10 Best Day Trips In Santa Marta

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Santa Marta is a city as well as a busy port to the North of Colombia and was the first Spanish settlement within Colombia. Santa Marta is nestled between the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains and the shimmering Caribbean Sea with breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality throughout.

The city effortlessly combines the old and the new, blending its colonial past with a vibrant modern spirit. There is so much to explore within its historic center with its charming colonial architecture, bustling markets, and vibrant street life as well as being able to take a stroll along the picturesque seaside promenade and soak in the captivating views of the azure ocean.

One of the highlights of Santa Marta is its proximity to natural wonders. From the pristine beaches of Tayrona National Natural Park to the mystical ruins of the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida), nature enthusiasts will find themselves in awe of the region’s biodiversity and awe-inspiring landscapes.

For adventure seekers, Santa Marta offers a plethora of thrilling activities, including snorkeling, diving, hiking, and exploring hidden waterfalls or you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. Your taste buds will also be tantalized with many Caribbean choices from fresh seafood delicacies to exotic tropical fruits and you can savour the world’s finest coffee whilst listening to the local rhythmic music.

Santa Marta is a destination that captures the hearts of all who visit as its charm sweeps you away into a world of unforgettable experiences.

1. Tayrona National Park

Total Time – 8 – 10 Hours

A slice of paradise

Tayrona National Park, Magdalena, Colombia
Tayrona National Park, Magdalena, Colombia

Welcome to Tayrona National Park, a slice of paradise in this natural wonderland, where turquoise waters meet lush rainforests, and sandy beaches beckon adventure and relaxation.

Tayrona National Park is a tropical haven. As you wander through the park’s trails, you’ll be surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, from towering palm trees to colourful birds and playful monkeys. The park is also home to indigenous communities, adding a cultural dimension to your visit.

The park’s beaches are a true highlight. Picture yourself lounging on pristine stretches of golden sand, listening to the gentle sound of crashing waves. You can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters or grab a snorkel to explore the underwater world teeming with marine life. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking coastal views.

For adventurous souls, Tayrona offers hiking opportunities through dense forests to reach hidden gems like the stunning Cabo San Juan viewpoint. The hike is rewarded with panoramic views that will leave you in awe.

After a day of exploration, indulge in the local cuisine at one of the park’s restaurants and as the sun sets, you can relax in a hammock, taking in the tranquil ambiance of the park and reflecting on the memories made throughout the day.

Tayrona National Park is a true gem of the Caribbean, offering a perfect blend of nature, adventure, and relaxation that ignites your spirit of adventure.

2. Ciudad Perdida ( Lost City)

Total Time – 4 Days

The setting is nothing short of breathtaking.

Ciudad Perdida, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Ciudad Perdida, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Ciudad Perdida, also known as the Lost City hides archaeological treasure deep within the jungles of Colombia.

To reach Ciudad Perdida a guided tour is needed to embark on a thrilling treck through dense forests, crossing rivers and ascending rugged terrains. The journey was challenging, but the reward was beyond words.

Upon arriving at the Lost City, we were greeted by awe-inspiring ancient ruins nestled amidst a breathtaking natural setting and had time to think about all the civilisations that once thrived here. Our knowledgeable guide shared captivating stories and legends that added depth to the experience whilst we looked out at the mesmerising views.

As we explored the Lost City, we had the opportunity to interact with the local indigenous communities, immersing ourselves in their traditions and learning about their way of life. It was a humbling and eye-opening experience that deepened our appreciation for their resilience and cultural heritage.

The beauty of Ciudad Perdida goes beyond its archaeological significance. Surrounded by pristine rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant wildlife, the setting is nothing short of breathtaking. We took moments to pause, taking in the serenity and natural splendor that enveloped us.

Visiting Ciudad Perdida is not just a day trip, but a journey back in time. It is an opportunity to connect with the past, embrace the present, and appreciate the marvels of nature and human ingenuity.

3. Minca

Total Time – 6-8 Hours

It was a moment of pure awe

Minca, Santa Marta, Colombia
Minca, Santa Marta, Colombia

The enchanting world of Minca is hidden within the magnificent mountains of Colombia and offers a perfect blend of nature, tranquility, and adventure.

The journey to Minca took us through winding roads, with breathtaking views of stunning landscapes and beautiful waterfalls. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a charming town adorned with colourful buildings and a laid-back atmosphere that immediately put us at ease.

Our day in Minca began with a visit to a local coffee farm, where we indulged in the rich aroma and flavours of freshly brewed Colombian coffee. Learning about the meticulous process of coffee cultivation and meeting passionate farmers added depth to our experience.

We then embarked on a hike through the dense rainforest, immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds of nature. The air was crisp, and the sounds of chirping birds and flowing streams created a symphony of serenity. Along the way, we encountered hidden waterfalls where we couldn’t resist taking a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools.

