My name is Frank and I run a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please write them in our comments section. Thank you and have a great trip to Colombia!
Colombia has 1,300 km of coastline on the Pacific Ocean and 1,600 km of coastline on the Atlantic and various islands (info). No wonder, there is also one or the other beautiful sandy beach. But beware, much of the information you find on the internet is probably fictitious.
I also recommend you to check out my Colombia Travel Guide to find the greatest travel destinations and more valuable information.
There are various aspects to consider when ranking the best beaches in Colombia: landscape, biodiversity, quality of the sand, cleanliness, average number of visitors, among others. Following, the best and most beautiful Colombian beaches:
- Punta Gallinas, La Guajira
- South West Beach, Providencia
- Playa Cristal, Parque Tayrona
- Rosario Islands, Cartagena
- Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira
- El Valle, Bahia Solano
- Guachalito, Nuqui
- Nuqui, Choco
- La Barra, Juanchaco, Buenaventura
- Tumaco, Nariño
This ranking, of course, is based on my opinion and experience.
In the northernmost department of Colombia, La Guajira, this beach is the absolute dream of every traveler. Not only is this almost untouched beach beautiful, but there are also no crowds. The dunes rising from the water form a natural springboard into the cool water. On my first visit we were 5 people, the second visit 14 people. This is probably because the beach is difficult to reach. As the northernmost point of the continent, you must first cross a desert or drive up the coast with a fishing boat. Tours there can be booked either in Riohacha or in Cabo de la Vela. The zone is still considered unsafe. But if you are on an organized tour, the guides are usually Wayuu and there are no problems. However, one should refrain from trying to cross the desert on one’s own, it is said that people have disappeared without a trace. Also, you should have enough food in smaller packages, as the local Wayuu are very poor and always hungry and they will welcome a donation all times.
Providencia is an absolute Caribbean dream island and I have been there several times. The sea shimmers in 7 different shades of blue and it is so cheesy that it is almost unreal. It’s amazing that an island on the latitude of Nicaragua still belongs to Colombia. The local people speak Creole, but also perfect English and Spanish. The beaches are an absolute dream and diving also seems to be a superlative.
The journey is easy, but takes just under a day. You can fly from Bogota or Cartagena to San Andres. From there you can take either a ferry (not recommended) or a direct flight, which takes about 20 minutes. On the island there is only one good hotel, the rest of the island is obviously lacking investment. However, there are many bed and breakfasts. It is best to rent a scooter. The most beautiful beach is South-West Beach. Every Saturday there is also a horse race. Also, I have already seen a wake boarder with 1 horsepower.
I do not have to write much about Tayrona Park, everyone should know it. The best beach for me is Cristal Beach. It can be reached by organized tour and boat and has a visitor limit. There are no photos here, because you need a license for commercial purposes. Drone flights are also prohibited (in all national parks in Colombia).
If you cannot make it to the Playa Cristal, you can also visit one of the other beaches in Tayrona Park. Luckily you have a good selection of good beaches. But beware, on some beaches due to the current you can not swim there as it is a big danger.
The Rosario Islands can be reached within 45 minutes from Cartagena. As the beaches of Cartagena are a disaster, this is a perfect option. Caribbean feeling, white sand, turquoise water, an absolute dream. Perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It is also a Colombian national park made up of 28 islands, most of them private. Different islands = different beaches – logical?
You can either charter a boat in Cartagena, which I recommend, or book a tour. You can get these from local suppliers or even on the street. But remember, you get what you pay for.
Cabo de la Vela is also located in La Guajira. I have been there several times and have already driven with my own car. If it rained, you have to make a detour, otherwise you get stuck in the wet sand.
It is an absolute dream destination for kite surfers with offshore wind and shallow water. The immediate beach is very long and protected by the bay. Electricity is only partial and accommodations are modest. My recommendation is to stay in a Chinchorro.
The first Pacific beach on the list. You have to fly (or go by boat from Buenaventura). It is not a Caribbean beach, so no golden sand but still beautiful! The whole area around Bahia Solano is also untouched and barely discovered by tourism. During the whale watching season, you may even see these big mammals from the beach.
Also on the Pacific, you have to drive from Nuqui first by boat about 40 minutes to this beach. This is worth the trip. Even better, take a room in one of the hotels right behind the beach. The nature of the Pacific to me is a spectacle and the beaches, simply amazing.
Nuqui also has an immense beach right on its doorstep. It takes about a day or more to walk it. Also Nuqui can only be reached by plane or boat from Buenaventura. The trip is definitely worth it and you should plan your visit right into the whale-watching season.
I have been to La Barra twice already. You have to go first to Buenaventura and from there by boat to Juanchaco. There arrived with Mototaxi to La Barra. There is not much there, except a small village at the end of the world. However, you will be rewarded with a magnificent natural Pacific beach. With the whole driftwood you can organize a fire at night. Certainly something for adventurers, the current local security situation is also unknown to me.
Tumaco has a super interesting story! It is located on the Pacific coast and in the department of Narino, just on the border with Ecuador, so to speak. For a long time the region was considered an absolutely red zone and nobody dared to go there, as murder and manslaughter were the order of the day. Of course, all this happened in connection with drug cultivation. Meanwhile, the security situation has improved, it also has more uniformed persons than civilians today. Still, the beaches are great and on weekends Colombians flock to Tumaco to enjoy the beach and party. Also for bird watching Tumaco is an absolute hot spot!
This beach cannot be found by the sea but by a large lake in the department of Boyaca, north of Bogota. The lake is not suitable for swimming, the water is too cold. Still, the view is beautiful. From there you can also take a boat trip on the lake or take a ride up on horseback on the banks.
Beaches I do not know
There are also places or beaches that I do not know, but I have heard that they are great, so check them out!
These towns are located on the border with Panama and can be reached either by plane or by bus and boat from Turbo. There are already some hostels and this is an absolute insider tip among backpackers. However, since the journey is a bit complicated, these villages are not crowded. The area belongs to the department of the Choco. The security situation is very unclear to me, so you should always be vigilant and not wander aimlessly into the woods.
San Bernardo is not far from Cartagena. However, you have to take the bus to Santiago de Tolu first. From there you will find possibilities for a crossing.
There are also funny guys who recommend the following beaches. That happens when you copy bad information on the internet …
Playa Blanca in Cartagena and Santa Marta: Once beautiful beaches are crowded these days. Waste mountains pile up, beach vendors and massage women are constantly bothering, and jet skis keep spreading noise and stink. Furthermore, the prices are overrun.
If after all this information and those nice pictures you are hungry for traveling to and around Colombia, don’t look any further and contact us. We are a travel agency based in Bogota and will create you a customized Colombian experience. We will be more than happy to advise you.
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