Nestled among the majestic Sierra Nevada and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Santa Marta Colombia stands as a shining jewel on the northern coast of Colombia. This city, the oldest in South America, is a fascinating blend of colonial history, natural wonders and vibrant Caribbean culture. As you walk its cobblestone streets, you will feel the essence of centuries of history flowing through its veins, from the times of the Tayrona Indians to the days of the Liberator Simón Bolívar.
Not only is Santa Marta a historical landmark, but also an epicenter of biodiversity. The proximity of the Sierra Nevada de Santa MartaThe world's highest coastal mountain provides a striking contrast to the tropical landscape of its beaches, offering travelers a variety of ecosystems in a single destination. Here, eternal snow-capped mountains merge with tropical rainforests and end at golden beaches, creating a paradise for adventurers and nature lovers.
As if that were not enough, Santa Marta's rich cultural tapestry resonates in its music, dances and, of course, its cuisine. Indigenous, Spanish and African influences intertwine in dishes that evoke the soul of the Caribbean. From fresh fish to exotic fruits, every bite is a testament to the melting pot of cultures that have influenced this region.
Santa Marta, a hidden jewel on the Caribbean coast of Latin Americais a destination rich with history, nature and vibrant cultural experiences. If you're planning your next adventure, here's a guide to all the things to do in Santa Marta, Colombia.
What airlines fly to Colombia from Costa Rica?
If you are in Costa Rica and are planning your next Caribbean getaway, Santa Marta in Colombia is a destination not to be missed. But how to get there, don't worry, here we guide you through the airlines that offer flights from Costa Rica to Colombia, bringing you closer to the golden beaches of Santa Marta.
1. Avianca: The veteran of the Colombian skiesAvianca offers regular flights from San Jose, Costa Rica to Bogota, Colombia. Once in Bogota, there are multiple daily Avianca flights to Santa Marta. The in-flight service and reliability of this airline make it a favorite choice for many travelers.
2. Copa Airlines: With its hub in Panama City, this Panamanian airline connects San Jose with multiple Colombian cities, including Bogota. After a brief change in Panama, you can easily connect with a flight to Santa Marta.
3. Wingo: If you are looking for cheaper fares, Wingo, a low-cost airline, may be an option to consider. It offers flights between San Jose and Bogota, and from there you can opt for a domestic flight to Santa Marta.
Connecting in Colombia: It is important to note that, in many cases, after arriving in Colombia, you will have to take an internal flight to Santa Marta. Major Colombian airlines offer multiple daily flights from cities such as Bogota, Medellin and Cali to Santa Marta.
Compare Rates: It is advisable to use online booking platforms to compare prices and find the best deal.
Scale Time: If your flight requires a change, make sure you have enough time between flights, especially if you need to go through immigration or customs.
Luggage: Some low-cost airlines may have more restrictive baggage policies, so check before you fly.
Activities to do in Santa Marta
1.Meet the Dream Beaches
Santa Marta is famous for its impressive beaches. The most popular is Playa Blancaan oasis of turquoise waters and fine sand. Not far away, the Tayrona Park offers corners of unspoiled beaches and unique ecosystems, perfect for a hike and a day of relaxation. Here are all the beautiful beaches you can visit in Santa Marta for you to choose where to go.
Located a short distance from Santa Marta, this hidden gem has become a must-see destination for those looking to disconnect from routine and immerse themselves in tropical magic.
Unlike other more commercial beaches, this beach has managed to maintain its natural and authentic essence. Its white sands and crystal clear waters create a hypnotic contrast that invites you to relax and forget about the outside world.
The rhythm here is different: the waves of the sea become the perfect background melody while local vendors offer delicious dishes based on fresh fish, cocadas and other Caribbean delicacies.
Although the main temptation is to lie under the sun and enjoy the scenery, this beach also offers activities for the more adventurous:
Snorkeling: Thanks to its clear waters, it is an ideal place to explore the underwater world. It is not uncommon to find colorful fish and other marine life swimming around you.
Kayaking: A different way to explore the area, allowing you to get closer to less accessible corners of the beach.
