Read the article to discover all the secrets about the stunning capital of Magdalena.

 Amando el mar, el café y el cayeye: Santa Marta 

In this article, I will tell you which beaches you can visit in Santa Marta and its surroundings.
Moreover, I will highlight 23 plans to do in this incredible place.
Additionally, I will recommend some areas where you can stay in the city, where to eat and what to do at night.

First, I have to admit, this little coastal corner stole a little piece of my heart.

This small city, formally the Tourist Cultural and Historical District of Santa Marta, was founded on July 29 1525, by the Spaniard Rodrigo de Bastidas; According to historians, it is the first oldest city in Colombia and the second in South America.

It is located on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, bordering to the east the department of La Guajira and to the west the municipalities of Ciénaga and Aracataca, the land where Gabriel García Márquez was born, yes, the same one from magical realism.

Its urban centre is between the Caribbean Sea, the reserves of the Tayrona National Natural Park and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; The only highest snow-capped coastline in the world, in other words, the highest snow-capped coastal mountain in the world.

Just imagine the astonishing diversity here. Magical! certain?

Moreover, the city is the house of many artists and sportsmen like Carlos Vives, L’omy, Lalo, Pibe Valderrama and Falcao to name a few.

Do you know why the indigenous communities of the Sierra call it “the heart of the world“?

I link you the documentary Aluna, which is about the worldview and philosophy that the Kogis have, so you understand this important statement: “Aluna – An Ecological Warning by the Kogi People“.

So what makes Santa Marta so special and a must-see on your visit to Colombia?

  • The more than 200 beaches, its waterfalls and rivers, the vegetation of the dry and humid tropical forest, the incredible sunsets, the warmth of the people, its delicious typical food and the island lifestyle that its narrow streets and climate transmit. In short, its whole vibe.
  • For those of us who work remotely, the internet connection is quite good, and in recent years some coworking spaces have been opened. In the historic centre, you can find two great spots for working online: Feeling and Flamingo.
  • Hiking to Cuidad Perdida is mandatory since it is an experience of absolute connection with nature, body, soul and spirit; A very special journey to connect with your inner being and life’s purpose.

What about the weather in Santa Marta?

The weather is very sunny most of the year. The average temperature is 32 ° C and the humidity reaches up to 90%. You sweat a lot!

The rainy season occurs in the months of May, June, September, October. And it is completely dry from December to April. It’s like it’s always summer.

I hope this blog will be very helpful to you, dear traveller friend!

If you wish, I invite you to follow us on our Facebook and Instagram page @wordintravel where we will share more content about the topic.


  1. What beaches to visit in Santa Marta?

1.1 Beaches in Santa Marta

1.2 Beaches in Taganga

1.3 Beaches in Tayrona Park

  1. Plans to do in Santa Marta

2.1 What to do in Minca?

  1. Where to stay in Santa Marta?
  2. Where to eat in Santa Marta?
  3. What to do at night in Santa Marta?
  4. Final recommendations

And there we go!

What beaches to visit in Santa Marta?

The beaches of the pearl of the Caribbean are the following:

1.1 Beaches in Santa Marta.

  • Santa Marta Bay.

It is the main beach in front of the first race of the historic centre on the right side, there is the Port of Santa Marta, and on the left side, the Marina de Santa Marta.
Along its median, there are all kinds of businesses such as restaurants, travel agencies, cafes, hotels, and souvenir shops, among other businesses, where visitors and inhabitants meet while enjoying the magical sunset.
Fun fact, did you know?…
The port of Santa Marta has a natural depth that benefits the mobilisation and loading of vessels that arrive every day from different parts of the world, making it the deepest and safest natural port in America.
The truth is that the port here is a pleasure to admire.

  • Cocos Beach (Playa Los Cocos)

Next to the bay, there is Playa Los Cocos in which the Manzanares River flows, hence the sea is cloudy.

It is a residential area with buildings and hotels such as the Hilton, AC Marriot among others. There are also seafood restaurants such as Mañe Cayón, which is highly recommended.

On these two beaches, people bathe, but I would recommend you just appreciate them since they are very polluted and your skin can get irritated.

I like these two beaches better to enjoy the view, of the port, the boats arriving, unloading and leaving, as well as the fishermen from side to side. The birds and of course. A to meet visitors.

  • Rodadero

The iconic Rodadero beach it’s located in the neighbourhood of the same name, about 10 minutes from the historic centre. It is one of the best beaches to go swimming and sunbathing, although on weekends it is full.

Some activities at this beach are jet-skiing, water worm and kayak.
On the streets, there are all types of commerce and tourist services, so it is often very crowded.

