Let’s discover one of the best beaches in Colombia which will make you want to visit right away. Colombia is surrounded by the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans with access to the Caribbean sea. After spending some time in the coffee region, hiking Cocora Valley and getting to know one of the most colorful city Guatape, we were really looking forward to exploring the Caribbean coast of Colombia. We spent 1 month traveling in Colombia and we choose the 12 absolute best beaches in Colombia you shouldn’t miss.
THE BEST BEACHES IN COLOMBIA
Colombia shares its maritime limits with Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. That already sounds great, right?
There are, of course, more beaches in Colombia apart of the ones we mention, yet we selected only the best ones for you. So, if you have only a certain time in Colombia and want to feel the Caribbean vibe then these are the ones to explore.
If you are traveling to Colombia and want to find out what to expect, make sure to read our guide to 22 essential things to know before you travel to Colombia.
Ready to discover the best beaches in Colombia?
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SAN ANDRES ISLAND
We picked San Andres first as it is the gateway to some of the best beaches in Colombia. Surrounded by amazing Caribbean water San Andres is one of the most beautiful islands we have seen. San Andres is located closer to Nicaragua than to Colombia and even though San Andres is a small island you can do many interesting things.
Are you planning to visit the best of Colombia? We made a full guide on HOW TO SPEND 2 AWESOME WEEKS IN COLOMBIA, so check it out.
SAN ANDRES’ BEACHES
Once you are in San Andres you need to explore the island and we absolutely recommend to start at the city beach. This is hands down the best “city” beach we have ever seen.
The best way to explore the island is to rent a scooter this way you can explore the island on your own and one of our favorite beaches is San Luis Beach.
ISLAND HOPPING AROUND SAN ANDRES
ACUARIO ISLAND AND ITS BEACHES
But if you want to see even more of the best beaches in Colombia, then you need to go to the islands surrounding San Andres and enjoy for instance this one called Acuario.
In order to get to Acuario, you need to take a boat from the pier in San Andres. Just speak to one of the guides in the booths and they will put you on the correct boat. It takes 30 minutes to get to Acuario Island which is a perfect place to snorkel and to see rays.
Once you get to Acuario cross to Haynes Cay and find a small Jamaican bar to get some drinks and enjoy the beautiful view on azure waters.
You should also visit Johnny Cay which is another island reachable from San Andres that certainly belongs to the best beaches in Colombia. It is just 40 mins by boat but also one of the more touristy places.
HOW TO GET TO SAN ANDRES ISLAND
There is only one way to reach San Andres and it is by plane. We flew from Cartagena, but please avoid flying with Wingo airlines, they overcharged us at the gate for the tourist tax one has to pay to get to San Andres. In other words, they stole money from us.
EXTRA TIP ON SAN ANDRES
Compared to mainland Colombia San Andres is a pricey place and we wrote an article about all our tips on how to travel San Andres on a budget.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON SAN ANDRES: SAN ANDRES ON BUDGET, HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND STILL HAVE FUN
ISLA DE PROVIDENCIA
Isla de Providencia is part of the San Andres archipelago and located 90 km north of San Andres. This beautiful remote island is less touristy than San Andres. As a result, it has a relaxed atmosphere and great spots for snorkeling and diving.
We suggest a minimum of 10 days for San Andres and Providencia to truly enjoy these paradise islands. However, if you want to go to San Andres only, we recommend a minimum of 5 days.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA DE PROVIDENCIA
You can fly from San Andres or take a boat to get there. The flights are bit pricey and boats (also pricey) go only on certain days, so make sure to first check before you book your trip.
TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
Tayrona National Park is located on the Caribbean Coast in the north of Colombia just 34 km from the city Santa Marta.
It is a beautiful park created in 1964 and home to several beautiful beaches. Tayrona Park covers a nature reserve of more than 12.000 acres. Head to Tayrona in the morning and enjoy your time on one of the best beaches in Colombia called Cabo San Juan.
Hiking in Tayrona National Park is truly an amazing experience and hiking trails connect several stretches of sand in the park. You need to climb some stairs and rocks, but mostly you are walking on a flat path through the jungle. It can get really hot, so make sure to bring enough water.
The entrance to Tayrona costs foreigners COP54.000. We recommend you to take a shuttle bus from the El Zaino entrance, where you will get your entrance ticket. The shuttle bus will take you to the start of the hiking trail at Cañaveral. It takes 10 minutes and costs only COP3.000.
From there, walk all the way to Cabo San Juan Beach. On the way to Cabo San Juan, you can stop at several other beaches such as Arrecifes and La Piscina.
CABO SAN JUAN
Cabo San Juan is the most popular beach because of the chance of enjoying a stay with a 360-degree view of the jungle and the Caribbean. Once you get there, there is only one little shop with limited recourses of drinks and food.
OUR TIP: When you are leaving park on the same day, make sure to start at the latest at 4 p.m. from Cabo San Juan, as the park closes at 5 pm.
