast

Los Naranjos is a peaceful, tranquil white sand beach located only a few miles away from Tayrona Park’s Zaino entrance. Stay at least a day longer and enjoy one of the most peaceful beaches in Colombia. You will not regret it. There are not many facilities there. Just one small restaurant on the beach which closes before the sunset and endless stretch of white sand. If you are looking for a party destination, it is definitely not that, and you should continue reading. But its tranquillity and lack of tourists is precisely what makes this beach so special.

Mendihuaca

Mendihuaca Is a hidden paradise on Colombia Carrieabean coast. With Not Many Backpackers Stopping By And Costeno Beach Being Only 20 Minutes Walk By The Beach Away – Mendihuaca Is A True Gem, And You Should Visit Before The World Hears About It. Because Inevitably – It Will!

I only visited because Costeño beach hostels were fully booked at the time, and I wanted to stay close. Now that I know of this incredible spot on Colombia Carrieabean Cost, I would do exactly the same thing if I visited again.  

COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST

This tranquil paradise lies where the river Mendihuaca enters the Caribbean Sea, and the beach stretches into both directions. Mendihuaca is moderately popular among Colombians, yet it is hardly on the itinerary of your usual Colombia backpacker. Suppose you happen to stumble across this piece of paradise on a weekday, you will find yourself lodged in a treehouse-like eco-hostel, put to sleep and woken up by the sound of the waves and spending days surfing, lazying by the river and admiring some of the most spectacular sunsets.

Please keep in mind there are primarily eco-hostels located on that beach. Therefore, you will have very limited electricity and internet. Mendihuaca beach is a perfect place to switch off. 

But don’t worry, Costeño Beach Hostel is only 20 minutes walk away, so if you fancy spending a day in a more lively environment, you can do just that. 

Would you like to know more? Read this post I wrote after spending few days on Mendihuaca beach. 

Costeño Beach

Costeño Beach is a very popular Colombian beach destination amongst backpackers. With only three hostels (and the most famous Costeño Beach Hostal) and not much around, it is a great place to switch off from the outside world, surf and enjoy some of the best hostel parties along the Colombia Caribbean coast. The Costeño Beach Hostal is also a great choice for those who want to work and enjoy themselves after hours. With fantastic coworking space, a swimming pool and delicious food, you will not need anything else.

This hostel is located right at the beachfront, boasting incredible views and the most relaxing vibe. After dark, you will not be bored. The party is on.

The other hostels worth considering are Los Hermanos Beach Hostal and La Brisa Tranquila. If you are looking for more upmarket experience, you should definitely consider Bohemia Beach Eco Boutique Hostel. All of them get booked pretty quickly, so if you want to stay on Costeno beach, book your accommodation well in advance.

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Buritaca

Buritaca is another popular backpackers destination on the Colombia Caribbean coast. And it is also a great beach party destination, with Viajero Hostel hosting some of the best parties on the coast. I have met people travelling from Palomino to Buritaca for a party – this tells you something.

But there is so much more to Buritaka beach. It is a beautifully located beach destination with a good number of hostels to choose from, including some offering co-working spaces. I love working by the beach, taking breaks for a swim or some adventure like river tubing, and relaxing in the evening with a cocktail and few friends. Buritaka has it all. On my return to Colombia, I will definitely make a stop there. This time, for a little bit longer.

Palomino

Finally, we arrived at the hippiest beach town on the Colombia Caribbean Coast and one of my favourite destinations in Colombia.

Palomino is a very popular beach destination in Colombia among backpackers. It is a town that combines a laid back Colombian beach resort with some of the best restaurants and heaps of things to do. You could easily spend extended time in Palomino, and you would not be bored. In fact, Palomino is a pretty popular beach destination amongst Colombians.

I love Palomino. You will not find big supermarkets or developed infrastructure in Palomino, roads are not paved, and life is slow. And this is exactly what makes it so special. There are great beaches extending to both sides and meeting lush rivers, great hostels, and many bars and restaurants catering to all budgets and preferences.

COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
The Curse of Palomino / Travellers Guide to the Hippiest Beach Town in Colombia

Palomino is very popular amongst the surfers due to its decent waves but unfortunately, swimming in the sea can be dangerous. But if you decide to go river tubing, you will arrive at the mouth of the Palomino River, where you will be able to swim in the river. Many hotels are equipped with a swimming pool, and if you choose a hotel well, you will also be well entertained.