Trekking: All around are small trails that offer panoramic views of the coast.
Tips for your visit
Arrive early: This way you will be able to choose the best place to settle in and avoid crowds.
Carry cash: Many vendors do not have electronic means of payment.
Respect the environment: This beach is a gift of nature, so it is essential not to leave trash and take care of the ecosystem.
How to get there?
From Santa Marta, you can take a cab or colectivo. There are also organized tours that offer round-trip transportation and often include additional activities. The road is part of the adventure, as it allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.
On the majestic northern coast of Colombia, you will find one of the country's most impressive natural treasures: the Tayrona National Natural Park. This is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Santa Marta, as this biodiversity jewel is a perfect combination of tropical rainforests, pristine beaches and ancient culture.
Tayrona is much more than dream beaches. Its extension includes mountain areas, rainforests and marine areas, being home to a varied fauna and flora. From colorful toucans to howler monkeys, life in the park is a constant spectacle.
Among the park's most emblematic beaches are the following Cañaveral, The Swimming Pool y Cape San Juan. These beaches offer not only crystal clear waters and golden sands, but also impressive rock formations that rise above the sea.
Plan your visit
How to get there: From Santa Marta, there are buses that take you directly to the park entrance. Another option is to hire tours that offer complete packages.
Lodging: There are options for all tastes, from campsites to ecohabs overlooking the sea.
What to bring: It is essential to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable walking shoes and drinking water.
Avoid crowds: During high season, the park can get crowded. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, visit during weekdays.
Respect nature: Do not leave garbage and follow the indications so as not to disturb the fauna and flora of the place.
Find out about closings: The park is occasionally closed for conservation. Before your visit, verify that it is open to the public.
Located only a few kilometers from Santa Marta, Taganga has emerged as an unmissable destination for those seeking an authentic experience in the Colombian Caribbean. This small fishing village, with its bohemian atmosphere and unforgettable sunsets, promises to be a discovery on every visit.
Unlike other more commercial destinations, Taganga has maintained its essence. The streets lead to a bay where fishermen's boats sway gently to the rhythm of the waves, offering a landscape full of life and color.
Diving and more
Taganga is recognized as one of the best places to dive in Colombia. Its clear waters and rich underwater biodiversity attract beginners and professionals. It is also the starting point for excursions to Tayrona Park and other nearby beaches.
Plan your visit
Lodging: From budget hostels to hotels with ocean views, there are options for all budgets.
Gastronomy: Be sure to try the fresh fish in one of the restaurants along the beach.
Activities: In addition to diving, you can enjoy hiking, boat rides and nightlife.
A little further away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist bustle is the Concha BayOne of the most beautiful beaches near Santa Marta. This natural refuge is the perfect place for those seeking tranquility and beauty in its purest form.
What makes Concha Bay special is its extensive white sand beach, lined with coconut trees and bathed by crystal clear waters that reflect turquoise tones. The landscape looks like something out of a postcard.
Relaxation: Bring your hammock or towel and enjoy the sun and the sea.
Kayaking: Explore the bay from another perspective.
Picnic: It is ideal for spending the day, so bring your snacks and drinks. There are also local vendors offering fresh delicacies.
How to get there?
Although it is close to Santa Marta, getting to Concha Bay can be an adventure. You can opt for a cab, a colectivo or even rent a bicycle if you feel energetic. There is a small entrance fee that contributes to the maintenance of the beach.
Located a few minutes from the historic center of Santa Marta, El Rodadero Beach is one of the most popular and visited beaches in the region. With its long stretch of golden sand, calm waters and a panoramic view of mountains that merge with the sea, it is not hard to understand why so many travelers are attracted by its charm.
Unlike other more secluded beaches, El Rodadero is known for its vibrant atmosphere. During the day, families and groups of friends enjoy the sun and sea, while street vendors offer everything from refreshing fruit cocktails to local handicrafts. As night falls, the beach transforms into a stage for music, laughter and dancing.
