The Best Beaches in Colombia: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
Colombia is a country known for a variety of things. For many travelers, it’s a “love it or hate it” type of place. But more and more people seem to love it these days. Why? Well, the country has everything.
Why? Well, the country has everything. Even stunning beaches. And while the best beaches in Colombia may not be as good as the Dominican Republic, there’s still a lot of fun in the sun and sand to be had.
Now, I haven’t been to every single beach in Colombia. Hell, I’ve only been to a dozen or so. Still, I met people who have been to every single beach on this list. So let’s dive in.
The Best Beaches in Colombia: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
If you’re looking to enjoy the beach life, do a little surfing, or get a tan – here are the best beaches in Colombia to do just that:
~ Cartagena ~
Let’s start with Cartagena. While I don’t believe Cartagena is home to the best beaches in Colombia, you’ll still find some great ocean vibes here. For most travelers, Bocagrande is the consummate Cartagena beach. You’ll find high-rise apartments, modern amenities, and an average looking beach
For most travelers, Bocagrande is the consummate Cartagena beach. You’ll find high-rise apartments, modern amenities, and an average looking beach great for swimming or jet skis. If you want to enjoy days on the beach in Cartagena, make sure to lodge here while in the city.
Outside the city, you have much better beach options – but they’re difficult to get to. If you’re looking to enjoy some white sand and crystal clear waters, check out Playa Blanca on Isla Baru. While Playa Blanca is a tourist trap, it’s also stunning and a solid day trip. Would recommend.
Isla Grande also offers a couple of cool hostels and a chance to get away from the city life. You’ll find stunning and less crowded beaches here – but it’s a bit harder to get to.
- Must Visit Beaches in Cartagena: Bocagrande, Playa Blanca
- Cartagena Travel Guide For Digital Nomads
- Cartagena Vs. Santa Marta: Best Colombia Beaches & City Living in the Caribbean
- 5 Problems With Beach Cities Around the World
~ Santa Marta ~
If you’re looking to combine city living and beach life, then Santa Marta does a pretty good job. The best city beach is Rodadero. Here you have access to a nice, long beach that offers calm and clean waters.
Around the corner from Rodadero, you have Santa Marta’s Playa Blanca – which features white sands and a fun zip line that runs over the beach. Recommended.
In Santa Marta center, you also have a few beaches. Playa Los Cocos near the center isn’t too bad, but Rodadero is certainly better.
Outside the city a bit, you have Taganga. Taganga is a backpacker’s paradise filled with calm waters, tourist attractions galore, cheap lodging, and lots of nightlife. The beach here is decent, but packed on weekends.
- Must Visit Beaches in Santa Marta: Rodadero, Taganga
~ Parque Tayrona ~
The quintessential MUST visit beach area for all beach lovers. If you’re in Colombia, a trip to Parque Tayrona should be a requirement. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just Go.
Parque Tayrona is located about an hour from Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. In the park, you’ll find wild nature, great hiking, and some of the best beaches in the world.
There’s little tourism infrastructure here – due to the park being protected. So you’ll want to plan for a day trip or camp. Either way, you’ll find a lot to love in Tayrona.
For most travelers, Cabo San Juan is the jump off or jump in point. You’ll start your Parque Tayrona adventures here if you come by boat.
In Cabo San Juan, you’ll find a stunning couple of beaches, a restaurant, and hundreds of other travelers from around the world. Behind the beach, there is a huge campsite with what seemed like a thousand tents.
In Parque Tayrona, you’ll have more beaches to choose from than you could imagine. It just depends on how far you want to hike through the forest to get to them. I checked out La Piscina, and I’d highly recommend it. The beach here is perfect.
- Must Visit Beaches in Parque Tayrona: Cabo San Juan, La Piscina
~ Costeno Beach ~
If you’re headed to Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona, there’s one other beach spot you MUST check out: Costeno Beach.
Near Parque Tayrona, you’ll find this stunning beach filled with one of the coolest hostels around. Here you can surf, swim, do yoga, hike all around the jungle, and take trips to Parque Tayrona.
The beach is beautiful and has big waves – absolutely ideal for travelers looking to catch a few while in Colombia.
~ San Andres ~
I never checked out San Andres, but a couple of my close friends did. Both highly recommended the place. According to many,
According to many, the beaches here feature white sand and the clearest waters in all of Colombia. For many, this is the premier snorkeling spot in the whole country.
My friends relaxed around the city beach of Spratt Bight, and claimed the waters were amazing. There are also some other travelers here and offers a substantial beach social life, too.
The best beach in all of San Andres is said to be San Luis. The beach is a bit further away from the main town, and you may have the place to yourself on a weekday.
- Must Visit Beaches in San Andres: Spratt Bight, San Luis
~ Palomino ~
If you ask any Colombian, especially on the Caribbean coast, where the best surfing in Colombia is – they’ll almost always point you to Palomino.
In fact, this may be the only place in the whole country where you can find amazing surf on a consistent basis. If you’re looking to surf in Colombia, this is the place for you.
Palomino offers more than surfing, too. Here you’ll find tons of ecotourism in Colombia – along with some fun river rafting opportunities. Just be forewarned – modern amenities will not be found here. This is off the beat path.
~ Cabo de la Vela ~
Another amazing off the beaten path beach destination in Colombia, Cab de la Vela is found in La Guajira. Nearing the northern-most point of Colombia and the border of Venezuela, Cabo de la Vela is where the desert meets the sea.
Here you’ll find landscapes like nowhere else in the world and quite possibly the best Instagram photo opportunities in all of Colombia.
If you have some time and patience, as it’s tough to get here, Cabo de la Vela is well worth the trip.
Tour operators in Santa Marta seem to be the best at setting these trips up for travelers.
~ Isla Fuerte ~
Not a popular spot at all, you’ll be off the beaten path here, too. You may be noticing a theme here. Isla Fuerte is a little to the west of Cartagena. You’ll take a bus, a taxi, and a boat to get here.
But it will be worth it. The island is home to stunning beaches, great surfing, snorkeling, and so much more. If you’re looking to unwind for a few days, this is the spot for you.
~ Bahia Solano ~
The Pacific coast of Choco is a unique region in Colombia filled with adventure and danger. The place also has some amazing beaches to check out.
If you’re in Medellin and looking to escape the city life and jump into nature, hop on a plane to Bahia Solano.
In Bahia Solano, you can swim, snorkel, whale watch, and go big game fishing. Suffice to say, you won’t get bored here.
~ Ladrilleros ~
Last, but not least – we couldn’t leave the Pacific coast of Colombia out. If you’re in Cali, Colombia then it’s easy to head out to Ladrilleros.
The small beach town is just a short boat ride from Buenaventura. Here you’ll find dark sand beaches, strong waves, and a unique culture. Ecotourism abounds in Ladrilleros.
The area is fairly undeveloped except for the whale watching. From July through October, you’ll see a tourism spike in the area – as it’s one of the best places in the world to whale watch.
When looking for a place to stay here, search around for hotels that include all your meals. There are not too many restaurants here. Or just read this great guide on the town.
Everything You Need to Know About the Best Beaches in Colombia!
If you’re interested in Colombia’s beaches, then look no further. The list above is nearly inclusive. There’s city waves, national parks, off the beaten path locales, and so much more.
Whether you want to surf, snorkel, or whale watch – Colombia’s beaches have something for everyone. If I missed anything, feel free to sound off in the comments.