Tayrona National Park
El Rio is just 20 minutes from the main entrance to the Tayrona National Park (Parque Tayrona), home to some of Colombia’s best beaches and some pretty diverse wildlife. From El Rio it is very easy to do a day trip to the park, or use the hostel as a base - we have a storage room and will happily look after your bags if you would prefer to stay overnight and travel light.
There are various ways to get to Tayrona, which sits to the north east of Santa Marta. The most well known beaches are accessed from the main entrance located at the north eastern end in the town of El Zaino (confusingly also referred to as Cañaveral by the locals, the name of the first beach accessed here). This is by far the most popular entrance, with queue times to enter sometimes being long during high season (December & January plus Easter week), however visitors are rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery in Colombia. The main attraction is the beach of Cabo San Juan, which is around a 2 hour walk (following a brief stint in a shuttle bus) from the main entrance. En-route you pass by Arrecifes and La Piscina, however strong currents make Arrecifes unsafe for swimming. You can camp or rent a hammock at most beaches, however take note; few of these take reservations and the demand can be high during the busy months. If you are going to camp or rent a hammock, we recommendtaking our own food; prices are high and tales of food poisoning aren’t uncommon.
Just beyond Cabo San Juan is the much less well known Playa Nudista (nudist beach), which offers similar levels of beauty with a fraction of the crowds. It is also possible to camp here, just be sure to bring your own equipment.
An option for those that are feeling a bit more adventurous would be to head to Calabazo, located around halfway between Santa Marta and El Rio. The lesser know entrance makes way to a steep hike up through the jungle, where you can either head towards Pueblito, a small indigenous town that sits in the hills away from the coast, or down to Playa Brava, one of the least visited and most spectacular beaches in Tayrona. Playa Brava is owned by a small family that offer up delicious, basic food and a variety of accommodation, from slightly dilapidated beach huts to hammocks. It is possible to walk from Playa Brava to Pueblito then on to the main beaches of Cabo San Juan, however this isn’t for the faint hearted - distances are large with plenty of climbing and temperatures are sweltering.
It’s also possible to take a boat from popular beach town Taganga, which is a great way to see to south western corner of the national park. This end of Tayrona is peppered with beautiful bays and beaches only accessible by boat. Bahia Concha is the highlight, a massive stretch of golden sand set at the back of an expansive bay.
Tayrona is also accessed by road from just outside of Santa Marta via Neguanje, where boat trips to Playa Cristal and Bahia Concha can be organised.
Tayrona Sailing offer trips through Tayrona by yacht, stopping at some of the harder to access beaches that would otherwise be missed.
Getting there from El Rio:
From the hostel you can either make your way to the main road and take the public bus heading towards Santa Marta, or we can organise transport directly from the hostel.
Please bear in mind the national park will be closed between the 28th January 2018 - the 28th February 2018.