Is This Paradise? Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia’s Must-See Travel Destination

by Stephanie Walsh on June 20, 2012 · 21 comments

in Colombia, South America, Travels

Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

The word ‘Paradise’ is over-used today. It is thrown around too lightly. A quick Google search gives over 95 million results for the word paradise…over-used much? Wikipedia describes paradise as a “place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless….in paradise there is only peace, prosperity and happiness…paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and idleness.

Cabo San Juan de Guía, the famous beach of Tayrona

Cabo San Juan de Guía, the famous beach of Tayrona

Exactly! I couldn’t have described Tayrona National Natural Park (Parque Tayrona), in Colombia, better myself. Maybe I am speaking too soon, and with little else to compare with, when I use the word here to describe the highlight of our Colombian trip, but to us, our time in Tayrona was nothing but paradisiacal.

Beautiful beaches of Tayrona National Natural Park

Beautiful beaches of Tayrona National Natural Park

All paths lead to somewhere beautiful in Tayrona

All paths lead to somewhere beautiful in Tayrona

This was my view every morning in Tayrona

This was my view every morning in Tayrona

Certainly most would say, camping is not a luxury…but to us, spending 7 nights in this ‘land of contentment’ couldn’t have felt like more of a luxury. Only after we had finally left did we realize how long we had spent wandering around this giant natural park, happy and peacefully cut off from the world, in a place where time melts away.

Amazing outdoor bed at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Amazing!

Giant rocks at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Does anyone else see a face?

Palm Trees silhouetted against a purple sky in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Palm Trees silhouetted against a purple sky in Tayrona

To write about each day’s activities would be too long and, probably, boing for anyone reading, as it mostly revolved around swimming, walking, exploring, relaxing, eating, climbing and appreciating our surroundings… so I shall give some highlights of our week spent in paradise.

Me in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Enjoying my new-found freedom in the perfect place

An old fishing boat abandoned in the trees in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

An old fishing boat abandoned in the trees

Beautiful (and retro) light in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Beautiful (and retro) light in Tayrona

Turning Tayrona into a National Park, in order to guarantee the protection of the region and the preserving of its unique ecological environment, was a very smart decision made by the Colombian Government. With over 150 square kilometers (58 sq. miles) of land, you can spend as much time as you like walking the pristine beaches, hiking the steep mountain ranges and exploring the sea’s coral reefs. One of the unique things about this Caribbean-bordered park is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. It’s not everyday you can see tropical beaches overlooked by snow covered peaks. The Sierra Nevada, reaches and altitude of 5,700 meters above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, making it the world’s highest coastal range.

View of Cabo San Juan beach and the mountains from the hut - Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

View of Cabo San Juan beach and the mountains from the famous hut

Walking through small jungles to find new beaches in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Walking through small jungles to find new beaches in Tayrona

Powerful waves make this beach off bounds to swimmers in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Powerful waves make this beach off bounds to swimmers

Speaking of the mountains, you can hike up to the ancient ruins of an indigenous small town called…well, Small Town (Pueblito). The hike took us over an hour and a half up a very steep, rocky mountain, accessible opposite Cabo San Juan beach. It’s clear that the gigantic stepping stones, had been put there by someone to make the climb for visitors a lot easier, otherwise you would probably need to actually climb the mountain face, rather than walk steeply uphill. I can’t imagine how they did it, especially when you cross giant rocks used as bridges, suspended high above open crevasses below. The actual ruins themselves are pretty small and underwhelming…so it’s all about the journey rather than the destination in this case…plus an indigenous kid will try to sell you water for about 10x the price of water at the bottom of the mountain.

Hiking up to the ruins of the ancient indigenous town, Pueblito in Tayrona Nationall Natural Park, Colombia

Hiking up to the ruins of the ancient indigenous town, Pueblito

Finally, we reached Pueblito in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Finally, we reached Pueblito

A small indigenous hut on top of the mountain, Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

A small indigenous hut on top of the mountain in Tayrona

Aside from that one physically strenuous day hiking, we spent the rest exploring the many gorgeous beaches, enjoying the water, reading and generally being content. I hope the pictures speak for themselves when it comes to showing how picturesque the beaches and landscape of Tayrona is.

Cabo San Juan de Guía, Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Cabo San Juan de Guía beach, Tayrona

Another sunset, another beach at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Another sunset, another beach in Tayrona

Palm trees, mountains, rocks, ocean at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Palm trees, mountains, rocks, ocean...it has it all!

I still look back at Tayrona regularly with great memories. I know it will be one of the highlights of our South American adventure, as it is definitely a highlight of Colombia. I also get surprised when I meet people who have visited Colombia, who tell me they never visited Parque Tayrona. Well this is me telling you now…VISIT TAYRONA…you won’t regret it.

Not a bad view…except for the crooked angle

Not a bad view…

This beach had crazy waves and was offbound for swimmers - Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

This beach had crazy waves and was off-bounds for swimmers

The perfect beach? Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

The perfect beach?

