Santa Marta Travel Guide

  • Parque Nacional Tayrona
    Parque Nacional Tayrona
    by Jim_Eliason
  • La Victoria coffee
    La Victoria coffee
    by apuleuis
  • lots of bamboo here
    lots of bamboo here
    by apuleuis

Santa Marta Things to Do

  • Minca

    Minca is just an easy day trip away. We visited La Victoria Coffee plantation, went to a waterfall & pool, had probably the best meal in Colombia (at Casa Cristi in Minca), then went to Hotel Minca to see the balcony full of hummingbirds. If I go back to Colombia, I'll spend more time here! Highly recommend it. We paid 60.000 for the 1/2 day trip.

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  • Parque Nacional Tayrona

    This national park just north east of Santa Marta preserves a lot of the coastal jungle of the Caribbean coast. It has some of Colombia's finest diving and snorkeling.

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  • Santa Marta Cathedral

    The oldest Cathedral in Colombia, this place once housed Simon Bolivar's remains until they were removed to Venezuela.

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  • activities Aktivitäten

    Learn Spanish!!!! - Spanischkurse (small private school)Learn and practice!!! Lernen und anwenden!!!!• Nationalpark Tayrona• Sierra Nevada• Kaffee-Finca (1 Tag oder 3 Tage)• Wasserfälle / waterfalls/trekking• Tauchkurse / diving• Schnorchelausflüge & Tauchexpeditionen (snrkel and diving excursions)• Segeln oder Fischen auf offener See (sailing or...

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  • Tayrona National Park

    The Tayrona National Park was established in 1964. It is a large tropical park with a number of species that are unique in this area. The western side of the park is dry, but the northeast part, where we went, gets much more rain.There are several hiking trails in the park. Route A is the easiest—it is only about ½ mile and almost flat. Route B...

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  • Tagana village

    The small fishing village of Tagana (population 4500.) is about 15 minutes from Santa Marta. The fishermen are out for 12 hours a day (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.) They fish from crude homemade boats made from local trees. When they come in, people come to the beach with plastic bags and wait while the fishermen fillet their catch. It is interesting to watch...

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Santa Marta Hotels

  • Zuana Beach

    Cr 2 No. 6-80, Santa Marta, 5009, Colombia

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Families

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Irotama

    KM 14 Via Cienaga, Santa Marta, Colombia

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Families

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Hotel Mar Azul

    Carrera 3A No. 5-146 El Rodadero, Santa Marta, Colombia

    Good for: Couples

Santa Marta Restaurants

  • Best ice cream in Santa Marta

    I've been here 6 months and just found this place. Here you will find homemade ice cream with the usual and unusual flavors – chocolate, strawberry, avacado, cañandonga (which is a costal fruit, Rocio can show you the large seed pod. It tastes faintly of chocolate and is nutritious. It contains iron), melon, zapote (yummy), coconut, mora...

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  • Lulo - when you are tired of local food

    This is a small place with good food. It is owned by a Colombian and a woman from the US, so both Spanish and English is spoken. They provide breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can get coffee, smoothies, juices, coctels, beer, gourmet arepas, wraps and panini and pita sandwiches. It is a little more expensive than local food but about the same as...

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  • the search for fruit juice continues

    When you are on the coast, you have to seek out fruit drinks. While they have them everywhere in Colombia, the ones on the coast along with the fruit is just better unless you find a fruit that is found more naturally in the highlands. Now, coming on the heals of Cartagena's amazing fruit drinks, the vendors in Santa Marta had a very tough act to...

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  • perhaps THE reason I'd go back to Santa...

    I walked by Cocteleria Juancho a few times without seeing it. Well, I saw it but it looked more like an ice cream stand than a place to have cerviche and even all the people outside eating from Styrofoam cups didn't give me a clue despite my having eaten cerviche the same way in Cartagena only a few days earlier. They just looked to be enjoying...

