I’d been told by a few people not to expect much from Santa Marta, that it was ugly and dangerous, however after Bogotá honestly anything was a step up from cement, cold & rain, so I was pleasantly surprised! It’s by no means stunning, but it was finally more the Colombia I had built in my mind: warm, sunny, colourful, buzzing and with a beach! We had to spend a day/night there anyway as treks to the Lost City leave early morning every day, so if you fly in like us you won’t make it in time. Honestly, it’s not a bad place to just relax a bit.
We immediately changed into summer clothes and our bodies literally starting soaking up the warmth and sun. We asked which the best beaches were and jumped on a local ‘bus’ headed to Taganga. Save some money by simply hopping on one of the local buses which get you there for just a few cents. You can catch them on the main road, just ask around as all locals know where to direct you.
The scenery is quite something as you drive along the coast, surrounded by dry desert-like land and cacti to then suddenly see the sea below. It’s a beautiful and slightly surreal contrast. Once you get there, you’ll notice the mass of people – not quite the chilled beach we expected, but then you’ll get hassled about catching a ‘launch’ (small boat) to Playa Grande just around the corner. We did it hoping to get some peace and quiet to then discover that evidently that’s everyone’s thought process..so it’s equally as busy but at least a bit nicer!
You can rent some deck chairs, swim and relax to some exquisite cocktails, you must try a Piña Colada – we never again had anything quite like them during our stay in Colombia!
Once you’re done with your beach time, you can hop on the local bus back to Santa Marta, it only takes about 20-30 min depending on how speedy the driver is. There is not heaps to do in the town, but you can walk along the marina and enjoy the sunset and then head to the little main street on Calle 17 where you have a variety from Bars & restaurants to choose from. We actually had some delicious pizzas & frozen Margaritas at El Sabor de Italia, not very Colombian but trust me, you’ll be craving your home’s food pretty fast given the Colombian diet!