While Tayrona can be expensive, you don’t remember the prices in the end, you remember the small things; digging your toes into the soft, hot sand; little timid yellow crabs scurrying across the sand; the non-stop crashing of the blue waves (especially the sound as you sleep next to them at night); the tall palm trees silhouetted against the moon, the siestas in swaying hammocks, waking up to a new day and a shining sun, listening to local music sessions by the beach at night and watching the stars in the cloud-free sky…all without internet and phone, refreshingly!

The moon, silhouetted by palm trees at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

The moon, silhouetted by palm trees in Tayrona

Hammocks are available for rent if you don't want to camp at Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Hammocks are available for rent if you don't want to camp

You can rent these eco-habs if you don't like the idea of camping…although they are very expensive!

These eco-habs are also available…although a lot more expensive than the hammocks!

Me and Andres in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Me and Andres in Tayrona

For a detailed post on everything you need to know about Tayrona, such as getting there, where to camp, what to bring and what to do, check out our Ultimate Guide To Tayrona here.

Where have you found your personal paradise? Has there been a place you have fallen in love with?

 

For over 60 more photos, visit our Facebook album here. And if you enjoyed this post and the photography, please share on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon or Pinterest, thanks! 

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Izy Berry June 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

Wow, it’s insanely beautiful. I really love the sunset picture and your “camping” bed looks so romantic! I’m only a little jealous ;)

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2 Steph June 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thanks Izy, it really is an amazing place. We actually randomly found that bed on one of the beaches…wasn’t ours unfortunately but still amazing! :)

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3 Hannah June 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

Wow, that is definitely paradise! I had never heard of Tayrona before reading your blog, but will definitely be making a beeline for the beach when we make it to Colombia! Your photos are stunning as always – thanks so much for sharing paradise with us :)

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4 Steph June 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Thanks so much Hannah, and you’re very welcome! You have to go there, as I said it’s definitely the one place you have to visit in Colombia! We actually met a guy today who visited Tayrona back in 1996 and is still talking about it…he used the word paradise to describe it too without me mentioning it! :)

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5 Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Looks pretty fantastic to me. Great photos capturing how pretty the beach and water and lush trees are.

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6 Steph June 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Thanks Stephanie! A place like this makes it easy to take pretty photos :) Have you ever been to Colombia?

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7 Cole @ Four Jandals June 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

Definitely looks like paradise to me! Would love to visit Colombia. So jealous of you :)

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8 Steph June 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thanks Cole! You definitely have to visit Colombia, before the whole world finds out about it ;)

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9 TammyOnTheMove July 2, 2012 at 1:16 am

Wow, this truly looks like paradise. Note to myself: MUST VISIT COLOMBIA! Did you guys do the trek to ciudad perdida by any chance, as I’d like to do it myself in the near future.

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10 Steph July 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Thanks Tammy! :D YES you must come here, you’d love it!
Also no we didn’t do the ciudad perdida trek actually. Our main reason was that it was very expensive, and we had already done a similar but smaller trek in Tayrona to Pueblito for free. Unfortunately, because ciudad perdida is in the mountains, you have to do it with a tour company to avoid any dangers as its a 5-day trek. Make sure you go with a reputable company if you are going to do it also! :)

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11 Andrea August 8, 2012 at 7:43 am

I’ve heard so many great things about Colombia but this is the first time I’ve read about such a beautiful beach. It looks stunning!
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12 Steph August 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Andrea! It really is! I’ve yet to find something more beautiful on our travels! You should definitely visit Colombia if you get the chance, there’s so much to see and do.
Thanks for commenting! :)

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13 Waegook Tom August 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

WOW this DOES look like paradise! I’m hitting up Colombia next year and was debating about whether or not to go to Tayrona, but damn your post has convinced me! That random bed…the sand…THE SAND! It looks amazing. Can you tell I’m rather excitedly typing this comment??
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14 Steph August 11, 2012 at 2:17 am

Hahaha just a bit…loving the enthusiasm! :) Glad I convinced you! How long you going to be in Colombia for?

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15 James Fraser October 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Tayrona is indeed a lovely place, however I would recommend people read a little of the history before visiting… maybe your “paradise” isn’t as natural or inevitable as you may assume…

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03066150.2012.658777

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16 Stephanie Walsh October 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Yeah I definitely agree about reading on the history of a place before visiting James. I am currently trying to understand the history of Colombia, the good, the bad and the very ugly. Are you referring to something in particular regarding Tayrona? As I haven’t read much about that place actually. Thanks for commenting.

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17 James Fraser October 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

see the link I sent,if you can’t access the paper, i can email it..

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18 Stephanie Walsh October 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Ah perfect, it didn’t open last time but got it now. Thanks for that James. Looks like an interesting read!

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19 Britany December 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

Definitely just added this to my list of Colombian destinations. I’ll be headed there in a few weeks and can’t wait to see paradise!
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20 Stephanie Walsh December 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

Yay! Excited for you…and jealous! :) We were there in January also…I know…we were very slow to get this post up afterwards. January is high-season there so expect lots of Argentinians…for some reason! :P

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21 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 5:24 am

I agree! Tayrona is a paradise. It is hard to believe that such a place exists on earth. Great photos too.

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