The Most Beautiful Beaches in Colombia

Palm trees and blue Caribbean water on the beach of San Juan del Guia in Tayrona National Park in Colombia
Palm trees and blue Caribbean water on the beach of San Juan del Guia in Tayrona National Park in Colombia | ©  DC_Colombia / Getty Images
Nabila Khouri

Colombia’s troubled past was once enough to keep it off most travelers’ radars – but not anymore. As well as culturally rich cities, the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest, Colombia’s Caribbean and Pacific coastlines have plenty to offer. Here, Culture Trip selects the best beaches to visit in Colombia.

With Culture Trip, you can visit the beautiful beaches of the Rosario Islands, Tayrona National Park and Palomino as part of our exclusive small-group Colombian Caribbean adventure, led by our local insider.

Capurganá and Sapzurro

Close to the border with Panama, this stretch of coastline is a nature lover’s dream. There are no motor vehicles in Capurganá, allowing visitors to feel totally disconnected from the strains and stresses of daily life. You’ll be completely immersed and inspired by the tranquility of this small coastal community. The water is clear and the coral reefs that protect the beach are teeming with marine life – perfect for snorkelers and divers. It has a reasonable selection of accommodation options for its size, too. You can get to Capurganá by boat from either Acandi, Turbo or Necocli. Sapzurro is an even smaller but no less charming settlement, reachable in 10 minutes by boat from Capurganá.

Playa Blanca at Isla de Barú

Sitting southwest of Cartagena, Playa Blanca is on a former peninsula separated from the mainland by Canal del Dique – but still connected by a bridge and therefore easily accessible. The alluring white sand beach and clear water draw plenty of visitors. It can get busy during the day, so the earlier you get there, the more chance you have of finding a quiet spot. You can buy a cocada from one of the local vendors; these sweet coconut treats are the perfect refreshment on a hot day. Along the beach there are several places to rent lounge chairs and beach tents.

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

The Tayrona National Park is one of the most captivating places in Colombia. Brimming with biodiversity, the thick jungle is home to howler monkeys, deer, caimans, iguanas and even a small population of jaguars. On the park’s outer fringes, pristine beaches are lined with palm trees and dotted with giant boulders, while islets covered in thick vegetation are set against the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. Some beaches, such as Arrecifes and Castilletes, aren’t suitable for swimming due to the strong currents, so if you want to take a dip in the Caribbean Sea, you’re best heading to Playa Cristal, La Piscina, Cabo San Juan (known for its mirrored, crescent-shaped beaches).

Playas de Providencia

The San Andrés archipelago consists of three major islands: San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Though these tiny islands are actually much closer to Nicaragua than they are to mainland Colombia, they are a hugely popular vacation spot for Colombians. In Providencia in particular, the diving and snorkeling conditions are superb, while the golden sand beaches (such as Playa Manzanillo) and friendly locals only add to its appeal. It’s not the easiest place to get to – you’ll have to fly to San Andrés and then take another flight or ferry to reach Providencia – but it’s well worth the effort once you’re there.

Playas de Palomino

If you’re looking to venture a little further afield while staying on the mainland, Palomino is an ideal destination. The town and its pristine beaches rest quietly on Colombia’s Caribbean coast with the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in the background. Although it has become increasingly popular with travelers in recent years, with a handful of cool hostels, bars and restaurants in the town, it has managed to retain a laid-back atmosphere and is still typically much quieter than more renowned beaches elsewhere in Colombia. You can visit with Culture Trip as part of our specially curated eight-day Colombian Caribbean tour, which also includes a river tubing trip on the nearby Rio Don Diego and a hike through the Tayrona National Park.

Nuquí

The village of Nuquí is a tropical hideaway on the Pacific coast in the Chocó region of Colombia. Its remote location means it’s well off the usual tourist trail, so you’ll find delightfully unspoiled beaches here, plus some of Colombia’s best surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling and whale watching opportunities. There’s a strong emphasis on ecotourism in Nuquí, with several ecolodges providing comfortable accommodation surrounded by wild, peaceful nature. Getting there by land isn’t an option; it’s surrounded by dense rainforest, and there are no roads linking it to the rest of the country. Your best bet is to fly directly there from Medellín.

La Boquilla

At the northern tip of a narrow strip of land just north of Cartagena, the quiet fishing village of La Boquilla features a beach that is renowned for wind and kite surfing due to the consistently strong wind conditions. The southern part, Morros, is significantly more built up with several modern high-rise apartment blocks and hotels, while the original village, to the north, is where you’ll find a cluster of traditional beachfront restaurants serving fresh, locally caught fish. You won’t come across as many travelers here, but if want to experience a different side to Cartagena away from the city center, it’s an easy half-day excursion. The nearby mangrove forests are also worth visiting on a guided canoe tour – which you can do as part of Culture Trip’s Colombian Caribbean coast adventure.

Playa Bocagrande

There are certainly more idyllic beaches in Colombia, but for convenience and nearby amenities, few can compete with Playa Bocagrande. Just south of Cartagena’s Walled City and the trendy Getsemaní neighborhood, on a skyscraper and hotel-lined peninsula, there are shades of Miami about Bocagrande. It tends to get fairly busy – particularly in high season and at weekends – but if you’re prepared to put up with the crowds, the long, wide strips of sand at Bocagrande are a prime spot to soak up the Caribbean sun within easy walking distance from the city center. You won’t be short of restaurants and bars to choose from, either.

Taroa Dunes

In the northeast corner of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, close to the border with Venezuela, the department of La Guajira is characterized by wild, arid desert landscapes and indigenous Wayuu villages. Relatively few travelers venture to this part of the country, and although the tourist infrastructure is comparatively limited, you’ll be able to find vast swathes of virtually deserted coastline. The Taroa Dunes are a majestic sight, as giant dunes spill out into a beach that rolls into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s not straightforward to get there, though; you’re best joining an organized tour.

Rosario Islands

The Rosario Islands are an archipelago comprising 27 islands within a national park off the coast of Cartagena – easily reachable by boat. Here, you’ll find dreamy Caribbean beaches without the crowds, and calm, clear waters teeming with coral reefs and shoals of colorful fish. Swim, snorkel or simply relax on the pristine white sands of this tropical haven; whether for a couple of nights or just a day trip, the beaches on the Rosario Islands are some of Colombia’s finest.

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