  • White beach (Playa Blanca)

As its name indicates, here the water is crystal clear and the sand is thick white. It’s 15 minutes from Rodadero. Here you will find restaurants, instructors to snorkel or rent the equipment and also the Canopy Adventure over the sea. Fantastic!

To get there, you buy the round trip boat ticket at the Rodadero, you can do it with the TaxiMarino agency or at the end of the Rodadero beach, where the boats leave, there are other agencies selling tickets for approximately 15,000 COP about 4 USD round trip per person.

Remember that these prices may vary by season.

  • The Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum

I don’t like the idea of ​​having animals in captivity either, though, I don’t know why I almost always end up visiting these types of spaces, hahaha.

The Santa Marta aquarium has a Sea Museum and Tayrona Museum. Which I found interesting.

In the first, you will find nautical elements, pieces of different marine species, large stuffed fish and shells from the sea that have been rescued over the years that are preserved as relics.

In the second, you will learn about some material vestiges of the first settlers of Santa Marta, the Tayrona, which are close to what their culture, beliefs, and customs were.

Also at the end of the tour there is a show with dolphins and you can even swim with them with an additional price.

  • Inca Inca Beach

A quiet and small arid beach to be totally relaxed. The sand is similar to that of the Rodadero and the crystal clear water. The beach is semi-private, therefore there are no street vendors.

How to get to Inca Inca?

You can rent a yacht with other people in the Marina. Buy a tour from Rodadero in Taxi Marino. Or go by land, a walk of about 30 minutes.

  • Puerto Gaira Beach

Next to the Rodadero, there is Puerto Gaira beach. The curious thing about this beach is that 5+ meters from the sea the depth remain the same; it is perfect for children.

As the Rodadero is always full, this is another alternative for a good swim.

  • Salguero Beach

Between the mouth of the Gaira River, on the right side is Puerto Gaira, while on the left is Salguero Beach. The southern Rodadero area.

This neighbourhood with many buildings has a beach characterized by the open sea.

Wait, Do not panic!

In other words, the sea on the shore is deep, and the waves are medium-strong.

PS: Sunsets from here are amazing!

  • Cabo Tortuga Beach

If you travel to Santa Marta on weekends, you have to keep in mind that all the natural tourist product sites are full of locals and tourists who come to enjoy the beaches and rivers of the pearl of America.

Cabo Tortuga and the three following beaches are on the way to the airport. By car, it is about 20 minutes from the historic centre and 10 minutes from Rodadero.

These are quiet and not very crowded beaches, most of them are people who stay in the hotels located at the foot of the beach. The Hostal Playa del Ritmo is also located in this sector.

  • Pozo Colorados Beach

In front of these beaches in the Pozo Colorado sector is the Estelar Santamar Hotel and Convention Center. Therefore, if you stay here you have easy access to these beaches.

  • Bello Horizonte Beach

Next, the Bello Horizonte sector follows, there are resort hotels such as Zuana, Irotama, Mercure among others…

It is worth mentioning that these hotels have direct access to the beach.

  • Sleeping beach (Playa Dormida)

This is where the luxury Sleepy Beach Marriott hotel is also located. This area is secluded and quiet.

  • Airport Beach (Playa del Aeropuerto

Located at the Airport, this beach has strong waves with a very local atmosphere, there are several kiosks where they sell typical food, drinks and chair service to enjoy a beach day in the samarium style.

 1.2 Taganga Beaches
  • Playaca Beach

It is the first beach that we find on the way to Taganga. It is private and has a price of 10,000 COP per person. Here you’ll find an exclusive, calm and spectacular atmosphere, with an astonishing view.

  • Taganga Bahia

It is the main beach of Taganga. Its inhabitants call themselves Tagangeros, an indigenous community. Most of these populations are fishermen or make a living from tourism.

Along the main street of this fish-scented corner; there are several restaurants, craft vendors, hostels, souvenir shops, travel agencies, among other businesses.

  • Genemaka Beach

It is a fishermen’s beach; (it is good that you know that Taganga is ancestral fishing territory and, from these mountains, the delimitation of the Tayrona National Natural Park begins) since this area is dedicated to “ancestral fishing”, a practice of identity culture of the Tagangeros.

These open their trammel nets or dinghies to the shore around Taganga. Genemaka is one of those areas, and it is only 5 minutes by boat from the main beach.


Because it is a crystal clear beach with a beautiful landscape, locals and tourists come to take a refreshing swim.

Take note that there are no restaurants here. The garbage truck does not pass either.

