7 beaches in Colombia that belong on your travel bucket list
If you’re itching to take a beach holiday, I’m here to urge you to visit Colombia. That is, if sipping fruity drinks while soaking up the sunshine, all while surrounded by sparkling blue waters lapping against white powdery sand sounds like the kind of beach holiday you’d love.
Because, in case you missed it, Colombia is home to most of the beaches Google shows you when you search for things like ‘best beaches in the Caribbean’ and ‘get me to the beach ASAP’. So, without further ado, here are all the Colombian beaches that deserve a place on your travel bucket list this year. And the year after. And the year after that.
While Cartagena is a coastal town, the beaches surrounding the Old City are more built up than the image you might have in your head when you think of a lazy holiday on the Caribbean coast. Think of Cartagena as a mini Miami, that’s way less hectic. The real magic here is the Old City itself, with its colourful buildings, local markets and street vendors.
Isla de Baru
Only a short one-hour boat ride from Cartagena, Isla de Baru is exactly what you’re picturing when you book a trip to Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Think wall-to-wall pristine turquoise waters and white sand beaches that were simply made for you to relax on. All. Day. Long. And did I mention there are bars serving up all manner of colourful cocktails and fresh seafood straight from the ocean? Because that’s exactly what you can expect here—heaven. Given its close proximity to Cartagena, you can either book a day trip to Isla de Baru or settle in for a few days depending on how much time you have.
The Rosario Islands are known for their coral reefs and glittering waters. Conveniently, they’re just a short boat ride from Cartagena too. The Rosarios are comprised of 27 small islands and are the ideal spots for catching the sun, snorkelling and generally soaking up the blissful and relaxing Caribbean vibes.
Note: not all of the islands are open to visitors, so be sure to do your research before you visit.
A beach town on Colombia’s northern coast, Palomino Beach has become quite the attraction for eager travellers in recent years… and with good reason. If you decide to head there with Contiki (which you definitely should), you’ll cruise north along the Colombian coast with Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on one side and the Caribbean ocean on the other and be floored by the amount of beauty that, frankly, your eyeballs won’t quite know how to take in all at once.
A bustling port town in Northern Colombia, Santa Marta was the first Spanish settlement in Colombia and is the gateway to the Tayrona National Park. From Santa Marta, you can do day trips into the mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta or explore the many beaches surrounding the city.
Top tip: if you decide to spend a few days here, avoid the busier beaches and seek out all the hidden coves. Playa Grande in nearby Taganga is probably the perfect middle ground.
Image source:Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga
Cabo San Juan Beach, Tayrona National Park
Ticking the travel porn boxes for jungle lovers, swimmers and anyone who just needs a beautiful strip of white sand to while away the day on, Tayrona National Park really has it all. Surrounded by the iconic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, this palm tree-lined beach is a must-visit while in Colombia, and if you do it all with Contiki, you’ll cap off the adventure in Tayrona National Park by sleeping under the stars in dreamy hammocks for the night. Sounds good, no?