The draw to Northern most Colombia is no doubt its offer of Caribbean beaches and Tayrona National Park. Santa Marta & particularly Taganga are developing areas yet to get it right with sustainable tourism, though their natural wonders will continue to pull in many visitors.
Here’s our Top 4 post to help you decide on the best things to see and do whilst your there. ➡️ You can also read our Santa Marta & Taganga quick guide here, giving you practical advise and all you need to know to prepare for your trip.
What to do in Santa Marta!?
1. Snorkel in Bahia Cinto
Trust us when we say this is by far the best beach for snorkelling in Tayrona, even when tour companies say Playa Cristal. Cinto is about 15mins further by boat from Cristal, it’s a lovely beach, the currents are much calmer so your swimming / snorkelling area isn’t restricted, you’ll have it all to yourself and get the chance to see much bigger fish & coral (facing the sea, swim over to the right). You can combine this with a day trip to Cristal (see number 2 below). Cost: We paid $120,000COP/$38USD pp each (that was about halfway in terms of the lowest and highest you could pay).
2. Snorkel in Playa Cristal
Another nice beach with clear waters & tropical fish (smaller variety compared with Bahia Cinto). You won’t find coral here and it’s where the crowds will be, the currents are also stronger so the snorkelling & swimming is restricted to certain parts. All that being said, it’s still a nice beach to visit.
You can book a trip through many of the tours agencies in Santa Marta or Tanganga, we’d advise to use a tour agency rather than a random man saying he can drive you there on the boat. We booked through a tour agent along the front of the beach.
Prepare for the journey on these boats, the waves are rough! It will take around an hour to get there and there will be points that feel dangerous. The swells can get big, you’ll be thrown around your seat a fair bit and we’re not too sure if the boats should actually be doing this, though it’s certainly a journey for the memory books! (If you want to avoid a boat you can also go by minivan). Cost: Above in number 1
3. Visit the jungle village Minca
This was definitely our favourite part of the trip in this area. Minca is 20mins south of Santa Marta, a little village tucked away in jungle paradise. Considering its size, there’s a fair amount to do, you can read our post on the ➡️ Top 5 things you must do in Minca here. To give you a flavour – birdwatching, trekking, waterfalls, incredible sunsets.
We’d recommend staying a 2-3 days, to get there is easy, there’s 1 official colectivo company (Cootrasminca) that goes to and from Santa Marta, this is the best option, or you can grab a cab for $50,000COP/$16USD pp. The colectivo costs $8,000COP/$2.60USD pp and you’ll find it on Carrera 12 in the city centre (it has it’s own office, not at the main bus terminal).
4. Trek Tayrona National Park
If you have factored in the time & your budget allows, Tayrona is a must visit. It does feel like you’re being taken advantage of because of the entrance fee, though in this case there is no other option, you have to look past that and appreciate the beauty of the park. Definitely stay 1 night here rather than rushing to do it in a day trip. Location: You can book this though tour agents in Santa Marta or Taganga. Cost: From $189,000COP/$60USD pp.
That’s our low down on the best activities in Santa Marta & Taganga, is there anything you’d add to the list? If you have any other questions or need some advice, just drop us a message or WhatsApp and we’ll help you out.
Shay & Iban 👬 🏝