Palomino is a very charming town with a strong hippie vibe. You just have to visit if you are travelling along the coast. And be warned, a Palomino curse might make you stay for longer than you originally planned.

Dibulla

Whenever you hear ‘La Guajira’ you will mostly think about Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas trip. But there is so much to this region! 

Dibulla, located only a few miles away from Palomino, is its less known sister, however equally if not more beautiful. Dibulla is a beach town of white sands and crystal waters yet still unspoilt by tourism. You will, however, find good accommodation options and quite a few good restaurants there. Unfortunately, I have not visited Dibulla myself, and I’m gutted. I have only learnt about its existence towards the end of my La Guajira trip. I will definitely not miss this destination next time I visit Colombia. If you visited – please let me know what you think in the comments!

Mayapo

Palomino marks the start of the La Guajira department of Colombia – very much underrated as a travel destination among international travellers. Yet, I am confident it will change soon because La Guajira boasts some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and beach destinations. Mayapo beach is just one of them.

Mayapo beach is a quintessence of a paradise beach. Crystal blue sea, white sand, tranquillity and the best winds for practising kitesurfing. What else do you need?

It is, however, a popular vacation destination for Colombians travelling in Guajira and Riohacha, so make sure you visit on weekdays to be able to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity truly.

On the beach of Mayapo, you will find few hostels and rustic restaurants offering chairs and hammocks to relax in, but you will also meet indigenous Wahoo people selling their crafts and traditional bags. If you decide to travel further into Cabo de la Vera and Punta Gallinas, Mayapo is the best introduction to this magnificent region of Colombia.

Complete guide to Cabo de Vela and Punta Gallinas tour / all you need to know before you go

Riohacha

Riohacha is a great starting point for your Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas trip, but I recommend giving this town a go and exploring a bit. There is a beautiful long stretch of the beach to be enjoyed and a colourful promenade where you can find all sorts of crafts, bags and jewellery often hand made by indigenous Wayoo people.

If, however, you are looking for your typical beach destination, Riohacha is not that. The waves can be a bit rough and full of crabs (interesting experience, yet it definitely prevented me from swimming, lol). The wind can be pretty strong and with the very fine sand circling, laying on the beach on a windy day is not an option.

Still, If you are looking for great beach and promenade walks and fantastic photo opportunities – give Riohaha a go! There are few excellent restaurants and a fantastic beach bar to watch the sunset from.

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast
Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast

Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela is one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia and the furthest point of La Guajira you can access independently. The adventure begins in Cabo de la Vela. From that point onward, you will only be able to travel with the guide or by joining fully or semi-organized tour. I will explain the details later in the post.

To get to Cabo de la Vela, you will first need get to Wahoo capital of Uribia by a colectivo (shared car) and then by 4x4x Jeep to Cabo de la Vela. From that point, you will have an option to take a whole tour or just get dropped off at Cabo.

This beach is incredible. I couldn’t believe I was in Colombia when I arrived there. It is just dreamy.

Cabo de la Vela is a small, simple town. The hostels provide simple accommodation where you will be sleeping in chinchorros (traditional Wahoo hammocks), and water and electricity are limited to few hours per day.

The beach stretches along the bay with the white soft sand, kite surfing schools and few restaurants dotted along its shore. Not much more than that.

The views and sea are divine. The place is peaceful. The night sky is unpolluted by city lights, so you will see the milky way and often a storm on the horizon. Are you craving Cabo de la Vela yet?

COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST
COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL BEACHES OF COLOMBIA CARIBBEAN COAST

La Guajira is a rough and impoverished region. The desert is unforgiving, and people live simple, tough lives. Don’t expect luxury. Local transport is rough, often you will have to wait for the car to be full before you can move on, and yes, sometimes, you will be looked at like a money machine. Tourism in this area is only in a developing stage. And often, Colombians are treated much better than gringos. The poverty is heartbreaking. But visiting this region is a truly remarkable experience. The nature and beauty of landscapes are unimaginable. And after spending few days there, you might as well come back a different person. If you are a traveller looking for an unforgettable experience – visit Cabo de la Vela and then continue towards Punta Gallinas. You will not regret it. 

Beaches of Punta Gallinas

So if you are an adventurous traveller, you will decide to visit Punta Gallinas, the Northernmost point of mainland Colombia and South America. And you are in for a treat.

