Set in a prime location, Colombia is the only country in South America that boasts coastlines lined by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. On the Caribbean coast, you’ll find some of the country’s most popular coastal cities and some of the best Colombian beaches. The Pacific coast, on the other hand, is harder to reach so it remains mostly underdeveloped and unexplored.
With its spectacular beaches bordered by luscious jungle and stunning Caribbean beaches with white sand and turquoise water, this is the perfect destination for beach bums. If you are looking for the perfect spot to chill, or have an adventure, have a look at our picks for the best beaches in Colombia.
Located on the northernmost point on the mainland of South America, Punta Gallinas offers a very different experience from the other Colombian beaches on our list. Instead of lush vegetation, an arid desert borders the beach, offering a stark contrast with the deep blue sea. But make no mistake, the views are still quite impressive.
To get there, book a multi-day tour either in Santa Marta or in Riohacha. Alternatively, you can also do the journey independently. Since you might have to improvise some times, be ready for an adventure. However, traveling independently in La Guajira will give you a better chance to appreciate its unique vibe.
And although accommodation and food options in Punta Gallinas are sparse, prices are definitely on the cheap side. Plus, this is also a prime spot for kite surfing.
You will find Palomino halfway on the road between Santa Marta and Riohacha. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming look. With the impressive Sierra Nevada mountains as a backdrop and its laid-back vibe, Palomino is a great place to relax and forget about the rest of the world.
Here you won’t find many locals tourists, Palomino is a destination that’s mostly popular among foreign backpackers looking for a place to chill on the beach. However, due to the strong riptide, the beach is not suitable for swimming most of the time.
But fret not, if you want some relief from the heat, you can go tubing along the Palomino river. Flanked by lush vegetation, the river descends all the way from the Sierra Nevada to the sea. The water is shallow and calm, so you can have a beer and enjoy the ride.
So even if Palomino does not have the best beach on this list, we can’t help including it because of its unique chilled vibe. Also, it makes for a great base to explore the Sierra Nevada and its jungle.
Tayrona National Park
Covering an area of 12,000 hectares of land and 3,000 hectares of sea, the Tayrona National Park features a wide range of landscapes and ecosystems within its territory. From tall mountain peaks, to the lush emerald jungle, and amazingly beautiful beaches; you can find it all here. It is also home to many wildlife species, so keep your eyes open as you walk on the trails.
Most beaches in the park are set in deep bays and are connected by hiking trails. To fully enjoy the beauty of the Tayrona NP, we recommend staying a few days. There are plenty of places to camp or rent a hammock. You can even enjoy a bit of luxury at the pricier eco-habs. This is a captivating place that keeps luring us back anytime we are back in Colombia.
Located less than an hour drive south from Cartagena, Playa Blanca — as its name implies — is a stretch of white sandy beach bordered by pristine waters, which makes it an ideal choice for a day trip from Cartagena. As expected, Playa Blanca can get quite crowded in high season.
You can get there by boat or by car. And to fully enjoy Playa Blanca, we definitely recommend spending there a couple of nights. Since most visitors come only for the day, the place gets more quiet and relaxing after the last boat with tourist departs. Then, you’ll get to enjoy a less crowded beach, a stunning sunset, a nice dinner and tropical cocktails; just before you go to sleep lulled by the sound of the sea. What else can you ask for?
Islas de San Bernardo
This small archipelago is formed by ten islands located just off the coast of Tolú, on the Caribbean coast. Featuring white sand beaches, pristine waters, and mangrove lagoons; this collection of islands are a popular holiday destination for local tourists. Interestingly, not many foreign visitors venture further south than Cartagena, so you won’t find many visitors here if you don’t travel during local holidays.
The most popular island in the archipelago is Isla Múcura, where you can find most lodging options. The beach there is shallow and the sea is quite calm, which is perfect for relaxing. Another interesting place to see is El Islote, the most densely populated island on Earth. This tiny island is where most local people live, and it’s home to about 500 people.
Capurganá & Sapzurro
Hidden in one of Colombia’s most isolated corners, Capurganá and Sapzurro are located near the border with Panama and used to be one of the main routes for drug smugglers. Getting there is an adventure in and out of itself. So few tourists venture out to this remote spot, although that seems to be changing lately.
Those who dare to make the journey are rewarded with views on deep blue waters with jungle-covered mountains as a backdrop. If you happen to get bored with lounging in the beach, there are many some beautiful walking trails in the area. Plus, the coral reefs in the area offer great possibilities for diving and snorkeling.
Located on the Pacific coast in the Chocó region, Nuquí offers a very different experience than the Caribbean coast. Here you will find dark sand beaches, exuberant vegetation, and some amazing wildlife.
In fact, the stars of the show here are the humpback whales that come to breed and give birth in the area from June to October. Also, sea turtles come to lay their eggs from August to January. Plus, this region is also rich in bird species and other exotic creatures.
San Andrés & Providencia
San Andrés Island is located closer to Nicaragua than Colombia and is one of the preferred destinations for local tourism. It is the largest island in the archipelago of San Andrés and its culture is a mix of Colombian Spanish and Caribbean English heritage. On the north part, you will find most of the resorts, restaurants, and nightlife options.
But if you prefer a more peaceful option, head to Providencia. This nearby island is still somewhat untouched by mass tourism. Just like San Andrés, this little island paradise has a very different culture than the rest of the country, so you will feel more like you’re on a Caribbean holiday than in Colombia.
Both San Andrés and Providencia feature some stunning pristine Caribbean beaches that are perfect to relax in. Also, the nearby barrier reef offers great opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Best Beaches in Colombia Map
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Have you been to Colombia? Are there any other beaches you would add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know!