The Certified 9 Best Things To Do In Santa Marta Colombia
And The Best Day Trips From Santa Marta
The Certified 9 Best Things To Do In Santa Marta Colombia in 2019
Santa Marta is a destination that is not to be missed in anyone’s Colombia itinerary.
In saying this, don’t expect Santa Marta to be a beautiful, photogenic city like Cartagena or the historic Medellin.
To be quite honest, Santa Marta is probably my least favorite city in Colombia…
So at this point, you are probably wondering why we are recommending Santa Marta in the first place.
Well, quite frankly it serves as an excellent gateway to all the destinations on this list which are relatively close to the city of Santa Marta.
Therefore you’ll find yourself taking lots of day trips to other destinations surrounding Santa Marta as opposed to actually exploring the city itself.
Additionally, Santa Marta airport is the closest airport to all of these popular attractions so for those who prefer to fly, a visit to this city is almost inevitable.
Although the city itself isn’t as exciting as other cities in Colombia, Santa Marta does have some of the best hostels we’ve encountered in Colombia.
Though it doesn’t exactly make up for everything that Santa Marta is missing, at least it does help pick up some of the slack.
So, while the city of Santa Marta itself may be rather disappointing at least your bucket list will be so full and your bed will be so cozy that maybe you won’t even notice.
Either way, keep reading to find out all the best things to do in Santa Marta Colombia as well as the best hostels in Santa Marta.
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Best Things to do in Santa Marta Colombia
If you’re aching for a lazy beachside town with good food, chilled out vibes and one hell of sunset then Palomino is calling your name.
Above everything else, I absolutely adore the level of chill that is circulating through this town.
It’s the perfect destination to relax after hiking to the Lost City or having a weekend of heavy partying in Santa Marta.
The beach might not have the whitest sand or the bluest water, but Palomino does have those highly addictive chilled out vibes you’ve been looking for after a long trip adventuring through Colombia.
Keep in mind while the partying isn’t crazy here, there are a couple of bars and places to drink at nighttime to keep you busy.
In addition to this, I also noticed that the food exceeds mediocre in Palomino.
Keep an eye out for some succulent pizza and the freshest empanadas cooked right in front of you.
Long story short, if you’ve been going nonstop around Colombia and you want some place to chill for a while and with some good food, Palomino is where you need to go.
2. TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
Tayrona National Park Colombia is an absolute must for anyone visiting Santa Marta.
The ever so popular national park boasts beautiful beaches and a massive tropical jungle you won’t ever get bored adventuring through.
Inside the park, you will discover several different beaches situated along the Caribbean coast, each as beautiful as the next with the most famous beach being Cabo San Juan.
However, the only thing about Tayrona National Park is that in order to reach the beautiful beaches, you will have to hike through the dense Colombian jungle to get there.
No cars or bikes, just your own two feet, though they do also have horses that can take you around too.
The entire hike only takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, with each beach being located around a 20-minute walk from one another.
That being said, don’t let the word ‘hike’ scare you away… it’s merely a stroll through the jungle to see some of Colombia’s best beaches!
And the best beach in Tayrona “Cabo San Juan” happens to be the very last one on the hiking route.
Nothing worth seeing ever comes easy!
Whether you stay a few nights camping out here or if it’s simply one of your day trips from Santa Marta, you will certainly enjoy your time in Tayrona National Park.
While I wouldn’t consider Minca an absolute must for anyone traveling on a tight schedule when visiting Santa Marta, it is a nice place to visit for backpackers with a little more time.
Minca is the perfect place for some R&R, especially if you’ve been frequently enjoying Colombia’s vibrant nightlife scene.
In terms of cool things to do in Minca during the day, you can hike to waterfalls, viewpoints, or you can go on coffee or birdwatching tours.
However, to get the best experience in Minca, I highly recommend you book a few nights at Casa Elemento.
I know you’ve all seen the picture of the giant hammocks overlooking the jungle, and one of them is actually considered to be “the largest hammock in the world”, which is located right at Casa Elemento.
However, you better ring your mama and tell her the news before you arrive because there is no Wi-Fi here!
So prepare to disconnect to reconnect with nature and actually speak to people, relax on those giant hammocks and listen to the sounds of the jungle.
By far the coolest thing to see in Minca, Casa Elemento is located high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, another 30 minutes past Minca town.
While the journey to Casa Elemento from Santa Marta is a bit hectic, the views and the experience are beyond worth it.
