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The oldest city in South America, Santa Marta is a prime location on Colombia's Caribbean coast, and a good base for excursions to surrounding sights and towns. Although the city itself gets a bad rap for its hectic traffic and urban sprawl, there are several places within and around where travelers can enjoy a breath of fresh air and some quiet moments with nature.

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

8 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

8 Places

Minca

Destinations

Pozo Azul

Other Outdoor Activities

Buritaca

Destinations

Rio Don Diego

Other Outdoor Activities

Palomino

Destinations

Tayrona National Park

Riohacha

Destinations

Quebrada Valencia

Other Outdoor Activities

Diana G's City Tips

  • The easiest way to find public transportation is by going to the local market place (Plaza de Mercado), located in the center.
  • Be sure to try the great variety of typical sweets made of coconut and other tropical fruits of the region.
  • Santa Marta is an easy city to walk around.
  • Minca
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Nestled in the Sierra Nevada, the mountain village of Minca looms 600m above Santa Marta. Here, you will find deep green mountain landscapes, a cool, fresh climate, and more than 300 bird species. Only a 40-minute journey for from the city, Minca is a wonderful spot for a day of hiking or biking, or even for an overnight excursion. Whatever you choose to do here, you'll enjoy crisp air and the take-your-breath-away views.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you want to stay longer than just the day, there are modest but comfortable accomodation options.
    • To reach Minca, head to the market in downtown Santa Marta, where you can catch transportation to the village.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Minca
  • Pozo Azul
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Situated about an hour's hike or a short motorcycle ride from Minca, Pozo Azul is a beautiful area with two refreshing swimming holes and a few freshwater waterfalls of varying sizes.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It's best to visit during the week, when it is less crowded.
    • The water, which comes from the mountains, is very cold — but so refreshing!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 12 Outdoor Activities in Minca
    • Worth a look 13/03/2020
    • Busy but beautiful 07/01/2020
    • Pozo Azul
  • Buritaca
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Just over an hour away from downtown Santa Marta, Bocas de Buritaca is small town where the Buritaca River meets the Caribbean Sea. The small and lovely beach here is a wonderful place to spend a day relaxing in the sun while watching saltwater and freshwater swirl and blend at the mouth (boca) of the river. Of course, it's great for water lovers as well — you can alternate between dips in the refreshing river and the calm, clear sea.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Try a kayak or boat tour through the river.
    • The tourist infrastructure in town is small but nice.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Buritaca
  • Rio Don Diego
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Visiting Rio Don Diego is one of the favorite pastimes of the locals. A great plan is to hop on a motor boat to the higher part of the river and then float down on a tube. The landscapes along the way are amazing, and this is without a doubt an unforgettable and fun experience.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • This is a nice place to have a picnic; bring along some food, and you can find cold beverages there.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #23 of 130 Outdoor Activities in Santa Marta
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Slow slip down the river 03/01/2020
    • Beautiful river 13/12/2019
    • Rio Don Diego
    Phone:
    +57 316 2842018
    Other:
  • Palomino
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Even though Palomino belongs to the area of Guajira, this small town is located just 73km away from Santa Marta. With a range of accommodations and good gastronomic offerings, this is a great place to take an overnight sojourn away from the noise of the city. Palomino is best known for its stunning beaches, so come kick back on the white sand to see what all the fuss is about!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It is recommended to take at least two days to enjoy the area.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Palomino
  • Tayrona National Park
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    When visiting Santa Marta, you cannot miss a visit to Tayrona National Park. Situated 40 minutes from the city, this natural reserve features 85 kilometers of golden sand beaches, contrasting with green jungle and the fresh winds from the mountains. A hike here will take you over boulders, up steps, and past all manner of flora and fauna, with the final reward of a beautiful beach. This region was inhabited by indigenous groups, who have left their mark on the landscape.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There are a few ways to get into the park: You can hike in or hire a horse to ride, or there is a boat option that will take you to Cabo San Juan or Taganga.
    • The park has seven principal beaches, but Cañaveral, Arrecifes, and Cabo San Juan are the three with the most tourist infrastructure.
    • If you want to spend the night, you can choose between ecohabs (recommendable for at least 2 people), an open area with hammocks, or camping.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Tayrona National Park
  • Riohacha
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    The gateway to the northern La Guajira region, Riohacha provides a beautiful desert experience. Ir you hire a guide to explore the region, your journey could look something like this: A sleepy 4am departure from Santa Marta, with the observation of Pico Colon Sierra Nevada, and from there begins a tour of sharp contrasts, not only in the forest landscape but in culture. You'll breakfast in the capital of Guajira Riohacha, and then jump in the 4-way to reach the capital Uribia Wayuu, passing through Puerto Bolivar, Laguna de los Patos, El Pilón, Playa Dorada, and El Faro. The day will end at a Rancheria (an authentic Indian home), sharing a typical dinner around a campfire with the area's indigenous people, and then watching their traditional dance, Chichamaya. After spending the night in the Rancheria, the next morning you will go through the Desert Ahuyama, observe the pink flamingos, have lunch in Manaure and Maicao and then make your way back to Santa Marta.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Take lunch in Manaure and Maicao before of coming back to Santa Marta.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Riohacha
  • Quebrada Valencia
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    You will find Quebrada Valencia on the same road that leads to the Natura National Park Tayrona and the city of Riohacha. Here you can swim in natural pools and enjoy the beautiful waterfalls of the Buritaca River. Quebrada Valencia is an oasis in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by huge, old trees.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There are mosquitoes, so bring insect repellent.
    • It's about a 20-minute walk to reach the waterfalls.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #40 of 130 Outdoor Activities in Santa Marta
    • Enjoy an ecological walk where you find beautiful springs and water holes. 03/09/2019
    • Missing the key ingredient - WATER 03/05/2019
    • Quebrada Valencia
    Address:
    Avenida Troncal Del Caribe
    Santa Marta, Santa Marta Municipality 470005
    Colombia
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