| Home | 3 Guianas | Argentina | Bolivia | Brazil | Chile | Colombia | Ecuador | Paraguay | Peru | Uruguay | Venezuela | Videos | Contact |

Santa Marta, Colombia - What To Do On The Hot Coast

Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - Aug 2008 Jul 2010 Feb 2011 Jul 2012 Jul 2013 Aug 2014 Jul 2016 Aug 2017   » View Photoset (148 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
The extremely hot city of Santa Marta on the north coast is Colombia's oldest city founded in 1525. I have been here many times - in 2008, 2010,
Colombia Photo - Young man with good abs, tiger pattern clothes, Festival of the Sea, Santa Marta.
Young man with good abs, tiger pattern clothes, Festival of the Sea, Santa Marta.
2011/12/13/14/15/16/17 and have spent over 5yrs living and having fun in nearby Taganga, just 10 minutes away. At the hottest times of the year from June through to August / September it is usually around 33-35 degrees in the day and drops to about 29 degrees at night. It's not a place that you struggle to keep warm in. It is not the most attractive of Colombia's cities but there is still some colonial architecture and interesting streets.

Tayrona Indians / The Malecon

The indigenous people of Santa Marta are known as the Tayrona Indians, although you will rarely see any. I have seen the same family about 3 times
Colombia Photo - View of a boat from beside a monument on the Santa Marta waterfront.
View of a boat from beside a monument on the Santa Marta waterfront.
in Taganga, they wear white robes. But there are at least 6 monuments of the Tayronas down along the median walkway and park behind the beach called the Malecon. The Malecon is a fun and busy place especially during weekends when it seems the whole city is spending the day at the beach. There is all sorts of food being sold including kebabs of meat and vegetables on a stick, shaved ice, rice pudding, shrimp cocktails, ice creams, soft drinks and beer. If you are a foreigner you will no doubt be asked several times if you want to buy some jewelry or a wristband by the walking vendors. The little island of Morro sits in the middle of the bay with a lighthouse on top. The port is at the eastern end of the beach and you will often see big ships out in the distance.
Colombia Photo - Man sells cold drinks on Santa Martas waterfront.
Man sells cold drinks on Santa Martas waterfront.
The tall monument to Santa Martas founder, Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas (1460-1527) can be seen from all along the Malecon. On the other side of the road there are many restaurants and bars where you can sit down under an umbrella and have a meal or cold drink.

Simon Bolivar Park

Simon Bolivar Park over from the malecon has nice trees, flower gardens and a monument to Bolivar riding a horse. Santa Marta is actually the place where Simon Bolivar died in 1830 at an estate called Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. It is also known of as the Grand Hacienda, tours are possible.
Colombia Photo - Cold and icy lemonade served from a glass tank on Santa Marta's waterfront.
Cold and icy lemonade served from a glass tank on Santa Marta's waterfront.

Rodadero

15 minutes from Santa Marta is Playa Blanca beach at Rodadero, there are the usual hotels and restaurants and also the Rodadero Aquarium and Sea Museum, (in Spanish: Acuario y Museo del Mar del Rodadero). They have dolphin and seal shows plus sharks, sea lions, turtles and a lot more. I believe you can ride the dolphins if you pay extra.

Gold Museum

Like Bogota, Santa Marta has a gold museum called Museo del Oro, it's located in a colonial mansion called Casa de la Aduana. It has gold, pottery and artifacts of the Tayronas and a model of Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City.

The Cathedral

Santa Marta Cathedral built in 1766 is on the main street. Also in the city is San Fernando Fort built to ward off the pirates, constructed by the Spanish.
Colombia Photo - The facade of an historical building depicting 2 female figures, Santa Marta.
The facade of an historical building depicting 2 female figures, Santa Marta.

Extreme Sports and Adventure

If you enjoy extreme sports and adventure then you should visit Mamancana Natural Reserve. There they offer mountain biking, wall and rock climbing, zipline canopy and paragliding, you can go for a nature walk and possibly see some wildlife. It takes 35 minutes to get to the mountain from the city.

The Feel of Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a fun, colorful and lively city on a hot and sunny coast with easy going locals and colored umbrellas. It has a laidback tropical feel, the people are not afraid to wear bright colored t-shirts and flip-flops on their feet. It is definitely easier to blend in with the locals. Street vendors sell everything from shoes to yummy cups full of jelly and cream and interesting fruits can be tasted at the fruit stalls. There are several
Colombia Photo - Decorations of the sea on a horse and carriage - Fiesta del Mar, Santa Marta.
Decorations of the sea on a horse and carriage - Fiesta del Mar, Santa Marta.
banks and ATMs in an area between the main street and the sea and big supermarkets (Exito and Olympica) on the main street - a good place to stock up on food and water for the trip to Tayrona National Park. I recommend the supermarket called Olympica Sao if you want decent service (Exito is terrible). I have seen some interesting things while here, like when out of nowhere a man walking on stilts crossed the road in front of me. He was dressed in blue, orange and red with a white hat and a painted face. When I stayed here the first time, across the road there was a little shop where the shopkeeper had his pet iguana sitting up on the counter to greet the customers.
Colombia Photo - Parque Santander, a nice park in Santa Marta.
Parque Santander, a nice park in Santa Marta.
Along the waterfront, there is an electronic temperature sign on the road by the sea, it often reads 35 or more degrees. I have been lucky twice now to have seen the Festival of the Sea parades during July and in 2016 got a press pass to get some photos from the middle of the street! Santa Marta has some pretty wild nightlife, clubs and bars too!