Thanks to its calm waters, El Rodadero is ideal for those who want to practice water sports. From jet skiing to scuba diving, there are options for all levels of experience. In addition, you can't miss a visit to the Aquarium and Museum of the SeaIt can be reached by boat and where various marine species of the Caribbean can be observed.
Tips for your visit
Arrival time: To secure a good spot on the beach, it is advisable to arrive early, especially during the high season.
Protect yourself from the sun: Don't forget your sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.
Enjoy the gastronomy: El Rodadero is surrounded by restaurants offering everything from delicious seafood dishes to international cuisine.
Lodging in the vicinity
The El Rodadero area has a wide range of lodging options, from luxurious resorts to more economical hostels. Many of them offer stunning ocean views, guaranteeing an unforgettable awakening.
2. Discover the past in the Historic Center and take a cultural tour of Santa Marta.
One of the best things to do The city of Santa Marta has beautiful historical sites that you can't miss on your visit to this beautiful coastal city. Here we show you some of the most representative ones so you can make your own tour around the city.
Quinta San Pedro Alejandrino
A Walk through History
Upon entering the Quinta, one feels transported to a time gone by. This hacienda, with its elegant gardens and colonial structure, has been meticulously preserved. Each corner narrates a part of Bolivar's life and work, from his military achievements to his last moments.
The Altar of the Homeland
One of the most touching sites of the Quinta is the Altar of the Homelanda mausoleum in honor of Bolivar. Here, homage is paid to his memory and his ideals of freedom and justice are remembered.
How to visit?
The Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is open to the public every day and offers guided tours that provide in-depth knowledge about the history of Colombia and Bolivar.
Tairona Gold Museum
In the heart of Santa Marta lies a gateway to the ancient civilizations of Colombia: the Tairona Gold Museum. This precinct houses a unique collection of gold pieces and other artifacts that narrate the history of the indigenous peoples of the region.
Each display case in the museum is a testament to the skill and mastery of the Tayrona artisans. From intricate figurines to stunning ornaments, these gold pieces were symbols of status, power and spiritual connection.
More than Gold
In addition to the gold exhibits, the museum also displays ceramics, textiles and other objects that offer a comprehensive view of the life, culture and beliefs of the Tayrona people.
An Educational Tour
The Tairona Gold Museum is not only a place to admire ancient artifacts, but also to learn. Through informative panels, multimedia and guided tours, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of the Tayrona and understand their legacy.
Monument to Simón Bolívar
The Monument to Simón Bolívar stands as a tourist symbol of great relevance, commemorating the liberator of multiple South American nations, Simon Bolivar. Located in the Plaza de Bolivar, this icon is at the heart of the historic center.
It is a majestic bronze figure of Simón Bolívar, inaugurated in 1842. This monument is recognized as one of the oldest tributes to the liberator in the territory. Designed by Italian sculptor Pietro Tenerani, the statue exalts Bolivar, highlighting his crucial role in the independence process and as an emblem of the aspiration for freedom in the Latin American region.
Cathedral Basilica of Santa Marta Colombia
Located in the heart of the historic center of the city, one of the things you must do in Santa Marta is to visit this beautiful cathedral is known as the Primate Cathedral of Colombia. Holding the title of the oldest cathedral in South America, its origin dates back to 1525.
This magnificent building reflects the essence of colonial architecture, fusing Renaissance and neoclassical styles. The façade, embellished with columns and detailed ornamental reliefs, invites you to discover its interior, where valuable pieces of sacred art reside, from paintings and sculptures to majestic altars.
Rodrigo de Bastidas Monument
Born in Seville in the 15th century, Rodrigo de Bastidas was a Spanish adelantado who sailed the untamed waters of the New World in search of adventure and discovery. He was not only a daring navigator, but also a far-sighted administrator. Unlike other conquistadors, Bastidas distinguished himself by his kind treatment of the indigenous people and his interest in establishing peaceful relations.
In 1525, he founded Santa Marta, laying the foundations for a city that would eventually become a cultural, historical and tourist epicenter of Colombia.
