The coastline of Colombia encompasses both the vast depths of the Pacific Ocean and the tropical warmth of the Caribbean Sea, and it boasts some of the most incredibly beautiful beaches in the world. From beachy bays backed by dry deserts, lush jungles and tropical tundra, there is something spine-tinglingly special about spending time relaxing in paradise on a Colombian beach.
Find yourself stretched out on the powdery sand of an island getaway or explore some of the lesser-visited ruggedness of the beaches along the Pacific coast. Here are the best beaches in Colombia for you to have your very own adventures on.
10. Playa Manzanillo, Providencia
A 300-meter span of wonderfully pristine beach sits inside an attractive bay located along the southeast coast of the remote Caribbean island of Providencia. The kind of beach that takes your breath away from your first glimpse, Playa Manzanillo is not the easiest of spots to get to (it’s closer to Nicaragua than Colombia), but your efforts will be rewarded with the first sight of the dazzlingly turquoise waters.
A classically chilled Caribbean atmosphere permeates the air here. Grab yourself a refreshing cocktail from the only bar on the beach and sip it to the complementary rhythm of reggae music. In the evening, the small bar hots up and becomes one of the best places to enjoy the tropical surroundings.
This isn’t a beach for watersports or high-octane activities – just for kicking back under the shade of a palm tree whilst the warm waves gently lap at your feet.
9. El Rodadero, Santa Marta
What is possibly one of the most popular beaches in Colombia for sun-worshipers and water sports enthusiasts, El Rodadero, Santa Marta has everything you’ll need for your Caribbean vacation.
The town itself is packed full of accommodation options and is practically overflowing with bars and restaurants that tumble out onto the soft sand. The huge length of beach is surrounded by rugged mountains and dotted with palm trees for shade. The water here is ideal for swimming or you can try something a little more adrenaline-filled, such as water skiing.
The sand can become very busy, with locals enjoying days off and vendors selling goods to sunbathers, but that just adds to the interesting vibe and makes the ideal place for a spot of people-watching. Make sure to come back at dusk when the sun sets and spectacularly drops below the mountains.
The emerald bay of Sapzurro is a special spot to spend a few days. Situated near to the border with Panama, Sapzurro offers the chance to detach yourself from everyday life, disconnect from WiFi, and kick back in the incredible natural surroundings. This place is so cut off that the only way to reach the tiny village of Sapzurro and its beautiful beach is to arrive by boat.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life, Sapzurro truly offers the perfect antidote. Splash in the warmth of the crystal clear ocean and snorkel or scuba dive out over the reefs to experience the world under the sea.
The village and bay are surrounded by dense virgin jungle that is just dying to be explored – work up a sweat hiking under the jungle canopy and then spend your afternoon cooling off in the refreshing calm of the ocean.
Taganga has grown over the past twenty years from a barely known village with a pretty beach to a fully-fledged tourist destination with a huge choice of hotels, shops and eateries. This might no longer be a secluded slice of real Colombia, but if you are looking for an attractive beach with amenities and an easy holiday, then Taganga beach has it all.
Taganga beach may be small, but it is hugged on both sides by rounded hills that help protect the bay and create great swimming conditions. This part of the coast also attracts keen scuba divers and there are plenty of dive centers around the local area which can help arrange diving trips.
For those who want to let their hair down with a few drinks in the evening, there are a few bars and clubs that are popular with party-goers.
6. El Cabo San Juan
El Cabo San Juan is an attractive, classically sandy beach positioned inside the Tayrona National Park. Just a half hour’s drive from Santa Maria, this piece of paradise is within easy reach of popular Colombian tourist hubs, meaning a few nights spent lazing on the beach in El Cabo San Juan can be easily slipped into your Colombia itinerary.
El Cabo San Juan beach is an undeveloped haven; it’s not a place where you are going to find rowdy bars or even many cars, but you will be rewarded with one of the most attractive beaches along the Caribbean coast. There is one restaurant on the beach – an idyllic spot to sit and sip a beer at sunset. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, stay the night in a hammock at the finca (Spanish for ‘estate’) or try the campground for a little more protection from the elements.
You might not think of this beach as the classic Caribbean paradise on first glimpse, but we promise you will be pleasantly surprised – the rambling urban sprawl of the town opens up to reveal one of the most splendid beaches.
The town of Palomino itself actually offers a great base for your beach-going activities, with plenty of well-priced accommodation to choose from and lots of friendly locals to get chatting to. Palomino beach is a big helping of tropical seclusion with the impressive Sierra Nevada mountains protecting the coastline.
The rich biodiversity here, combined with the indigenous people who still live traditional lives in the mountains, make for a continually interesting and unusual spot to splash in the clear blue waters and soak up the Colombian way of life.
4. Johnny Cay
This is the kind of spot that you think about when you imagine of paradise. Palm trees, white sand and gentle waves make Johnny Cay a must visit beach in Colombia. This small island is just opposite San Andres Town in the San Andrés and Providencia archipelago and is accessed by a short boat-ride from the mainland.
Johnny Cay is actually part of a regional park and there is a small fee to enter, but once there, you’re free to luxuriate in the stunning surroundings. The pure white of the sand and the warmth of the clean waters have a revitalizing effect, and – although it can get a little busy here during high season – you can always find space for yourself.
Rent a sun lounger for the day and enjoy fresh food prepared at one of the island’s kitchens. The island itself is so small that it only takes around half an hour to circumnavigate it. Once it’s time to head back to your hotel on the mainland, just grab a boat back around 4pm when the park closes.
3. Guachalito Beach
Guachalito Beach is simply one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Colombia. Part of what is possibly one of the most wildly dramatic natural landscapes in the country, the beach is edged by overflowing virgin jungle, where unbelievable wildlife roams freely and waterfalls flow over huge drops.
This area truly offers visitors the chance to spend time in a part of the Colombian countryside. The sand on the beach is black, which adds to the sensational beauty of Guachalito and – if you are lucky – you might see the whales and dolphins as they pass by this part of the coastline.
If you are looking to stay somewhere with eco-conscious credentials, there’s an eco-lodge along the beach that can offer a unique stay in the stunning landscape of Guachalito Beach.
2. Playa Blanca
Gleaming white sand and pristine clear oceans make Playa Blanca one of the best beaches in Colombia. Just southwest of the historic city of Cartagena, the beach is located on Isla Baru, a peninsula that is only accessible by boat.
Playa Blanca is deservedly popular with holidaymakers who want to kick back on a breathtaking beach for a few days. As such, there are a few places to rent sun loungers and little restaurant serving up a bite to eat. Playa Blanca makes up part of Utria National Park and, between July and October, humpback whales can be spotted on their migratory route on the Pacific coast.
1. Pilon de Azucar
Imagine the most perfect paradise cove with sandy shores lapped by glittering water and you might just get close to the dazzling beauty of Pilón de Azúcar. Found in the spot where the Guajira Desert slopes into the warmth of the Caribbean Sea, this is a truly unique beach.
Swirls of burnt orange and red sand slip into the bold turquoise of the sea and create a striking, colorful contrast. Spend your time here swimming in the gentle sea, soaking up the sun’s rays and exploring along the rocky coastline.
Make sure to get here early so you can spend the whole day in paradise. Then, for a simply stunning experience, wait until the sun sets and the land and sky glow orange as the spectrum of colors are reflected across the sea.