Santa Marta is a small city in the north of Colombia. There is not too much going on and it is mainly used as a base to explore Colombia’s Caribbean coast. We stayed in a lovely hostel that allowed us to store our luggage during our overnight trips to Punta Gallinas (2 nights), Tayrona Park (2 nights), and Minca (1 night). We will tell you all about these places in separate blogs as there is just too much to tell :-).
The good thing about Santa Marta is the location. The city has an airport with connecting flights to the main cities in Colombia and a bus terminal with buses to the other places. Our hostel was located in Rodadero, located about 10 minutes from the main square by taxi.
– Beach day
Rodadero has a small sand beach that is perfect for a day or two to just lay back and relax in between your travels. We bought some food at the grocery store and had a relaxing beach day. The beach is not a touristy beach so it doesn’t offer sun beds or anything, but it also means that there are no salesman or other tourists. If you want sunbeds you should go to the beach in the main area of Santa Marta.
– Santa Marta city centre
We walked a bit through the city centre during the day. It has lots of shops and during the night there is a lot of loud music and people walking on the streets. It was not really special but nice to spend some time.
– Punta Gallinas
We took a 3 day tour to the most northern point of South America. This area shows a completely different side of Colombia, namely the desert and its remote beauty. Read all about it here!
Minca is a small town in the Sierra Nevada (1 hour drive from Santa Marta) and has one of the most awesome hostels we have ever stayed called Casa Elemento. You can read all about this magnificent place here!
– Tayrona National Natural Park
Park Tayrona is probably on everyone’s list when they go to Colombia. It has the whitest beaches and bluest sea, which can only be reached after a 2 hour hike, which means nothing is developed there (as in hotels and restaurants) and there is no mass tourism. The perfect getaway, which you can read more about here.
– Lost City Trek
One of the highlights near Santa Marta is the Lost City Trek, a 3-6 day trek to an ancient town in the jungle. Unfortunately we were not able to do this trek (so instead we went to Punta Gallinas) because the native people living there were cleaning the area (a ritual that happens every year in the beginning of September, so keep this in mind!). We have heared mixed stories about the trek, we have heared that is a great experience and a beautiful sight, but that all the rain and mosquitoes make it hard as well.
– Casa del Ritmo
We were very lucky with our hostel, which served the most amazing vegetarian dishes for a small price. Think veggie burgers for 13.000 (so good that we ate it twice), toast caprese for 10.000, veggie lasagne, and a great breakfast with cereals and fruit.
According to Tripadvisor the best restaurant in Santa Marta, and it is was delicious. You do pay the price for it, but it was delicious! (30.000 COP)
– Casa del Ritmo
People we met along at Casa en el Agua advised us to go to Casa del Ritmo. And it couldn’t have been a better recommendation. The staff was so friendly and helpful, they helped us with everything. The location is perfect, in Rodarero, which is the quiet part of Santa Marta, only a two minute walk from a small beach. And the rooms are big and clean with air conditioning or a fan. Also, they have a jacuzzi in which you can relax, and a big common area. To top it off, they have delicious food. There is really no negative thing we can say about this hostel, only good things! (70.000 COP)
You can walk through the old center of Santa Marta but since you will probably not be there a lot, you will not be walking a lot.
Santa Marta has set taxi prices, which will either make your trip a fair price or expensive. Within Santa Marta, a trip will cost 6.000 COP, to or from Rodarero is 12.000 COP.
The bus system in Santa Marta is very elaborate, easy to use and cheap! Just check the sign in the front of the bus where it goes to and pay the driver when you hop or hop off. (1.200 COP)
How did you like Santa Marta? Which trips did you make, or are you planning on doing? What are your thoughts on the Lost City Trek? Let us know in the comments!