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Colombiafrank’s True Beach Guide – Colombia’s Most Stunning Beaches

Kitesurf at Beach in La Guajira Colombia

Updated on 04/30/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Firstly, a word of caution: when searching for the best beaches in Colombia online, be wary that many websites do not offer first-hand insights. Instead, what you often find is misleading or incorrect information, despite such content frequently ranking in the Top 5 on Google searches. The primary motive behind these websites is generating clicks and monetizing through ads. So, remember to take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt.

Colombia’s Best Beaches

Discover Colombia’s Pristine Beaches: A Guide for Global Travelers

Colombia, a hidden gem in South America, is a haven for beach enthusiasts with its extensive coastline stretching over 807 miles (1,300 km) along the Pacific Ocean and 995 miles (1,600 km) bordering the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, Colombia’s enchanting islands add to its allure, offering diverse landscapes and marine biodiversity.

Updated Data and Insights for Travelers

Climate:

The best months to visit Colombia for beach weather are January, February, March, and December. These months offer the most sunshine and optimal sunbathing and swimming conditions with the least chance of rain​​.

The sunniest month is February, with an average of 7.4 hours of sunshine per day. The driest month is February, with very little rainfall, making it an excellent time for beach visits​​.

Water Temperature Variations:

  • Caribbean Coast: The water temperature off the Caribbean coast ranges from +20 °C to +26 °C (68 °F to 79 °F) throughout the year. The average monthly water temperatures are generally warm, with the highest in August and September, reaching up to 29.4 °C (84.9 °F)​​.
  • Pacific Coast: Pacific waters are slightly cooler, with an average temperature ranging from +18 °C to +25 °C (64 °F to 77 °F)​​. The Pacific Ocean maintains more constant temperatures, averaging 25/26 °C (77/79 °F) for most of the year, peaking at 27 °C (81 °F) in October​.
  • San Andres and Providencia Islands: The sea temperature in San Andres and Providencia Islands is warm year-round, with an average temperature over the last 10 years being 29 °C (84 °F). The temperature tends to stay around 29° C (84° F), providing excellent conditions for swimming​​.

Providencia, South West Beach

Location: Providencia is a stunning Caribbean island that shares its latitude with Nicaragua but falls under the jurisdiction of Colombia.

Climate: The island experiences a typical Caribbean climate, characterized by warm temperatures and varying shades of blue in its waters.

Providencia offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and recreational activities. Known for its diverse linguistic culture, the locals speak Creole, English, and Spanish fluently. The island’s beaches, especially the South-West Beach, are known for their breathtaking scenery. Diving here is a superlative experience, thanks to the clear waters and abundant marine life.

Pros:

  • Stunning Caribbean beauty with beaches featuring multiple shades of blue.
  • Rich linguistic and cultural environment.
  • Superlative diving experiences.
  • South-West Beach, known for its exceptional beauty.

Cons:

  • Traveling to the island can be time-consuming, requiring a flight to San Andres followed by another flight or ferry to Providencia.
  • Limited high-end accommodations are available, with mainly bed and breakfasts as options.

Considerations:

  • To reach Providencia, take a flight from either Bogota or Cartagena to San Andres, then a 20-minute flight or ferry ride to Providencia.
  • Renting a scooter is recommended to explore the island.
  • Enjoy unique local experiences like horse racing on Saturdays and wakeboarding towed by a horse.
  • While accommodations are limited, there is one notable hotel and several quality bed and breakfasts.

Taroa Dunes, Punta Gallinas

Location: Located in La Guajira, Colombia, at the country’s northernmost point. This area is known for its pristine beaches and unique dunes.

Climate: The region experiences a dry and warm climate, typical for desert environments.

Punta Gallinas, with its stunning Taroa Dunes, offers a rare combination of natural beauty and adventure. The dunes provide a dramatic backdrop to the cool Caribbean waters, creating a serene and picturesque landscape. This destination is perfect for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst nature, offering breathtaking views and a chance to connect with the indigenous Wayuu culture.

Pros:

  • Pristine and tranquil beach environment, ideal for those seeking solitude and peace.
  • Spectacular natural scenery, including unique dune formations.

Cons:

  • Getting there is tough—either traverse the desert or take a boat along the coast.
  • For safety, stick to organized tours.

