Playa Koralia, Colombia

Give up mobile phone service and give into your inner hippie at Playa Koralia, an eco-friendly retreat located in Buritaca at the gateway of Colombia's Tayrona National Park. Where the snowcapped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta tumbles into the the Caribbean Sea, the Nieto family has cultivated a laid-back hideaway that blends into its natural surroundings.

There are 17 bungalows dotted around Koralia's grounds, hidden between the tall trunks of palm trees. Each cabin has its own theme, including Shanghai, Nirvana or Ganesh, which informs its interior design. With outdoor bathrooms and hammock-strewn porches, all have a touch of rustic jungle romance about them. And sure it's a practical necessity, but there's something about a well-placed mosquito net that makes any bed look appealing.

There are no locks on the rooms here but it doesn't matter - Playa Koralia is isolated and you can walk for miles along its driftwood-littered beach without seeing a soul. ( Apparently Shakira escaped here a few years ago once she got sick of the paparazzi in Barranquilla.) There's no wifi in the rooms, no television and not even a newspaper in sight - in fact everything is quiet here except for the vibrant and quirky design.

Spend your days swimming, perfecting downward dogs at the yoga space on the sand and dining at Koralia's open-air air restaurant (breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in room rates). Staff will organise excursions to nearby waterfalls, rivers and lagoons, but make sure you're back for live music and a beach bonfire at the tiki bar come nighttime.


There are 17 painted bungalows, each with an individual theme based on inspiration from pre-Columbian symbology, popular Mexican art and Rajasthani culture. Rooms from £50 (but if you're feeling brave you can camp from £30).

What's for breakfast?

An organic fruit farm feeds the menu here so make sure you order a fresh lulo juice along with your eggs. Breakfast is included.

How about lunch and dinner?

Lunch and dinner are also included and set in the property's palm-fringed open-air dining space. Playa Koralia doesn't serve red meat or pork but focuses instead on local fish and vegetable-based dishes. The mushroom risotto and grilled snook with artichoke leaves and potato gratin are both delicious.

Is there a bar?

Yes - there's a tiki bar that serves sizeable cocktails and runs night parties with live music and bonfires on the beach.


Spa services, yoga space, private beach, complimentary wifi in the reception area (none in rooms) beach bar, lounge and sauna.

Things you should know

The mosquitoes here are savage. Wear repellent, eat raw garlic, chain-smoke cigarettes... do whatever keeps them at bay. Bring a torch to help you navigate your way back to your bungalow at night. Be prepared to sweat a little - ceiling fans rather than air conditioning keep you cool at night. There's no internet access in the rooms but you can catch a few bars at the reception area.

Within a short walk you can find…

You can walk for miles along Playa Koralia. If you want to go further afield then staff can organise excursions to nearby waterfalls, lagoons, rivers and Tayrona National Park for hiking.

Kate Hamilton was hosted by G Adventures

G Adventures Caribbean Colombia Express trip costs £949pp for an eight-day trip from Cartagena to Santa Marta. Direct flights from London to Bogotá are available with Avianca and priced from £560pp return.

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