Beautiful Colombian Beaches Guide from the Local Expert

Beach at Providencia Colombia

Last updated on July 7th, 2023 at 04:02 am

Dear Reader

My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

Colombia’s best beaches

Colombia boasts 807 miles (1,300 km) of the Pacific Ocean coastline, 995 miles (1,600 km) of the Atlantic Ocean coastline, and several islands, making it a beach lover’s paradise. However, it’s important to note that not all information online is accurate. For reliable travel information and the best destinations in Colombia, check out our comprehensive Colombia Travel Guide.

When it comes to ranking the best beaches in Colombia, factors such as landscape, biodiversity, sand quality, cleanliness, and average number of visitors are all taken into account. Here are my top picks for the most beautiful beaches in Colombia, based on personal experience and opinion.

Punta Gallinas

Punta Gallinas in La Guajira, Colombia is an untouched and beautiful beach with no crowds. The dunes rising from the water form a natural springboard into the cool water. However, the beach is difficult to reach, as it is located in the northernmost department of Colombia and you must first cross a desert or drive up the coast with a fishing boat. Tours can be booked in Riohacha or Cabo de la Vela. It’s important to note that the zone is still considered unsafe, so it’s recommended to go on an organized tour with Wayuu guides.

It is not recommended to try to cross the desert on your own, as people have disappeared without a trace. Additionally, it’s recommended to bring enough food in smaller packages, as the local Wayuu population is very poor and hungry. Donations are always welcome.

Punta Gallinas Colombia

Providencia, South West Beach

Providencia is a stunning Caribbean island that I have had the pleasure of visiting several times. The sea boasts seven different shades of blue that look almost too perfect to be real. Despite being on the same latitude as Nicaragua, Providencia belongs to Colombia. The locals speak Creole, as well as English and Spanish, fluently. The island’s beaches are breathtaking, and diving is a superlative experience.

Getting to Providencia is relatively easy, but it does take nearly a day. You can fly from either Bogota or Cartagena to San Andres, and from there you can take a direct flight which takes about 20 minutes (recommended), or a ferry (not recommended). There is only one good hotel on the island, but there are several bed and breakfast options. Renting a scooter is the best way to get around. The most beautiful beach on the island is South-West Beach, and there’s even a horse race every Saturday. I’ve also seen a wakeboarder being towed by just one horsepower.

Parque Tayrona, Playa Cristal

There is not much that needs to be said about Tayrona Park, as it is well-known. For me, the best beach is Cristal Beach, which can be reached by organized tour and boat, but has a visitor limit. There are no photos here because a license is required for commercial purposes, and drone flights are prohibited in all national parks in Colombia.

If you are unable to visit Playa Cristal, you can still visit one of the other beaches in Tayrona Park. Fortunately, there are several good beaches to choose from. However, be aware that on some beaches, currents make swimming dangerous.

Islas del Rosario

The Rosario Islands are located just 45 minutes from Cartagena and offer a perfect alternative to the disastrous beaches of Cartagena. With a Caribbean feel, white sand, and turquoise waters, it’s an absolute dream and perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The islands are also part of a Colombian national park consisting of 28 islands, most of which are private. Naturally, different islands have different beaches.

To get there, you can either charter a boat in Cartagena (which is recommended) or book a tour from local suppliers or even on the street. However, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela is also located in La Guajira. I have been there several times and have already driven in my car. If it has rained, you will have to make a detour; otherwise, you may 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.

El Valle, Bahía Solano

This is the first Pacific beach on the list. You can fly or take a boat from Buenaventura. While it may not have golden sand like a Caribbean beach, it is still beautiful. The area around Bahia Solano is largely untouched and undiscovered by tourism. During whale watching season, you may even see these magnificent creatures from the beach.

Drone photo of Beach at El Valle in Nuquí Colombia

Guachalito, Nuqui

Also on the Pacific coast, to get to this beach you first have to drive from Nuqui and then take a boat for about 40 minutes. But it’s worth the trip. To make the most of your stay, consider booking a room in one of the hotels located right behind the beach. The natural beauty of the Pacific is a true spectacle, and the beaches are simply amazing


Nuqui has an immense beach right on its doorstep, which takes about a day or more to walk. Additionally, Nuqui can only be reached by plane or boat from Buenaventura. However, the trip is worth it, especially if you plan your visit during whale-watching season

Beach at Nuquí Colombia

La Barra / Juanchaco / Buenaventura

I have been to La Barra twice already. To get there, you first need to go to Buenaventura and then take a boat to Juanchaco. From there, you can get to La Barra by mototaxi. La Barra is a small village at the end of the world with not much else around, but the reward is a magnificent natural Pacific beach. You can even organize a fire at night with all the driftwood around. This is a destination for adventurers; however, I am not aware of the current local security situation


Tumaco, located on the Pacific coast and in the department of Narino, has a fascinating history. For a long time, the region was considered a red zone due to drug cultivation, with murder and manslaughter being common occurrences. However, the security situation has improved over time and today there are more uniformed personnel than civilians. Despite its past, Tumaco’s beaches are still great and Colombians flock there on weekends to enjoy the beach and party. Tumaco is also an absolute hotspot for bird watching.

Tumaco Beach Boat

Bonus material

Playa Blanca at Lake Tota

Playa Blanca is a beach located not by the sea, but on the shore of a large lake in the department of Boyaca, north of Bogota. Although the lake is not suitable for swimming due to its cold water, it offers a beautiful view. Visitors can enjoy a boat trip on the lake or a horseback ride along the banks.

Beaches I do not know

There are also places or beaches that I am not familiar with, but I have heard that they are great, so be sure to check them out!

Capurgana and Sapzurro

These towns are located on the border with Panama and can be reached by plane or by bus and boat from Turbo. There are already some hostels, and they are 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 Choco. The security situation is unclear, so you should always be vigilant and not wander into the woods.

Las Islas de San Bernardo

San Bernardo is located near Cartagena, but to get there, you first need to take a bus to Santiago de Tolu. From there, you will find options for crossing.

Miserable beaches

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

Beautiful beaches that were once serene and peaceful are now overcrowded. Mountains of waste pile up, vendors and masseuses constantly pester visitors, and the noise and stink of jet skis fill the air. To make matters worse, prices have skyrocketed

San Andres

San Andres was once a paradise like Providencia. However, it has become a hub for mass tourism. The population has risen to 70,000, the only sandy beach is overcrowded, the reefs are destroyed because tourists trample on them, and the crime rate has increased. All-inclusive binge tourism is everywhere.


Palomino is not a bad beach, but it is not a typical one either. The sea is too wild, making it less of a classic beach experience. Additionally, due to the booming tourism, pollution can be high at times.


The approximately 20 meters of sandy beach that are present are a joke. The rest of the beach is pebbly and serves as a harbor for boats. Anyone who recommends this beach either has never been there or is foolish or perhaps both.

All beaches in Cartagena

All beaches in Cartagena have brown sand. However, they are often dirty and crowded with beach vendors and massage women who can be quite annoying. As a result, they are not ideal for a relaxing beach vacation.

The “Boquilla” beach is an exception, as it is huge and great for a walk. However, it is important to be cautious of potential theft in the area. Additionally, be wary of jellyfish in the water, as I had a close encounter with them during my last visit

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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