Considerations:

  • Do not venture into the desert on your own due to potential safety hazards.
  • Bring small packaged food for personal use and consider donating to the local Wayuu community.
Punta Gallinas Colombia

Cabo de la Vela

Location: Cabo de la Vela is a headland in the Guajira Peninsula with an adjacent small fishing village. It’s a part of the Caribbean Region of Colombia, surrounded by the La Guajira Desert, saline lagoons, mudflats, and home to large populations of American Flamingos​​.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical desert climate, characterized by high temperatures and low rainfall.

Cabo de la Vela offers an intriguing mix of desert and sea, making it a unique destination for ecotourism. The village, with its basic infrastructure and cultural richness, provides a genuine experience of the local Wayuu culture. The area is also notable for kitesurfing, thanks to the sheltered bay and offshore winds that create ideal conditions for the sport.

Pros:

  • Pristine ecotourism destination with a unique desert-sea landscape.
  • Ideal for adventure activities like kitesurfing​.
  • Opportunity to experience and engage with the local Wayuu culture.

Cons:

  • The village has basic infrastructure, with limited dining options and accommodations primarily offering hammocks​.
  • Limited utilities, with electricity available only for a few hours each day and scarce running water​.
  • Environmental issues such as poverty and plastic waste are prominent​.

Considerations:

  • Accessible by a 4×4 vehicle from Riohacha, involving a 2-hour drive through the desert​​.
  • Accommodation options include hostels with choices like hammocks, dorms, or private rooms.
  • Dining mainly revolves around seafood, with fresh fish and langostas available at beach restaurants​​.
  • Expect minimal connectivity with no reliable WiFi but basic mobile phone coverage​​.
  • Nightlife options are limited, with a few places to buy beers.
  • Organized tours from Santa Marta or Riohacha include Cabo de la Vela but are generally more expensive than traveling independently​.

Parque Tayrona, Playa Cristal

Location: Playa Cristal is located in the renowned Tayrona Park, a well-known national park in Colombia famous for its natural beauty and diverse beaches.

Climate: The park features a tropical climate with warm temperatures and high humidity, typical of the Colombian Caribbean region.

Parque Tayrona’s Playa Cristal is often considered the best beach in the park, known for its clear waters and serene environment. Access to Playa Cristal is regulated with a visitor limit, ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty.

Pros:

  • Renowned for its natural beauty and clear waters.
  • It’s less crowded due to visitor limit regulations.
  • Part of Tayrona Park, which is known for its ecological diversity and stunning landscapes.

Cons:

  • Access requires an organized tour and boat trip.
  • Strict regulations in place, including no commercial photography without a license and a ban on drone flights in all national parks in Colombia.

Considerations:

  • If unable to visit Playa Cristal, Tayrona Park offers several other beaches, each with unique characteristics.
  • Visitors should be cautious of the currents at some beaches within the park, as they can make swimming dangerous.

Beaches on Rosario Islands

Location: The Rosario Islands are a group of Caribbean islands located about 45 minutes from Cartagena, Colombia. These islands are part of a national park consisting of 28 islands, many of which are privately owned.

Climate: Typical of the Caribbean, the islands experience warm, tropical weather year-round, making them ideal for beach activities.

The Rosario Islands provide a stark contrast to the beaches of Cartagena, offering a serene and picturesque Caribbean experience. Known for their white sands and turquoise waters, these islands are a haven for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxation. The diverse range of beaches across the different islands caters to various preferences, from secluded spots to more bustling areas.

Pros:

  • A quick getaway from Cartagena, offering a more tranquil beach experience.
  • Ideal for swimming and snorkeling in clear, turquoise waters.
  • Enjoy the variety of beaches across the different islands, each with its own unique charm.

Cons:

  • Access to the islands requires either chartering a boat or booking a tour, which can vary in quality and price.

Considerations:

  • Chartering a private boat from Cartagena is recommended for a more personalized experience.
  • Tours are available from local suppliers and on the streets of Cartagena, but the quality of these tours can vary significantly.
  • It’s important to remember that “you get what you pay for,” so investing in a quality tour or charter may enhance the experience.

Rincon del Mar

Location: Rincon del Mar is a small, lesser-known town situated along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It’s a hidden gem known for its beautiful, uncrowded beach, making it a perfect escape for relaxation​.

Climate: The area experiences a tropical climate typical of the Caribbean, with warm temperatures and clear waters.