It is not part of the country where you can just hop on the bus and arrive at your destination like Palomino or Buritaca. This region is mostly an unforgiving desert, without well-marked roads where the sand, dunes and hills meet the turquoise sea. As far as I know, you are not able to drive thru the desert individually either. You will need to hire a guide. Hence the best way to explore this region is to join an organized tour.

And I know what you are thinking. I don’t like organized tours myself. I hate feeling like a tourist, being crammed in the car with other people and have no freedom of going and doing exactly what I desire. Yet, I did take an organized tour to see Punta Gallinas. It is possible to hop on a 4×4 jeep from Uribia and visit Cabo de la Vela. From there, in theory, you could also join another tour and possibly save some money. However, the majority of the most beautiful beaches and spots can only be reached by car and organized tour. You don’t want to miss out.

I am yet to find out how to do it semi-independently and with more freedom to see and do exactly what you want. As a photographer, I was gutted when we didn’t stop in the middle of the dessert, which presented the most incredible photo opportunity. I have met a couple that ventured to Punta Gallinas on a motorbike, but they still had to hire a guide to lead them through the desert, and their motorbike broke halfway through. Do I need to tell you how difficult it is to fix a bike in the middle of the desert?

After this extensive introduction, let me tell you about the incredible beaches you can visit while touring Punta Gallinas.

  • Dorada Beach (Playa Del Pilon), located right next to Pilon de Azucar, is one of the trip’s highlights. It’s a gorgeous beach beautifully set in a bay surrounded by the vastness of a landscape. It’s very instagrammable too 🙂
  • My favourite beach must be Bahia Hondita and Portete. Along Bahia Honda, most beaches belong to Natural Reserve therefore you wont be allowed to swim there. But one is not only suitable for swimming but feels like you have been transported into fairy tale beach land. 

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast
Complete guide to Cabo de Vela and Punta Gallinas tour / all you need to know before you go
  • Taroa Beach is one of the most characteristic and photographed spots around Punta Gallinas. It is where the Taroa sand dunes dramatically drop into the Caribbean sea, and many tourists take it as an opportunity to slide or sandboard down. It is an extremely remote beach surrounded by a very surreal landscape and one not to be missed! Waves are pretty strong for swimming, but if you walk further to the right, you will be able to have a gentle splash. 

  • Make sure you visit Punta Agujas Beach and watch the sunset from there. It’s a great beach for an evening swim and to finish off an adventurous day. It might as well be a great spot to spend a whole day. I have seen a very simple Hospedaje with hammocks and external showers and one small basic restaurant. if you are adventurous enough, maybe it’s worth inquiring

Beaches of Cartagena

I personally have very mixed feelings about Cartagena and its town beaches are the worst beaches I have seen in Colombia. I am sorry if I offend anyone. Even the largest and most famous Bocagrande is crowded, full of spoilt tourists and pretty dirty. 

If you need to stay in the Bocagrande area, take a walk toward smaller Laguito which is more peaceful and a bit prettier. Otherwise I would rather recommend quieter and probably the nicest Castillogrande beach located on the opposite side of Centro Historico. Take a walk towards the naval club and you will be less harassed by the vendors and most likely have a bit more space to enjoy the beach day. 

Best areas to stay in Cartagena

On the other side of the Airport, you will find La Boquilla in the Los Manglares area, a very popular beach destination amongst Colombians. I would say that if you are visiting Cartagena for beach time and relaxation, this is where you should base yourself for your stay. 

But if you are visiting Cartagena and crave an amazing beach experience we might as well move to the next point of this guide.

Playa Blanca

A large number of visitors decide to visit Playa Blanca on a day trip from Cartagena. I, however, see it as a separate beach destination and to really enjoy its stunning surroundings, I recommend staying at least for a couple of nights. This is what I did, and I had a fantastic time.

When I arrived at my hostel on Playa Blanca, I was welcomed with the words ‘Welcome to Paradise’. And it indeed is a paradise. The water and beach are spectacular. All hostels and accommodation are located right on the beachfront. And if you decide to stay for the night, once all the day visitors are gone, you will have this paradise nearly for yourself.

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast

Heaps of restaurants and bars serve delicious food and arrays of cocktails. The sea at Playa Blanca is the most gorgeous sea I swam in, in Colombia. There are numerous day trips you can take, including swimming with bioluminescent plankton and visit to Rosario Islands. Why would you want to stay just for 4 hours?

