Cabo San Juan Tayrona National Park
The Ultimate Guide 2019
Nestled amongst the dense tropical jungles on Colombia’s Northeast Caribbean within Tayrona National Park, lies the undeveloped oasis of Cabo San Juan beach.
Arguably the most beautiful beach in the entire country, the iconic coastline of Cabo San Juan Tayrona is the epitome of flawless.
Resulting from its popularity on Instagram, Cabo San Juan is typically the poster boy for how travelers envision every beach in Colombia to look.
While Colombia is certainly home to some jaw-dropping seascapes, Cabo San Juan is undoubtedly one to the best.
While you might have already read our Official Guide For Visiting Tayrona National Park Colombia, we focus this post on Cabo San Juan, our favorite beach in Tayrona.
Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about visiting Cabo San Juan Tayrona National Park.
Where Is Cabo San Juan Tayrona Located?
Cabo San Juan is located along the northeast shoreline of Colombia in the famous Tayrona National Park.
Tayrona National Park is a large protected area of jungle located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range which is famous for its diverse wildlife, seaside lagoons, beautiful and abundant palm trees, as well as its photogenic beaches.
Tayrona National Park Colombia is about a 30-minute drive away from the city of Santa Marta and holds one of three protected coral reefs in all of Colombia.
With this park being located so close to the city makes visiting Tayrona National Park one of the best things to do in Santa Marta Colombia.
Located about an hour hike within the National Park lies Cabo San Juan, which is considered by many to be Tayrona National Parks prize beach.
How To Get To Tayrona National Park
Option 1: Taking The Bus To Tayrona National Park
While it may not be the fastest route to Tayrona, this is certainly the cheapest way of traveling to and from the park.
The bus only costs COP 6,000, however the bus stretches that 30-minute drive time up to about 1-hour due to the stops along the way.
Typically, the journey home from Tayrona is when you experience the traffic jams which can sometimes extend that travel time up to 1 hour and 30 minutes!
To be honest, it’s not the greatest experience being on a hot and crowded bus for 1.5 hours, but it does save you a lot of money!
The bus leaves from the public bus station in Santa Marta Town on the corner of Calle 11 & Carrera 9.
The bus can get quite hot and crowded, however it is the budget option so I would definitely hop on a bus if you’re trying to save some money.
Option 2: Taking A Taxi
On the other hand, the taxi is one of the quickest options to reach to Tayrona National Park from Santa Marta.
While it is obviously more expensive than taking the Santa Marta bus, depending on your haggling skills, can sometimes cost as low as COP 60,000.
If you’re traveling with a few other people then maybe it will be worth it for you to take a taxi together and split the fare just to avoid having to sit in a hot, sticky bus all the way to Tayrona National Park.
The taxi will take you to the entrance to the park so you can pay for your ticket, and then also take you to the trailhead point where you have to start walking through the park.
Although you might have to pay a bit extra for this.
Option 3: Taking The Boat
If the hassle of traffic jams and walking an hour plus some to reach the Tayrona National Park beaches sounds like a drainer, then you could always be lazy and take a speedboat directly to Cabo San Juan Tayrona instead.
While definitely not the cheapest option, costing around COP 50,000, it is certainly the fastest way of reaching Cabo San Juan Tayrona.
The travel time from Santa Marta to the beach by boat is typically around from 45 minutes to an hour.
However, be advised although this might seem like the best option at first glance, there are some major drawbacks.
The first being that on most days in Colombia the seas are quite choppy and can feel very unsafe, making the hour-long speedboat journey quite uncomfortable.
Therefore, if you tend to get seasick, I strongly recommend against this option.
The second drawback is that by taking the speedboat directly to Cabo San Juan Beach and avoiding the 1.5-hour nature walk you are missing out on one the best parts of visiting Tayrona National Park… The Nature!
Along the hike to Cabo San Juan Tayrona, it is not uncommon to see a variety of diverse wildlife including tropical birds, monkeys, caimans, and even the elusive Jaguar amongst other creatures of the jungle.
Tayrona National Park Entrance Fee
The entrance for Tayrona National Park Entrance Fee is 66,000 COP per person.
This is the price for high season, and I believe the price drops during low season.
You must either bring your passport or a copy/photo of your passport in order to enter the park.
However, if somehow you do manage to forget to bring your passport or a copy of it, then as long as you remember your passport number, they will still allow you into the park.
I can’t stress this enough.
If you forget to bring your passport and don’t remember the number, the officials will deny you admission to the park, forcing you to return back to your accommodation just to get it.