One of the highlights of our Minca adventure was reaching the majestic Los Pinos viewpoint. Standing at the top of the ridge, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the sprawling mountains and the picturesque town below. It was a moment of pure awe and a perfect spot for capturing stunning photographs.

We wrapped up our day trip in Minca by indulging in delicious local cuisine at a cozy café that provided well-made traditional dishes. Minca is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those yearning for a peaceful escape. It offers a unique combination of breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and warm hospitality.

4. Taganga

Total Time – 6 – 8 Hours

Vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful fish and coral reefs.

Taganga, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Taganga, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Taganga is a charming fishing village that offers a delightful mix of beach bliss, vibrant culture, and underwater wonders.

Our journey to Taganga began with a scenic drive along winding coastal roads, offering glimpses of turquoise waters and golden sandy beaches. As we arrived, we were greeted by a lively atmosphere filled with the vibrant colours of painted boats and the aroma of freshly caught seafood.

We wasted no time and headed straight to the beach, where we dipped our toes into the crystal-clear waters and basked under the warm sun. The beach was lined with palm trees, providing the perfect shade for those seeking a moment of relaxation. We couldn’t resist the temptation to snorkel and explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful fish and coral reefs.

After working up an appetite, we ventured into the heart of the village to sample the local cuisine. The small, family-owned restaurants offered a delightful array of seafood dishes, bursting with flavours, colours, and spices.

As the day drew to a close, we climbed a nearby hill to catch the breathtaking sunset over the sparkling Caribbean Sea. The panoramic view of Taganga’s coastline makes it a coastal paradise that captures the essence of Colombian coastal living. Its laid-back atmosphere, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture make it an ideal day trip destination for beach lovers and adventure seekers alike.

5. Buritaca

Total Time – 8 – 10 Hours

We discovered hidden coves and secluded stretches of beach

Buritaca, Santa Marta, Colombia
Buritaca, Santa Marta, Colombia

The enchanting destination of Buritaca sits right on the Caribbean coast and is a tropical paradise, where nature’s beauty takes center stage.

To get to Buritaca, there is a short scenic drive through beautiful green landscapes, passing by picturesque villages and winding rivers. You can hear the sounds of waves crashing against golden sandy beaches before you see the beach and its never-ending row of palm trees swaying in the breeze.

We embarked on a leisurely hike through dense rainforests, following the gentle flow of the Buritaca River. The trail led us to pristine waterfalls, where we refreshed ourselves with a dip in the crystal-clear pools beneath the cascading waters.

Exploring further, we discovered hidden coves and secluded stretches of beach, inviting us to unwind and soak up the sun’s warmth. We couldn’t resist the temptation to try our hand at surfing, as the waves here are known to be perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike.

As the day progressed, we indulged in a delicious freshly caught seafood feast and a variety of exotic fruits from the region. The local cuisine showcased the vibrant blend of Colombian flavours, leaving us craving for more.

Buritaca is a haven for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers seeking tranquility and serenity. Its untouched beauty, pristine beaches, and lush surroundings make it a perfect day trip destination for those seeking a slice of paradise

6. Cabo de La Vela

Total Time – 1 Day

Winding desert roads

Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira, Colombia
Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira, Colombia

Cabo de la Vela, a mesmerising and remote awe-inspiring destination that begins via a desert landscape.

Our journey to Cabo de la Vela was thrilling as we navigated through the winding desert roads, with vast stretches of golden sand dunes on either side. Once we arrived, we were greeted by the vibrant Caribbean Sea which contrasted beautifully with the desert landscape.

The highlight of our day trip was exploring the stunning beaches that line the coast. We walked along pristine shores, feeling the soft sand beneath our feet and listening to the rhythmic crashing of waves. The turquoise waters beckoned us to take a refreshing swim, offering a perfect respite from the tropical heat.

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to witness the captivating sunset at the famous El Faro lighthouse. As the sun dipped below the horizon, it painted the sky with hues of orange and pink which was simply breathtaking.

Immersing ourselves in the local culture, we had the chance to interact with the indigenous Wayuu community, and learned about their way of life, and admired their intricate handicrafts. We savored the flavours of freshly caught fish prepared with traditional techniques. It was a true culinary delight that added to the overall experience.

Cabo de la Vela is a hidden gem, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural immersion, and serenity. It’s the perfect day trip destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience

7. Punta Gallinas

Total Time – 2 Days

Truly a remote and untouched corner of the world

Punta Gallinas, Uribia, La Guajira, Colombia
Punta Gallinas, Uribia, La Guajira, Colombia

Punta Gallinas is truly a remote and untouched corner of the world.

Our journey to Punta Gallinas was an epic expedition through rugged terrains and expansive desert landscapes. The untouched beauty of this region left us in awe at every turn. The sandy trails led us to the endless stretches of golden beaches which met the sparkling Caribbean Sea.