The Monument: More Than Just A Statue
Located in the central park of the city, this national monument represents Rodrigo de Bastidas with an upright posture and gaze to the horizon, evoking the adventurous and visionary spirit of the conqueror. At his feet, one can observe sculpted details that narrate scenes of the foundation and the interaction with the native peoples.
The piece, beyond its artistic value, has become a meeting point for locals and tourists. It is a space to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and dream about the future of Santa Marta.
Why Visit the Monument?
Living history: It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beginnings of Santa Marta and learn about the legacy of Bastidas.
Art and architecture: The monument, surrounded by colonial buildings, offers a unique aesthetic experience.
Local life: Being a central point of the city, it is a perfect place to observe and feel the daily pulse of Santa Marta.
Tips for your visit
Local guides: Consider hiring a local guide to gain a deeper insight into the history and significance of the monument.
Combine your visit: Take advantage of the proximity to other points of interest in the historic center, such as the Cathedral of Santa Marta and the Tayrona Gold Museum.
The Monument to Rodrigo de Bastidas is a journey through time, a tribute to the man who saw the potential in a corner of the Caribbean and decided to call it home. To visit it is not only to discover an essential part of Santa Marta's history, but also to connect with the spirit of exploration and discovery that still lives in the city.
The Customs House
No visit to Santa Marta, the oldest city in Colombia, would be complete without a walk through the fascinating building of the Customs House. A building that, with its thick walls and imposing aura, tells stories of past times, colonial trade and converging cultures.
This was built in the early seventeenth century and, as its name suggests, originally served as the main customs office of the region. From its halls, goods arriving and departing from the port of Santa Marta were managed, a testimony to the commercial importance of the city during the colonial era.
Architecture and Design
The building is a perfect example of the colonial architecture of the time. Its masonry walls, wooden lattice windows and internal courtyards speak of the style and functionality needed in Santa Marta's hot climate. The structure has stood the test of time, surviving even the pirate attacks that once plagued the city.
A Cultural Precinct
Today, the Customs House houses the Tayrona Gold MuseumThe historic building has become a meeting place between the pre-Hispanic and colonial past. Inside, visitors can admire an impressive collection of gold and ceramic pieces from the indigenous cultures that inhabited the region, especially the Tairona.
Plan your visit
Location: The house is located in the heart of historical center of Santa Marta, easily accessible on foot or by public transportation.
Schedule: The museum is generally open Tuesday through Sunday, but it is advisable to check specific hours before your visit.
Entrance: While access to the Casa de la Aduana is usually free of charge, a donation for the maintenance of the museum is appreciated.
Tips for your Tour
Take your time: The museum's collections are vast and rich in detail. Spend a few hours to immerse yourself in history.
Explore the surroundings: Take advantage of your visit to the historic center to explore other nearby points of interest, such as the Cathedral of Santa Marta or the Parque de Los Novios.
This house is not just a building; it is a symbol, a tangible reminder of Santa Marta's rich cultural and historical tapestry. Whether you are fascinated by the stories of ancient civilizations or colonial architecture, this corner of the city invites you to discover, learn and marvel.
The bride and groom's park
The Parque de los Novios, located in the heart of the historic center of Santa Marta, is one of the green lungs and most emblematic spaces of the city. Its name, evocative of romance, already suggests the quiet and peaceful nature of the place.
Originally known as Parque Santander, this space has witnessed numerous events and historical moments. However, with the passage of time, it has established itself as the preferred meeting point for couples, families and friends, which eventually gave it its current name.
Surrounded by lush trees and comfortable benches, the park is an oasis of serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. During the day, it is common to see local artists offering their music and art, while evenings are filled with a magical atmosphere with the soft lighting that envelops it.
Around the park, visitors will find a variety of restaurants, bars and cafes, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal or a drink after a day exploring the city.
The park's central statue is another point of interest, paying homage to the liberator Simón Bolívar and recalling the importance of Santa Marta in the history of Colombia.
