Colombia: The top beaches

The WorldTravelerThe top beaches of Colombia are only known in Europe to insiders. However, with 3,200 km of coast (1,700 km on the Caribbean), it is difficult to make a choice among the many first-class beaches.

Playa Blanca, Cartagena

Playa Blanca with its picture book backdrop of snow white sand, turquoise blue sea and lots of palm trees is certainly one of the most popular beaches in Colombia. Only 20 kilometres from Cartagena, on the island of Barú, it is also a popular destination for day visitors arriving by boat. With the tourists, tens of flying merchants leave the boats, and suddenly all kinds of goods and services are offered on the beach, including massages. As soon as the boats leave again, it gets quieter in Playa Blanca.

In order to escape this hectic pace and get the maximum out of one’s stay, one should plan several days at this dream beach. Staying overnight is no problem, as you can stay in simple accommodations or rent hammocks at the campsite. And what is more beautiful than waking up to the chirping of birds and the sound of the waves instead of the rattle of the alarm clock?

If you’ve had enough of lazing on the beach, you can explore the area with your own or rented snorkeling equipment: Near the beach there is a coral reef with lots of colourful fish. In the evening, there is fresh fish on the plate, which is usually served with rice in the restaurants.

Rodadero, Santa Marta

More lively than Playa Blanca is Rodadero, where high-rise residential buildings, hotels, restaurants, discos and bars line the wide beach. This popular seaside resort has a lively nightlife as well as a beautiful beach. Hundreds of Colombian families spend their weekends and holidays here, which drives up prices on these dates.

But the additional expenses are worth it: the beaches are full but clean, the water clear and refreshing. Bathing is possible without any danger; almost any kind of water sports can be practised. In order not to get burnt in the blazing sun, several people rent a sunscreen „made in Rodadero“ together: fabric panels on a pole frame.

Those who like it a little quieter should go to the Playas Salguero and Inca, which are located near Rodadero. As these beaches are not yet so developed, they are not noticed by many tourists. In other words: In the low season, with a bit of luck, you can have the whole Caribbean beach to yourself.

In the late afternoon, during the walk on the promenade it is said: „see and be seen“. Everywhere hot salsa rhythms can be heard that put the tourists in the right mood for the long nights. And then there is a real party. Either with the whole family and a rented band on the beach, where people sing, dance, eat and drink. Or in the bars, discos and night clubs of Rodadero.

La Piscina, Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta

The tropical jungle area, where the Tayrona Indians lived until the 16th century, is one of the most popular parks in Colombia. It lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. It is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in South America, among other attractions.

Deeply hidden in bays, they are the number one reason for many tourists to visit them. Shady coconut palms ensure that the sunburn of the guests is kept within limits. However, on most beaches you cannot swim because of the dangerous currents. Some beaches are protected by coral reefs, which makes snorkeling and scuba diving possible.

One beach where swimming is allowed is „La Piscina“. In this natural swimming pool with crystal-clear warm water snorkeling is great fun. Colourful fish shoot back and forth between the corals, an underwater path leads through coral forests and sea grass. „La Piscina“ is about 20 minutes walk from Arrecifes. Nearly all paths lead alongside the coast; from time to time one has to climb over bigger stones, but then one can also cool down a little in the shade of a palm tree. By walking from the main entrance Cañaveral the whole distance to the beach, one needs approximately 2,5 hours.

During the day, the local people sell snacks, sweets and fruits at the beach, but there are no overnight accommodations in the proximity. Those who want to stay longer in the area will find in Cabo San Juan a restaurant, a camping site and enough hammocks to bed their head.