Marta is a Caribbean resort, while neighbouring Taganga is very much on
the Gringo Trail and where backpackers invariably opt to stay.
Details on each follow, along with advice and information on the better
Marta & Rodadero
Marta is one of Colombia's premier beach resorts. As international
tourists haven't fully discovered quite what a fantastic country
Colombia is, this means that Santa Marta is mainly full of Colombian
tourists. There's numerous high rise beach front hotels both in, and in
the beaches surrounding, Santa Marta. The nearby suburb of Rodadero is
more upmarket but similar in fashion and full of various hotels, lilo
shops and restaurants.
beaches are ok, though rather crowded. Nightlife is fun and rowdy, and
the city is far busier during the peak domestic tourism season. If
you're a man, looking for a Colombian woman, here along with Cali is
where you'll probably have most luck. Think "Cancun", but on a smaller,
less in-your-face package holiday style, but with far more beautiful
who stay in Santa Marta or Taganga usually do so as a launching pad for
tours to two of Colombia's real travel highlights - Park Tayrona, and Ciudad Perdida.
Marta & Rodadero Hotels
dozens of hotels in Santa Marta, and many are pretty non-descript. I'll
only list a few of the better, more interesting ones.
La Casa - a boutique hotel in
Santa Marta? What a refreshing change from all the other, mainly
tasteless hotels. Stay at this 3 bedroom boutique if you can afford it
- it's only US $140 for a double.
La Casa del Farol - another new,
upmarket boutique hotel in the city centre, hurray!
Hotel Casa Vieja - 21 air
conditioned with simple rooms at a very reasonable prices.
Irotama - a "five star golf
resort" that's in an "ecological complex", this option is very good
value, and one of Santa Marta's better big resorts.
Hotel Mar Azul - a 55 room hotel
in the centre of Rodadero.
SunCity - a good value budget /
backpacker hotel in Santa Marta. Tours to Park Tayrona,Ciudad Perdida
etc. can be arranged here.
Nueva Granada - a mid range hotel with a pleasant courtyard,
small swimming pool and just a few blocks from the beach.
Park Hotel - a mid range
waterfront hotel in the centre of town that makes far more of an effort
than it's shabbier numerous neighbours.
Hotel La Sierra - a good mid range
hotel in Rodadero with some great sea views.
La Brisa Loca - a backpackers
hostel that describes itself as a "party hostel".
Aluna Hotel - a good looking Irish
run hotel/hostel in Santa Marta.
also consider the chain hotels of Decameron Galeon, the Estelar
Santamar and the Sol Arhuaco (a Solar owned hotel) - though they are
all pretty non-descript.
outside / next to Santa Marta, Taganga is one of Colombia's top
backpacker hangouts. It's Santa Marta's "alternative" little brother.
is a not particularly attractive beach on which to relax as well as a
few prettier small beaches nearby
(eg. Playa Grande), and some beautiful coastal walks. Taganga is also a
popular place to organise a scuba diving course in Colombia.
out of date guidebooks you might be lead to believe that this is a
peaceful idyllic fishing village - maybe it was like this 15
years ago, but it's not now. Vendors will hassle you on the beach, and
music blares out of beachside restaurants until late at night,
especially so on the weekends. There's a party vibe and little peace
and quiet. If you want peace and beautiful beaches head to nearby Park Tayrona.
final bit of advice - don't drink the water in Taganga as many, many
tourists get seriously ill from it (likewise what out for salads and
juices). Everyone who goes to Taganga seems to get ill (myself
Hotels & Hostels
a very popular backpacker destination, none of the hotels and hostels
in Taganga are expensive. Most of those listed below cost about $10-15
per person, but you'll also find places to sleep for half that price.
Bahia Taganga - up on the hill
overlooking the village, there's 20 rooms at this relatively upmarket
hotel in Taganga.
Techos Azules is a great little
hostel with fantastic views over the bay of Taganga - the only drawback
is that it's a 5 minute walk from the town itself. It's great value
Casa Felipe is one of Taganga's
most well established hostels, and is very popular with backpackers. A
great place to meet other travellers.
Divanga Hostal - remarkably great
value hostal with lovely swimming pool, this is a peaceful option.
Bayview Hostel - another good
value hostel with swimming pool, this is a Colombian owned hotel
(unlike most of the others in Taganga, which seem to be owned by
Ballena Azul is supposedly the
best hotel in Taganga, with a fine (but rather noisy) beachfront
location. I'm personally not a fan as their food is awful, and it
poisoned me so badly that I was unable to move from my bed for 3 days.
I see little point staying here - the other places listed above cost a
third the price, and are just as good. Avoid.
dozens of other accommodation options, most of which are basic but
clean, throughout Taganga. Just turn up and pick one that takes your
the video of Santa Marta
& the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
coast around Santa Marta can get so hot and humid, that travellers
might want to consider heading up into the mountains of Minca to get
away from the heat. This seems to be the main reason to travel to Minca
and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park - to avoid the heat,
relax in a cooler climate, to interact a bit with nature and maybe go
horseriding or birdwatching or frolicking in some rivers. Minca is also
famous for it's organic coffee - which is some of Colombia's best. A
taxi from Santa Marta to Minca should cost about 40,000 pesos (US $20)
- travel time is about 30 minutes. There's a handful of hotels in Minca
to choose from - consider Sierra
Sound or Casa
Santander - both are stylish, comfortable options.
100km South of Santa Marta is Aracataca, birthplace of famous Colombian
writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In books such as One
Hundred Years of Solitude,
Marquez's birthplace was
fictionalized as the sleepy town of Macondo. There are various
Marquez themed attractions in the town and fans of the excellent book
should consider the detour - it's 90 minutes by bus from Santa Marta.
Aracataca has a
couple of simple places to stay and eat, such as the Gypsy