3. Get to know the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Surrounded by Caribbean beaches and a vibrant urban landscape, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta rises majestically, becoming a beacon for travelers and adventurers from all over the world. This mountain, which is the highest in the world by the sea, is not only a geographical prodigy but also an epicenter of biodiversity and cultural richness.
A Mosaic of Life
The Sierra Nevada is a biological wonder. Its diversity of altitudes, ranging from sea level to 5,775 meters, gives rise to multiple ecosystems: from tropical rainforests to paramos. This altitudinal range means that in a single day you can experience tropical temperatures and, hours later, snowy landscapes. For nature lovers, it is a paradise for bird watching, exotic flora and endemic fauna.
The Sierra is home to indigenous communities such as the Kogui, Arhuacos, Wiwa and Kankuamos. These peoples, direct descendants of the ancient Tayrona civilization, still preserve traditions, rituals and a deep connection with the land. Their conception of the world, where the Sierra is considered the "heart of the world", reminds us of the importance of living in harmony with nature.
Lost City: The Hidden Jewel
Hidden in the dense tropical forest is the archaeological site of Lost City. Built by the Tayronas around the 9th century, this site was rediscovered in the 1970s and is often compared to Machu Picchu. A multi-day trek will take you through breathtaking landscapes, culminating in the stone terraces that once formed this ancient city.
Tips for your visit
Preparation is key. The Sierra Nevada offers everything from moderate hikes to challenging treks. Do your research and choose the one that suits your level.
Respect nature and culture. Do not leave trash, follow designated trails and, when interacting with indigenous communities, do so with respect and empathy.
Hire local guides. Not only will you support the local economy, but you will also benefit from their knowledge of the region.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is not just a mountain; it is a sanctuary of life, stories and traditions that have endured through the centuries. When you visit, you will not only take away memories of breathtaking scenery, but also the inspiration of a place where nature and culture are magically intertwined.
Taste the Gastronomy of Santa Marta Colombia.
Straight from the Caribbean coast, coconut rice is a tropical caress in your mouth. In it, the sweetness of the coconut blends perfectly with the rice grain, transporting you to coastal landscapes and sunny days by the sea.
This dish is a feast of flavor and color, where seafood such as shrimp, octopus, fish and squid are fused in an aromatic and spicy broth, reflecting the richness and freshness of the Caribbean.
This gastronomic jewel, made of corn dough stuffed with fried egg, is a snack that resonates with tradition and familiarity, evoking moments of joy and fraternization.
Fried Red Snapper
With its crunchy texture on the outside and softness on the inside, the fried red snapper is an ode to the sea and its goodness, offering an unforgettable culinary experience in each portion.
This refreshing dessert, full of tropical fruits, is a reminder of the natural richness of the region, offering a sweet and revitalizing escape.
Yucca Bread Roll
This ancestral delicacy, soft and with a sweet touch, connects directly with indigenous traditions, being a tribute to the culture and the land.
This dish, replete with marinated shrimp and seasoned with freshness, is a dance of flavors that awaken and revitalize the palate, celebrating the living essence of the coast.
A dish that is the perfect fusion of African and Caribbean traditions. The tenderness of the beef in a deep and rich sauce is a journey through history and cultural diversity in every bite.
Santa Marta's gastronomy is a mirror of its rich cultural and historical tapestry. These dishes, beyond feeding the body, nourish the soul, celebrate the heritage and invite us to delight in the simple wonders of everyday life.
Lodging in Santa Marta
1. Hotel Casa de Leda:
DescriptionBoutique hotel: This boutique hotel is known for its luxurious décor and first-class spa services. Located in the heart of the historic center, it offers a rooftop pool and spacious rooms with all modern amenities.
Approximate PriceFrom $100 to $200 USD per night.
Tamacá Beach Resort Hotel:
DescriptionLocated on the famous El Rodadero beach, this resort offers breathtaking ocean views. With modern rooms, swimming pools and a high quality restaurant, it is an ideal choice for those seeking beachfront comfort.
Approximate PriceFrom $90 to $170 USD per night.
