Looking for the best beaches in Colombia? Keep reading for a summary of the best beaches in Colombia on the Caribbean Coast.
When thinking of Colombia many years ago, its 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 on the best beaches in Colombia.
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WHERE TO STAY FOR THE BEST BEACHES ON THE CARIBBEAN COAST
The Caribbean Coast is a really long strip of coastline running all the way from the border with Panama to the border with Venezuela but not all spots along it are picturesque or accessible. Here are the best places to base yourself to get the most out of the best beaches in Colombia.
Cabo de La Vela – The most northern point in South America, Cabo de la Velo is isolated, desert-like and a real treat for anyone who manages to get all the way out there. The beaches here are huge stretches of sand which you can pretty much have all to yourself.
Palomino– One of the most popular spots on the Caribbean Coast, the beaches in Palomino are lovely even though they’ve seen quite a bit of erosion in the last few years. They are still considered some of the best beaches in Colombia.
Buritaca – An underrated little spot right between Palomino and Tayrona with some of the best secret beaches nearby. You can spend days just accessing them and you’ll find nobody else around. If you’re thinking about the perfect spot to stay here make sure to consider The Fort Colombia– one of the best hostels in the area.
Tayrona National Park – The location of this National Park is unbeatable and it really does have some of the best beaches in the area, but you’ll need to pay the park fee to access them and trek quite a bit to get to them. Either way, Tayrona makes one of the best places to explore on the Colombian coast. Check out Tayrona National Park, Colombia: Your Essential Guide for more.
Taganga– A cute little fishing village just down the coast from Santa Marta that’s known for its beaches and parties.
Santa Marta – The biggest city in the area, Santa Marta has some pretty decent beaches if you can’t make it out to any of the others.
Cartagena – One of the best city beaches in Colombia Cartagena is a gem when it comes to beaches. Make sure to get out of the city and visit the Rosario Islands which might just have the best beaches in all Colombia.
BEST BEACHES IN COLOMBIA
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.
There are plenty of hostels, resorts and Airbnbs to book on the island with a relaxed vibe. Spend at least 2 days here to fully be able to explore and relax on the most pristine beaches in Colombia.
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 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 so it’s best to avoid it at those times. Also, try to get there as early as possible during the day to get the place to yourself.
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 with palm trees and turquoise water to choose from such as the super-popular Cabo San Juan, the deserted Playa Brava and the wild and untouched Playa Castilletes.
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is the perfect place to discover so many of Colombia’s 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 and the Essential Guide for Visiting Tayrona National Park.
Note that at many of the beaches in Tayrona you can’t swim in the sea due to the strong currents. For swimming the best beaches to visit are Cabo San Juan and Piscinita.
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.
Around Buritaca there are also other completely deserted beaches to explore that are untouched and beautiful as well as river mouths where you can swim and bathe in for hours.
To get the most out of staying in Buritaca make sure to stay at The Fort Hostel which also organises excursions in the area.
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, it’s worth mentioning that in recent years it’s retreated quite rapidly due to rising tides in the area and beach erosion. For this reason, visiting at low tide is best.
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 in Colombia. The best thing to do is to rent a scooter and drive around the island beach hopping and stopping where you please. It’s a great spot to spend a couple of days in the sun.
Read more: Magical Things To Do in San Andres, Colombia
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 that don’t necessarily have direct access to beaches.
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.
Minca is a popular weekend getaway spot for Santa Marta locals looking to escape the city heat. While the town is nice enough, the best thing to do in Minca is to book yourself a jungle resort or hotel and spend your days exploring waterfalls, hiking and connecting with nature.
Read more: Minca Colombia: The Definitive Travel Guide
Easily the prettiest city in Colombia, the old town of Cartagena looks like something pulled straight out of a Garcia Marquez novel. It is rife with life and you spend your days walking its picturesque streets, enjoying the colonial architecture and sipping cocktails on its white-sand beaches and soaking up all of the things to do in Cartagena Colombia.
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 before heading to Isla Baru or the Rosario Islands for a few days.
If you’ve only got the time for one of the best beaches in Colombia, I’d personally spend them in Cartagena and in the Rosario Islands.
Check out these top tours to consider in the area:
Are you ready to explore the best beaches in Colombia? Let me know your questions and comments below.
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