Just a few miles over the hill from the busy city of Santa Marta, colorful Taganga is a world away. Taganga’s beach isn’t necessarily breathtaking, but you can easily commission a boat to the lovely beaches within Tayrona national park.

Taganga is a bit rough around the edges; the town’s infrastructure hasn’t quite kept up with its recent boom in tourism. But unlike perfect, manicured tourist destinations, Taganga’s soul remains intact.

taganga colombia hammock view casa felipe

Things to do around Taganga

Get SCUBA Certified.

Looking to get your SCUBA certification for the lowest price imaginable? Taganga is the place to do it. The instructors are mellow, but experienced. The visibility wasn’t great and the coral isn’t very healthy, but there’s still solid biodiversity and you won’t beat the $220 price tag. For comparison, the island of Koh Tao in Thailand, another place known for its cheap certifications, charges about $315 including 4 days of accommodation.

As both the Poseidon and Tayrona Dive centers have closed recently, Scuba Masters seems to be the place to get certified.

Cost: $650,000 COP for P.A.D.I. certification in 3 days, $150,000 for a 2 dive outing

Go to a soccer game.

The games between co-ed local teams can get rowdy, especially when beers are $1.50 USD. If you hear rumbling and fireworks from a distance, chances are a game is underway.

Cost: Free

Take a boat to Taganga National Park and snorkel the coral reefs.

Instead of hiking through the national park, we took a boat directly to Playa Cristal. The beach was beautiful, but we were glad we didn’t hike for a few reasons:

  • The 45 minute boat ride through choppy surf was an adventure in its own right.
  • The beach was filled with homemade cabanas and kiosks selling drinks, so it didn’t feel like a pristine, remote beach, worth the trouble of hiking to. Personally, I hate hiking to places that are filled with tourists who took a bus or boat. It just feels futile.
  • Our friends who paid the park entrance fee and hiked through the park’s humid jungle were disappointed when they arrived at Playa Cristal. They turned around immediately.
  • The boat gives you more time for snorkeling, which is actually pretty good at Playa Cristal.

Cost: $80,000 COP per person, roundtrip, includes entrance to park (since the boat drivers don’t pay park entrance fees)

Hike to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida).

The Lost City hike is a 4 to 6 day trek deep into the Tayrona national park that is quickly gaining popularity among visitors. After a beautiful, strenuous jaunt through the jungle, hikers arrive at an ancient ruin consisting of stone terraces cut into the mountain. Guides can be commissioned from Taganga, but we decided to save our money for an alpine trek.

Cost: $650,000 COP per person, four or six day trek

Accommodation at Casa Felipe

Located well above the bustling main streets of Taganga, Casa Felipe’s terrace has a sweeping vista of the bay. There’s a well-equipped communal kitchen that spills into a patio with plenty of tables, an open air T.V. room, and a selection of DVDs at the front desk. The terrace is the perfect setting for a tranquilo afternoon.

If you’d rather eat out, there’s a restaurant at the hostel, and many restaurants within walking distance.

There’s also secure parking in a lot across the street.

Cost: $90,000 COP per night for a room with a kitchen, fridge, and 3 beds.

Getting to Taganga from Santa Marta

By taxi.

From Santa Marta, taxis to Taganga charge a standard fare of $10,000 COP.

Cost: $10,000 COP

Time: 20 minutes