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  • the place for bunuelos

    While walking around one morning and after already eating an arepa con heuvo but still a bit hungry, I happened upon this tiny little hole-in-the-wall place that sold nothing but bunelos. In fact, it was called appropriately enough “La Casa del Bunelo!” Bunelos are dough balls made with some generally tart cheese. They can be sourish and are a bit...

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  • one crowded little diner

    This no name corner diner looked to be a Santa Marta institution. It seemed to be positively packed every time I walked by it while out looking for something interesting to eat. In fact, I didn't get in the place until one of my last days in town. Oddly enough, it was when my wife was feeling a bit better and we had returned from our six day trek...

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Santa Marta Nightlife

  • a stroll on the promenade is free

    Santa Marta has its share of pubs and I imagine a few clubs as well. This is after all a beach tourist town and people, especially Colombians love to party when they are on vacation. We saw quite a few people sitting out on the waterfront enjoying the ocean breeze and the ocean view after the town cooled down in the early evening. But we preferred...

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  • Really cool !!

    It's the hottest spot in Santa Marta at the moment ... gets packed, with a great mix of locals and tourists.It's not pricey ... good music ... great atmosphere ... in my opinion, the best option! Casual ... no big deal.

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  • Calle 10c

    Street Party/Roof Party/ Sol y Luna Party stay on Calle 10c outside El miramar and titanic and party the night in the street or go to Hollandbar, El Garge, Barrio Samario or LaPuerta or Rodedero... lots of options in Santa Marta for graeat perpetual night life... whew... none

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Santa Marta Transportation

  • Puerta a Puerta

    You can take a city to city bus from the bus terminal but there is another option to get between Cartegena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. A "Puerta a Puerta" or Door to Door is a van (sometimes a car) that will pick you up at your door and take you to your destination. It is $25,000 COP each leg of the trip (Barranquilla to Sta Marta, Cartegena to...

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  • Getting around Santa Marta

    It's easy to get around Santa Marta. It feels like a big small town. You can easily walk around the historic district without needing transportation. Taxis within the city cost COP $4,000 (little over $2 USD) but if you don't have the correct change they may charge more especially during holidays (Holy Week, Christmas, etc.). Busetas, the small...

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  • accessible Santa Marta

    Being a major tourist destination, Santa Marta is easy enough to get to. Buses to Cartagena leave every hour and it's worth getting a direct one unlike us. We arrived in between departures and jumped on a bus to Baranquilla which took about two hours and cost 10000 COP ($5) each on Unitransco. Once in Baraquilla we were ushered onto a dilapidated...

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Santa Marta Local Customs

  • Infrastructure

    I'm always interested in the nitty gritty details of a city. Where are there bathrooms? What do the car license plates look like - are there different plates for rental cars? Are there pay phones and how do you use them? And I also find that things like electric poles and water or telecommunication or sewer manholes are interesting to photograph.

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  • Negritos

    Santa Marta, anong with other Colombian cities, celebrates Carnivale in February. One of the Carnival traditions involves young men who paint themselves all over with black grease and ask for coins. If you don’t give them anything, they will touch you and get you dirty.

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  • Carnival

    When I ask locals what people do for Carnival in Santa Marta, they say they go to Barranquilla. Barranquilla indeed has the largest carnival celebration in Colombia and supposedly is second only to Brazil. I nonetheless stayed in Santa Marta and learned why people say they go to Barranquilla. Supposedly, Santa Marta had the first carnival...

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Santa Marta Warnings and Dangers

  • End of the year theft

    Santa Marta is a pretty safe town. I have lived here for the past 6 months and have noticed that there is more theft at the end of the year than other times of the year. People in general will have more money at the end of the year because they get what is called a "prima" or bonus. So, I have heard of more attempted and executed thefts in late...

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  • Wind and Coal Dust

    The port of Santa Marta was originally built to ship gold to Spain. Cartagena became the greater port and has most of the tourists, the most sophisticated restaurants and a greater tourism infrastructure. During the 20th century the city served as main port for massive exports of Bananas and coal produced inland with the assistance of major...