Rincon del Mar stands out for its laid-back atmosphere and pristine beach, which remains relatively less traveled compared to other destinations along Colombia’s coast. The town offers a serene beach experience, ideal for those looking to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean in a more intimate setting.

Pros:

  • Less crowded and more serene than other popular Colombian Caribbean destinations.
  • Beautiful beach with clear waters, a peaceful ambiance.
  • Access to the San Bernardo Islands, known for some of Colombia’s prettiest beaches​​.

Cons:

  • Slightly off the beaten path, requiring a bit of travel to reach.

Considerations:

  • To get to Rincon del Mar, first travel to the town of San Onofre. From there, take moto taxis to Rincon. The journey from Cartagena to San Onofre can be made by bus and takes about 2-3 hours​.
  • Moto taxis from San Onofre to Rincon cost approximately 10,000 pesos, with the ride being a bit bumpy but only about half an hour long​​.

Beaches on Archipelago de San Bernardo

Location: The Archipelago de San Bernardo is a group of nine coastal coral islands in the Gulf of Morrosquillo, in the Colombian Caribbean. These islands are renowned for their stunning natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine life.

Climate: The archipelago enjoys a tropical climate, characterized by warm temperatures year-round and occasional tropical showers.

The Archipelago de San Bernardo offers an escape into a world of tropical bliss and marine wonders. The islands are a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, with their vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life. The serene beaches provide a perfect setting for relaxation and contemplation. For those interested in culture, the archipelago is also home to the Cispatá Bay Mangrove Park, showcasing unique ecosystems and local fishing communities.

Pros:

  • Exquisite natural beauty with clear waters and vibrant coral reefs.
  • Tranquil and relatively unspoiled beaches, offering a serene getaway.
  • Rich in marine biodiversity, ideal for snorkeling and diving.

Cons:

  • Limited accessibility, as the islands are only reachable by boat.
  • Limited infrastructure and amenities compared to more developed beach destinations.

Considerations:

  • Plan your trip carefully, considering the limited transportation options to and from the islands.
  • Be mindful of environmental conservation efforts to preserve the archipelago’s natural beauty and biodiversity.
  • Respectful interaction and support for local businesses are encouraged, as the local communities are integral to the islands.

Playa Mecana, Bahia Solano

Location: Playa Mecana is located in the municipality of Bahía Solano, Chocó, Colombia. It is situated on the Pacific coast, surrounded by the dense rainforest of the Utría National Natural Park.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Rainfall is abundant, particularly during the rainy season from May to October.

Nestled amidst the lush rainforests of Colombia’s Choco region, Playa Mecana is a secluded paradise waiting to be discovered. This pristine beach, accessible only by boat, offers an escape into the heart of nature’s embrace. Playa Mecana stands out for its tranquility and natural beauty. The beach is fringed by towering palm trees, and its golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see. The waters are calm and inviting, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or simply lounging on the shore.

Pros:

  • Secluded and tranquil atmosphere, free from crowds and noise.
  • Pristine natural beauty, surrounded by lush rainforest.
  • Ideal for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
  • Opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.

Cons:

  • Remote location, requiring transportation by boat.
  • Limited accommodation options.
  • Limited infrastructure and amenities.

Considerations:

  • To reach Playa Mecana, travelers can fly to Bahía Solano and then arrange boat transportation to the beach.
  • Accommodation options include eco-lodges and cabins, offering a rustic and immersive experience.
  • The beach is best visited during the dry season (November to April) when the weather is more favorable.

Beach El Valle, Bahia Solano

Location: Playa El Valle is situated in the municipality of Bahía Solano, Chocó, Colombia. It lies along the Pacific coastline, enveloped by the verdant expanse of the Utría National Natural Park.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures and abundant rainfall throughout the year. The rainy season extends from May to October, while the dry season offers more favorable weather conditions from November to April.

Playa El Valle stands out for its tranquil ambiance and untouched natural allure. The beach is fringed by towering palm trees, their fronds gently swaying in the breeze. Its black volcanic sand, a testament to the region’s geological history, stretches along the coastline, creating a striking contrast against the turquoise waters. The calm, inviting waves beckon visitors to indulge in rejuvenating swims, explore the underwater world through snorkeling or diving, or simply bask in the sun’s warm embrace.

Pros:

  • Experience peace and calm at Playa El Valle, away from the busy life.

