Now a suburb of BAQ, Soledad was once another stop on the Rio Magdalena before reaching BAQ. Soledad isn't one small town, but more a smaller city with various barrios. Though some may feel there isn't a whole lot to see here compared to other places in Colombia, Soledad is a great place to people watch.
To get there, take a taxi (about 10k Pesos) to the "SAO en Soledad" (one of the large WalMart-like department stores). Then on the south side of the store, catch a "moto" - a 3-wheeled motorcycle taxi, and an experience in itself - to the "catedral Soledad", the center of the old city (3k pesos). Enjoy the ride people-watching, as you zip between the cars and the mule carts...
Check out the cathedral and the surrounding plaza, and then explore the side streets. Nearby and toward the river is the old alcalde (city hall), though quite in need of renovation as are most of the old buildings, it is an example of the old Spanish colonial architecture. Security won't allow people to enter without business there, but if you're a gringo, they will usually comply and allow you to pass. An enormous Strangler Tree(?) has taken over the entire courtyard (unbelievable!). Then head over toward the river and check out the fish and produce market, if you need something to remind you that you are no longer in the USA . Not really any security issues here, but people will be staring at you and wondering how you found yourself here.
Also a huge street celebration here in June, something like 100,000 people coming out to listen to the bands, dance, and just have a good time.
As much as BAQ and Soledad are not a major destination area, people will be doubly surprised to find a foreigner here (LEARN SPANISH! You'll enjoy the trip so much more.) Strike up a conversation, and you may find yourself being invited home to meet the rest of the family. I love Barranquilla, not for its grand sites and history, but rather for having the friendliest people in Colombia, and therefore the entire world.
2 hours outside the city of Barranquilla lies one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Backed by the beautiful, lush jungles of Colombia, Tairona offers much to the weary traveler. Throw up a hammock between two palm trees, lather on the sunscreen (and insect repellent--the mosquitoes are torturous), and get ready for a fabulous weekend.
Getting there: You should be able to take a taxi from the Santa Marta bus stop to the trail head at Tairona National Park. Be sure to negotiate the price before you get into the cab. I wouldn’t pay more than $30,000 pesos (about $11.00 U.S.D.). The trail leads straight to a few campsites. The first has two very reasonable restaurants on site but keep heading toward the beach and make a left. About 20 feet down the beach is Bakaru—better in my opinion and definitely quieter. The cost is about 6,000 pesos per night/per person.
*word of warning--travel advisory states the area is not as safe as it could be. However, we did not feel in any danger during our trip, and friends have visited there frequently over the past 3 years.
Once you are already on the Caribbean coast you cannot miss the increadible fishing village just a few kilometres from Santa Marta. Taganga is a perfect place for scuba diving. There are many dive shops and amazing diving places. The village itself is great as well - cheap food (very good fish), cheap accommodation (usually for free if you take a diving course), friendly people, great beaches (especially the Playa Grande), nice nature... Everything about this village is amazing...
The Islas del Rosario are 55 km from Cartagena. The islands have a beautiful natural beach and also offer accommodation. Although many people see them on a day trip, it's worth it to spend a night or two there. The beaches are magnificent (Bocagrande is very popular), though better ones can be reached by boat. Equally magnificent are the region's snorkeling and coral-reef diving.
Puerto Colombia - a small town just 15 km away from b/quilla. it's a really really nice place. nothing architectually beautiful (besides the berth, which was the longest in s-america at some point and is really nice and cool even now), but the atmosphere is amazing. and the sunset from the long-long berth. to get there, just take any puerto colombia bus from the 46st street, across the street from SAO and McDonalds. 1000 $ ($ is also a sign for colombian pesos... but it's like 0.5 US$) and you are there.