Beach Guide, Santa Marta Colombia
One of the most common questions we are asked at Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina is “Which is the Best Beach in Santa Marta?”. The answer is of course, “That Depends…”
Read our beach guide to Santa Marta to better understand the different options…
Colombia’s Caribbean coast is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of pristine beaches, many of them untouched and barely visited. Santa Marta is without a doubt the best location in Colombia to visit exquisite beaches and many of our guests at Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina tell us they have encountered the most beautiful beaches in the world in and around Santa Marta’s Parque Tayrona.
The Exclusive Option – Private boat from the International Marina of Santa Marta to Parque Tayrona
The ultimate way to enjoy the Parque Tayrona is by chartering a private yacht for your group and enjoying the exclusivity of visiting deserted virgin beaches and touring the dramatic coastline by sea. In the windy season (November to July), the trip can be pretty exciting with the boat skipping over crested waves and flying fish landing on deck. Private boats operate from Taganga and from the Marina in the Centro Historico. A typical trip costs around 2-3 million pesos (1,000-1,500 USD) for the day, with capacity for around 20 passengers. Not the cheapest way to visit the beach, but truly unforgettable.
The Go It Alone Option – Bus or taxi and hike or donkey into the Parque Tayrona
Most visitors to the Parque Tayrona catch a taxi or bus to the Canaveral entrance (costing 80,000 pesos by taxi or 10,000 pesos per person by bus) and walk on the jungle path (or hitch a ride on a local donkey) for around an hour to reach the beautiful beach of Arrecifes. Accommodation options in and around Arrecifes include luxury Ecohabs and comfortable Cabañas operated by Aviatur, and camping / hammocks / simple beach huts offered locally. In Arrecifes visitors are strongly advised not to swim as currents can be extremely dangerous, however within 10 minutes walk there are safe bays for swimming. Around an hour’s walk along the coast brings you to La Piscina, a huge and beautiful sea lagoon. Another 30 minutes walk takes you to Cabo San Juan. Along the route snacks, water and simple fresh lunches can be found. Entrance to Parque Tayrona is 38,000 pesos for tourists and 14,500 pesos for Colombians.
The Cultural Option – A guided Tour by Magic Tours to Pueblito, an indigenous village in Parque Tayrona
For those seeking culture and coastline, Magic Tours’ all day trip with six hours of hiking takes in several different beaches and Pueblito, an indigenous village tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The tour includes transport to and from the Parque, a guide, as well as lunch, and costs 200,000 pesos per person (based on a group of four).
The Party Option – Sunset in Taganga followed by open air nightclub
Taganga is just a ten minute taxi or bus from Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina and from the Centro Historico of Santa Marta. As a beach it doesn’t compare for beauty to the Parque Tayrona, but a charming little fishing village turned backpackers and beach party destination it comes alive at night. Arrive late afternoon for a dip in the sea followed by cocktails and dinner on the beach for the sunset. Dance until the sun rises in Mirador open air disco.
The Speed Option – Playa Grande, Taganga
A 5-10 minute boat ride from Taganga, Playa Grande is sandy – compared to Taganga’s pebbles – and even more relaxed. Little boats leave the whole time and cost just a few dollars each way. It’s a convenient option for just a few hours of nice sandy beach if you don’t have time to make it to Parque Tayrona and great for a dip, fresh fish lunch in a deckchair and undisturbed sunbathing.
The Musical Option – Rodadero for Vallenato and Rum on the beach
Rodadero is nothing special by day. The beach is nice enough and the water calm and inviting, but sellers of just about everything hassle you all day and the area can get crowded. Rodadero town is pretty run down and will soon be totally eclipsed by the Centro Historico of Santa Marta 10 minutes the other side of the Siruma hill. BUT, as the sun goes down and the live Vallenato groups come out, the beach takes a more charming spin. Groups of friends and families sit in deckchairs (which can be hired for a few dollars for the night) drinking Aguila and rum and dancing and singing. Snacks and fresh juices from street sellers are always available, with basic restaurants along the oceanfront. The atmosphere is relaxed and family-oriented, a great place to take in the local vibe.
The Convenient Option – Cabo San Juan, Bahia Concha, Playa Cristal with Magic Tours
Magic Tours offer trips by road and by sea to Cabo San Juan, Playa Cristal and Bahia Concha. All are day trips include lunch, entrance to the park, two-way transport and in some cases snorkelling activities. The trip to Bahia Concha costs 50,000 pesos and 90,000 for Playa Cristal or Cabo San Juan. The advantage of the Magic Tours option is the convenience and comfort of being collected from Casa Carolina Hotel Boutique and accompanied by trustworthy guides. For certain guests this is an important aspect of exploring the local area which gives peace of mind.
More Distant Options – Barlovento, Palomino, Riohacha and La Guajira
Beyond Parque Tayrona the beach keeps going, all the way to Venezuela… There are some beautiful natural spots to be discovered. The unrivalled and breathtaking beauty of Maloka-Barlovento whose rustic but exclusive beach cabins perched precariously above the breaking waves are unmissable. Sunset with the clouds moodily spilling down the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, along the river and releasing into the sea is unique. A few kilometres further along the same road are Buritaca, Palomino and Costeña Beach, all of which offer a multitude of options for backpackers, with nearby waterfalls and even surfable waves. Two hours further along is Riohacha and another 3-4 hours The Guajira desert which stretches all the way to the border with Venezuela.