How To Get To Cabo San Juan Tayrona?
Like most things in life, getting to where you want to be, requires a little bit of effort.
The same policy applies to Cabo San Juan Tayrona.
In order to reach this mesmeric coastal gem, visitors must be prepared to hike through the dense jungles of Tayrona National Park Colombia.
Though the phrase “hike” may be considered an overstatement, Cabo San Juan does take some time to get to.
From the entrance to Tayrona, the hike to Cabo San Juan beach takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes along a well-traveled footpath making it quite difficult for travelers to navigate.
In fact, the hike to Cabo San Juan Tayrona often times is so well-traveled that visitors may encounter a bit of traffic along the way thanks to certain bottlenecking portions of the trail.
Ranging from narrow bridges or staircases to narrow tight spaces through trees where there is only enough room for one person to pass, these sections can create quite the traffic jam, especially during the high season.
However, if the traffic ever becomes too frustrating along the way, you always have the option to momentarily dip of the trail to Cabo San Juan and check out one of the 3 beaches scattered along the way.
While none of them are as visually impressive as El Cabo, they are still exceptionally beautiful.
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Cabo San Juan Tayrona Accommodation
There are a few options when it comes to Cabo San Juan Tayrona accommodation.
You won’t find extreme luxury accommodation, but what you will find is mostly some hammocks and tenting options that allow you to wake up to the beauty that is Cabo San Juan Beach.
Additionally, by staying the night you will get a few hours to experience the beauty of Tayrona National Park before the hordes of tourist flood the shores.
Cabo San Juan Tayrona Camping – Bring your own tent (cheapest option)
The first option is to bring your own tent and set it up at one of the campsites in Tayrona.
The main pitfall of this option is the inconvenience of having to lug a massive tent around with you for the entire duration of your Colombia trip.
Cabo San Juan Tayrona Hammocks
The next option is to simply rent a Cabo San Juan Tayrona hammock for around COP 20,000 per night.
However, beware because as far as I know, you cannot exactly book yourself a hammock before you arrive.
Renting a hammock is a ‘first come, first serve’ situation, so there’s no real way to guarantee yourself a hammock until you get there.
Check-in for the hammock accommodation at Cabo San Juan Tayrona is at 1.15pm, so I would advise getting there early to line up for a hammock. In some cases, the hammocks are all taken within the first 2 hours of check-in time.
This can obviously be a little risky if you’re trekking Tayrona with your big backpack only to have to go all the way back again because there are no hammocks available.
Therefore, in order to have the best chance of securing a hammock, I highly recommend getting to Cabo San as early as you can, so you have the best chance of securing yourself a hammock for the night.
I believe if you ask someone at your accommodation in Santa Marta, they may be able to help you secure a hammock by contacting the Tayrona accommodation through Whatsapp or an email they know of (if they have their details).
EcoHabs at Canaveral (expensive option)
If ‘ballin on a budget’ is not your cup of tea, then there’s an incredible accommodation option for those who can’t stand the thought of sleeping in a stinky Tayrona National Park hammock.
This luxury option is called EcoHabs.
The rooms are quite impressive, and the view is stunning with the hotel being perched up on a cliff that overlooks the ocean.
Just keep in mind, you will be missing out on the authentic jungle experience you would be getting while staying in a hammock or a tent if you choose to stay at EcoHabs.
This is by far the most luxurious of the Tayrona National Park accommodation options.
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Important Things To Know About Cabo San Juan Tayrona
– The Tayrona National Park entrance fee is 66,000 COP during the high season (and possibly cheaper in the low season) and is open from 8:00 am until 5 pm.
– Bring your passport, a visual representation of your passport or at least memorize your passport identification number because without at least one of these you will not be allowed to enter the park.
– While Cabo San Juan beach does have some food options available, the restaurants are a bit more expensive than other traditional Colombian meals. However, there are several vendors located along the beach selling low priced sandwiches, drinks, and other snacks.
– Wear sneakers instead of flip flops if you plan on hiking through Tayrona National Park Colombia To Cabo San Juan beach.
– I know this is an obvious one but I can’t stress it enough… Bring Sun Block! The sun is very strong at Tayrona National Park and a day at Cabo San Juan Beach without it can (obviously) be very bad for you.
– Bring bug spray, especially if you are going to camp out or sleep in the hammocks at Cabo San Juan beach.
– Drones are technically banned from Tayrona National Park; however, this is definitely not strictly enforced.
There are police officers checking bags at one point in the park. While they will not confiscate your drone or deny you entry, they will tell you not to fly it.
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