Alternative Trips from Santa Marta

Because of its location on the Colombian Caribbean coast, Santa Marta makes an ideal jumping off point to heaps of interesting spots.

Day Trips from Santa Marta (afternoon, morning, or all day)

El Rodadero Beach

El Rodadero Beach, near Santa Marta

Where is it?
Rodadero is a 10 minute (and approx 60 cent) bus ride from Santa Marta’s city center.

What is it?
I hesitate to call it a town or village, because Rodadero consists basically of shiny high rise condos, swanky bars and seafood restaurants, souvenir shops and sea side beer and ceviche venders. It has an air of a more refined city beach–think a very mini Miami or Rio. This is a spot that definitely caters to wealthy vacationing Colombians. You don’t see many backpackers.

What to do?
From the beach in Rodadero, you can also hire a boat to take you to an island beach called Playa Blanca, or an aquarium (neither of which I ever did). The sand is smooth and light and the current is gentle. You can rent chairs and shade, banana boats, or kayaks. Or you can lounge in the sand or wade in the sea for free.

What to Eat/Drink?
-The juice/Smoothie venders
-The Ceviche Men
-The venders selling coconut treats and tamarind candy
-Splurge on a tasty Pina Colada served in a coconut
-Ice cream in on of the many ice cream shops

Taganga, Colombia

The tiny, though highly touristic Taganga, Colombia

Where is it?
10 minute (60 cent) bus ride from Santa Marta’s city center.

What is it?
Taganga began as a tiny, picturesque fishing village, but a combination of cheap scuba diving shops, a pretty little beach, fun clubs and bars and cheap and easy access to a grab bag of drugs quickly turned it into a favorite with the backpacking crowd. Taganga these days is filled with overpriced sea food restaurants, souvenir shops, hostels and street venders. My feelings on Taganga are mixed.

What to do?
Come for the day and lounge on a pretty, though slightly fishy beach, wander around and grab lunch at a cute cafe. Take a short hike to a slightly more secluded beach called Playa Grande. Sign up to get scuba certified, or book your lost city trek. Stay for drinks at Pachamama, dance at Mirador or The Garage, make your Friday night a little more crazy and start it at Bayview Hostel (I won’t go into details).

What to Eat/Drink
-Maracuya Mojitos on Friday night at Pachamama (half off cocktails 8-10 pm). So tasty.
-3 course meal at Babaganoush ($11)- I had an unbelievable pumpkin soup, filet mignon and chocolate mousse. Delish—-Lunch at Cafe Bonsai–can’t go wrong.

Weekend Trips from Santa Marta (1+ nights)

Waterfall in Minca

One of a few waterfalls in Minca

Where is it?
Catch a collectivo (About $2.50 per person) to Minca on Calle 11, just past the bus to Tayrona. The taxi will take you up a bumpy, scenic road through the Sierra Nevada mountainside to a tiny, quant mountain village.

What is it?
Minca is a teeny-tiny mountain village situated on a lovely little river, overlooking all of Santa Marta. The village itself is made up of a police station, a church, a school and plenty of yummy restaurants, a few small drinking holes, and some lovely guesthouses.

What to do?
It is the perfect place to get a good night sleep and do something active. Its quite a bit cooler than in Santa Marta as well–especially at night. Hike to 2 nearby waterfalls. Take a tour of the local ecofriendly Coffee Farm. Book a tour at the information booth located near the taxi drop off–hikes, birdwatching, tubing, swim in the refreshing river. Head to a look out point and watch the sunset.

What to eat?
-Daily Special at Cocina de Rochi–this lady can cook.
-Brownie with ice cream at the main coffee shop
-Family style dinner at Casa Loma

Costeno  Beach, Palomino Colombia

Costeno Beach, Palomino Colombia

Costeno Beach
Where is it?
Catch the Tayrona bus on Calle 11, but tell the driver to take you to Costeno (it’s 10 minutes past the Tayrona drop. From the drop off point walk 10 minutes down a dusty country road, through a palm forest.

What is it?
A extremely chill surf camp and secluded beachy paradise. Stay in a hammock or a beach bungalow overlooking the sea. Bring your own food or eat the tasty family style meals ($2.50 breakfast, $5 lunch and dinner)

What to do?
Hang in a hammock, sun tan, pick up a game of beach volleyball, take surf lessons, have a bonfire on the beach, and much more.

Longer Trips from Santa Marta (2+ nights)

Punta Gallinas, on the Guajira Peninsula, Colombia

Punta Gallinas, on the Guajira Peninsula, Colombia

Guajira Peninsula & Punta Gallinas
Punta Gallinas is a magical place on the tip of the Guajira Peninsula, on the tip of Colombia, on the northernmost tip of South America, “where the desert meets the sea.” A hot, barren desert landscape dominated by the indigenous Waayu people, their goats, and billions of prickly cactuses.

For those wanting to get off the beaten path a bit, see a completely different side of Colombia–and South America, for that matter, the Guajira Peninsula is worth considering. When asking around about how to get there & logistics, it can be difficult to find any answers. There isn’t much information on the internet. There are agencies in Santa Marta offering 3 day tours for 600,000 pesos ($300), but as we learned it’s entirely doable and much cheaper to DIY. I’ll write a post involving details and logistics in the near future.

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