So, take your trash and leave the good vibes!

You see, the mountains of Taganga are full of plastic. We no longer want this destruction in the natural landscape.

  • Playa Grande  

The most visited beach in Taganga. For being the most extensive and crystalline, a complete paradise!

Here there are more than 20 restaurants, where you can eat a typical fried or grilled fish and enjoy a day of sun, breeze and sea while you tan.

Some of the activities you can do are snorkelling, jetski, kayak and banana boat.

How to get to Playa Grande from Taganga?

Through one of the main streets of the beach, there are the departures of the boats; there, you buy the round trip ticket for 20,000 COP / 5 UDS

Remember that these prices change according to the season.

  • Sisiguaca Beach

A very small and intimate beach. Of clear sand and crystal clear waters with a paradisiacal view

This is also a fishing area. It is not mass tourism. Some guides arrive with tourists to snorkel.

A family lives on the beach. They offer tent service, food, drinks such as beer and water. (No natural juices, because there is no electricity).

So far from the beaches that you can meet in Taganga, do not stay without visiting this small and cosy place.

1.3 Beaches in Tayrona National Park

The Tayrona National Natural Park, (PNNT) are Santa Marta’s most beautiful beaches. All of these are virgin, with white sand and crystal clear waters.

Get ready to visit the following Tayrona beaches:

  •  Bahía concha  

It is an extensive beach with a shimmering navy blue sea, thick white sand and medium waves. A complete paradise in the tropical dry forest of Tayrona. About 50 minutes from Santa Marta.

To enter you pay an entrance tax; which you can review on the parks page since the income has many variations.

You can enter by car or motorcycle, and pay for the parking. The other option is to hire a tour that includes the above.

  • Bahía of Neguanje  

This is another quiet beach in the PNNT with crystal clear waters. From here you take the boat to playa cristal. About a 10 minute drive.

Same about entrance and parking system.

  • Cristal Beach or “Playa del Muerto”

The best beach in Tayrona Park. It is among the six best beaches in South America, its characteristics are similar to those of an Island, thus a view of the sea 7 colours with white sand. This is only allowed during the day.

Yes, if you are going to spend a few days in Santa Marta, you cannot avoid coming here. It is possible to arrive by tour or by private car.

It has a 1-kilometre coral reef where you can snorkel until you get bored.

Like the last two, admission, medical insurance and parking are subject to charges.

To get to this beach I recommend that you hire a tour, or get in touch via whatsapp!

  • Cabo San Juan del Guía Beach

To get to this beach, you must enter through the main entrance of Tayrona Park, Zaino. And from there you can go on walking or by horse. It is approximately 2 hours from Cañaveral to Cabo San Juan del Guía.

Don’t let the hours of walking scare you! It is a very pleasant walk, you get to know the vegetation of the park, other beaches and even animals that live there such as howler monkeys.

This is perhaps the best known part of Tayrona and the one that attracts thousands of tourists every year from anywhere in the world.

Tayrona is a truly magical place!

This ecological pump is quite an adventure. To live it to its fullest, my recommendation is to stay at least one night to sleep.

Here you can dive, camp and disconnect from the city. Because the internet does not arrive or at least it is very sporadic.

Other beaches.

After the PNNT, there are many other beautiful crystalline beaches, such as the following:

  • Costeño beach  

It’s the beach of the famous Costeño hostel.

It emanates great energy coming from the rainforest. You can visit this wonderful place by booking a night at the hostel or taking a day trip, which is also possible.

  • Mendihuaca 

Beyond Costeno, you will find another beach area with crystal clear waters and a calm atmosphere. Here is where the hotel Mendihuaca Resort is located.

Yes, yes, yes…I know we passed already the count…

So make your choice! 😅

If your stay is short, with a closed eye, I recommend that you go to the beaches of Parque Tayrona and Taganga.

2. What plans to do in Santa Marta?

21 plans to do in Santa Marta.

1- Take a walk through the ridge of the bay of Santa Marta.

I had already told you that here you can see the most magical sunsets; This is a great option for a relaxed afternoon.

My recommendation is to go at 4:30 p.m. to watch the sunset with friends or family. Or else, just while you read a book or have a glass of wine/craft beer made in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; The Happy Hummingbird is my favourite!

Some restaurants with a clear view are La Primera Restaurant, Caribbean Team, and Las 7 Mares Santa Marta restaurant.

2- Walk through the streets of the historic center of Santa Marta.

The historic centre is relatively small. Most of the old houses have a republican style of architecture.

There you will get to know places like Plaza San Francisco, which has the same name as the first church built in Latin America that is located there.

