Santa Marta has a fairly varied offer of places to stay, do you want a place with a view of the sea or the mountains? do you want to save money on accommodation or is that not your main concern? do you want to be close to everything or in the middle of nowhere? As you can see, it all depends on your tastes and budget. In this article we will talk about the different tourist sectors in Santa Marta and see the advantages and disadvantages of staying in each one (We will not recommend any hotel or hostel). Just in case, we have an article for those who are doing the Lost City trek and want to know how is the pickup or the dropoff depending on the place you are staying.
Historic Center of Santa Marta
The historical center of Santa Marta has options for any budget, in this area you can get from backpacker hostels to boutique hotels. As you might expect, many of the accommodations are buildings from many years ago. Most of them have the style that prevailed in the first decades of the 20th century, are in excellent condition and have plenty of services and amenities.
The city’s commercial, financial and administrative activities are concentrated in the historical centre, so you will have everything close by if you stay in this area: ATMs, restaurants, travel agencies and/or airline offices, discos, bars, exchange houses and tourist attractions such as the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), the Cathedral or the Parque de los Novios, among others.
On the other hand, as you are within the urban area you will not have limitations with the mobile coverage and depending on where you stay, you could even count on quite fast internet connections, something very important if you are a digital nomad or simply cannot be offline for any other reason. The disadvantage of staying in the historic center is that the city is still barely developing the offer of tours and activities that can be done in the same area.
El Rodadero developed as a result of tourism, which is why it has a wide range of hotels, restaurants and other things to do, but bear in mind that the offer has revolved around Colombian tourism. For this reason, if you ask a Colombian where he could stay in Santa Marta, he will surely recommend El Rodadero, but if you ask a foreigner, he will most likely not even mention this part of the city. This is because there are other more attractive places for a foreign tourist like the historical center, Taganga or Minca.
If you have any interest in the resort of El Rodadero, Playa Blanca or others further south in the city, staying in El Rodadero will be an obvious advantage. On the other hand, in El Rodadero you will find everything you need to enjoy your stay in Santa Marta, similar to what happens in the Historical Center. As a disadvantage we could cite the congestions that are so common especially in the high season of tourism in Colombia.
Taganga is a small fishing village surrounded by hills and with a horseshoe-shaped bay, only 15 minutes from Santa Marta. It is well known for its relaxed atmosphere that attracts backpackers from all over the world. You may be surprised to see the occasional advertisement written in Spanish, English and Hebrew, as Israeli tourists have preferred this destination for several years.
Taganga is a diving resort, offering low cost and excellent quality places for this activity. It is also the point of departure and arrival of boats from and to different parts of the Tayrona Park, in this regard it is worth clarifying that although taking a boat for example to Cabo San Juan del Guía is faster by this means, remember that going by boat on the high seas is not for everyone.
Although this destination is quite popular, it has a limited infrastructure and although its bay offers a beautiful view, perfect for enjoying the sunset while relaxing, it is not very attractive for swimming in it. Fortunately, there are better beaches nearby that can be reached by boat in a very short time.
The town of Minca is located in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is known as the gateway to the Sierra, because it is a starting point to different tourist destinations such as Cuchilla San Lorenzo, Cerro Kennedy and others. While the urban area of Santa Marta is surrounded by dry tropical forest, Minca is in a more humid area of forest and mountainous landscapes 45 minutes from the center of the city. It ranges from the 600 meters high and will take you away from the heat of the city as you go up the mountain. Near the town you have birdwatching hotspots, waterfalls, hiking trails, coffee and cacao plantations and interesting food alternatives.
In Minca and its surroundings you can find Among the cons of staying in Minca, depending on you are staying you could have some connectivity limitations or none at all. Get informed very well if being offline is not an option for you.
Tayrona Park and surroundings
With the exception of the camping zones and the ecohabs, inside the Tayrona Park there are no accommodations such as hotels or hostels (although there are some private properties, which offer accommodation services).
The Tayrona Park is quite extensive, so when we talk about the surroundings of the Park we mean the area that is on the opposite side of the reserve zone around the Zaino entrance. Here, most of the hotels are located near the road that goes from Santa Marta to La Guajira, and have a lodge-style in view of the fact that they are not on the coast but in an area of tropical forest in the lower part of the Sierra Nevada, where there are also several rivers and streams. You can find from simple accommodations to cabins and hotels with all the amenities.
Outside the reserve, the strip of land that goes from one side of the road to the other until Palomino has an excellent offer of hotels, especially on the beach, where you can enjoy surroundings like those of the Tayrona Park. A beautiful beach line, full of coconut trees and vegetation.
Even if the beach is not suitable for swimming and you are in the middle of nowhere, there are many things you can do nearby such as surfing, horseback riding, hiking, paddle surfing, or just relaxing. As they are far away from the city, you can enjoy starry nights while listening to the sea waves and the breeze passing by, or have a good time with friends at the bar or the restaurant of your accommodation.
As in Minca and other areas on the outskirts of the city, there are limitations to mobile coverage.
As you can see, Santa Marta is full of options for all tastes and budgets. We hope that we have helped you to choose the sector or sectors of the city where you are going to stay on your next trip to our city.
*The accommodation services in the ecohabs are suspended while there is the process of change of administration of the Tayrona National Natural Park.