Caribbean Coast of Colombia: Cartagena and Tayrona National Park

If colour, heat and beaches is what you’re after then the Caribbean Coast of Colombia won’t disappoint!

Cartagena Colourful Houses

Cartagena Colourful Houses

Flying into Cartagena, the first thing that hits you as you get off the plane is the sheer heat and humidity. It’s hot. Real hot.

Cartagena hostels can largely big party hostels and very few have pools to cool down in. I started off at one spot for 3 days (party hostel, not quite my cuppa tea), then headed to Santa Marta to the amazing ‘Masaya Inn’ hostel with not one, but two swimming pools, then when I returned to Cartagena (earlier than I wanted due to needing a second opinion at the hospital for my stupid insurance company about my sea urchin spike in my foot) I opted for a smaller, quieter hostel called ‘One Day’.

Plaza with colourful buildings in Cartagena

Plaza with colourful buildings in Cartagena

Cartagena itself was a surprise. It is a massive city on the coast with lots of high-rise buildings, but the old town is where all the tourism is at. The historical centre is surrounded by an old city wall with a clock tower at one entrance.

Clock Tower, Cartagena

Clock Tower, Cartagena

The colonial buildings have largely been well-kept and restored. They are very colourful and have lots of flowers decorating them.

Colourful buildings in Cartagena

Colourful buildings in Cartagena

Colourful buildings in Cartagena

Around town there are various statues and sculptures, churches, markets and cute cafes.

Plaza with Botero Sculpture, Cartagena

Plaza with Botero Sculpture, Cartagena

Me with some Sculptures in Cartagena

Me in the 'Old Boots' Sculpture, Cartagena

Me in the ‘Old Boots’ Sculpture, Cartagena

Playa Blanca

Yet, once you’ve walked around the town once, twice, three times, there isn’t much else to do besides sweat in the heat. One day I opted to take a speedboat to Playa Blanca, a nice white sand beach with warm waters. Yet, it still wasn’t quite up to my standard of beaches. Police patrolled the beach and people constantly hassled you to try buy things. Various shacks are set up all along the beach, so it’s definitely not ‘untouched.’

Police/Army on Playa Blanca Beach

Police/Army on Playa Blanca Beach

Tayrona National Park

From nearby Santa Marta you can visit Tayrona National Park and its beaches. Again, the beaches aren’t quite as good as I’d hoped, but the walk through the forest is beautiful.

Walking through Tayrona National Park

Walking through Tayrona National Park

It’s a good 2 hours each way, plus a bus and shuttle, so it’s a very good idea to come prepared to stay overnight and make the most of the time at the beach. Sadly I was too concerned about my belongings back at the hostel so I just did a day trip and only had about an hour at the actual beach!

One of the beaches at Tayrona National Park

One of the beaches at Tayrona National Park

The Caribbean Coast was a nice change to the rest of South America, but boy was it hot! I’m definitely not used to temperatures that rise above 35 degrees Celsius.

This was my last stop in Colombia and South America before taking a boat through the San Blas Islands to Panama and Central America… more on that trip later!

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