Also, the commercial area of ​​the city is worth a visit, places such as the library of the Bank of the Republic, the Tayrona Gold Museum, the Simón Bolívar Park, and the banking area. Likewise, the cathedral, the alley of the mail, and the park of the boyfriends.

To better locate all these sites, I suggest you help yourself with the Google Maps application or buy a local tour.

3- Do a city bike tour through the historic centre.

The Rent Bike agency located on Calle 16 Cra 3 (mail alley) offers the city bike tour through the centre as an entertaining way to get to know it.

Other bike tours they offer are to Minca, Taganga and Bahía Concha.

4- Pass through the Simón Bolívar Park

Located between the first and third highways, between streets 14 and 15 of the historic center. There is the Simón Bolívar park, in front of Tairona Gold Museum and one block away from the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Marta.

5- Visit the Tairona Gold Museum in the customs house

If you want to know first-hand the history of the settlement of this little Caribbean corner, you have to visit the Tairona Gold Museum.

It turns out that the Taironas were a pre-Columbian group, and from them, the current settlers of La Sierra descended: The Arawaks, Koguis, Wiwa and Kankuamos.

The entrance is free. You just have to present the Covid vaccination card.

From Tuesday to Saturday 9:00-17:00
Sunday: 10:00-15:00

6- Visit the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Marta.

A majestic work of baroque art painted white, it is located on Calles 16 and 17 between Carrera IV and Quinta. An architectural gem.

7- Highway 3rd. Eat at El Callejo del Correo.

Carrera 3ra is called “El Callejo del Correo” on this street you will find a wide gastronomic offer.

Restaurants with live music, bars, ice cream parlours and very cosy nightclubs.

8- Visit the Cultural Center and Museum of Ethnographic Art of the University of Magdalena

This beautiful, important and historical architectural work; was initially the headquarters of the Superior College, Major Seminary of the Diocese of Santa Marta; In the last two decades it has been the centre of culture and ethnographic art museum of the University of Magdalena.

Admission is free in case you want to take a walk through the museum to observe and perhaps be inspired by the works of local and national artists.

9- Marine Natural History Museum of Colombia

If you are crazy about marine life, here you can expand and broaden your knowledge about this mysterious underwater world.

In the building of the Marine and Coastal Research Institute, which is located on Salguero Beach, a sector known as Rodadero Sur.

10- Refresh yourself with a natural juice at the oldest juice stand in Santa Marta

Calle 16 with Carrera 5. Exactly where is located the Teatro de Santa Marta there was an emblematic place called the street of juices.

The workers of these street stalls have been serving the “Samariums” and their visitors for more than 35 years. Currently, they have been relocated and are now on the median of the bay.

The heat of Santa Marta is the perfect excuse for you to cool off with a natural juice of the fruit you want for a minimum price.

11- Go to the fifth of San Pedro Alejandrino

The iconic place La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, is where the liberator Simón Bolívar spent his last days, after dying of tuberculosis.

This wonderful place has great nature and two art museums.

12- Visit the Mundo Marino Museum

Dare to visit Mundo Marino in particular the turtle aquarium, reef aquarium and stingray aquarium among others… there are 25 aquariums in total with more than 180 species.

Entrance to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check the cost of admission here.

13- Explore the underwater waters diving around Santa Marta.

Discover the habitat of fish, sea turtles and reefs.
The diving community in Santa Marta is located in Taganga.

I know… again, the vast majority of the blog is about the beaches lol. But… I want you to know that Santa Marta is not just about beach, sun and sand.

Subsequent plans will cover the surroundings of the Sierra Nevada.

14- Trekking to Cuidad Perdida, Tayrona archaeological site.

The Cuidad Perdida Archaeological Park is located north of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the Buritaca river basin at about 900 and 1200 meters above sea level.

Watch this documentary to understand why.

Trekking to Ciudad Perdida is possible through a tour of 4 or 5 days.

Here I link you a couple of very professional local agencies:
Magic Tour

15- Get to know the Guachaca River, the Buritaca River and the Valencia Waterfalls.

The first is located approximately 1 hour from Santa Marta, the mouth of the Guachaca River with crystal clear, cold water that comes down from the mountains, perfect to enjoy and recharge energy in this magical place.

In the Second, the mouth of the Buritaca River is spectacular with those strong sea waves entering it. A magical estuary, where water coming from the river joins the one from the sea.

The third destination is not always available. In the summer season, the drought is such that the river flow drops, which prevents seeing a beautiful waterfall; however, the site is wonderful and you can see huge stones that make up the waterfall.