3. Hotel Catedral Plaza:
DescriptionLocated in the heart of the historic center, this hotel combines colonial architecture with modern amenities. It features a terrace with swimming pool, from where guests can admire a panoramic view of the city and the bay.
Approximate PriceFrom $70 to $130 USD per night.
4. Santorini Hotel:
DescriptionInspired by the famous Greek island, this hotel combines Caribbean charm with a Mediterranean aesthetic. Located in the Bello Horizonte sector, it is perfect for those looking for a quiet beach experience.
Approximate PriceFrom $80 to $150 USD per night.
5. Placita Vieja Hotel Boutique Spa:
DescriptionThis elegant boutique hotel, located in a restored colonial mansion, offers an oasis of tranquility. Its design combines tradition and modernity, and features a spa for those seeking total relaxation.
Approximate PriceFrom $100 to $180 USD per night.
6. Hotel Be La Sierra:
DescriptionOne of the traditional hotels in El Rodadero, it is known for its service and oceanfront location. It has a swimming pool and rooms with ocean view.
Approximate PriceFrom $60 to $110 USD per night.
La Brisa Loca Hostel:
DescriptionOne of the most famous hostels in Santa Marta, located in a renovated colonial building. It offers everything from shared dormitories to private rooms. With a lively and social atmosphere, it is popular with young backpackers. It has a swimming pool, bar and daily activities.
Approximate PriceFrom $10 to $50 USD per night, depending on the choice of room.
Masaya Hostel Santa Marta:
DescriptionThis hostel is known for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful colonial architecture. It offers dormitories and private rooms, as well as a swimming pool and common areas for socializing. It is located in downtown Santa Marta, close to many restaurants and stores.
Approximate PriceFrom $15 to $60 USD per night.
It is important to mention that the prices mentioned are approximate and may vary according to season, availability and promotions. It is always a good idea to check directly with the hotel or hostel, or through booking platforms, to get more accurate and current information.
Tips for traveling to Santa Marta
1. Best Time to Visit:
Although Santa Marta is a year-round destination, the dry season (December to April) is ideal if you are looking for sunny days and pleasant temperatures.
Light clothing and sun protection:
Wear light clothing, preferably cotton. Given its coastal and tropical location, the sun can be intense. Don't forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Because of the heat, it is essential to stay hydrated. Always carry water with you, especially if you plan to do outdoor activities.
4. Tayrona Park:
One of the most famous national parks in Colombia. If you love nature, this is a place not to be missed. Consider staying a night in one of the cabins or camps inside the park.
5. Lost City:
If you are feeling adventurous, consider trekking to Ciudad Perdida. It is a multi-day trek through the jungle, but the experience is unparalleled.
6. Advance Booking:
Popular places, such as certain sectors of Tayrona Park, can fill up quickly, especially in high season. Book in advance to guarantee your entrance and lodging.
7. Explore the Historic Center:
The colonial heart of Santa Marta is full of charm. Stroll through its streets, visit the Cathedral Basilica and enjoy the local gastronomy in its restaurants and cafes.
8. Get to know the local culture:
Interact with the locals and learn more about the culture and traditions of the region. Consider visiting an indigenous village or participating in a cultural tour.
As in any tourist destination, it is important to take basic precautions: do not display valuables, avoid uncrowded areas at night and follow the recommendations of locals and tour guides.
10. Aquatic Activities:
Take the opportunity to snorkel, scuba dive or just enjoy the beaches. If you are a diving enthusiast, Taganga, near Santa Marta, is a popular spot to dive.
Use cabs or reliable transportation. If you rent a vehicle, be sure to park it in safe places.
12. Respect the Environment:
When visiting natural sites, be sure not to leave litter and to follow the rules of the site. The preservation of these sites depends on everyone's responsible behavior.
13. Local Information:
It is always useful to have emergency contact information, hospital locations, and embassy or consulate numbers for your country on hand.
Santa Marta is a destination full of magic and diversity. By preparing properly and following these tips, your experience in this Colombian jewel will be unforgettable!
We hope this blog has been to your liking and that your trip to Santa Marta Colombia will be very soon.