When thinking of Colombia many years ago, it’s beaches probably weren’t the first thing that sprang to mind, but with cartels, FARC and narco-trafficking violence being a thing of the past, the country, and especially Colombia’s Caribbean coast is now known for its beautiful beaches, relaxed atmosphere and extremely kind and friendly locals.
Colombia’s Caribbean coast is one of the country’s best-kept secrets. It’s home to some of South America’s best beaches and some of the best paradise islands you’ve seen. However, if you’re anything like me and can’t sit still on a beach for too long you’ve also got pristine jungle getaway destinations like Minca, bucket list adventures like Trekking to the Lost City or simply taking in easy and tubing down the gentle Rio Buritaca.
Not only that, the north coast is so long that you can simply lose yourself, get away from the crowds and discover the vibrant culture and kind people.
Having travelled the North Coast of Colombia twice now exploring Colombia’s beaches, I can safely say it’s a destination like no other. If you’re looking for ideas for your next beach getaway keep scrolling and start brushing up on your Spanish- it’s time to get those wanderlust juices flowing.
BEST COLOMBIA BEACHES:
Isla Grande is the biggest of the Rosario Islands, a short speed boat ride from Cartagena. On this serene, paradisaic island you’ll find no motor traffic at all, and some of the most pristine beaches in Colombia. Simply fill your days with beach hopping, coconut drinking and sun-bathing.
Due to its proximity, Playa Blanca can be reached as a day trip from Cartagena de Indias. It’s a gorgeous beach of powdery white sand, turquoise waters and palm-fringed shores. The perfect place to relax on for the day, take a quiet beach jog or catch up on your favourite reading. Just note that Playa Blanca gets extremely busy with Colombian vacationers at the weekend and during December and January. Avoid at those times.
TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
The Natural Reserve of Tayrona National Park as it’s known in English is a haven for beachgoers and hiking enthusiasts alike. Tayrona has so many beautiful beaches to choose from such as the super-popular Cabo San Juan, the deserted Playa Brava and wild and untouched Playa Castilletes. Tayrona National Park is the perfect place to discover so many of Colombia best beaches in one place. I recommend a two-day beach hopping itinerary staying the night in the park. For more details check out my Full Tayrona National Park itinerary here and the Essential Guide for Visiting here.
This beach is easily one of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast’s best-kept secrets as I’m pretty sure only locals and foreign residents know about this beach. It’s a uniquely wild beach, with palm and shrub fringed yellow sand, crazy, crashing waves and next to no one on it. It’s a great place to catch the sunrise or sunset.
Palomino is a wonderful town with a chilled-backpacker vibe that can’t be missed. It’s the perfect place to base yourself for a couple of days, feasting on some great food and getting to know the friendly locals. The beach is also a beautiful one, however its worth mentioning that in recent years it’s retreating quite rapidly due to rising tides in the area.
For turquoise blue water and white sand on an island that’s continuously rated one of the best beach breaks in Colombia, it’s safe to say Isla Baru has some truly excellent beaches. Catch a boat from Cartagena and spent some time here swimming in the calm waters, sipping on coconuts and people watching.
SAN ANDRES ISLAND
While not quite located on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, San Andres is the closest Caribbean experience you’ll get in Colombia. It’s an island in the Caribbean Sea located closer to Nicaragua than mainland Colombia, San Andres has the most turquoise water and whitest sand you’ll see. The best thing to do is to rent a scooter and drive around the island beach hopping, stopping where you please.
For the Ultimate Travel Guide to San Andres Island click here.
Other Caribbean Coast destinations:
As I mentioned earlier, the Caribbean Coast is more than just Colombia’s beaches. There are many other noteworthy destinations to consider when planning a trip to the area.
For those looking for a change of scenery for a couple of nights, Minca might just be the jungle paradise you’re looking for. Located just above Santa Marta- not much of a beach detour, it’s a small town surrounded by exquisitely refreshing waterfalls, jungle hikes, amazing birdwatching, yoga and cool swimming holes.
Easily the prettiest city in Colombia, the old town of Cartagena looks like something pulled straight out of a Garcia Marquez novel. With many pristine beaches so close to this city, it’s definitely worth spending at least a night here to explore the gorgeously colonial old town and do some boutique shopping.
Have you got a favourite beach in Colombia? Let me know and comment below.
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