So picture this. You arrive at a National Park along the Caribbean coast that reportedly has the most beautiful beaches in Colombia. After you pay the hefty entrance fee and find a place to camp, you then find out that the closest swimming beach is a two hour hike in 100 degree heat. One way.
Wait what? I must have missed that in my research. Oh well…..
Most people who visit Tayrona are backpackers who arrive by bus and then hike in (or hire men to carry their stuff on horses) and then stay and rent a hammock or pitch a tent next to the good swimming beaches. If you bring a vehicle into Tayrona and want to sleep in it and explore the park, get ready for some sweltering hiking because the camping area for vehicles is four hours round trip of hiking to the best beaches. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hike. But I am not sure how much I love hiking in an oven which is what it felt like.
The hike is to the stunning palm tree fringed beaches protected in bays where there is clear turquoise water to swim in. Tayrona makes you earn your swims here, the the good news is it is worth it! The landscape of the beaches here is unique because of the huge rounded boulders that seem to be everywhere. It looked like how I pictured the Seychelle Islands. It was truly stunning and different than any other beach we had visited so far (and we have been to a lot of beaches….).
The first big beach you get to with camping (still can’t swim here…) But a nice place to stop for a cold drink. You have to hike for a while on the beach to get to the next swimming beach.
This is a great beach for snorkeling and a good swimming beach, just be careful of the rocks getting into the water.
Cabo San Juan de la Guia
Of course the best beach is the farthest away. I will say it was worth all the sweat to get there!
On one of our evening hikes back I started getting heat stroke. I had stopped sweating, my heart beat was so rapid that I started hyper ventilating and I was dizzy and suddenly very weak. It was really scary for me, but Sam took my pack, and with his calm approach to problems poured water over my head to cool me off and made me rest in the shade while my body temperature went down. We waited for dusk to finish our hike and all was well. When I finally made it back to the XP I stood in a cold shower for a long time and then put cold rags on the back of my neck to cool me down and was fine, if not a bit frazzled and weak. Just a reminder that heat exhaustion is serious and that we always need to be careful to prevent it and know what to do when it happens.
On a quick note, we spent two nights after Tayrona at Palamino beach about 40 minutes east. It was ok, but we struggled with finding anywhere to camp near the water. It is much more backpacker focused, but maybe we missed something. The beach was very long and pretty, but again, you could not swim and the water was a little murky. Not sure I would put it on my must see list, but travel is all personal preference at the end of the day.