Hiking through Tayrona National Park is unlike anything throughout Medellin or Colombia for that matter. We saw monkeys, poisonous frogs, massive crabs, and colorful lizards. It is extremely humid in this part of Colombia, so be prepared for that.
We decided to camp inside the park which was the best decision I made all year. Getting to sleep on the beach of a jungle is unlike anything that I’ve done before. In this guide, I will show you exactly why you cannot miss out on visiting Cabo San Juan in the Tayrona National Park.
Where is Tayrona National Park?
Tayrona National Park in Colombia is home to many amazing beaches and tons of wildlife. This jungle is located next to Santa Marta and borders the Caribbean coast. There are currently 4 indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta that live in the park. Access to these tribes is not allowed. While that may be a bummer to some, there are some breathtaking beaches to see. One of those includes the famous Cabo San Juan beach in Tayrona National Park.
Tayrona National Park Map
Alternate Routes to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park
There are three entrances if you want to enter Tayrona National Park by land. The main entrance is El Zaino (far east), Calabazo right before that, and Palangana (far west). All entrances will cost the same amount of pesos to enter.
El Zaino is the entrance you will want to enter if you are wanting to visit Cabo San Juan beach in Tayrona, like us. Below I will go over some different alternatives for getting here.
NOTE: Tayrona National Park is closed every February by request from the indigenous communities within the park.
If you are short on time or simply like to have the details ironed out for you, then booking a tour would be my suggestion. There are many tours going to Tayrona and especially Cabo San Juan Beach. These tours can pick you up from many of the popular locations around the park. One of the great perks these tours have is that they also cover the park entrance fee. Below I’ll list what some of these tours come with. If you want to see the unique perks of each then click the link below!
- Tayrona Park admission fee
- Private Transportation
- Professional guide
- air-conditioned vehicle
Boat to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona
If you still would rather go on your own but want to save time, then there is another option. It is possible to take a boat from Taganga to Cabo San Juan. The cost is $80,000 COP and it will take around 60 to 90 minutes to arrive at the beach.
This would be my preferred method if I didn’t have enough time to hike to the beach. I do suggest only hiking to the beach if you either arrive exactly at 8 am or want to camp.
Cabo San Juan, Tayrona Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around an 8.1-mile loop trail. This depends slightly on if you take a bus to the trailhead.
- Duration: On average it will take people 3 hours to finish. Expect to stop more with humidity & seeing wildlife.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as easy to moderate. The humidity can make this hike difficult at times.
- Incline: There isn’t much elevation gain since you are hiking along a beach. A total of around 692 feet.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
You can find this info plus more reviews on Alltrails
Hiking to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona (El Zaino Entrance)
I highly suggest you fit time into your itinerary when visiting Colombia to hike and especially camp in Cabo San Juan. This is unlike any hike that I have done in Colombia so far. There isn’t much elevation game unlike Cerro Quitasol and Cerro Tres Cruces in Medellin.
This could be good or bad for some but the scenery is just as amazing if not better. Plus you will see so much wildlife throughout Tayrona National Park.
Arrive at El Zaino Entrance (Tayrona National Park)
If you are wanting to hike to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona then you will want to take yourself toward the El Zaino entrance. This is the last entrance and the main one.
The cheapest way is to take the bus from Mercado Publico. There will be a large sign on a building saying ‘Tayrona’. The bus will be white and light green. The cost is $8000 COP each way.
Another possible way is to take a taxi. This will cost around $80,000 COP or possibly more. This can be viable if you have enough passengers. We did take a taxi home from Tayrona National Park for $30,000 so it may be possible to haggle down if your Spanish is good enough.
Below will be other costs that you will encounter when arriving at El Zaino entrance.
- The entrance fee is $57,500 COP
- Mandatory insurance is $5000 COP per day ($10,000 total if camping)
- $5000 COP to take you to the trailhead
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Other Hikes You’d Love in Colombia:
- 9 Amazing Hikes in Medellin
- Salto Del Angel
- Cascada del Escalera
- Santa Rita Waterfall
- Valle de Cocora
- La Cueva del Esplendor
- Cerro Kennedy in Minca
The Hike to Cabo San Juan
Once you have paid all of your fees you will go past the map of Tayrona National Park and be greeted by a few busses or shuttles. These will take you to the trailhead and cost $5000 COP each way. We did not take these when we first arrived but did on the way back.
This will add an extra hour to your hike, so if you don’t have much time then I suggest you take it. This walk was actually the only time that we saw howler monkeys throughout the park!
Once you reach the trailhead it is very simple to follow. You will want to follow the signs towards Arrecifes first and then after reaching here follow the Cabo signs. If you ever have any questions there will be multiple people around to ask.
The trail is a little muddy at first but turns into a well-maintained path that has plenty of amazing views. Thirty minutes in you will be shocked at how pristine this park is.
One of my favorite sections of the trail is when it opens up and you are in a field of palm trees. I didn’t think something like this existed.
I couldn’t help but stare up at them the entire time while walking by. This is one of the many reasons you have to visit Cabo San Juan in Tayrona. You won’t regret it.
After about 2 hours you will arrive at Cabo San Juan. The field will open up and you will see many tents to your left. Go to reception on your right if you have not already reserved your sleep arrangements.
Cabo San Juan Camping
As I said previously, I highly suggest that you camp overnight on Cabo San Juan Beach in Tayrona! It is something you won’t regret. There are a few different options that I will go over below.
This is a popular option and the one that we chose. There are 2 different options for camping in a hammock on Cabo San Juan beach. You have your regular hammock camping which is under a roof. This costs $40,000 COP per night and comes with your own locker. This is what we chose.
There is another option and that is to sleep in the hammocks on the watchtower. This costs extra but it is only $50,000 COP. We wished we stayed there instead-but both are great! The watchtower hammocks do sell out, so get there early!
Personally, the tent camping didn’t look too appealing. I can only imagine how hot it gets in the morning with the humidity in this area. If you have your own tent then it could be a cheaper option.
It costs $40,000 Cop to rent a tent and $20,000 COP to place your own.
Tips When Visiting Cabo San Juan in Tayrona
Tayrona is a very popular national park in Colombia and Cabo San Juan is its most popular beach. With this comes some rules.
Below are a few tips that I would suggest knowing before you go as well as a few rules.
- Bring Bug Spray
- Plastic bags are banned (plastic bottles are ok)
- Make sure you have brought enough cash
- Try the Arroz con Pollo at dinner
- Bring a grayl filter water bottle
- Try to arrive early to enjoy as much of the beach as possible
- bring a good camera for all the animals you’ll see
Final Thoughts on Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park
It is probably pretty clear by now but you have to visit this national park. I had heard many things about it before I came and I was still blown away. It is my favorite thing I’ve done in Colombia up to this date (and probably won’t be beaten). The price for everything can seem a little much for those big-budget travelers it’s totally worth it. Hurry up and get here!
Thank you for reading my guide on Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park! I hope the photos and tips helped to plan your itinerary when visiting this amazing region of Colombia.