It is relatively expensive for Colombian standards, but I guess this is the type of paradise that comes with a price. But it’s totally worth it!

Rosario Islands

It only takes around an hour of a boat ride from Cartagena to reach the Rosario Islands. If you are visiting Cartagena, you cannot miss this trip as Rosario Islands boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia. You can also take a day trip to the islands if you are staying on Playa Blanca. You can either take a day trip or book one of the incredible hostels and stay the night. Or two 🙂 You can shop around in Cartagena for a shuttle ride or check with your hostel, as many have their own transport arrangements.

Isla Baru with Playa Banca belong to Rosario Islands, yet I have treated it as a separate destination above this paragraph.

My personal recommendation is to spend a night (at least) on Playa Blanca and start your Rosario Islands hopping from there.

Rosario Islands is an archipelago consisting of 27 islands(not all inhabited, of course) and are part of a Natural Reserve Park. The most popular islands are Isla Grande, Isla Marina, Isla Fuerte and Isla Cholon. There are also many hotels built randomly on the water above the coral reefs, which create a private island of its own.

It is your typical island getaway destination, where you will be able to relax on a paradise-like, white sand beach, drink cocktails, snorkel and forget about the world. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia can be found on the Rosario Islands.

While there, you can take part in a kayaking tour around the islands, scuba dive, visit Pirate island, swim with bioluminescent plankton or simply relax and admire the spectacular sunsets in the evening. If that isn’t enough of a reason to go, I don’t know what is.

Note – I have taken many photos on all of my island trips, but I decided to use the phone instead of my camera to be on the safe side as I have a history of drowning or breaking my electronics. Long story short, now I also have a history of smashing my phone screen to the point of no repair, so three phones later, I cannot produce any photos from the island trips until I manage to retrieve the images on my return. But once I do, I will post them here at a later date. Hence no photos from Rosario or San Barnard Islands. Sorry folks.

Rincon del Mar

It is my favourite beach destination in Colombia, period. I loved it so much that I extended my stay and could easily spend another week or more.

If you are looking for a perfect, unspoiled and off the beaten path beach destination, look no further.

In Rincon del Mar, the pace is slow. You won’t find hoards of vendors on the beach, and many Colombians don’t even know about its existence. Rincon del Mar is a quintessence of what backpacking is for me. The streets (actually those are more of dirt roads) of Rincon del Mar are full of locals going about their life and the weekend street party is very much how it used to be years ago.

But don’t be fulled. There are many fantastic beach hostels and accommodation available in Rincon del Mar. And there are tones of activities. That is if you want to do something apart from lazing in the hammock and eating fish all day long.

Backpackers Guide to Rincon del Mar / What to do and how to get there
Backpackers Guide to Rincon del Mar / What to do and how to get there

There is a never-ending stretch of white sand beach and perfectly swimmable sea along with the town, the authentic vibe of unspoiled Colombian Caribbean, and extremely reasonable prices that will make you wonder if you want to cancel all remaining plans and stay for as long as you can. Trust me!

Until the last moment, I wasn’t sure if I would visit Rincon del Mar at all. It sounded like a bit of hard work to get to, and I couldn’t find too much information about it. I cannot believe I nearly missed out on the paradise on Colombia Caribbean Coast! Make sure you read my full post on Rincon del Mar if you are planning on visiting.

Bernardo Archipelago

I am listing San Bernando Islands after I mentioned Rincon del Mar as Rincon is the perfect base for this trip. 

You can take either day a day trip to explore the San Barnando archipelago, or enjoy island hopping and spend a night or two on the island of your choice. Or you can stay in a hostel on the water 🙂

San Bernando Islands are one of the most beautiful islands in Colombia and offer a spectacular beach experience. 

How is the experience of touring the San Bernando Archipelago on a day trip?

The boat will pick you up from either Rincon del Mar or Cartagena and cruise around the whole archipelago. Your first stip will be one of the most densely populated islands in the world – Santa Cruz del Islote. Once thereyou will be given the option to take a (surprisingly short) tour around the island. This artificial Isle of a soccer field size is home to a little over 1500 inhabitants and has its own school, church and system of solar panels. 

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast / Capurganá and Sapzurro

After this short visit, you will be dropped off at Isla Mucura, the smaller of the remaining two on the list. As much as I loved the beach, the tourist part of it was a bit overwhelming. Be prepared.