  • Nature lovers will find a glimpse of Colombia’s untouched Pacific coast beauty at Playa El Valle.

  • Discover the underwater world through snorkeling, diving, or kayak to find hidden gems.

Cons:

  • The road driving from Bahia Solano is a disaster, it takes around 1 hour.

  •  Accommodation options are primarily limited to eco-lodges and rustic cabins, offering an immersive and authentic experience amidst nature’s embrace.

  • The beach’s remote location translates to a more rustic setting, with limited infrastructure and amenities.

Considerations:

  • To reach Playa El Valle, travelers can fly to Bahía Solano.

  • Accommodation options include eco-lodges and cabins, offering a rustic and immersive experience.

  • The beach is best visited during the dry season (November to April) when the weather is more favorable and rainfall is less frequent.

Drone photo of Beach at El Valle in Nuquí Colombia

Guachalito Beach, Nuqui

Location: Guachalito is nestled amidst the lush rainforests of the Nuquí municipality in Chocó, Colombia. It lies along the Pacific coastline, surrounded by the dense greenery of the Ensenada de Utría National Natural Park.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Rainfall is abundant, particularly during the rainy season from May to October.

Guachalito stands out for its tranquil atmosphere and untouched natural allure. The beach is fringed by towering palm trees, their fronds gently swaying in the breeze. Its golden sand, a testament to the region’s geological history, stretches along the coastline, creating a harmonious blend with the verdant rainforest that embraces it. The gentle waves invite visitors to enjoy refreshing swims, explore the underwater world through snorkeling or diving, or simply soak up the sun’s warmth.

Pros:

  • Ideal serene and tranquil ambiance.

  • There are options for avid adventurers and for those simply seeking a tranquil escape.

  •  Activities include snorkeling, diving, or kayaking expeditions to discover hidden coves and secluded beaches.

Cons:

  • Guachalito’s secluded location requires a combination of car and boat transportation to reach.

  • Accommodation options are primarily limited to eco-lodges and rustic cabins.

  • The beach’s remote location translates to a more rustic setting, with limited infrastructure and amenities.

Considerations:

  • To reach Guachalito, travelers can first drive from Nuquí and then arrange boat transportation to the beach, which takes approximately 40 minutes.

  • Accommodation options include eco-lodges and cabins, offering a rustic and immersive experience.

  • The beach is best visited during the dry season (November to April) when the weather is more favorable and there is less rainfall.

Beach at Nuquí Colombia

Beach La Barra near Juanchaco

Location: La Barra is situated in the municipality of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. It lies along the Pacific coastline, embraced by the lush expanse of the Ensenada de Utría National Natural Park.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Rainfall is abundant, particularly during the rainy season from May to October.

La Barra stands out for its tranquil atmosphere and untouched natural allure. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see, its golden sand contrasting against the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. The village itself remains untouched by the hustle and bustle of modern life, offering a haven for those seeking serenity and a connection with nature.

Pros:

  • Super tranquil beach.

  • Organize a bonfire at night with all the driftwood around, creating a memorable experience under the starlit sky.

  • Engage with the local community, learn about their customs and traditions, and savor the flavors of authentic Colombian cuisine.

Cons:

  • La Barra’s secluded location requires a combination of land and sea transportation to reach.

  • The village’s remote location translates to a more rustic setting, with limited infrastructure and amenities.

Considerations:

  • To reach La Barra, you can first fly to Buenaventura and then take a boat to Juanchaco. From there, arrange a moto taxi ride to La Barra.

  • Accommodation options are primarily limited to basic guesthouses and homestays. 

  • The beach is best visited during the dry season (November to April) when the weather is more favorable and rainfall is less frequent.

  • Before embarking on your journey, research and stay updated on the current local security situation. Exercise caution, respect local customs, and be mindful of your surroundings.

Tumaco Beach

Location: Tumaco is situated in the municipality of Tumaco, Nariño, Colombia. It lies along the Pacific coastline, embraced by the lush expanse of the Ensenada de Utría National Natural Park.

Climate: The region experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Rainfall is abundant, particularly during the rainy season from May to October.

Tumaco stands out for its scenic beaches, vibrant culture, and emerging appeal as a birdwatching paradise. The city’s beaches, stretching along the Pacific coastline, offer a haven for relaxation and water sports enthusiasts. Its cultural heritage, deeply rooted in indigenous traditions and infused with Spanish and African influences, manifests in lively festivals, traditional music, and mouthwatering cuisine.

