Santa Marta and Taganga

Santa Marta and neighboring Taganga are top destinations for Colombians and tourists alike. Sandy beaches, heaps of history, cheap scuba diving, and access to some of Northern Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations- it’s easy to see why so many people flock to these seaside resorts.

Getting There

Santa Marta is easily reached by plane and by bus, while getting to neighboring Taganga involves a winding bus ride over a pass through the mountains. Mini buses for Taganga depart every 10 minutes or so from Santa Marta’s main street, while buses from Taganga to Santa Marta depart with the same regularity from the street that runs along the beach.

Things to do in Santa Marta and Taganga

  • Camp on the beach- Backpackers FLOCK to Taganga due to its close proximity to Tayrona National Park- a beautiful national park right on the coast of northern Colombia. Camp on the beach, sleep in hammocks, hike through rain forests, and swim in crystal clear Caribbean waters- what’s not to love?
  • Play Indiana Jones- The Ciudad Perdida (aka Lost City) is an ancient archaeological site estimated to have been founded around 800 AD- 650 years before the infamous Machu Picchu. The ruins lie deep within the Colombian rainforest, and operators offer various tours that involve trekking through the jungle, camping at the ruins, and exploring the site on foot. Take your bug spray.
  • Dive in- Taganga and Santa Marta are known for their reputation as being some of the cheapest places to get scuba certified in the world. Backpackers head to the beaches in droves to party by night and dive by day.
  • Speaking of the Beach- both Santa Marta and Taganga are holiday spots for the local Colombian as well, so you can bet that there’s something to be said for the beaches. Pack a picnic, grab a book, start a dance party- anything goes on the beaches of Northern Colombia...
  • FIESTA! Taganga has reputation among backpackers for being a bit wild and crazy. Everyone wants to let loose when they’re at the beach...

Cafes along the waterfront in Santa Marta

Insider Tips

  • Taganga can get pretty crazy- it has a big party reputation among backpackers and budget travelers. If you’re there to learn to dive, you’ll have to temper your evening’s festivities, as the dive operators won’t let you dive if you’ve partied too hard the night before...
  • At the time of our visit, Taganga only had one ATM, and it wasn’t working. It’s a 45-minute bus ride to the nearest ATM in Santa Marta, so it’s best to show up in Taganga with some cash in hand.
  • Taganga is known for its cheap dive operators- if you are there to learn to dive or do some recreational diving on your own, shop around, and make sure the shop has all the safety and certification requirements met. Cheapo dive operators are known for being a bit dodgy...
  • Both Santa Marta and Taganga sit with their beaches facing west- perfect orientation for some incredible sunsets. Grab your camera, your journal, your favorite beverage, and enjoy a Colombian sunset along the Caribbean Coast.
  • When you're heading out to Tayrona, make sure to pack extra bug spray, and maybe even take a mozzy net. It's no fun to get eaten alive when you're trying to camp on the beach...

Sunset in Taganga