You can also sleep in the park and there are simple services available. Moreover, you can sleep in hammocks or bring your own tent to camp. If you have a bigger budget, you can stay at more comfortable eco-lodges, just make sure to book ahead.
HOW TO GET TO TAYRONA PARK
You can get to Tayrona by bus from Santa Marta and it takes around 2 hours. We stayed in a very beautiful place called Hostal Monte Verde which is only 10 minutes by car to the park entrance. Thus, it allowed us to start our day in Tayrona very early.
SEE MORE: Find out HOW YOU CAN SPEND ONE DAY IN TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
Guajira Peninsula is located in the northwest of Colombia in the Caribbean region and belongs to one of the lesser-explored regions of Colombia.
If you have enough time to explore Colombia, make sure to go there. We can guarantee that you won’t see many tourists here. Guajira is a very poor region, surrounded by desert. Moreover, the conditions in Guajira are quite harsh, it’s very hot, windy and dusty and to our surprise, it is a place with some of the best beaches in Colombia. Why? The beaches are very special and with few people around.
Our guide drove us to a spot where we climbed to the top of a mountain so we could have this beautiful view on the coast.
After we went to take a swim at a beautiful beach with orange sand. I have never seen anything like this. The sand was really bright and glowing around us.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN HOW TO SAVE MONEY WHILE TRAVELING?
You can also go for a day trip to Punta Gallinas, which is at the northernmost tip of the country on the coast of the Caribbean sea. From the base where you will stay it takes around 3 hours through the desert.
Guajira is a region famous for the traditional bags that the indigenous Wayuu people crochet. SHOP OUR WAYUU BAGS HERE!
HOW TO GET TO GUAJIRA
In Santa Marta, you can find tour operators which organize 2-3 days tours to Guajira.
We stayed in Hotel Santa Sophia del Mar which was one of the best hotels we stayed in Colombia. The family which runs this place is incredibly kind and helped us to organize this trip. If you like to visit Guajira you can only take a tour. There are a couple of reasons why: 1. Sadly, many drug smugglers are crossing this region from Venezuela to other parts of Colombia. 2. People don’t speak Spanish but their own language. Our guide was from Guajira and therefore spoke the language. On the way, you will stop at a couple of places such as Salt flats, and the capital of Guajira called Riohacha.
If you are traveling to Colombia, you need to visit Cartagena. Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities we have seen. We loved Cartagena so much that we wrote an entire guide on the best photo spots in Cartagena, so check it out. Once you explored all the beautiful streets of Cartagena you can go for day trips to Rosario Islands.
The Rosario Archipelago consists of 27 small coral islands. The area has been protected and belongs to Parque Nacional Corales del Rosario y de San Bernando.
Check our suggestions for tours you could take from Cartagena to reach some beautiful beaches:
Playa Blanca belongs to one of the best beaches in Colombia and it is located on an island called Baru, only 20 km away from Cartagena. It takes around 45 minutes by boat to get there. Every boat tour will stop here. If you can’t be bothered to look for a tour yourself check out this tour which includes a pick-up at your accommodation and lunch.
As the name says this beach has white sugary sand and crystal turquoise waters. It is a busy beach as it is easily accessed from Cartagena and many locals and tourists come here. It is still a nice place with a great vibe where you can relax, tan, drink some coconuts and listen to authentic Colombian music. You can find nice places for lunch such as La Estrella which has hammocks and serves fresh fish.
HOW TO GET TO THE ROSARIO ISLANDS
There are daily tours to the Rosario Islands starting around 8 a.m. from Muelle Turistico or Mercado Bazurto and you will visit a couple of islands. The boat tour finishes around 4 or 6, depending on the tour you take. You can come to get your ticket at the cruise office or talk to the staff in your hotel, maybe they can offer better prices.
SAN BERNARDO ISLANDS
These 10 small islands in the San Bernando archipelago are true off the beaten island gems. They are located just 80 km from Cartagena and you will find one of the best beaches in Colombia for sure with perfect white sand and warm turquoise waters. The most famous San Bernardo islands are Santa Cruz, Mucura and Tintipan and we can guarantee that you won’t see many tourists there. As it is still a sort of secret destination you should definitely go if you want to truly relax and have some peace.
OUR TIP: Make sure to bring enough cash as there are no ATMs and also be aware that Wifi is very limited.
HOW TO GET TO THE SAN BERNARDO ISLANDS
This paradise archipelago can be reached by boat from Cartagena and it takes around 2 hours. However, this is not a day trip and we recommend to stay on some of the islands for at least 1 night. Go to the Mercado Bazurto and get more information at the cruise office in Cartagena.
If you would like to visit the San Bernardo islands, you can find more detailed information HERE.
We hope you enjoyed the article on the best beaches in Colombia and we can above all guarantee that you will enjoy the vibe. These are very beautiful places and we are sure you will love them as much as we did.
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