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 November until mid January. In the historic district there is a lot of police presence, especially during the holidays. If you venture about the city, "no dar papaya" as the locals would say. Just have common street sense - don't flaunt expensive belongings, don't carry more money than you need, and keep your purse close to your body. This city has a lot of motor bikes that go in every direction and will go on sidewalks. A person I was walking with in December almost had her purse stolen from a man on a motorcycle who went on the sidewalk between us and a building. She held on tight and kept her purse.
just in regards to the cop bag search, theyre after ganja. if your a smoker like most back packers are, just hide it somewhere like your camera case or somewhere similar.
dont hide it down your jocks though. ive been there 3 times and once the fagot cop grabbed me by the goolies a few times over. first time i assumed it was for drugs but when he did it again i realized he was a fully fledged shirt lifter abusing his position as a law enforcer for perverted homosexual pleasure.
im sure he and his poofter mate gave each other head after there shift.
enjoy tayrona though, without doubt the number 1 beach paradise in the world that ive experienced.
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 multinational corporations. Coal export has created a problem for Santa Marta because of the windy weather conditions.
In 2006 an article was published which said the following:
Colombia is reaping an enormous windfall from exports of its high-quality coal, and millions of tons of it are being shipped a year from this sweltering, desert-like coastal area to the far corners of Earth.
But in Santa Marta, officials and residents complain that the only dividend they're getting is an unwanted one: the fine layer of coal dust spread over much of the town each morning after La Loca, or the Crazy One, blows. That's what locals call the gusts that scatter the black dust through much of the city -- from the poor barrio of San Martin to the wealthy beach enclave of Bella Vista -- hurting tourism, fishing and possibly the health of the residents.
The mining industry now overshadows tourism here in Colombia's first city, which was founded in 1524. Its deep-water port has made it a leading embarkation point for coal mined in La Guajira and Cesar states, and the dust and residue from thousands of loads of coal passing through or near here daily on trucks and trains have smudged the city's image and cooled visitors' ardor.
I was told that the screens around the port were to reduce wind, and expect that is so that the coal dust isn't blown around.
We didn't have any problem when we were there.
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 matter how careful the loading procedures are, there is always dust that ends up in the water, as you quickly become aware of as you stroll along the beach.
My brother-in-law advised us not to go off on our own in Colombia because of the danger of kidnapping. I said that I did not wear expensive jewelry or anything like that, although I do have a camera. He said that I would appear be richer than anyone that I saw whatever I wore or did.
Guided tours should be safe enough. And there was a lot of police presence in the city.
It would be wise of you to make a few native friends because if you're out shopping and ask around for prices of products, the vendors will most likely raise the amount because you are a tourist and they figure they can make money off of you. You can test this theory out by actually asking how much something is, then have your friend go back and ask about the same product. If the sale price is cheaper and you really like the item, have your friend buy it for you.
The Santa Martha's beaches are very peaceful. Sometimes at night, some kinds of animals visit the beach: Crabs, "Aguamala" (jellyfish) and usually the people walk without shoes and one cassually encounter with these , is posible you have a problem because it has poisson and you need go to Hospital inmediatily. You can avoid this situation, if you use always a handlight.