If you only visit one place on Colombia's northern coast, make sure it's Tayrona National Park. You'll pack a lot of activity into this short itinerary—arrive in the colonial city of Santa Marta before spending two days hiking to some of Tayrona's most secluded beaches and the Pueblito Ruins.

Highlights

  • Enjoy Cabo de San Juan, the "postcard" beach of Tayrona National Park
  • Hike through the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the shoreline
  • Visit Pueblito Chairama, site of ancient indigenous ruins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santa Marta - Transfer to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona Tayrona Park
Day 2 Tour of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona Tayrona Park
Day 3 Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona - Pueblito Ruins Tayrona Park
Day 4 Depart Santa Marta  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santa Marta - Transfer to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

Sunset in Santa Marta
Sunset in Santa Marta

Welcome to Santa Marta, site of the first Spanish settlement in Colombia! After arriving at the airport in Santa Marta, you'll transfer to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (an hour outside of the city). Here the Sierra Nevada Mountains roll right on down to the shore before disappearing into the Caribbean Sea. It's just this singular landscape that makes Tayrona home to some of South America's loveliest coastline.

You'll have rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy your hotel, located on a peaceful spot overlooking the Caribbean Sea at the foot of the mountains. Wander down to the nearby beach, which has a beautiful sunset view, before heading back to the property for dinner served on-site.

Day 2: Tour of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

More coastline, Tayrona
More coastline, Tayrona

After breakfast, you'll begin a half-day tour of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona. This protected area is known for having some of the most virgin coastal landscapes in the entire country. Indeed, when you see promotional images of Caribbean Colombia, often you're seeing images of Cabo de San Juan, which is located in Tayrona. You'll experience much of this coastline with a local guide while visiting the white-sand beaches and rainforests further inside Tayrona.

First, it's a hike in the tropical foothills near Playa Cañaveral, at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Then visit the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and La Piscina, the latter of which is an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to Cabo San Juan and enjoy the bay of white sand surrounded by large volcanic rocks. On the way here, you can observe several species of flora and fauna pointed out by your knowledgeable guide. The afternoon is yours to enjoy on your own. Have a bit of lunch and relax on the shore.

You'll return to your hotel in the late afternoon with time to enjoy the sunset and dinner served on-site.

Day 3: Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona - Pueblito Ruins

Ruins at Pueblito
Ruins at Pueblito

Leave your accommodation bright and early for a full day of hiking through the jungles of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona National Natural Park). The park consists of a 150-square-kilometer (58-square-mile) protected area covering the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta foothills where they meet the Caribbean coast. Today, your destination is the archaeological ruins of Pueblito Chairama.

Get ready for a challenging hike to this archaeological site reached by forest trails. These Pre-Columbian ruins were home to the ancient Tairona people who once inhabited the area. Continue on to the beach of Cabo de San Juan for a well-deserved dip in the sea before enjoying lunch. Afterward, walk back to meet your driver at the park entrance and return to your hotel where dinner will be served.

Day 4: Depart Santa Marta

City street, Santa Marta
City street, Santa Marta

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia! Enjoy your last morning in Santa Marta with a leisurely breakfast and walk along the sea. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your connecting flight home.