4. EL RODADERO
The beachside neighborhood of El Rodadero is where you soak up the sun by day, and party at the beach bars by night (two of the best things to do in Santa Marta!).
It’s located about a 10-minute drive from the center of Santa Marta, and it’s quite common for travelers to find accommodation here rather than in the center.
If you don’t feel like spending your nights here, it’s close enough to the city to treat El Rodadero as a day trip from Santa Marta with just enough time to enjoy the beach life while the suns up.
Given that Santa Marta’s beach isn’t the nicest (and this being quite generous), it’s nice to know you can take a quick drive to a nearby beach where you can relax under the sun.
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5. PLAYA BLANCA
I know you’ve heard of Playa Blanca in Cartagena, but have you heard of Playa Blanca in Santa Marta?
Santa Marta’s Playa Blanca is equally as beautiful as the one in Cartagena but with considerably fewer tourists.
Playa Blanca offers that Caribbean feel you’ve been looking for with outrageously blue water and luxuriously soft, white sand.
Playa Blanca is a beach-lovers wonderland and one of the best things to do in Santa Marta!
Taganga is a little fishing village that is extremely popular among backpacking tourists who love the beach, partying, or diving.
Many come here to get their certified diving license, while others prefer to just chill out and relish in the beach atmosphere.
Taganga is one of the best day trips from Santa Marta and easily one of the best things to do in Santa Marta Colombia.
Even staying in Taganga for a few nights is totally worth it especially with the beachside nightlife that goes on at night.
Located just 20-minutes out of the city of Santa Marta there’s no reason why you can’t visit Taganga during your visit.
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7. TREK TO THE LOST CITY (CIUDAD PERDIDA)
For most backpackers traveling to Colombia, the 4-day trek to the Lost City is number one when it comes to the best things to do in Santa Marta.
A bit of history:
This ancient Colombian city lost deep within the jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges was built in 800 A.D., long before Machu Picchu was ever thought of.
It was abandoned during the Spanish conquest and rediscovered again in 1972 by a group of treasure looters who stole any gold valuable from the site.
The items started showing up on the black market, and archaeologists began reconstruction again in 1976.
Trekking to the Lost City is what to do in Santa Marta if you’re a history lover up for an adventure!
8. LA GUAJIRA
If you close your eyes and imagine the desert mixed with the beach, what you envision is essentially what you’ll see at La Guajira.
La Guajira is a 149-mile Peninsula of barren desert that will make you feel like you’re riding on the dunes of Dubai, all while being located along the Caribbean coast where there are miles of quiet beaches waiting to be explored by eager backpackers like yourself.
It’s located about 4-hours from Santa Marta by bus, so staying here for a couple of nights will be worth your while.
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9. COSTEÑO BEACH
Costeño Beach is a popular destination for many backpackers, whether they opt to stay there for a few nights or go there as a day trip from Santa Marta.
It’s a quiet and chilled out paradise on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Some might compare Costeño Beach to Palomino which also shares the same chilled out vibes that Costeño Beach has.
In addition to this, Costeño Beach is also considered by many as a surfer’s paradise with a majority of people looking to catch a wave.
WHERE TO STAY IN SANTA MARTA COLOMBIA
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Our three favorite places to stay in Santa Marta are right here… click here for the full blog post and more information on where to stay in Santa Marta Colombia.
La Brisa Loca is honestly one of the cleanest hostels we’ve ever stayed at.
Each bed has its own fan, light, charging ports, and curtain ensuring your own privacy in the dorm room.
The bathrooms are nice and clean, you get free breakfast, free coffee all day and a restaurant open from 8 am -9.30 pm where you can order some delicious food for a reasonable price.
Keep in mind they play music and serve drinks every night while hosting massive parties on the rooftop from Thursday-Sunday.
Therefore if you’re looking for a wild night out, La Brisa Loca has got you covered.
Another excellent hostel in Santa Marta to consider is Republica!
They are just as clean and convenient as La Brisa Loca, however, they don’t host the ear deafening parties on the top floor of the hostel every weekend.
So if you’re after something a little quieter, I would book your accommodation at Republica Hostel!
For those who want a break from the hostel life for a little while!
ADAZ Hotel features a rooftop pool, free American style buffet breakfast, and a HOT SHOWER! Yes, you read correctly.
ADAZ Hotel is a comfortable and affordable hotel, especially when you’re traveling with two people and can split the cost of the room.
If you’re after complete comfort and a warm shower, ADAZ Hotel is where you need to be!
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