The Lost City

Santa Marta is the place to organise a trek to Ciudad Perdida, it's 5 days long and not to be taken lightly, the mosquitos can be quite vicious. It's a 20km trek through rainforest and across rivers. As you go you will see much bird and wildlife and also meet the locals of indigenous villages. The Ciudad Perdida was only rediscovered in 1975!

     

View all photos in the Santa Marta Photoset


Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Santa Marta (Colombia) to:


Map location: Santa Marta, Colombia. The oldest city in the country and very hot midyear, the place to come to get to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) and for fun and beaches, however you are better off staying in Taganga!
 A : Taganga - Colombia 4 kms 4 kms straight distance | 28mins 28mins by car (8 kms) | 33mins 33mins by bus (8 kms) (8 kms)
 B : Tayrona National Park - Colombia 9 kms 9 kms straight distance | 41mins 41mins by car (14 kms) | 49mins 49mins by bus (14 kms) (14 kms)
 C : Minca - Colombia 14 kms 14 kms straight distance | 48mins 48mins by car (22 kms) | 57mins 57mins by bus (22 kms) (22 kms)
 D : Barranquilla to Santa Marta - Colombia 27 kms 27 kms straight distance | 46mins 46mins by car (33 kms) | 55mins 55mins by bus (33 kms) (33 kms)
 E : Barranquilla Carnival - Colombia 78 kms 78 kms straight distance | 2hrs 19mins 2hrs 19mins by car (114 kms) | 2hrs 46mins 2hrs 46mins by bus (114 kms) (114 kms)
 F : Santa Marta to Maicao - Colombia 111 kms 111 kms straight distance | 2hrs 12mins 2hrs 12mins by car (125 kms) | 2hrs 38mins 2hrs 38mins by bus (125 kms) (125 kms)
 G : Camarones Flamingo Sanctuary - Colombia 127 kms 127 kms straight distance | 2hrs 37mins 2hrs 37mins by car (153 kms) | 3hrs 8mins 3hrs 8mins by bus (153 kms) (153 kms)
 H : Cartagena - Colombia 174 kms 174 kms straight distance | 4hrs 1min 4hrs 1min by car (230 kms) | 4hrs 49mins 4hrs 49mins by bus (230 kms) (230 kms)
 I : Valledupar - Colombia 132 kms 132 kms straight distance | 3hrs 57mins 3hrs 57mins by car (256 kms) | 4hrs 44mins 4hrs 44mins by bus (256 kms) (256 kms)
 J : Magangue to Mompos - Colombia 229 kms 229 kms straight distance | 6hrs 11mins 6hrs 11mins by car (354 kms) | 7hrs 25mins 7hrs 25mins by bus (354 kms) (354 kms)
 K : Maracaibo - Venezuela 270 kms 270 kms straight distance | 6hrs 20mins 6hrs 20mins by car (380 kms) | 7hrs 36mins 7hrs 36mins by bus (380 kms) (380 kms)
 L : Maracaibo to Coro - Venezuela 366 kms 366 kms straight distance | 8hrs 35mins 8hrs 35mins by car (519 kms) | 10hrs 18mins 10hrs 18mins by bus (519 kms) (519 kms)
 M : Merida to Maracaibo - Venezuela 394 kms 394 kms straight distance | 9hrs 29mins 9hrs 29mins by car (573 kms) | 11hrs 22mins 11hrs 22mins by bus (573 kms) (573 kms)
 N : Cucuta to Venezuela - Colombia 412 kms 412 kms straight distance | 11hrs 2mins 11hrs 2mins by car (623 kms) | 13hrs 14mins 13hrs 14mins by bus (623 kms) (623 kms)
 O : San Antonio to San Cristobal - Venezuela 439 kms 439 kms straight distance | 12hrs 25mins 12hrs 25mins by car (679 kms) | 14hrs 54mins 14hrs 54mins by bus (679 kms) (679 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Santa Marta, Colombia:

Dreamers Hostal, Santa Marta, Colombia - Large Photo
Dreamers Hostal, Santa Marta, Colombia (July 2010 - 2 nights) - A was great here, I had a dorm with aircon which made it so much better and there is a pool to swim in as well as hammocks, tv room and outside kitchen and eating area. It is close to the Exito supermarket and buses. Recommended.
El Miramar Hotel (The Inns at Playa Grande), Santa Marta, Colombia - Large Photo
El Miramar Hotel (The Inns at Playa Grande), Santa Marta, Colombia (Aug 2008 - 2 nights) - The best thing here is the restaurant and the woman who cooks. Maybe if the place was clean and had some work done on it they could justify charging for the internet.

ADD A COMMENT



Pinterest - Pin it!

Santa Marta, Colombia - What To Do On The Hot Coast. The oldest city in the country and very hot midyear, the place to come to get to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) and for fun and beaches, however you are better off staying in Taganga!

FREE APP South America Journey

Splash Screen - South America Journey Free App for Android and IOS
Popular Photos Screen - South America Journey Free App for Android and IOS
Favorite Photos Screen - South America Journey Free App for Android and IOS
Fullscreen Photo - South America Journey Free App for Android and IOS
Photos from a Place Screen - South America Journey Free App for Android and IOS

My next travel experience & photos in your inbox!