16- Get to know Minca and its corners

Minca is the coffee town of Santa Marta, a very, very tasty coffee. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada at an altitude of 500m to 3000m, the town of Santa Marta also has many sites and activities to create unforgettable moments.

17- Enjoy a special day at the Marinka waterfalls.

On the other side of Pozo Azul, you can find this private, preserved and patched site. With a lot of flora, and two waterfalls to enjoy a bath, one of them has a natural pool, hanging nets and a restaurant.

18- Meet and sleep in the El Dorado Reserve

It is one of the most important bird watching sites in South America.

I have attached the link to the page so you can get more information about their accommodation.

19- Enjoy the view from Cerro Kennedy

The highest point of Minca, with the best view you can find. I highly recommend this place to those who like trekking.

With this Tour Agency, you can get more information about excursions to this magical place

Of course, the climate is temperate. So wear cold-weather clothes.

20. Coffe tour at Finca Victoria 

Minca is populated by many coffee farms, between them, the La Victoria farm stands out, as it offers a talk to all audiences about the harvest, sowing and production.

Another option to do a Coffee tour in Minca is to get a coffee, cocoa and bamboo tour, highly recommended. Write me to DM, on Instagram to book here.

21. Bird watching.

If you just want to go observe the many birds that live in these mountains, you can go with a local guide mid-morning to do this activity.

Wi Make Tours offers this adventure to curious travelers who take to Santa Marta motivated by biodiversity.

3. Where to stay in Santa Marta?

In the city, there is a wide range of hotels, apartments, Airbnb, and resorts.

Let me recommend some options and locations:

  • Rodadero or South Rodadero.
  • The historic centre of Santa Marta: Masaya, La villana, Traveler hostel among others.
  • Los Cocos Beach: Historic Center Sector.
  • Minca: Casa Vieja By Masaya, Hostal Sierra Minca, among others.
  • Sierra Limon: Bonda Sector.
  • Costeño beach: Tayrona Park Sector.
  • Mendihuaca: Tayrona Park Sector.
  • Rodadero or South Rodadero.
  • The historic centre of Santa Marta: Masaya, La villana, Traveler hostel among others.
  • Los Cocos Beach: Historic Center Sector.
  • Minca: Hostal Sierra Minca, among others.
  • Sierra Limon: Bonda Sector.
  • Costeño beach: Tayrona Park Sector.
  • Mendihuaca: Tayrona Park Sector.

4. Where to eat in Santa Marta?

Best restaurants in Santa Marta, with their respective specialities.

  • Alfaix: Typical Samarian Breakfast.
  • Basilea french cuisine.
  • Lulo: Natural, vegan y vegetarian food.
  • Jardinería: Bar y fresca para picar.
  • Lamart: caribeña, Mariscos, Internacional, Contemporánea.
  • Bob Marly: caribeña e Internacional.
  • Caribeam team : caribeña, colombian, hamburguer. 
  • Ouzo: Fusión, Internacional.
  • Porthos: Churrasquería, Bar, colombian.
  • Senses Restaurant Garden: especialidad paella
  • Mañe Cayón: caribeña, colombian.
  • El paisa en el Rodadero: Sea Food, colombian, caribeña
  • Donde chucho: caribeña, colombian, Internacional
  • Mama mía: Italian cousine.  

5. What to do at night in Santa Marta?

  • Burukuka: restaurant bar with a great view of el rodadero. 
  • Barbas: disco in the historic centre.
  • La bodeguita: disco in the historic centre.
  • Festival shop: bar in the historic centre.
  • Mirador de Taganga: disco in Taganga.  
  • La terraza: disco in the historic centre.
  • El watusi poderoso: bar in the historic centre.
  • Crab’s bar: rock bar in the historic centre.
  • Oh la la la puerta: Samarian Disco.
  • Charlies bar: bar with live Dj.
  • Mi casa tu casa: Restaurant and bar. 
  • La azotea: Disco.
  • La santa: Disco.   
  • La plaza: restaurant & bar.

6- Final recommendations

Some cafes that I recommend are Ikaro and While in the historic centre.

Always use repellent in the mountains, I especially recommend the Nopikes Soap.

Take care of your personal belongings, in public and private places.

Applications like Uber, and Indriver do not work, so I recommend a taxi company that you can call 4209000, on your cell phone dial 605 + 4209000

Googling the places before heading to understand distance, prices and surroundings.

Have fun in Santa Marta!
Any concerns do not hesitate to write to me. I truly hope this little guide can help you better plan your trip to this wonderful place.

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