Not many people know that Colombia has some of the best beaches in South America. Colombia is surrounded by the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans with access to the Caribbean sea. It shares its maritime limits with Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. That already sounds great, right? When we read about it, we knew, that we will find many beautiful Caribbean beaches. Colombia has also couple of islands which are absolutely worth to visit. They are of course more beaches in Colombia apart of the ones we mention, but we choose 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.
THE BEST BEACHES IN COLOMBIA
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 Nicaragua than to Colombia. And even though San Andres is a small island you can do many interesting things.
Once you are on San Andres you need to explore the island first. We absolutely recommend the city beach. I have never seen such a beautiful city beach. You can also rent a scooter and explore the island on your own. We absolutely loved San Luis Beach.
ISLAND HOPPING AROUND SAN ANDRES
But if you want to see the best beaches in Colombia then you need to go to the islands around San Andres. One of our favorite islands is Acuario. To get there, just go to the pier in San Andres and speak to one of the guides in the booths, they will put you on the correct boat. It takes 30 minutes to get to Acuario Island. Once you get to Acuario cross to the Haynes Cay and find a small Jamaican bar to get some drinks and enjoy the beautiful view on turquoise waters. This is a perfect place for snorkeling and to see manta rays.
We also recommend you to go Johnny Cay. It is a another island reachable from San Andres, just 40 mins by boat but also one of the most touristy islands, yet we found it very beautiful. If you decide to go to San Andres, you can read our detailed guide on best beaches and things to do in San Andres. READ: THE BEST BEACHES AND THINGS TO DO IN SAN ANDRES.
HOW TO GET TO SAN ANDRES ISLAND
The only way how to reach San Andres is to fly. We flew from Cartagena, but please avoid flying with Wingo airlines, they overcharged us at the gate for the tourist tax and you can read about what exactly happened here.
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 save money and still have fun in San Andres. READ: SAN ANDRES ON BUDGET, HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND STILL HAVE FUN.
ISLA DE PROVIDENCIA
Isla de Providencia is a part of the San Andres archipelago and located 90 km north of San Andres. This beautiful remote island is less touristy than San Andres. It has a relaxed atmosphere and great spots for snorkeling and diving. 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 first to check this page before you book your trip. We suggest a minimum of 10 days for San Andres and Providencia to truly enjoy these paradise islands. If you want to go to San Andres only, we would recommend a minimum of 5 days.
TYRONA NATIONAL PARK
Tyrona 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. Tyrona park covers a nature reserve of more than 12.000 acres. We headed to Tyrona in the morning with the goal to get to one of the best beaches in Colombia which is called Cabo San Juan. The hike is so awesome. 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.
Hiking trails connect several stretches of sand in the park. The entrance to Tyrona costs foreigners 54.000 COP. 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 3.000 COP. From there, walk all the way to Cabo San Juan Beach.On the way to Cabo San Juan you will 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 store with limited recourses of drinks and food. When you walk back to leave the park the same day make sure that you start at the latest at 4 p.m., as the park closes at 5 p.m.. We almost didn’t make it. But if you want to sleep in the park, there are simple services available and 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 you book ahead.
HOW TO GET TO TYRONA PARK
You can get to Tyrona by bus from Santa Marta. It takes around 2 hours by bus. We stayed in very beautiful place called Hostal Monte Verde very close to the park entrance, only 10 minutes by car. This allowed us to start our day in Tyrona very early.
Guajira Peninsula is located in the northwest of Colombia in the Caribbean region. And I have to say that it belongs to one of the lesser explored regions of Colombia. So 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. The conditions in Guajira are quite harsh, it’s very hot, windy and dusty. 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.
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. We didn’t go as we didn’t have enough time, but we heard from other travellers only good things about this beach.
Guajira is a region famous for the traditional bags the indigenous Wayuu people crochet. SHOP OUR WAYUU BAGS HERE.
HOW TO GET TO GUJIRA
From Santa Marta there are couple of 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 ever. The family which runs this place is incredibly nice and helped us to organize this trip. We cannot recommend you to go there on your own but rather with a tour. Sadly, many drug smuggles are crossing this region from Venezuela to other parts in Colombia. Also people don’t speak Spanish but their own language. Our guide was from Guajira and spoke the language. On the way you will stop at couple of places like: Salt flats, and capital of Guajira called Riohacha.
If you are traveling in Colombia, you need to visit Cartagena. Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities we have seen, we spent 1 week there. 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 beautiful beaches:
Playa Blanca belongs to one of the best beaches in Colombia and it is located on the island Baru, 20 km away from Cartagena. It takes around 45 minutes by boat to get there. Every boat tour will stop here. As the name says this beach has white sugary sand and crystalline-turquoise waters. It is a busy beach as it is quite accessible from Cartagena, many locals and tourists come here. Just don’t be surprised that you are surrounded by a lot of people. It is still a nice place with a great vibe where you can relax, get 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 ROSARIO ISLANDS
There daily tours starting around 8 a.m. from Muelle Turistico or Mercado Bazurto? and you will visit 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 you 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 getaways. They are located just 80 km from Cartagena. There 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. I can guarantee that you won’t see many tourists there. It is still quiet a secret destination and you should definitely go if you want to truly relax and have some peace. Just make sure to bring enough cash as there are not ATMs and wifi is very limited.
HOW TO GET TO SAN BERNARDO ISLANDS
This paradise archipelago can be reached by boat from Cartagena and it takes around 2 hours to get there. This is not really a day trip and we recommend to stay on some of the islands for at least 1 night. Go to Mercado Bazurto and get your information at the cruise office in Cartagena.
If you would like to visit San Bernardo islands, you can find more detailed information about them HERE.
Hope you enjoyed the article on best beaches in Colombia and we guarantee that you will their vibes. These are very beautiful places and i am sure you will love them as much as we did.
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