Vacation in Santa Marta Colombia
So you want to take a trip to South America and explore Santa Marta, Colombia? You have probably heard about the beautiful coast city of Cartagena, Colombia. With its history and location near the beach it is a popular tourist destination. Maybe you have been to Cartagena already and are looking for a new adventure. Perhaps you are planing a trip along the Colombian Caribbean coast and would like to visit various Colombian beach cities.
Santa Marta is a popular destination for couples on romantic getaways or honeymoons, a family vacation, bachelor/bachelorette parties, backpackers, and more.
In this post I’ll go over some recommended things to do in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Hotel in Santa Marta
First things first, accommodations. As a seasoned traveler I have stayed in an array of tourist accommodations.
Hostels in Santa Marta. When I was younger I would love staying at hostels everywhere I went. Hostels are great because they are a hub for foreigners and a great way to make friends and find things to do. The negative side is that you have to share a dorm with a few other people and most hostels are not clean or quiet.
I stayed in a hostel in Santa Marta my first visit, La Brisa Loca. This is definitely a party hostel, there is always something going on, and they have a big bar inside with beer, cocktails and food. La Brisa Loca is big, yet welcoming. I stayed in a private room because I do not really like to be in a big dorm full of people. The rate was the standard for a hostel in Colombia. If you are looking for a party this is the place to look.
My second time in Santa Marta was a bit different. I took my girlfriend and I wanted something more intimate, more romantic. So a hostel in Santa Marta was not going to cut it.
I understand the allure of the big vacation resorts for some people. Santa Marta has a few large hotels. The most popular resort hotel in Santa Marta is Irotoma Resort. My girlfriend and I took a look at it online. Although it is on the Rodadero beach and has many amenities it was too big for us. It has over 350 rooms, the rooms are in high rise hotel buildings, and it felt like we were just renting an apartment. It was not the romantic Santa Marta vacation experience we were looking for.
Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina. My girlfriend and I wanted to be in Santa Marta, because we wanted to have easy access to the beaches. We were lucky enough to come across a great boutique hostel in Santa Marta called Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina. The biggest difference between staying in a big hotel and a boutique hotel has to be the level of service and the cleanliness. Not only was our room elegant and romantic, but it was very clean. We loved hanging out at the pool in the late mornings after breakfast, before going out to explore Santa Marta. When we came back in the evening we enjoyed lounging in the rooftop Jacuzzi. For the same price of 3 nights in the big resort, we spent a week in the elegant boutique hotel and explored all of the tourist attractions in and around Santa Marta.
Go To Parque Tayrona
It does not matter whether you are traveling solo, with a friend, a significant other, or in a group. You will absolutely love Parque Tayrona. With its combination of jungle and beaches it is Santa Marta’s number one tourist attraction.
What is so special about Parque Tayrona? Well first of all Parque Tayrona has been a protected national park since 1964. So its natural beauty is preserved. Since it’s a national park you do have to pay an admission fee of COP $38,000 – a small fee for such a beautiful place. It is 12 hectares of picturesque beaches, lowland, desert and dense jungle.
You can take hikes into the jungle; the trails vary in difficulty. If you just want a flat calm hike through the jungle to see nature or if you want to climb to the indigenous Tayrona ruins in the most accessible highlands, there is something for everyone. You can do a day trip to just relax on the beach or you can stay in one of the tourist accommodations in the park, you can even camp if you would like.
For more information on visiting Parque Tyrona talk to the Casa Carolina staff they know it well.
Play in Taganga
Taganga is a small fishing village about 15 minutes away from Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina in Santa Marta. You can get there by taxi or bus. Taganga is great for a day trip. The main Taganga beach is good for swimming or eating at one of the beach restaurants. A 15 minute walk north of town lies Playa Grande, definitely better than Taganga’s beach, but maybe even more crowded. It is also possible to take a boat to get there (from COP $7,000 per person round trip) or one of the more remote beaches in Tayrona Park like Bahia Concha, Chengue and Playa Cristal (around COP $80-90,000 per person for a round trip).
A longer walk goes to Bonito Gordo and from there to Bahia Concha. Reserve a full day for this, make sure to ask the staff at Casa Carolina for guide information. You can spend the night at Bahia Concha, but you may need to take your own hammock.
Scuba diving. Taganga has turned in to a popular scuba diving spot. Diving spots are usually near the small island “Aguja”, a part of Tayrona National Park. The underwater of Taganga has a big diversity of marine life. There are a dozen diving schools in town, since it was our first time, we consulted the staff at Casa Carolina and they helped us with choosing a good scuba diving school in Taganga.
Our vacation was a success
Our Santa Marta vacation was a big hit. Establishing the hotel and the beach destinations proved to be the most important thing we could have done. Once we found this beautiful boutique hotel in Santa Marta we were able to relax. We relied on the staff to help us find the ideal beaches and activities and after our day trips we were very happy to come back to our oasis at Casa Carolina. We will definitely be back to Santa Marta for more scuba diving and we will be back at Hotel Boutique Casa Carolina.