For birdwatchers, Tumaco’s rainforests provide a sanctuary for over 500 bird species, creating an unparalleled opportunity to observe and appreciate the avian diversity of the region.

Pros:

  • Tumaco’s transformation from a troubled past to a welcoming destination presents an opportunity to experience its authentic charm and witness its ongoing revitalization.

  • The city’s pristine beaches and lush rainforests offer a tranquil escape into nature’s embrace, providing opportunities for relaxation, exploration, and wildlife encounters.

  • Tumaco’s vibrant cultural heritage, evident in its festivals, music, and cuisine, provides a glimpse into the city’s unique identity and the warmth of its people.

  • With over 500 bird species inhabiting the surrounding rainforests, Tumaco is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts, offering a chance to observe and appreciate the region’s avian diversity.

Cons:

  • Tumaco’s past as a red zone may still linger in some perceptions, but the city has undergone significant improvements in security and is now welcoming visitors with open arms.

  • As a developing destination, Tumaco’s infrastructure may not yet match the standards of more established tourist destinations.

Considerations:

  • To reach Tumaco, travelers can fly to the Tumaco Airport or take a bus from Cali.

  • Recommended Season: The beach is best visited during the dry season (November to April) when the weather is more favorable and there is less rainfall.

  • While the security situation has improved considerably, it is advisable to exercise caution, respect local customs, and be mindful of your surroundings.

Beaches I DO NOT recommend

Cartagena

Cartagena’s beaches, once known for their Caribbean charm, have unfortunately become victims of their own popularity. Excessive tourism has led to overcrowding, which often results in a less pleasant beach experience. The charm and tranquility that one might expect from a coastal getaway are overshadowed by the commercialization and bustling beachside activities that dominate the scene.

Another fact is that it’s difficult to rest without being frequently approached by beach vendors or massage ladies, who may initiate contact without consent. Read our separate blog about the beach disaster in Cartagena to learn more.

Playa Blanca near Barú

Playa Blanca, located near Barú, is another beach that has seen better days. What used to be a serene escape has transformed into a busy tourist hub. The influx of visitors has led to environmental strain, with issues like littering and pollution becoming increasingly prevalent. This degradation of natural beauty significantly diminishes the appeal of what was once a stunning beach destination. Also, it has the same issues with beach vendors or massage ladies.

Playa Blanca in Santa Marta

Playa Blanca in Santa Marta, though picturesque, presents several issues that make it less desirable. The beach often experiences overcrowding, especially during peak seasons, which can significantly detract from the peaceful beach experience many seek.

Additionally, the beach’s popularity has led to overdevelopment in the surrounding area, contributing to environmental concerns and a loss of the natural, untouched charm that many visitors hope to find.

Rodadero in Santa Marta

Rodadero Beach in Santa Marta is another location that I would hesitate to recommend. Known for its busy tourist scene, Rodadero struggles with the consequences of mass tourism. This includes issues like noise pollution, crowded beaches, and a general commercial atmosphere that overshadows the natural beauty of the area.

Moreover, the water quality and beach cleanliness have been points of concern, further diminishing the appeal of what could otherwise be a beautiful coastal destination.

Beach in Taganga

Taganga’s beach, despite its natural beauty, suffers from maintenance issues. The lack of adequate cleanliness and the general upkeep of the beach area are major detractors. Visitors often find themselves disappointed by the littered and unkempt surroundings, which starkly contrast with the idyllic images often portrayed of this destination.

Palomino

The beach in Palomino, while scenic, faces challenges that make it less recommendable. One of the main issues is the inconsistent management of the area, leading to unpredictable experiences for visitors. This inconsistency, coupled with occasional safety concerns, can detract from the overall enjoyment and peace of mind that beachgoers seek. Also the last time I was there, most of the beach was washed away due to erosion.

Beaches of San Andrés

San Andrés, famous for its crystal-clear waters, has unfortunately fallen prey to over-commercialization. The authentic experience that once drew travelers to its shores has been largely replaced by a more generic, tourist-centric environment. This shift has resulted in a loss of the unique charm and tranquility that were once hallmarks of San Andrés’ beaches. In summary, the whole island has turned into an ecological disaster.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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