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  • COAL PORT

    The port of Santa Marta is a major coal port on the Caribbean coast. There is another coal port several miles to the south, as well. Driving into Santa Marta from Barranquilla you will pass miles of coal-laden trains as they wait to put their cargoes into offshore ships. The coaling facility in Santa Marta is on the north end of the beach. No...

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Santa Marta What to Pack

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    bring an adventurous spirit

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 13, 2010

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: While a normal suitcase will get you by in Santa Marta proper and a day pack will suffice on your guided trek of La Ciudad Perdida, to really get a full dose of Tayrona National Park, you're best off having a backpack with you. The park features miles of trails that take in one of the most scenic chunks of the coast in any hemisphere. Sure, you can day trip here, but once you pay your $17 entrance fee, you are free to wander and camp along the coast so why not?

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Santa Marta will not necessitate any special clothes as you are looking at one lovey climate but trekking gear will come in handy if you are planning on seeing La Ciudad Perdida and Tayrona National Park.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen, baby, sunscreen.

    Photo Equipment: A wide angle is great for landscape photography and a zoom for wildlife, and in Santa Marta proper you can use both to get good shots of street vendors, foods, and colonial buildings.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: No need for your tent in Santa Marta but we were very glad to have ours for Tayrona National Park.

    Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for making this part of the trip special, especially once she recovered from her bad tummy.

    early morning reflection in a puddle, Santa Marta
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Backpacking
    • Photography

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Santa Marta Off The Beaten Path

  • Mary and Jesus watch over the harbor

    While we were docked in Santa Marta, I observed what appeared to be a statue on top of a skinny pyramidal structure. Looked at with binoculars or through the camera lens zoomed as far as it would go, it appeared to be the statue of a woman holding a child of about five. There was a man in a bright colored safety vest there leaning against the...

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  • Iglesia de San Francisco

    This is a small beautiful colonial church in downtown Santa Marta two blocks from the Bay and the Plaza de Bolivar. It faces the Plaza de San Francisco. Originally, it this was the main city square . We did not go in - I took photos from the taxi.

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  • Minca - day trip from Santa Marta or...

    I recommend staying a while but this can definitely be a day trip. It depends on what you are looking for. There isn't much to do in Minca but take long hikes, bathe in a river, watch birds and butterflies and enjoy new scenery, and peace and quiet (ok, like everywhere else you can hear music playing at times by a river or corner store, but most of...

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Santa Marta Sports & Outdoors

  • Lodestar's Profile Photo

    Scuba-diving and other water-sports

    by Lodestar Written Mar 2, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The area is great for scuba-diving. Amazing world underwater. And it is relativelt cheap even compared to South-America, not to mention the rest of the world. If you are there, you should definately try diving - the most amazing experience! The best place to go - a nearby village of Taganga.

    Equipment: All the dive-shops rent equipment if you don't have your own. You can just take a small-course (2 dives with perliminary tarining for around 80 000 pesos), or if you have your licence then the price is the same for renting equipment and a boat-trip to the dive-site, or you can take a full AOWD course for around 350 000 pesos. anyways it's definately worth the cost!

    On the way to the dive-site
    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Beaches

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Santa Marta Favorites

  • School Children and Narrow Streets

    The old town streets are quite narrow and very picturesque. There was also quite a bit of construction. There were school children and people were riding motorcycles and bicycles. I was glad I wasn't driving or having to direct Bob while he was driving.

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  • I was just looking for a room

    At any rate, I really was just looking for a room and soon figured out that the one I already had was a bargain compared to these, not to mention the dilapidated neighborhood factor. I did get to meet some of the backpacker hostel staff who seemed much more intent on selling me a tour of Tayrona or Ciudad Perdida than renting me a room. It was...

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  • it wasn't teeming with prostitutes

    Santa Marta is a real Colombian city despite its tourist demeanor and is perhaps more alluring in its half-baked state. Some of the town has been spiffed up but some of it remains in a delightfully dilapidated state. Enjoy both while you can, this is a town earmarked for mass tourism just waiting for its arrival. We opted for Solymar Hostal mostly...

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