If you would like to try Ceviche – do it on Mucura, however. It was very fresh and delicious looking, and it was cheaper as well. I left this experience for Tintipan, and I regretted it.

The ‘sales oriented’ attitude is very prominent there. Yet we have to remember that tourism is a big part of people’s income in the area and also the country and region was closed for tourism for an extended period. Spend as much or as little as you can allow yourself to, the sole fact that you are visiting and purchasing goods, trips and use the transport is already contributing to local businesses.

Your next and final stop (if you decide to take a day trip) will be Tintipan. The Island and the beach are gorgeous! This is definitely the highlight of the whole trip. But the prices on Tintipan island are extortionate so if you want to save some coins, take a packed lunch. 

I also loved cruising around the smaller Island and among the mangroves with small islands hosting colourful hostels. I think spending a night in one of those establishments would be the thing I would do on my next visit! One of the most famous ones is Casa en el Aqua (House on Water). You should definitely check it out! It looked fantastic!

Given San Bernando Archipelago is a popular trip not only from Rincon but also from Tolú, Coveñas and even Cartagena, I found this tour to be very touristy, and I would probably rather stay the night to truly enjoy it, just like I did in Playa Blanca. 

For precisely that reason, I think taking a little island hopping expedition is much better than just a day trip. Spend one day less in Cartagena, and do that instead 🙂 The added benefit of taking an individual trip is that you will be able to spend a night at Isla Palma, which otherwise is unavailable just for a short visit. This island is private property, and the only way to visit is to book a night with one of the hotels. 

Isla Palma is one of the best islands on the San Bernando Islands Archipelago. The most popular lodging option is  Mistica Hostel which is also the most affordable. The luxurious option on the island is an all-inclusive Decameron resort. 

Capurganá and Sapzurro

Capurganá and Sapzurro are two beach towns located to the far west of Colombia Caribbean coast. So much so that you can actually take a boat trip or hike to neighbouring La Miel beach in Panama.

Both villages can only be accessed by boat. Capurgana is a bit more popular than her little sister Sapzurro yet the latter is meant to be this tad bit prettier. I am saying it is meant to be – because, unfortunately, i did not visit any of those beaches. I had it planned all along, yet some of my plans had to be changed at the last minute, and I had to abandon this trip. I’m gutted as this seems to be a truly up and coming coastal destination in Colombia.

You can get to both Capurganá and Sapzurro by taking a boat from Acandi, Turbo or Necoli.

Both towns are pretty isolated and provide paradisical beaches, lush jungle and authentic village atmosphere. You can take a hike in the jungle between the two towns, take a hike across the Panama border to the village of La Miel, spend a day on the beach, hike to El Cielo waterfall, or during Easter time, watch turtles arrive at Acando beach to lay their eggs.

As I am writing this, I am even more upset I didn’t go. Let me know if you did, and what did you think! I will update this post the moment I visit the area myself. I can’t wait!

Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast / Capurganá and Sapzurro

Why im not going to talk about San Andres

Firstly, I have actually not been! I know, imagine that! She writes about Colombian beaches but not about San Adres? She says she went all over, but she didn’t go to San Andres?

I didn’t. For few reasons. Firstly it was a bit too far, and at the time of my budget visit, a bit pricey as well. Also, San Andres doesn’t really need much advertising. Those who visit Colombia looking for a relaxing beach destination most likely will choose San Andres. And lastly, I do prefer more authentic Colombian destinations. San Andres is extremely touristy, and basically, at the time of my visit, I fancied exploring more off the beaten path beaches of Colombia. In this article written by my favourite Colombia bloggers, you will find a complete guide to San Andres island and its best beaches.

Here is it, folks. Your Complete Guide to all Beaches of Colombia Caribbean Coast. If there is any destination I have not mentioned, and I should have, please drop it in the comments below. I am always happy to hear any comments or thoughts. Also, if you find any of the info to be inaccurate please let me know as well. I want those guides to be as helpful and accurate as possible to make your travels easier and even more amazing.

I will see you around the world! Until then, happy travelling!

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Pati's Journey Within

Hi, I’m Pati. A traveller, photographer (aspiring), dreamer and hopeless believer in magic. I have caught the travel bug in my forties – and not planning to look back any time soon. I travel solo and on a budget and try to spend as much time and effort to truly immerse myself in the country I am visiting.

Whether you are like me and decided to change your life around a new dream or just wandering (because not all who wander are lost) – I am here to tell you that everything is possible. 

 

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