Exploring Punta Gallinas felt like stepping into a postcard-worthy paradise. We marveled at the towering sand dunes, and when we climbed to the top, it rewarded us with panoramic views that seemed to stretch infinitely, where the meeting point of desert and sea created a scene of unrivaled natural beauty.

The turquoise waters beckoned us to take a dip, offering a refreshing respite from the sun-soaked desert. We couldn’t resist the temptation and spent hours swimming and snorkeling, admiring the vibrant marine life beneath the surface.

Immersing ourselves in the local culture, we had the privilege of meeting the Wayuu indigenous community. Their warm hospitality and rich traditions added a cultural dimension to our day trip, as we learned about their ancestral customs and craftsmanship.

Punta Gallinas is a true hidden paradise, a place where untouched nature and cultural heritage blend harmoniously. It’s a destination that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

8. Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta

Total Time – 3 – 4 Hours

Exploring the mangroves by boat was a magical experience

Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta, is a hidden natural gem in the heart of Santa Marta, Colombia, and I am thrilled to share my recent day trip experience to this enchanting wetland.

Our adventure began as we navigated through the labyrinthine waterways of Cienaga Grande, surrounded by lush mangroves and vibrant wildlife. The tranquil atmosphere instantly provided a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Cienaga Grande’s beauty lies in its diverse ecosystem. We encountered an array of bird species, perched on the branches of the mangrove trees, singing which echoed in the air.

Exploring the mangroves by boat was a magical experience. We glided through the calm waters, witnessing the intricate network of roots and vibrant aquatic life beneath the surface. The reflections of the mangroves in the water painted a picture-perfect scene, worthy of capturing with every click of the camera.

Our journey through Cienaga Grande also gave us an opportunity to learn about the importance of preserving this fragile ecosystem. The local guides shared their knowledge and passion for conservation, raising awareness of the need to protect this natural treasure for future generations.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a bird enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape, Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta offers a unique day trip experience that will leave you in awe of its untouched beauty

9. Sierra Nevada

Total Time – 4 Days

Jungle hike in the mountains

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Sierra Nevada is a majestic mountain range right in the heart of Santa Marta, Colombia. I would recommend taking a professionally guided tour to truly immerse yourself in the experience of a proper jungle hike where you can sleep in farmhouses and watch the sun rise and fall in the most picturesque surroundings.

Our journey into the Sierra Nevada took us on a winding road through lush green valleys and charming rural villages. You can feel the air becoming crisper and refreshing as you ascend higher into the mountains, leaving behind the heat of the coastal region.

Upon reaching the foothills, we embarked on a thrilling hike that led us through dense forests, meandering rivers, and cascading waterfalls. The verdant landscapes of Sierra Nevada are a haven for nature enthusiasts, with an abundance of flora and fauna to discover along the way.

As we ventured further into the mountains, we were rewarded with awe-inspiring panoramic views from all angles. The snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada glistened in the sunlight and we couldn’t resist capturing the breathtaking views on our cameras

During our exploration, we had the opportunity to connect with the indigenous communities that call Sierra Nevada home. Their rich cultural heritage and deep connection to the land were truly inspiring, adding another layer of depth to our experience.

I want to leave some of the experience as a surprise for when you are there so you can truly enjoy making memories you will never forget. Whether you’re an avid hiker, nature lover, or simply seeking tranquility in the mountains, Sierra Nevada offers an unforgettable and magical experience.

10. Playa Blanca

Total Time – 6 – 8 Hours

Picture-perfect beach destination

Playa Blanca, Colombia
Playa Blanca, Colombia

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Playa Blanca, a tropical paradise. Let me tell you, it was an absolute dream come true!

Playa Blanca is a picture-perfect beach destination that will leave you breathless with its crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white sands, and swaying palm trees. It’s the epitome of a postcard-perfect beach getaway. As I set foot on the soft sand and dipped my toes into the warm water, I instantly felt a sense of tranquility wash over me.

The beauty of Playa Blanca lies in its simplicity. There are no high-rise hotels or crowded resorts here, just a stretch of unspoiled beach where you can truly disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I spent my day lounging on a hammock, basking in the glorious sunshine, and sipping on refreshing tropical cocktails.

For the more adventurous souls, Playa Blanca offers an array of exciting water activities. Snorkeling in the vibrant coral reefs allowed me to witness a mesmerising underwater world filled with colourful fish and marine life. Kayaking along the coast provided breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, while jet skiing offered a thrilling adrenaline rush.

The beach is also home to a vibrant local community, and I had the pleasure of indulging in delicious seafood dishes prepared by talented local chefs. From fresh grilled fish to mouthwatering ceviche, the flavours of the Caribbean tantalized my taste buds and left me craving for more.

Playa Blanca is a true slice of paradise that will leave you captivated and rejuvenated. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a place to unwind, this hidden gem along Colombia’s Caribbean coast is a must-visit destination.

Continent: South America

Colombia, Santa Marta